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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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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,

LIFE

CHILD BREAKFAST MOMMY WHERE’S MY PROJECT DAMN NOW I’M LATE CAN I CALL YOU BACK GET YOUR SHOES ON I’LL EMAIL YOU THE FILE WORK PHONE CALLS EMAILS PARENTS STUDENTS RUN BUSINESS PICK UP CHILD DO HOMEWORK FUCK YOU COMMON CORE! KARATE HIP HOP HEBREW SCHOOL BABYSITTER EX HUSBAND TUTOR STUDENTS TUTOR STUDENTS TEACH CLASS TEACH CLASS TUTOR STUDENTS HOME CHILD HE TALKS: MINE CRAFT BLATHER BLATHER BLATHER SCHOOL RECESS AIDAN DID THIS BRENDAN DID THAN WHAT SHOULD I DO MOMMY? I DON’T KNOW, PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE? THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT, UM, GO TO THE TEACHER? TALK. ENGAGE. READ WITH HIM. GREEK MYTHOLOGY. SHOWER BEDTIME.WHAT WAS YOUR SAD TODAY? YOUR HAPPY TODAY? WERE YOU ANXIOUS TODAY? LOVE YOU MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF GOOD NIGHT .

AHHHH.

QUIET.

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.

AHA!

 

aha-moment

IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY!!

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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