Archives For The Pain of Being Different


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 –


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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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The Tenses of Forgiveness

December 21, 2013 — 69 Comments
Daily Prompt: Forgive and Forget?
Share a story where it was very difficult for you to forgive the perpetrator for wronging you, but you did it — you forgave them.

At five I walked myself to school.

I was a “latch key” kid.  Came home after school.  Made myself a snack.  Did my homework amidst the cacophony of five brothers. Horseplay. Arguments. Guitar. Swearing.  Piano.  Fist Fights.

My mother stopped in between jobs. Rushing, rushing, always rushing. The clock ticked 60 brief minutes while she hastened to put a meal on the table before leaving for her night job at 7.

“Mommy, look, look, I got 100 on my math test!” was lost in, “Michael, go to the store – now. I forgot to get rolls for the hamburgers.” By the time I was 13, I was the one putting the dinner on the table, so she could just sit down and eat.  Take a breath.

I was 5th in a family of incredibly bright overachievers.  Everything I did had been done before. Huge successes were not celebrated – they were expected.

The legacy of success. Past, present and future tense.  Living in the shadows of brilliant siblings. Simple past tense.

My eldest brother, 10 years my  senior, was our surrogate father. One year, he coached me to follow in his footsteps as Citywide Spelling Bee Champion. But after winning my school spelling bee, and the Regional, and making in into the coveted Citywide,  I did the unthinkable.

I lost.

My mother only said, on the way home, ”I can’t believe I took a day off from work for that.”

I spent five long years after college in therapy ridding myself of corrosive anger. Five years to forgive her and love her, as I do now. Five years to come to the conclusion we all already know:

She did the best she could.  Simple past tense.

Don’t all parents? Don’t I?

I forgive her. She worked 7 days a week at minimum wage jobs.  Her entire life was devoted to making sure we had food, shelter, clothing. Accolades were luxuries she couldn’t afford.

And today, as the parent of only one child, I forgive her even more. I struggle to balance working as a single mom and raising just one child. She somehow raised 6 of us. How is this even possible? Something had to be sacrificed.

It was my self esteem.

I forgive her.

Every day, I tell my son that he is special. That is smart. Funny. Handsome.

That he matters. To me, and to many people.  I am breaking the cycle. Parenthood is breaking the cycle of error and wanting for our children what was not given to us.

But inherent in the process is new error. Will my life narrative limit my present, and mar his future?

The present. The future. The tenses of forgiveness.

Are my early experience fate? Or a road map to forgiveness?

Each day I make mistakes. I hope, when my son is a man, that he is compassionate when he recalls his childhood. I hope he will see that I did the best I could.

I hope he will forgive me, as I did my mother.

But this is not the simple past tense of forgiveness:  “I forgave her.”

It is the future continuous tense of forgiveness: “I will continue to forgive her.”

I forgive her right now, For every time I doubt myself. Right now, I forgive her, right before I hit “Publish.”

Will they like it? Will it be good enough? Am I good enough? I may never be.

I forgave.

I am forgiving her.

I will continue to forgive.

The tenses of forgiveness. Simple past, past not perfect, past perfect continuous,  present, present continuous, present not perfect.

Future. Future continuous.

Constant. Relentless. Persistent.



Did you forgive someone when it was difficult? Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

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Is it possible to fall in love at 8 years old? I did. I can’t say his name, because he went on to become well known in the Manhattan music scene. Part of me itches to write it; and accidentally reach him, this man I’m still a little in love with.

He lived upstairs from me. We became “boyfriend-girlfriend” 3 year later, in middle school. I was 11, he was 12. My first kiss. His mouth tasted like warm honey.

People say love is blind. Which includes color blind. He was black, I was white. We didn’t say “African-American” back then. I didn’t see his color. Or rather, my love for him transcended it.

I was 11 the first time someone hurled this vituperation at me: “N-word Lover.” I was confused. Yes, I loved him. What did that even mean?

He was an incredibly talented drummer. He lived for music, and for me.

When we were in 8th grade, boys from another neighborhood chased him into a deserted area.

Hunted him, like an animal.

And broke his arm.

It healed. I did not.

By high school, we were apart, and I knew the agony of first love ended. Off he went to Music and Art, as New Yorkers call it. High School of Performing Arts, the school the movie “Fame” is set in.

We’d broken up before that. Our families stepped in and demanded we split right after he’d been attacked.  These words awaken a memory that pierces me afresh. Details have been imprinted permanently; then veiled. Now the veil is lifted.

I had that revilement hurled at me many times over the decades that followed. Anytime I dated a man of color, I was abused by both races. White people felt I was somehow betraying my race. African-American or Hispanic people felt I was “stealing” from them, dating men I had no business dating.

It’s No Man’s land.

In the end, I was a coward. I married a white Jewish man I shouldn’t have crossed the street with. Because he was one of my own “kind.” I’m not saying I didn’t love him – I did. Deeply. But by the time I met him, I only dated Caucasian men. I’d had enough.

I live in an area where there are almost no Jewish people. I didn’t know that when I bought my house. Even if I had- it wouldn’t have mattered. I just don’t think about those things.

But now I have a child. And I have to think about those things. He is always the only Jewish kid in his class. He feels very alone. He suffers for it.

He had a best friend last year. His mother sought me out on Back-To-School Night. Came in, calling out, “Where is Little Dude’s mom, Andrew cannot not stop talking about him!”  We exchanged numbers. They were BFFs from the first day of school. Inseparable for months.

Until Andrew found out we were Jewish. After that, he never spoke to my son again.

When you have a kid, and they hurt like that…it’s different than your own hurt. It’s much, much worse. It’s an amalgam of your pain and theirs. Times one hundred.

And this week, yet again.  We’re hosting a holiday breakfast in his classroom. The class mom emailed the 4 of us running it, asking who would like to read a holiday book. Little Dude was all over that.

“Mom, please, YOU be the reader!”

He’s been listening to Christmas books for the last 5 years. So I volunteered. The class mom asked if we needed the librarian to help us choose something.

“No thanks, he’s picked his favorite Hanukkah book. It’s hilarious, and the kids will love it.”

She sent me an email.  No holiday books allowed. The teacher only wants winter-themed books.

After I could breathe again, I starting working on how I was going to present this to my son. I ended up just saying it very offhandedly,

“Oh, Mrs. Dugan wants a winter-themed book; we should go the library to get one.”

He’s too smart for that.  “What? Since when? That’s crazy! They read a Christmas book every year” and on and on.  That night he cried himself to sleep, which he hasn’t done in years.


I needed to put the pain of this somewhere. I wrote a post about Real Life Trolls attacking me.  I titled it:

“Confessions of a N-word Lover.” I spelled the word out.

Because of all things in the world,  I abhor racism the most. Because I’ve proudly loved black, white, and brown men. Because I thought I would use that word blatantly and take the stigma off of it. Like the artist who inspired me to become a writer – Patti Smith.

I contacted Le Clown, because I was borrowing a phrase of his in the post. I wanted to make sure he was comfortable with that.

 And then he took the time, because he is the incredible Clown he is, to tell me that he was worried for me. That he feared I would be attacked, not by trolls, but by well spoken people. And that it was perhaps not my place to take the sting off this word, because using it lacked sensitivity.

Thank God.

I took it down.

If people don’t read you, then your message exists in a vacuum.

Mostly, I took it down because the thought of hurting anyone is abhorrent to me. As immune as I am to that word in print, others are not. Others did not grow up desensitized to it through repetition.

Le Clown was right.

After I posted today, I went on my reader to comment on some posts.  Bloggers had unfollowed me; beloved bloggers.

And now? Now I have to sit with the fact that I hurt some of you. Maybe many of you.

What if you unfollowed me because you’re  African-American? Or if you’re married to someone African-American?  Or you just thought it was disgusting?

This post is to say, if I hurt you, I am sorry. I was insensitive. This was a hard lesson.

Yes, I am provocative and edgy. But to hurt people? The way I’ve been hurt? The way my son is being hurt? To do the exact thing to people that incited me to write the damn post?

It’s tearing me up. And now I have to live with that.

We have to do better. Intentions are not enough. If my actions are insensitive; cause pain, whether intentional or not, I need to examine those actions.  Better yet, to think before I act.

I wish I’d had the courage to marry the boy upstairs.

And we were sitting here right now, and he would kiss me with those beautiful, honey flavored, color blind lips.

Kiss these tears off my face.

Kiss these words off my lips.

Did I do the right thing, taking that post down? Talk to me. I’m listening. 

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I wake early so I can experience the rare delicious stillness in my home.

Drink my coffee. Write down snatches of dream residue.

Work on a post. Write. Rewrite. Ponder. Then,





I write. Think. Rewrite. Hit “Publish.”

I believe that blogging, first and foremost, is writing. But perhaps I am wrong. Feel free to expostulate.

A specialized writing, to be sure. I have much to learn. But I see that the best bloggers, the ones I consider “Blogging Superstars,” are unique and compelling writers. They connect with the world around them. Their followers connect with one another. It’s a beautiful dance of thought and community and I want IN.

I’ll admit it. I want to be a Blogging Superstar someday.

But I am CONFUSED. Because lately, I see bloggers who are considered “Blogging Superstars” and to me, they are just “Fame Whores.”

Perhaps because I am embryonic in the word of blogging, I don’t understand the rules. But the person who inspired this blog, has given me advice to “write truthfully what you’re feeling,”

I know that successful blogging is hard work. At this moment, I am a dilettante.

To truly touch people; to inspire; to build an audience that communes not only with you but with each other- to create this beautiful world of thought and ideas and shared emotions and support- this is an undertaking of a very high magnitude.

Sacrifices are made. I am making them.

Even though I have to be up close and personal for my job, I’m a mess lately. I look down at my chipped, 3-week-old Lindsay Lohan mess of a manicure. My hair goes unwashed. Thank God I can rock a hat. I dress for work in the easiest thing possible – the clothes left slung on the chair the night before. Sniff the blouse pits. It’ll do.

My house is dirty -pfffft. A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.

My body grows softer each day I skip the gym. Yes, I SKIP THE GYM. You would have to perceive “gym as religion” to understand that I can actually SEE my muscles cannibalize as I write this.

I have hit “reset” where priorities are concerned, so I can get to know my fellow bloggers and feel their minds. To see the ORANGE LIGHT, so we connect.

Oh my God, I dig it. Let the wordplay begin.

I’m having BLOGASMS when you come in here and comment. It’s better than sex.

Maybe not.

I know authentic Blogging Superstars when I encounter them. And most of them have an entire life to be lived outside of blogging. But they make it work.

And their love for the written word is plain and true. They are bloggers, yes, but they are WRITERS.

And some of them generously use their Superstardom as a platform to help others. What graciousness. What magnificence.

But what is this other thing? This Fame Whore?

I can smell them at fifty paces. I just can. It’s a “Project Girl goes to High Fallutin’ College” thing. I have a sense of smell like a Doberman.

Fame Whores are aspiring Superstars. They blog in earnest; write well; answer all comments; read and provide thoughtful commentary on other blogs.

But there is a frenzied desperation in their actions. And I can see how badly they want not to be a Blogging Superstar, but a STAR. It debases the process.

He/She knows no life outside of blogging. How do I know this? Because I DO. Because wherever I go, he/she is there. He/she commented on 483,000 blogs before ever launching his/her own, to ensure a following.

Such strategy. And I thought this was about writing.

He/she is at every blog I ever read. It has taken me a month to read the blogs he/she has read in 3 days. He/she works must be independently wealthy, have a sugar daddy/mommy, or an administrative day job, and gets to spend the better part of the day commenting commenting commenting commenting.

Goddamn my stupid educators job where I try to make a difference in people’s lives. Really gets in the way of my blogging.

He/She are tweets constantly. Non stop. Usually at carefully selected Blogging Superstars. Holy Shiz. I check out Twitter, and all he/she does is TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET TWEET.

Twitter groans under the weight of another of his/her ridiculous self-endorsing re-tweets.

And her/his writing, while good, sometimes excellent, not SPECTACULAR. Yet they are universally lauded. Such is the epic self hype of the Fame Whore.

Even the Blogging Superstars, whom I love and adore, are bamboozled. I am sad.

I am jealous. Because I want to be a Blogging Superstar.

But my life is not set up to be a Fame Whore. I don’t have the time to exploit the Internet mercilessly. And I’m not sure I want to go that route. Because tsunamis, while powerful, can cause destruction.

Destruction of what should be pure and good and true. WRITING. Which, as I started this post with, is what the foundation of blogging really is. Or not? I don’t know anymore.

James Altucher, a blogger whom I admire tremendously, believes if you want to be a really good writer, then write several hours every day. And read, 2-3 hours every day.

So, Fame Whore. Be still. Be quite. Enough with the tweeting. The rah-rah rah-ing. The bells and whistles.

Use some of that time to Read.

Reflect. Drink tea and look out your window. You already have a gazillion followers. Read some more. Observe. Sit in a cafe and just listen to snatches of conversation instead of the constant sound of your incessant social media self-promotion.

Unless this is all about trying to become a Professional Blogger.





Ohhh, I get it. You want to make a living, financially humble as it may be, off of blogging or writing. Of course. you do. We all do.

So that’s why you are everywhere. That’s why you tweet tumble Facebook Pinterest Instagram Snapchat Google+ Linkedin Flickr Deviantart Tagged LiveJournal till I want to

blind myself like Oedipus Wrecks Blogging.

That’s why you have hijacked all my friends who never were.

You feel you have to you strategize nauseatingly to make money off of blogging.

Well played, Fame Whore. You will, no doubt, have the career I never had, or never will.

It’s all about money. Even blogging, I suppose. Today, I am sad.

I’m ready to hear what other bloggers have to say. I can take it.

Namaste, Samara


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Daily Prompt: A Bird, a Plane, You!

You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice:


I think I am two warring souls living within one body.

*other soul nods in agreement*  Yes, we are.

There are two of me. They are in constant conflict.

All my life, I’ve saddled the seesaw of contradiction. It hurts my pussy.

On one side: The Mother. The Teacher. The Professional. The Upstanding Citizen. The Good Girl.

On the other side: The Mother Fucker. The Deviant. The Law Breaker.  The Slut. The Bad Girl.

I’d like to make them agree, once and for all, on who I am.

It makes life really difficult when one person shows up where the other is supposed to be.  They never see eye to eye.

Like when I’m with someone and Bad Girl just wants to fuck him/her six ways til Tuesday, and then Good Girl butts her slut-shaming face in and pussy/cock blocks me.

Reminds me that I’m a mom. That I have a business, and a reputation to uphold. That I have too much self respect to screw someone in the parking lot of a restaurant, regardless of how deliciously hot that scenario is.

Or when Good Girl Mom was teaching her son to ride a two wheeler, and I had to keep squashing down nasty-ass Bad Girl’s remarks: “Get those mother fucking training wheels, off, Pussy Boy! Man up! If you fall, you fall, bitch!”

Good Girl goes shopping, and Bad Girl shop lifts. She shouldn’t do that. If she gets caught, it would not bode well for her. She just can’t help it…she’s really good at it.

Good Girl is tutoring a student, and Bad Girl starts explaining to her how to give a really good blow job. Which is not on the curriculum.

I’m bringing these two to couple’s counseling. If they don’t start agreeing on who I am, I’m ditching both of them and coming up with a completely new, third personality.

Now I just need a really good Superhero name.