Are you a conductor on the Guilt Trip Express
Bitch’in Life, Parenting

Are You a Conductor on the Guilt Trip Express?


I love a good viral video like the next gal, but last week, I instantaneously regretted clicking the “play” button on “Remember me… Mom wants son to call from college” uploaded by Ann Pinto McCarney (currently near 750,000 views).

“Hi, Liam. Remember me? I’m your mommy. I gave birth to you,” McCarney starts. ”Well, actually, I didn’t quite give birth. I had to have a C-section to get you out. A big scar and it hurt like hell, but that’s OK. Do you remember that it was me that gave you life?”

OY. I hear the woman — I pushed two watermelons out of a veritable garden house myself — but after five seconds of viewing I already felt guilty for not calling her.

And I’m not even Liam.

Gotta give McCarney props for her production choices. The camera is angled up at her, catching the side of a refrigerator and a cabinet — big clues she shot the video in the kitchen, which is the ultimate nurturing Mama’s home base. There’s a harsh reality quality in the clip, thanks to bright daylight (a late-night loving college student’s nemesis) and McCarney’s near constant mocking facial expressions.

Lest Liam forget whom the lady in the video is, McCarney continued: “Let me joggle your memory a little bit. Remember those first two years of your life, there was this woman and you were always on her hip, you, like, never wanted to get put down. Do you remember that? I’m that woman!” she said. “I was the person who always had you on my hip.”

This gave me an instantaneous sympathy pain in my left hip, and also made me start worrying that I was both too much like McCarney and also not enough like her.

As a daughter and a mom, I was terrified, but for two different reasons:

– The daughter in me has had “call your mother” ingrained in her since… forever.

– The mom in me is now worried I haven’t instilled enough “call your mother” in my own children — despite the fact that I insist they text me when they leave our home and when they arrive at their destination… and I’m the mom of two teens that go out quite a bit lately.

A one-word text (“here” or “home”) feels like a fair price to pay for newfound freedom, but what do I know?

See how I did that? It’s so easy to turn to rev up the guilt engines when you’re driven by the joy of worry.

As I continued to watch McCarney’s video, which goes on for nearly five minutes, I couldn’t help but cringe — especially as she went into a sarcastic description of how to use a cell phone:

“Basically, what you want to do is you want to grab the phone — you know, the one that mommy and daddy bought you — and unlock the phone. I know that you know what that pass code is because I know someone texts his girlfriend every day, doesn’t he?” she said with a condescending smile and a little all-knowing wink.

“So unlock your phone and at the bottom you’re going to see four little icons … a handset, I don’t know what they were call, but we used to use them when we were younger in the generation that respected their parents. So you want to use that little icon, push the button, it brings up a little note pad and I know that I know my phone number because I pounded that into your head because I was always so worried about you getting lost or stolen.”

UGH – this was some next level guilt technique that made me slide over from the Team Mom to Team Liam.

“Then, don’t be afraid, you’re going to put it up to your ear and you’ll hear this ringing noise. It’s going to sound a little strange to you because I know you haven’t heard it in a while.”

In the age of social media, the mom guilt — coming from mothers, and also directed at mothers, by the way– is fueled by feeling like nothing is ever good enough. Everyone else’s kids are always doing kind, thoughtful, amazing things, and we all bear witness to life on the other side of the virtual fence.

While on our side, things aren’t necessarily so, well, perfect.

Then someone like McCarney comes along, and I for one am fascinated by how public she drives the shame train right up to her college son’s doorstep: she posted the video on Facebook, and tagged Liam.

Predictably, McCarney got a lot of press on her YouTube rant, as she explained to her local NBC affiliate: “I did a lot of videos with my son when we were on a college road trip, and they were pretty funny, because he wanted no parts of the videos,” McCarney said with a laugh. “As soon as I gave birth and got stretch marks, I figured I had a right to torture him as much as I want.”

Here’s the thing about guilt: ultimately it’s a one-way ticket to resentment. But of course the person steering the shame train is oblivious to how badly things can backfire. In fact, according to Psychology Today, only 2% of those included in a recent study on guilt trips recognized that resentment could be the outcome.

On the other hand, guilt can be productive, when used sparingly and under the right circumstances. But when it careens off the edge into a pit of humiliation, it’s ugly to watch.

Ultimately while I couldn’t look away from McCarney’s video, I wasn’t happy about it, either. Maybe because I know left to my own devices and in the same scenario, I’d possibly turn the same technique on my own precious babies.

Then again, maybe (hopefully!) not. I’m pretty focused on staying attached to my special purpose, which is being creative in my work and my diversions. I’m hyper-aware of this — in fact, I’m in buckle down mode now, so that when the inevitable time comes when I’m not needed to make meals, drive people to and fro, and tend to the litany of parental unit obligations that McCarney so richly details in her video, I won’t devolve into an angry, sad, hot mess.

Live, on camera.

If you’re wondering if McCarney’s video worked, the answer is yes, Liam called.

And yes, this actress and amateur comedienne got a ton of views and a landslide of press. And she did acknowledge that she wasn’t necessarily expecting anything different from Liam.

“He’s not the exception to the rule. He’s the norm,” she told WCAU. “He’s really not doing anything that 50,000 other college kids aren’t doing.”

I was grateful to see the shame train pull back into the station, even if it was a for a brief pit stop, and also considering she’d already done a bang-up job running down her son.

So if you see my giving my kids a one-way ticket on the guilt trip express, please flag me down. Because in the end, one person’s guilt trip is another person’s therapy bill. And as parents, we end up paying equally for both.

Haven’t seen McCarney’s video? Check it out — and feel free to share what you think in the comments below. Not that you have to — of course if you don’t comment, it’s fine. I know you’re busy, and probably not even thinking about how I slaved over this blog post for hours. Not to make you feel guilty or anything…

creative discomfort
Bitch’in Life, Pop Culture

6 Things Dave Grohl Teaches Us About Creative Discomfort


I adore the Foo Fighters, so a few months ago when my husband told me we could check them out at a corporate event in NorCal, I jumped at the offer. I’ve loved these cats, and particularly lead singer Dave Grohl, for twenty years now.

Then Dave fell off the stage in Sweden, dislocating his ankle and breaking his leg, then famously finished the concert before heading off to surgery. Talk about there goes my hero…!

I wasn’t too worried that they wouldn’t play the gig — hell, Dave wrote an open letter to fans immediately afterward promising to “… do everything I can to come back and give you a night to remember for the rest of your lives AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.” But having seen the Foos earlier this year perform for Dave’s birthday in an epic, nearly four-hour concert with incredible guests as diverse as Paul Stanley, Perry Farrell, Alice Cooper, Lemmy Kilmister, Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Trombone Shorty and David Lee Roth(!), I figured it would be hard to top.

Hullo, I forgot I was talking about Dave Freakin’ Grohl! While the corp. gig was much shorter than the long-ass birthday jam, there was an unmistakable intensity that he poured into the music as he shredded “tasty licks” so hard I thought his hands might fall off. And although he had to jam around in a Game of Thrones inspired “Iron Throne” (Dave of Thrones?) worthy of a rock god, it didn’t slow him down one iota.

In fact, it seemed like his broken leg was a lightening rod for an even more powerful show than I’d ever seen him perform in the past. As I watched him rock out so hard, it occurred to me that Dave’s limitation — the busted limb — opened up a new channel for creative expression.

And this reminded me of a great piece I read on Fast Company’s Co.Create site by Rae Ann Fera when the Foo Fighters released Sonic Highways, both an HBO series that explored and reflected the musical pulse of eight cities and an album by the same name that was composed throughout the band’s travels. Fera wrote about how “creative discomfort” fueled the process and helped the group, 20 years and eight studio albums deep, shake shit up.

This is nothing new for Dave — he routinely trades in stretching the limits. In fact, there’s at least a half dozen things about his career and the guy in general that I find super inspiring and try to remember whenever I’m feeling like I need to kick out the jams:

1) Nirvana isn’t about the destination – it’s the journey: OK, a cheesy play on the band that made him famous, but it’s literally true. While playing in the biggest rock band in the world at the time, Dave continued to write his own music, even releasing it under a pseudonym (“Late!”). Others in his position might have just enjoyed the ride, but Dave was driven to keep doing his own thing. So shortly after Cobain died in 1994, which would have been the end of the road for some, Dave famously recorded a 15-demo track where he played nearly all of the instruments himself. This music was remixed and released in 1995 as the Foo Fighters first album. And so the journey continued… and rocks and rolls on to this day.

2) Be punk, not perfect: Dave started out his professional career in music as the drummer in a punk band called Scream. Was his addition the result of him having years of music lessons? Hell no — he started drumming on the pillows to Rush songs on his bed as a kid, and then took the rhythm that flowed through him on the road by the time he was 17. He’s a self-taught guitarist, too. So the music he writes and performs is far from perfect, but it’s perfectly punk rock. Passion and emotion are great, ugly, beautiful channels to push your creativity out into the world — no lessons required.

3) Have fun, even when you think you suck: “Learn to Fly,” which is one of the seminal Foo Fighters songs from their 1999 album, There is Nothing Left to Lose, is, according to Dave, about “… the search for some sort of inspiration, the search for signs of life that will make you feel alive.” Here’s the kicker — he also said of the tune, “It’s actually one of my least favorite songs on the record.” So, what did Dave do with the very thing he thought kinda sucked? (My words, not his.) He went on to make a super creative, hilarious video inspired by the film Airport ’77, in which he and his band mates, Nate Mendel and Taylor Hawkins, play a bunch of different roles. In 2000, “Learn to Fly” won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. It’s also become an anthem for anyone that’s ready to launch into something new.

4) Don’t be afraid to get down ‘n dirty: Dave can and has recorded in incredible state of the art studios, but for the Foo Fighters’ seventh studio album, Wasting Light, he opted to record analog, on tape machines, in his two-car garage in his home in the San Fernando Valley. (That detail I enjoy because I also hammer away at various creative ventures in my garage in the San Fernando Valley =) And while he didn’t renounce Pro Tools and other modern comforts for future efforts, doing the work “live,” “raw” and “honestly” made for what Dave said at the time was the most fun he’d had making a record.

5) Go out and play with your friends: Feeling creatively challenged? Then pull on your shit-kickers and head out to make some noise with the people you love and admire most. Dave’s birthday jam that I mentioned earlier is just one tiny example of how many musicians from all ends of the spectrum Dave’s played and collaborated with over the years. From Tenacious D to Queens of the Stone Age, Cage the Elephant, and a long-ass list of rock legends (Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones [Led Zeppelin], Brian May [Queen], and Stevie Nicks with Haim [just a couple nights ago!], to name a few), Dave’s played nicely and made a boatload of beautiful music with the best of ‘em.

 6) Remember, nothing’s impossible: And the rest of that quote from Dave is “… in a Foo Fighters world.” It’s what Dave said when he came back on July 16th in Washington D.C. on his rockin’ throne — a magnificent, triumphant return on an incredibly creative piece of equipment that came to Dave in a morphine-and-oxy-induced vision, and was brought to reality by Dave’s awesome stage crew. In fact, he dedicated the set to his stage crew that helped him prove nothing’s impossible… and that’s a testament to the idea that creative discomfort is not necessarily something you should suffer alone.

But it is something that you alone can embrace, and chose to use some unfamiliar or uncomfortable feelings to make something, well, that kicks ass.

As Dave always does.

So if you see me humming “Everlong,” just know that everything really can be this real forever… all you have to do is promise not to stop when things don’t feel so comfortable… when you think you need to say when… cuz that’s where the magic happens =)!

Now, enjoy this short clip I took — I’m not saying I’m a cinematographer by any stretch BUT check out this snippet of “All My Life” — the song’s about giving pleasure (ahem) so maybe that’s why so… intense?

Count your blessings
Bitch’in Life

How to Count Your Blessings


We live in a time when there is a lot of talk about feeling blessed — just troll a Twitter or Facebook feed or two and notice how many of us are #blessed.

Holy humble-brag aside, it’s not hard to find reasons to be grateful. In our 24/7 news cycle, in between a headline about who that Kardashian is zooming or dating or whatevering now, there’s a ton of other far more horrendous news to process. Dead children washed up on the shore, the horrible refuse of the search for refuge. Civil wars, famine, drought, senseless acts of violence, and other tales of loss and devastation.

But counting your blessings against the backdrop of someone else’s misfortune isn’t exactly the way to intimately embrace in a deep and meaningful way all you have to be grateful for in your own life.

While I’m sure there are some people that can actually get a contact buzz from hearing bad news about good people, for me it’s not a natural leap all the way to how blessed I am personally. My go-to place when others are troubled is empathy, and that is a dark space on the level with them, not way up in the lightness of blessings.

Blessed hits home most squarely when it’s on your terms.

On your turf.

And that’s exactly what happened to my family and me last week.

It was just another Saturday night, when tragedy almost struck. As is our new norm, the kids were out and about, and my husband and I had a quiet dinner by ourselves. It was very relaxing, and very nice to not have to rush to pick anyone up until after a leisurely meal.

Our daughter and her friends arrived home first, and immediately headed out to our back garage, where we’ve put in a TV, video game console, and a couch so that our teenagers can do whatever it is teens do in (relative) privacy.

A split second later, my daughter can running in, totally panicked — she’d opened the garage door, and smoke came billowing out. My husband raced back there, and with extreme courage (or extreme foolhardiness), cased the joint for the source. With no apparent flames anywhere in the garage, it occurred to him to open the door to a make-shift closet that stored our old blankets, pillows, sheets, bins of ephemera, costumes, and Halloween decor.

A wall of smoky stank hit him in the face — burning polyester. He looked up, and saw a bare light bulb butted up against a smoldering quilt. Thinking fast, my husband grabbed the offender and threw it outside on the ground, then quickly turned the hose on it. By now I was in the garage, pulling out other crap that could possibly burn, while my husband returned to the closet and scanned for any other possible fire starters. Aside from a nasty pillow I could’ve sworn I’d tossed years ago that had a cigarette-burn sized hole smoldering on it, there was mercifully nothing.

With the smoke still thick and burning our eyes and noses, we called the fire department to make sure we’d gotten out anything that was on fire or on its way to ignition. Minutes later, we had five trucks parked in front of our house, and a half dozen firefighters on our roof and all over our garage.

Overcome maybe by smoke but more likely emotion, I ran to the front of the house where my daughter, more excited than terrified now, asked me to snap some Instagram pics of her friends and her in front of the flashing red lights.

My hands only shook a little bit as I distracted myself taking those social media shots while silently sending up a little prayer of thanks that nobody was hurt.

Shortly thereafter, the firefighters left, and we breathed a sigh of relief. Tragedy averted.

Not surprising, I had a fitful night’s sleep and jumped out of bed at the sun’s first light to start accessing the damage.

As I plucked through the sheets, pillows, and blankets, I noticed that several items were scorched light brown in multiple places. The plastic bins that held the costumes, keepsakes, and decorations had begun to melt, and none of the lids fit anymore. The offending light fixture was burned black, with dark soot deposited inside the closet and coating the walls, floor, and pretty much everything else in the garage.

The smell from the burnt synthetics was dense and noxious, so I set to Googling how to get rid of smoke smell. For the record, it’s a lot of room douching (unleash the power of white vinegar!), sweeping, mopping, wiping, dusting… and repeating it all a few times over.

While some of us had a life and a big day watching football to tend to (ahem, my husband and son), others had plans (my daughter), and still others were blissfully unaware and napping (dogs, although I liked to think of their utter disinterest as denial), I was more than happy to dedicate the next several hours soothing my anxiety by smothering it with my housework addiction. I started piles for Goodwill, tossed a bunch of (flammable) things I didn’t want or need, and got waaayyy into it.

As I worked, my brain skipped right over PHEWWWW and THANK GOODNESS to HOLY SHIT and WHAT IF…

… we weren’t home?

… my daughter didn’t go out there?

… or worse, it happened when she was back there and everything went up quickly, vs. the slow smolder?

… the garage burned, and the flames travelled quickly through the dried-out grass in our non-drought tolerant yard, straight to our house?

… this all happened in the middle of the night when we were sleeping, and we weren’t quick enough to get out in time?

On, and on, and on it went — the joy of worry overtook me all the way to a crying jag after successfully convincing myself that this was the worst  thing that had ever happened to my family.

The waterworks that flowed so freely, powered by poor me, woe is me, did a great job of extinguishing my ability to clearly see the situation and my ability to move from bereaved to blessed.

For the record, this is the shittiest way possible to count your blessings because once you’re spinning, you push reason and reality right out the door.

And the spin cycle only stopped when my daughter got home and told me that she too had been processing the fire all day long, struggling to understand why.

“I guess things just happen for a reason,” she said.

This made me realize that yes, there was a reason this happened, and it was simple: things that generate heat (light bulbs) can and probably will cause fires when in close proximity to things that are flammable. Period.

As for the reason we caught it before it combusted and turned into a wholly difference scenario, that’s luck. Or, as some call it, a blessing.

This is all that counts.

All that should be counted.

So if you see me flipping fingers, jotting lines on a page, or using a freakin’ abacus, just know I’m doing just that. Keeping it simple, counting the good things one by one. And the big takeaway is that we don’t have to tally what ifs to understand that we are all #blessed.

For my peeps celebrating a new year, fress don’t fret — here’s to a sweet new year chock full ‘o blessed moments. For those who are just coppin’ an attitude of gratitude, you’ve got it good. And everyone else, just remember to be in the moment cuz you can count on it to keep you safe and sane.

Parenting today in a post 9-11 world

Parenting Today in a Post-9/11 World


September 11, 2001, I was doing what all young mothers do.

Separating from my child for the very first time.

Not that we were never apart. Hell, I was a working mom, so there were plenty of times when I saw my son for only minutes a day, as I often left before he was up and got home shortly before his bedtime.

But this was different. This time he was leaving the nest for his first day of preschool. He was only two and a half, but with a six-month-old baby at home and us considering a cross-country move, I needed a few waking hours to deal.

Dropping him off at his brand new preschool was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Or so I thought.

As I left his school, a man stopped me and said, “I just heard the craziest thing. A plane flew into the World Trade Center.”

Before I could respond, he added, “Wait, what did I just say to you?” The man looked sincerely befuddled, with the same expression on his face as you have when you wake up from a nightmare.

I repeated the horrible thing he said, and he replied, “No, not one plane. Two planes.”

The preschool stood not far from Prospect Park in Brooklyn, so we were on a hill. By now I could see smoke rising on the not-too-distant horizon. We were about five miles from Ground Zero, as the site soon became known.

The hours that followed were a mad scramble — first I ran home to tell my husband, whom I found staring at the TV in disbelief, then we ran back up the hill to grab our son from his school, then we jammed back down it to the nearest grocery store to buy canned goods and water (and it was there that the butcher called out, “Tower One is DOWN!”… and minutes later “Tower Two is DOWN!”), and finally we flew home to bunker down in our apartment while outside the once brilliant sunny day now looked like a snowstorm.

Of course it wasn’t snow — this was only September 11th, after all — it was the ashes from the decimated Twin Towers that continued to fall for days.

The acrid stench and clouds of debris hung over Brooklyn for several weeks longer.

The horror was perhaps no more up close and personal than when we marched in a candlelight vigil for Park Slope’s first responders — about half of our fire department perished in the tragedy — weeping with our neighbors and vowing that New York would rise again.

But then again, we were some of the lucky ones. Our friends who worked in the towers each had their own miraculous tales of why they were late that morning. Several like us had children starting preschool, others were turning out to vote in local elections and planned to get into work about a half hour late.

Still, there was a moment as we left the grocery store on 9/11, our children’s double stroller packed with bottled water and draped with bags of groceries, that I will never forget.

As I leaned down to cover my children’s mouths with my hands to protect them from the “snow,” I paused to look at their beautiful little faces. The realization that they would never know a world that didn’t have this kind of destruction, this hideous terror, and moreover that they would grow up knowing this very real threat that had busted through the security of our soil and would forever be a foreboding specter hanging over our country literally took my breath away.

Growing up GenX was a sort of idyllic time, relatively speaking. We missed the era of hiding under desks during school drills, the Cuban Missile Crisis, McCarthyism.

Instead, we saw the end of the Cold War as the Berlin Wall came down. This is not to say that bad things didn’t happen to good people during our childhood (i.e, the Challenger disaster, Jonestown, Watergate, Three Mile Island, Rodney King, Exxon Valdez, and Operation Desert Storm, just to name a few). But all of these things felt far away, or even if we were in the proximity of a certain event, isolated instances that were aberrations — one time deals that we could learn from and never, ever repeat again.

But 9/11 was its own beast. Terrorism at our feet begat a Department of Homeland Security, an era of Big Brother governing, and a world that feels perpetually at war.

Nowadays, school shootings are commonplace, and sometimes even going to see a movie feels like you could be taking your life into your own hands. Even doing something healthy, like running a marathon, can become a dangerous undertaking.

Do you remember the YA books you read growing up? Some saucy Judy Blume perhaps? Maybe you were more of an S.E. Hinton fan, or perhaps you were like me and devoured the entire V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic saga (five books people, five books!). If you were a touch younger and more of a soap fan, it was probably the Sweet Valley High or the Baby-Sitters Club series for you.

Cut to today, where much of our pop culture — books, movies, TV shows, video games — reflect dystopian nightmares. And the heroes and heroines are inevitably kids, fighting an ever-shifting battle against terrorists (the government, their parents, the undead, etc.) that don’t distinguish between their targets — the younger the better. Think Hunger Games, Twilight, Maze Runner, Divergent, the various iterations of The Walking Dead.

Other things like natural disasters, which are on the rise, also feel more devastating. I think that’s for two reasons: global warming AND because the sense that the government would provide and keep us safe was blown to bits back on September 11, 2001.

And while in many ways we are more connected thanks to social media, all of this chatter swirling around us means that we are also more desensitized.

So what’s a post-9/11 parent to do?

Aside from trying to crack the Middle East peace puzzle while you drive morning carpool, remember you are raising human beings, and those people really, truly are our future.

Teach them empathy, not apathy.

Tell them that things are not hopeless, they are not helpless, and they do have the power. We live in a democratic country, and… wait for it… they can vote. Or at least help influence how their parents vote. (Don’t EVEN get me started on the 2016 election, which from here looks like a circus on both sides of the clown car.)

And remember that you are not hopeless, or helpless. Or alone for that matter.

In the days following September 11th, 2001, my husband and I and everyone we knew took to the streets. We headed to the Brooklyn Heights promenade and gazed at the devastation, just as everyone we knew nationwide stayed glued to his or her TV.

This is not what we want for our kids. For anyone’s kids — here and abroad.

Focus not on the terror that tears people apart, but instead the community that pulls us back together, stronger than ever.

So if you see me pausing today to really, truly remember 9/11, just know that the past always informs the future, and as parents, we can’t afford to look away. As President Obama so eloquently said in a radio address ten years after the tragedy: “Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”

Sounds like solid parenting advice to me.

Bless you, my bitches, and Gd bless America!

Labor Day
Bitch’in Life, Humor

10 Bitch’in Ways to Make Labor Day Really Work For You


Ugh, Labor Day. It’s got to be the most hated holiday of them all.

But wait, you say. I love Labor Day. It’s the last hurrah of summer, the biggest BBQ blowout of the year, and the final time this year I can wear white jeans and white heels. 

I know, I know. Nobody wants to use his or her own tears as a salty condiment for burgers and hot dogs, and also nobody wants to ponder the sordid history of Labor Day, that tiny crumb of a whopping one day off that the U.S. government gave its workers back in 1882.

Day drinking aside, in my mind there’s not a whole ton of upside to Labor Day. It’s the last strains of the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, and the vibe by Monday night is downright depressing. And on Tuesday morning, your summer hangover — either literal or emotional — is almost too much to bear.

So this year, instead of spending the weekend sitting in traffic on the way out of town or to the beach, consider taking on a little work that will actually help you flip the switch and get ready for a productive leap into back to everything mode. There are 10 ideas here — feel free to work your ass off and do them all, or just pick one or two. Either way, you’ll feel productive and ready to get into the fall groove.

10) Hang out in your closet. I’m big on regular purging, and to me the #1 hot spot for everyone is the bedroom closet. If you’re feeling like you need to work up some enthusiasm for this one, I suggest you rent a crane to pick up the 832-page September Vogue, and be wowed by all the beautiful new looks for fall that you could have, if only you could find an extra foot of space to hang them in. Stare into cover girl Beyoncé’s eyes, and find the courage to trash your ripped, stained, out of date, and out of shape wear. Cuz you know ‘Yoncé don’t play in ugly clothes, and neither should you.

9) Change your sheets. This I mean in the higher sense of the word “change” — I wasn’t necessarily insulting your bedroom hygiene. When’s the last time you got new sheets? Or towels for that matter. I know that for me it was when we moved into our new house and bought a new bed. Uhmmm, ten years ago. Sound familiar?

8) Organize your desk. This one is HUGE. We all have work areas at home and in the office, and desks are the #1 repositories of psychic clutter. Old bills, files filled with crap you never look at, dried out pens, unsharpened pencils, and all of the flotsam and jetsam of the work you do is like a giant albatross, and not in the funny Monty Python way. Pull out all of the crap cluttering your desktop, your drawers, your filing system, even what’s under your desk — that Medusa-like coil of cords — then toss, clear, sort, and restock your work space.

7) Purge the plastics. Back to everything means that you’ll likely be packing lunch for yourself and your family again, and also maybe even getting back into a cooking groove. I watched my BBF organize her Tupperware recently, and it was utterly intoxicating AND contagious. (I know, it’s sad, but I do have a touch of cleaning OCD that comes with the urge to create order out of the daily chaos – can you relate?) If it doesn’t have a lid, chuck it. If it does, burp it — just for shits ‘n giggles.

6) Bag some books: I have so many books shoved in nooks ‘n crannies that I have never read, or borrowed from someone and never returned, or accumulated from who knows where and have no intention of reading. And if you have kids, be real and give Goodnight Moon and all the books they’ve long outgrown a rest — it’s over. Pull all those dusty tomes off the shelves, and bring them to Goodwill or return them to their rightful owners. Because you’re NEVER having a yard sale, and you know it.

5) Back it up, clear it off: If you’re like me, your computer is jammed to the hilt with a bunch of old files. I keep thinking that I’ll need them someday… and so far, that day has never come. Compress those old nasties (it’s just a quick right-click to compress!), and if you have tons of room on your hard drive, go ahead and keep ‘em. But if you’re like me and have relatively limited space, throw those old bastards on a flash drive and never look back. Oh, and by the way, if you’re an email hoarder, now’s the time to delete the thousands of unread messages and give your inbox a breather.

4) Take on ONE terrifying junk drawer. I’m making it doable — pick the worst spot, be it in your kitchen, your bedroom, your bathroom — wherever — and empty it out. All the way down to the essentials. And if you’ve enjoyed this one, just think about the top three worst offenders in the house, and give them the same treatment. Ahhhhh…

3) Unf*ck your fridge. If you’re like me and gave up on organized meals during the summer, now’s the perfect time to clear the decks for re-upping your commitment to healthy eating for yourself and your family. So round up those half-eaten leftovers, rotting fruit, stale bread, jars of stuff past their pull dates (jams, condiments, etc.), hold your nose, grab your garbage, and clean that sucker out.

2) Work the Labor Day sales: Now that you’ve made some space AND read your fall Vogue cover to cover, it’s time to load up on fresh style for your bod and your home. Labor Day sales are said to be on par with Black Friday sales, so you should be able to score some great new stuff for a song.

1) Take a nap. Go ahead, take a break —  after you’ve done all that personal work, you do deserve to relax. And day drink. After all, it is Labor Day!

So if you see me hauling crap to the curb while sucking down a summer ale, just know that’s the kind of work we all should be doing this long weekend. Even if the only item on the list you get to is #1!

back to school 2015
Humor, Parenting

Ask Bitch’in Suburbia: Back to School 2015


Hey kids — it’s that time of year: More pencils, more books, and presumably more teachers’ dirty looks. But then again, who could blame them? In a world of Common Core, overly involved parents, undersized budgets, tests to teach to, and a lack of necessary tools (especially time and trust, not to mention those new fangled devices called computers), it’s impossible not to look at least a little pissed off.  Lucky for everyone, your friendly neighborhood Bitch’in Suburbia has the cheat sheet ready with all the snappy answers you need for your back to school questions. Just raise your hand and read on…

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

I have this recurring nightmare: I’m in a classroom, and the teacher hands out a test. Everyone around me dives right in, but I can’t read the words. Then the bell rings, and I’m still not done. I wake up every morning in a sweat, and I barely have the energy to get my kids off to school. What do you think it means?

Signed, Sleepless in Sonoma

Dear Sleepless,

That’s not a nightmare: it’s YOUR LIFE and believe you me, it is a test! Forget whatever lackluster academic career you had; wake up and smell the #2 pencils! It’s all on you to make sure that your children kill it in every single grade, from Pre-K to 12th. And by “kill it,” I do mean that literally — they must be prepared to smoke everyone in their path on their way to the top. You can always serve the jail time for them — after all, aren’t you already doing their math homework for them? Same-same. So fork over your life, your wallet, your brains, your dignity, and everything you have so that you — I mean, your student — can be successful. If you’re dedicated enough, your child will make it all the way through college and out the other end to the inevitable unpaid internships, soul-crushing hunt for work that pays a living wage, and perhaps most importantly, to being the best possible adult roomie for you! So dust your morning Wheaties with some ground-up Adderall, and focus on the prize: your #1 student with 2400 on the SAT, a 36 on the ACT, and a full-blown panic disorder by second grade. And there’s a bonus for you, too: no more sleeping, and no more pesky nightmares.

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

My child is a straight-A student. But this year, she has all AP classes, and I’m hearing one teacher in particular is very challenging. Should she drop that class? I’m debating it, because if she gets a B (gulp), it’s still a weighted B, and so that’s like an A, right? What should I do?

Signed, A+ Mom

Dear A+,

First off, I’m not sure where you got this ridiculous idea that a B in an AP class is like an A… I mean it is, but then again, it’s so not. Similarly, how could you possibly consider scaling back, when your daughter already has the exact right schedule with all AP classes? Please tell me that it includes AP Mandarin, AP Post-Calculus, AP Pre-Med, and AP Metaphysics. The last one should help you both through the existential crisis that follows, where every single night you contemplate your being, existence, and reality, and come to the same depressing conclusion. Be sure to have matching pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and hari-kari knives on hand, just in case. As for the challenging teacher, I have no words — literally, you’re acting like the teacher matters at all when your daughter has you. Amiright?

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

I know that extracurricular activities are really important for college, but I have a problem with my kid: he sucks at sports. I mean, I feel bad saying that, but it’s true. We’ve tried Little League, soccer, basketball, Pee Wee Football, archery, tennis, swimming — even freakin’ pickle ball! (I hear there are scholarships for pickle ball, right?) I’m worried if I don’t get him in the system now, he’ll never catch up come middle school. Any thoughts on a game plan for junior?

Signed, Defeated Dad

Dear Defeated,

First off, OF COURSE there are scholarships for pickle ball. And archery. And lots of “loser” (your word, not mine… wait, I guess that is my word) athletics, which your kid might be able to master. As you know, youth sports are all about the parents’ needs, so there’s really no harm in pushing your 90 lb. weakling toward a career in tackle football. But then again, the non-athletic types (otherwise known as nerds) are having their heyday in our digital world. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos are just a few geeks-turned-Billionaire-Boys-Club-members. So give the kid a jumpstart and take a screwdriver to your computer, leaving the bits and pieces strewn around his bedroom. If he reassembles it to be, say, a killer robot, you’re in business. If he ignores the chips ‘n bits, lock him in his room and never let him out. Because if he’s not a jock or a geek, that leaves freak, and frankly I’m not sure to do with kids that don’t fit neatly in a box. Maybe bench him for life? Good luck, Coach!

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

Every year I volunteer for PTA and all of the related fundraisers, and I find it very rewarding — especially for my children, because everyone knows me and if I ask a favor (or two), it’s a snap getting results. But over the summer I took a full-time job, and I’m worried I won’t have the same kind of time to devote to volunteering. Can you please reassure me that pitching in is optional, and that nothing will change for my children with me less involved?

Signed, PTAnonymous

Dear PTAnonymous,

In a word: you’re screwed. (Ok, that’s two words, but I think you needed that kind of clarity.) So stop reading my column, march yourself into your boss’s office, and tell him or her that you need a “flexible work schedule.” You can work at your job from 3:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m., take a break for the morning so you can personally drive the carpool, attend those 9:00 a.m. PTA meetings that are so convenient for everyone, and then spend some time in the classroom. While the kids are in PE and at lunch, you can go back to work for two or three hours. Just be sure to return to school for pick-up and the afternoon shuffle getting your kids to tutoring, sports, or other enrichment AND allow for plenty of time to whip up a healthy dinner that takes into consideration everyone’s dietary restrictions (lactose intolerence, gluten allergies, plain old picky pains in the butts). You can finish your workday from around 7:00 p.m. until midnight (with a short break to get everyone to bed, make lunches for the next day, throw in some laundry, and tidy up) and then you’ve given your boss the requisite 10 or 11 hours a day for work. See, you can do it all!

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

I was just reviewing my daughter’s syllabi, and I am very concerned that they’re not covering the classics. Who should I complain to — the teacher? The principal? All the way up to the superintendent? What would you recommend?

Signed, Worried in Walla Walla

Dear Worried,

First off, let me just say GOOD FOR YOU for paying careful attention to your daughter’s curriculum — teachers LOVE parents that question their carefully planned coursework, and it’s even better if you skip talking to them about your concerns and go right to the top. I applaud your instinct on that note. As for your worries about not covering the classics, well, just a gentle prod here: how will your child be a better test-taker if she reads Jane Austen? Common Core says that reading imaginative fiction has nothing to do with learning how to read and write. Austen says, “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” So riddle me this: who is setting the curriculum nowadays? I think the prejudice goeth before the pride, if you know what I’m saying. (I’m not sure what that means either, except that it’s high time that kids write papers in math and PE class, and that’s what Common Core is all about! I hope you see that on your daughter’s syllabi!)


Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are satirical, just in case you couldn’t tell, and also just in case my kids’ teachers are reading this. (Just kidding! Not really… ) Also, I am very aware that being satirical about education is something that we’re free to do in this country, and that is honestly a precious gift.

A word from the non-satirical Bitch’in Suburbia: Earlier this summer, I had the honor and privileged of hearing Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, speak. If you don’t know Malala’s story, in short she has been an activist for education for girls her whole life. In 2009, as the Taliban took control of her village in the Swat District in Pakistan, 10-year-old Malala wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC about her views on education and life in general. Her father, a social and educational activist who ran a public school, was also very outspoken about his views, and in short order, both Malala and Ziauddin began receiving death threats. While the international community was celebrating Malala, the Taliban decided she needed to be removed. In October, 2012, when the 15-year-old Malala was on a bus heading to school, a masked gunman entered the vehicle, asked for her by name, and shot her in the face. Miraculously, she survived, and the actions of that terrorist elevated Malala’s profile and spread her story worldwide. In 2014 she became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and today she is a prominent global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. It was both humbling and eye-opening to hear Malala speak; if you haven’t checked out her address to the UN in 2013 or her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, do it now. You’ll enjoy Ziauddin’s TED Talk, too. They are an exemplary father-daughter team — Ziauddin’s values inform Malala’s, but at no time does he confuse her personal mission with his own. Even as she lay dying, he and his wife and Malala’s mother, Tor Pekai Yousafzai, chose to focus on the importance of the work Malala had taken on rather than fretting about their decision to give their daughter the wings to fly. (Or, perhaps more accurately, applauding when she herself discovered that she had her own set of wings.) For them, it was a simple statement of faith to never look back. For me, it was a mind-blowing statement on the power of unconditional love and support, and the transformative properties of education.

SOOOOO if you want to teach your children anything this fall, take them to see He Named Me Malala, coming from Fox Searchlight in October. You can also read I Am Malala, and check out Malala’s website and the Malala Fund.

For now, enjoy the trailer and happy back to school!

the upside of nostalgia
Bitch’in Life

The Upside of Nostalgia


Up until a few days ago, I had a rule I lived by: You can’t go home again. (Thomas Wolfe, although lots of people have the same thought: for example a more contemporary comment on nostalgia: “Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now,” from the CSN classic, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”)

To me, sentimentality can be a sappy pit of self-indulgent goo. I’m not normally one to throw down a #tbt — when I pull up old photos of places I’ve haunted over the decades and the old friends I used to frequent them with, I feel like I run the risk of hitting the sorrow rather than the sweet spot… and so it’s not necessarily something I want to do, say, every single Thursday.

Coming from someone whose weekly blogging is often fueled by remember when’s, I know this sounds like a bunch of hooey. But lots of creative peeps like to pull their inspiration from feelings of loneliness, melancholy, and depression. To me, the deep abyss of longing and loss serves as an endlessly abundant well of material.

When I look at it that way.

Which I don’t think I’ll do anymore.

A few months ago, some things in my life started to shift, and instead of descending into fear and horror (my go-to “happy” place), I decided that I was just going to say yes to whatever came my way. This may sound sexy, but as a woman of a certain age, a lot of it was just offering to drive the carpool more frequently, volunteering to help with fundraisers (more on that in next week’s blog: Ask Bitch’in Suburbia: Back to School 2015), and some other random, albeit excellent, opportunities.

Coincidentally, I also wrote my Bitch’in Suburbia annual tribute to camp. It always gets a nice response, but this year it took on a life of its own, and I heard from a ton of people I’ve known and loved from my camp, and also those who knew and loved their own camp.

It was a whole goddamn shit load of campsick adults, which was a pretty awesome sight to behold.

In the thick of it, I got an email from one of my BBFs (Best Bitches Forever) and eternal counselor, saying simply: “You must come.”

The place I “had” to go was to my summer camp’s 65th reunion. But here was the rub: reunions are the ULTIMATE nostalgic minefield, and I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to get my heart blown to bits by missing people who weren’t there. Also, it had been decades since I last returned, and I knew from my online stalking that the joint had changed quite a bit under the tutelage of new owners.

And so at first I ran straight to my go-to excuses: I’m just getting back from a ginormous family trip, my kids are starting school, the dog ate my homework. All of them true (especially the one about the dogs), but ultimately pretty flimsy.

Plus when your eternal counselor says get off your ass and go, what’s an eternal camper to do?

So I said yes. And for a change, my habit of not looking back meant that agreeing to attend the reunion was something I had to move forward with and embrace.

The arrival in my hometown airport and first night sleeping at my other BBF/CIT’s house was fun and easy. Turns out people from the same backgrounds are easy to fall in step with. Which is a simplistic way of looking at it.

But then the descent into camp, where stretched before us was an explosion of new cabins, buildings, signage, and even a swimming pool (!) with a slide to rival any waterpark, was less comfortable. My security detail of the former counselor/CIT weren’t staying on-site, and I ended up being assigned to a cabin with the oldest reunion attendees — some that were there for the first few years of my early camp experience, but most of whom were long gone before my first summer.

Feeling like I had nothing in common with most of my bunkmates for the weekend, I headed out for a healing soak in the lake. The waterfront was my stomping grounds back in the day, and some of the most enjoyable years for me were when I was a swim counselor, so it made sense to start with what I knew best.

I don’t know if it was the cold water slapping me in the face, the intoxicating scent of sunscreen mixed with lake funk, or the muscle memory of childhood, but by the time I made it out to the dock, my antiquated take on nostalgia — which is term a 17th century term that combined the Greek words “nosto” (“return home”) and “algos” (“pain”) and was coined by a Swiss doctor trying to characterize soldiers’ maladies caused by homesickness — was over and out.

In fact, the same article on nostalgia where I got that bit of trivia about the roots of the word also discussed how nostalgia is a good thing. Dr. Constantine Sedikides of the University of Southampton has done pioneering research into the science of nostalgia and has found that nostalgizing alleviates things like boredom, anxiety, and loneliness, and makes for people that are generally happier, more generous, and more tolerant. It also increases feelings of belonging and connectedness, which in turn makes people more welcoming to strangers and more appreciative of their community. And in the end, when all is said and done, nostalgia helps mitigate the fear of death by making life itself much more meaningful.

I believe this also explains the elation I feel when I hear, say, the B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” Prince getting funky, James Taylor’s sweet soulful songs, The Big Man Clarence Clemons wailing on an early Springsteen track, etc.

Nostalgia, in other words, is all about hitting those notes from the past that bring us higher in the present and groove us on into a brighter future. It’s why the old camp directors who were there back in the day will always be my touchstones, and also why the young couple that now own the place are my new family.

Not that I was doing that kind of academic interpretation as I swam, sailed, ran, played, cheered, clapped, hugged, and reminisced my ass off.

And those older women in my bunk that I was sure I had nothing in common with? We stayed up to the wee hours singing songs and laughing about all the things we did at camp that filled our young lives with so much joy.

The other thing about nostalgia that the science doesn’t necessarily touch on is the transformative properties of literally going back in time. On the last day as I was walking to my bunk to pack up, I found myself heading down a very familiar path. I know that sounds poetic, but trust me — it was completely literally. I felt the gravel of the bunk line path crunch under my flip flops, heard the strains of someone cheering, smelled the clean Maine air, took one last lingering look at the lake… and was totally transported into my way younger self. (Now if I could just bottle all that, it would be bigger than Botox!)

In that moment, I realized that the bittersweet quality of reminiscing is not bitter at all — there’s honestly nothing sweeter than to indulge nostalgic moments.

When you share the same connective tissue — whether it was your camp, your school, your neighborhood, your music, your era — nostalgia is the best way to tug on the ties that bind to make sure that they’re just as strong as ever.

And trust me, they always are.

So if you see me looking back, just know that I’m just checking out the rear view mirror as I pull into the next lane of life. If you look in yours, I guarantee that what you see will be the lights of what made you who you are today and this will also be the perfect beacon to carry you on into tomorrow. So go ahead and let the past remind you of what you are not now — it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and after all, it is the essence of nostalgia. (Doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo…)

Photo Credit: Not to get all nostalgic on you, but this week’s blog photo was directed and shot by my BBF and camp idol, Julie Marcus. Yay Julie Yay Marcus Yay Yay Julie Marcus, Julie, Marcus, YAY!

make love not war

The Key to Peace in the Middle East & Other Big Problems


I just got back from a 10-day trip to Israel, and although I’d love to show y’all the hundreds of photos I took, I’m just going to share one: #LoveWins.

I know that’s old news to us Americans, as the Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage legal happened earlier this summer, but in Israel, Gay Pride parades took place on its “Valentine’s Day” (Tu B’Av) on July 30th.

Coincidentally, we had just arrived and settled into an Airbnb’d apartment just steps away from the course of the parade in Jerusalem. My husband heard a ruckus outside, and called for all of us to come out and see what was happening.

Very quickly the rainbow flags we’d been seeing around the neighborhood where we were staying made sense. Unlike the outrageous, sexually charged, exuberant Pride parades in the U.S., this one featured a lot of young people dressed in t-shirts and shorts with the occasional rainbow painted on their cheeks, walking hand-in-hand, singing and cheering, and looking a lot like a parade of camp kids. All that was missing was a bearded dude on a guitar and the strains of “Kumbaya.” (And he was probably there, too.)

In Israel, marriage is a religious contract, and so gay marriage is not officially recognized. But there are broad rights for those who cohabitant, and so the LGBTQ community is strong, particularly in major cities — although the religious extremists (Jewish, Muslim, and Christian alike) vehemently oppose same-sex engagement.

We had no idea about any of that as we clapped and cheered along with the people marching in the parade. But suddenly the peaceful procession was interrupted first by cops running on foot, then on horseback, whirling by on motorcycles, and finally an ambulance.

At this point, my kids were getting freaked out, so my husband asked the nearby army officer if she knew what was happening, and she replied, “It’s just a fight, but don’t worry — fights are good.”

Why we took that as a suitable answer is beyond me, but we stood there several minutes longer as the parade briefly seemed to return to normal. But then it was more cops, and we finally snapped into the realization that all probably wasn’t so well or so safe, and we headed inside our apartment.

The next day we found out the truth: an ultra-Orthodox zealot who had been jailed for 10 years for stabbing people at a Pride parade in 2005 had done it again, injuring six people. In subsequent days one of his victims — a 16-year-old girl — died from her wounds.

The perpetrator told police that he had come “to kill in the name of G-d” — I’m sorry, what god says to kill your own people?

This is a question I’ve thought many times as supposed people of G-d have murdered patients and workers at abortion clinics, for example. From kamikazes to suicide bombers, when it comes to fanaticism, no religion or cause corners the market on fucked up interpretations of doctrine.

In my humble opinion, anyways.

(Although back in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed, stating, “In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right.” He went on to correctly characterize the assault as “a despicable hate crime.”)

Days later, standing at a former military outpost in the Golan Heights overlooking the Syrian border, as we admired the artwork of a soldier who literally beat swords into plowshares — or at least turned the ugly, twisted iron from the remains of tanks and other artillery into some pretty phenomenal, fun, and fantastical sculptures of cartoon animals and other whimsical creatures — we heard some soft thuds.

As we listened, the thuds became louder and more distinctive, and finally unmistakable. There were most certainly bombs going off in a not-too-distant Syrian city. The soundtrack of destruction, which our tour guide assured us was part of their civil war and not a concern to us, was ultimately not all that soothing.

Here’s the thing about war — when you are willing to perpetrate it on your own and even yourself, there will never, ever be peace.

How do I know? Because every single religion, humanism, and all the major philosophers espouse a version of The Golden Rule.

Christianity says: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12, King James Version

Judaism says: “”…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Leviticus 19:18

Islam says: “”None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.” 3

Buddhism says: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18

Confucianism say: “Tse-kung asked, ‘Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?’ Confucius replied, ‘It is the word ‘shu’ — reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'” Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

Hinduism says: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517

(If you want more, there’s a list of Golden Rule-related quotes for 21 religions, and also as the words of acclaimed philosophers from Aristotle to Socrates here.)

Of course being an arm-chair pacifist maybe simplifies the whole deal, but in my (once again) humble opinion, if we learn to love ourselves and value our own lives first, then the rest will follow. (Millennial or GenX wisdom — you be the judge!)

Now that I’ve settled the question of how to make peace in the Middle East, I can move on to more complex issues like sorting out carpool for the new school year.

So if you see me humming “Kumbaya,” just know that when I pray, it’s always that someday everyone will glom onto the message that when #LoveWins, we all do. Amen, Awoman, and #BlessMyBitches!

inspiration for the dog days of summer

20 Inspirational Quotes for The Dog Days of Summer


They say every dog has his day, but then again, that takes working like a dog — damn! What’s a hot bitch like you and me to do when the dog days of summer hits? Does it mean it’s not our day just because we can’t muster the energy to work like a dog?

These are questions I ask myself each year when the other Bitch’in Suburbia — my mistress, and I say that in both figurative and literal ways — has me write a guest post for her. Lucky for both of us, we have a new member of the pack to infuse some new ideas to this annual PR stunt. Not that we get any PR from this… it’s just a creative break from the normal bitch’in grind. Anyhow, this year we’ve decided to share our favorite dog-related quotes, and give them our own canine critique. A virtual chew toy for your brain, as it were. And then we can both take a really long nap to recover from all this exhaustive insight. Woof!

“The more I know about people, the more I love my dog.” ~ Mark Twain

And the more I know about people, the more I love myself. Touché, Mr. Twain! ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” ~ Groucho Marks

Please take the man seriously, for once. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“I took solace in God who, along with my dog, was my best friend growing up.” ~ Lisa Bonet

When you spell ‘dog’ backwards, what do you get? See, either way you look at me, I’m your best friend. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame. I should have a dog as a life coach” ~ Moby

Thank you, Mr. Moby. That will be $150.00 an hour, and I accept payment in chew toys and high-end kibble. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” ~ Ann Landers

Oh snap, Ann Landers — that’s some harsh advice, but considering I’ll eat poop as if it were dog food, she does have a point. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

OR a fully-grown dog. Puppies don’t corner the market on joy-giving, you know. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The average dog is nicer than the average person” ~ Andy Rooney

I dunno, I’ve certainly tussled with some bitches in my time — but then again, it takes a bitch to know one. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” ~ Harry S Truman

This advice goes out to Mr. Trump. And Mr. Sanders. All my favorites. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Every dog must have his day.” ~ Jonathan Swift

And I believe every day is my day. Try it out — works wonders for your psyche and your coat, too. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Wherever I climb I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego.'” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Just be wary when the Id is the leader of your pack. Just sayin’. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The dog that trots about finds a bone.” ~ Golda Meir

I’d like to add that it usually takes some digging, too. But trot first, by all means! ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

What’s so wrong with a dog’s life? I think this means everyone should be a writer. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“I have never met a dog I couldn’t help; however I have met humans who weren’t willing to change.” ~ Cesar Millan

Word. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Bite us once, shame on the dog; bite us repeatedly, shame on us for allowing it.” ~ Phyllis Schlafly

It’s just my opinion that one dog bite is too many. This is from personal experience. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“People who wear fur smell like a wet dog if they’re in the rain. And they look fat and gross.” ~ Pamela Anderson

I love that sexy bitch! And I HATE humans who think they look good in real fur. But whom is she calling smelly? ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment.” ~ Robert Falcon Smith

And we’ve been doing that even before Mindfulness was a thing. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“The sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time.” ~ Catfish Hunter

Whaaaaat? It totally does. But that comes from someone called CATfish, so there you have it. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“Be the person your dog thinks you are.” ~ George Eliot aka Mary Ann Evans

Mr. Moby: That will be $150.00 and… you’re welcome. ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“I have days when I just feel I look like a dog.” ~ Michelle Pfeiffer

I’ll take that as a compliment. And I wish I would have days when I feel I look like Michelle Pfeiffer! ~ The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

“A dog can’t think that much about what he’s doing, he just does what feels right.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

So do the right thing, people! I believe in you. And let’s be honest: that’s why you keep me around. That’ll be $150.oo, please…

XO The Real Bitch’in Suburbia

time flies when you unplug
Bitch’in Life

6 Smart Ways to Unplug Without Shutting Down


If you’re reading this (and I so hope you are!), you will be experiencing the modern marvel of unplugging without shutting down.

This summer I’ve moved beyond the normal staycation and done something I’ve been thinking about doing for years: planned a real live vacation.

One where the language is foreign, the terrain unfamiliar, and the urge to be a tourist is stronger than the one where I merely flop on a beach in a rejuvenating coma. While it will be easy enough to find free Wifi, I already know I’d much rather be connected to the people I’m traveling with (our BBFs and my family) than anyone else.

Ditching the digital, however, may not be that simple, as for many of us staying connected isn’t a casual thing — it’s an actual addiction. From the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, Baylor University professor James Roberts found that the average college student uses his/her cellphone nine hours a day and experiences classic symptoms of addiction including (in addition to excessive use) the loss of interest in other activities and painful withdrawal — from mild agitation when an iPhone is out of reach to full-on panic when a battery dies.

Riddle me this: is that JUST college students, or is it ALL of us?

Put your B.S. degree on hold here, and please be honest about your smartphone addiction.

And I’ll tell you the truth, too: While I would like a digital detox and could probably use a virtual Silkwood Scrub, the realities of my traveling companions (teens) and my own life as a blogger, is that it’s unlikely that we’ll fully unplug from the “grid.”

Before you say spoken like a true addict, let me just say that I live my life where anything in moderation goes, so this feels comfortable and realistic to me.

That said, I’m putting a few strategies in place to ensure that the balance is tipped in favor of our tuning in more (to each other) and turn on (our devices) less. I hope you’ll join me whether you’re on vacation in the next few weeks or not:

1) Fly through vacation on airplane mode: This just means that you’re not connected to Wifi. I’d like to thank my age-related memory loss for keeping me safe from manically flipping my phone out of airplane mode when I’m in Wifi-equipped cafes and other hot spots. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep thinking my dang phone doesn’t work and will forget to check my settings.

2) Bring a camera: OMG you guys, remember cameras? Those cute little contraptions that take pictures and then you can get them printed out or just even download them onto your computer later, once you’ve returned home. Reflecting on your journey and sharing the best of times with the whole damn world if you want is then much more appropriate and also much less distracting.

(NOTE: Airplane mode does allow picture taking. Then again, snapping pics with your smartphone is just another gateway drug — you start off taking a cute pic of your kids in front of some fabulous attraction or another, and before you know it you’re running full-stop in a cold sweat to the nearest Wifi to huff filters and shoot those images up on Facebook. My bitches, please — CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF!)

3) Embrace the pause: This is mindfulness-speak for stopping for one dang second before before taking an action. Zen Habits guru Leo Babauta says, “Addictions are something we often do automatically, without thinking. Start to break this chain of trigger-habit auto-response by wedging a small pause in between them. When you get the urge to check something you’re addicted to, notice this urge, and pause for just one second. During this pause, simply ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this, and why?” You can then go on to do it, no matter what the answer, but the important thing is having at least the briefest pause.” Amen to the Zen!

4) Tell your work peeps that you’re not actually working — for real this time: This includes YOURSELF, people! The smartphone addiction for us “grown-ups” dovetails nicely with our other addiction: workaholicism. It’s so damn easy to respond to emails, check out reports, and generally be available 24/7 that we’ve lost the ability to take a proper siesta. When you make a statement that you’re not available to work, you’re letting people know that you’re not drinking the Kool-Aid anymore. And doesn’t a nice fruity vacation drink sound much better, anyway?

5) Don’t have FOMO – Be the stuff that fuels the FOMO: FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is much of what drives our addiction to Facebook and other social channels. Keep in mind that being off the grid is something we all secretly — or even overtly — desire, and there is nothing to fear but fear itself. In other words, you’re not missing anything at all when you’re present in your own life. So admire the view from your own damn feet and forget about what beauty lies beyond (or between) someone else’s toes.

6) Do what comes naturally – it’s the ultimate reboot: Vacations are all about rest and relaxation, and guess what? These two things are EXACTLY what you need to reset your own operating system. Researchers at University of California, San Francisco found that down time allows the brain to process what it’s taking in and convert it to long-term memory. University of Michigan researchers found that people have much better retention after a walk in nature vs. through an urban environment, which supports the idea that the constant barrage of information takes a toll on our ability to learn. Things like sleep, laughter, sex (!), and making face-to-face contact with others all also have loads of research supporting their positive benefits.

So if you see me shutting down my devices — don’t panic! Like pre-writing this here post, I’ve planned ahead to stay connected even when I’m technically logged off. I’m just giving the old motherboard a break, and I hope you’ll  join me trading in some RAM for REM and enjoy some much-deserved downtime!