Maybe not out and out hammered, but at least half in the bag by the time it was my turn to flip the Tarot and find out what the cards, the stars and the woman that someone on Yelpsaid was the “premiere psychic’s psychic in New Orleans” saw for me.
By the time my reading was over two and a half hours later, we’d killed a bottle of Chianti between the two of us, I’d inhaled enough second-hand smoke from her Natural American Spirits (pun intended, I’m sure!) that I could probably blow a decent set of rings just from the haze in my lungs, and I’d starting saying things like “y’all,” “da babies” and other affectations of my other-worldly host in a mimic of her Nawlins-by-way-of-the-Bronx drawl.
If you’re wondering what brought me to her in the first place, let me step back a moment and let you know that I am that person.
So while I hail from Boston where witches were once routinely hung and curses are busted not with the help of metaphysics but rather money ball (READ: the Sox 2004 World Series win over St. Louis), I have moved past that naysayer upbringing and wade willingly into the Woo-Woo.
While it could be that LA, which gets that wrap anyways, has gone to my head, I’m also a person of a certain age with an itching to discover the meaning of life.
Not necessarily the Monty Python version (OK, well maybe a little of the Python version), but the spiritual seeker’s version.
So I do have a kick ass Asterian astrologer (who also fronts an increasingly popular “Deathtronica” LA-based band called Luna 13), practice TM, study Mussar(a Kabbalah corollary, sort of) and am generally grasping at straws to make some sense of this crazy-ass existence that I had the audacity to bring two beings into.
As I’ve said many a time, the world is fucked, so there’s GOT to be something we can do about it. That’s why I go on about the importance of human connection and also why I think getting a little metaphysical, if not philosophical and at the very least, thoughtful, is also a good idea.
So back to the psychic, who half the time was mumbling about her cats, her Erté, her mother’s ashes (perched on a precarious ledge that threatened to dump them all over my head AND my cards at any second) and my illustrious future. Between her drawl and strangely hypnotizing emphysemic breath, it was a little hard for me to concentrate… until she periodically would burst forth with random questions and observations:
“Male guardian angel! Who is your male guardian angel?”
As I scoured my brain for likely suspects (and honestly, neither of my deceased grandpas seemed to fit the bill), I finally landed on Channing Tatum. We both busted out in a Chianti-spiked chortle when I said that, so I took it as a yes.
The psychic then became a little focused on my daughter, which initially made me nervous, but given that I’d tipped my hat by revealing “dat baby” is 15 years old, made perfect sense. A slew of cards supported the idea that she is empathetic, kind and therefore especially susceptible to the cruelty of mean girls.
My job, according to the psychic, is to surround the kid with white light and protect her from those who would do her harm.
If that ain’t the definition of motherhood, then honestly I don’t know what is. Even as a grown ass lady, I’m all about the Girl Code, and I spend a lot of time teaching my kid about it.
Plus since the minute I realized I was pregnant with the first baby, I’ve been full o’ prayers to keep the kiddos safe.
Again, I didn’t need a psychic to tell me about the joy of worry.
Finally, she moved into the meat of the reading: what the hell did the cards hold pour moi?
That everything she threw down was career-focused was both encouraging and terrifying at the same time. I’m in the throes of a bonafide reemergency, so the idea that anything I laid my mitts on was related to sorting that midlife shit out made full-on sense to me.
“It’s coming… in three days…three weeks… three months…”
Of course three is an auspicious number, and there is a big difference between three days, three weeks and three months. Still, as she focused on the myriad upcoming awesome opportunities for me, she zeroed in on the one thing that she said that made a whole helluva lot of sense to me:
“Get it in writing!”
And suddenly, the psychic’s face morphed into someone else’s: my mother’s.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten from my mother — “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate” — was exactly what the shit-faced psychic pulled out of her bag of tricks.
As she urged me, over and over, to go the distance and have my colleagues, co-creators and clients sign on the dotted line, I thought about all the times I’ve caved to the path of least resistance thanks to a lethal combo platter of shaky self-esteem and outright laziness.
And then I thought about my newest client that essentially was getting my hard work on spec, no signatures anywhere. My brain then darted to my street savvy lawyer client whose #1 piece of advice is always YES, YOU NEED A CONTRACT.
Did I need a psychic to tell me to get my business in order?
While you might think not, all I have to say is I spent the plane ride home from New Orleans reviewing contracts and also napping. (I had to do SOMETHING with that Chianti hangover, now didn’t I?)
So if you see me dotting i’s and crossing t’s, just know that while nobody can predict the future, there are definite steps you can take to make sure it plays out how you want. Success may be in your cards, but if I were you, I’d get it in writing.
I’m calling it here and now: 2016 is the Year of the Vagina.
We are in a post-modern vag-world now, y’all. Our nether region, once taboo in mainstream media, has become a pretty much daily staple, thanks to celebs like Kim Kardashian, whose Constagrammed cooze and serial spreading for mags is surely an inspiration to us all and Gwyneth Paltrow, who’s opened our eyes to the Mugworth V-Steam (“an energetic release — not just a steam douche…”) as a the “it” girl of spa treatments and homemade lube alike.
Although these bold illustrations surely indicate that penis envy is out, cooter coveting is in, the vaginal tipping point for me is the idea that periodsare FINALLY FUNNY.
In one night I caught up on the Season 3 finale of Broad City and a recent episode (#4) of Inside Amy Schumer, and found a wealth of menstrual material.
First off, Broad City’s finale about BBFs Abbi and Ilana heading to Israel on a “Birthmark” (riff on Birthright) trip had a hashtag that said it all — #therewillbebLOOd. (Periods aside, there was a freakin’ hysterical joke about the “mohel chai” club, too.) The two-part finale was essentially a running gag about menstruation that started with Ilana going through security wearing a Shark Tank-worthy innovation: period-stained pants that kept drug-sniffing dogs from finding the weed she was smuggling in her vagina, and ended with her fashioning a homemade tampon for Abbi from a pita and various other, uhm, inventive materials that was mistaken for a bomb.
(Note: What’s NOT so funny about that is while what Ilana made for Abbi was incredible, edible and (relatively) safe, you’d never chow down on real tampons cuz they’re chock full o’ toxins — back to Goop for some info about glyphosate-treated cotton, which is the chemical used in the pesticide Round-Up that may cause cancer… and is present in basically all non-organic cotton items… like tampons, for example. And don’t forget about dioxin — also a controversial chemical that is used in tampons to make ’em all purty and white. Not enough for the FDA to worry about… but maybe you should think twice? To be fair, the FDA isn’t wrong about the idea that a little trace toxin won’t necessarily kill ya, but consider the fact that the average woman will use 9,6000 tampons in her lifetime. In my opinion, that’s a lot of time spent with potential poisons in your pussy. Time to buy yourself and your daughter some alt period wear like DivaCups or Thinx!)
On the heels of watching Broad City, I flipped over to Inside Amy Schumer, and lo and behold, the entire episode was basically about periods — from “Madame President,” which satirizes how “lady problems” could theoretically, cataclysmically and hilariously grind everything to a halt (no woman believes that shit, but some men might, just sayin’), to a jazzy solution for taking the tampon walk of shame to your work’s restroom. (If you missed it, the episode is here.)
When a couple of male comedians shot down the idea of period sex cuz it “smells like pennies,” I literally LOL’d — I mean, c’mon — when we can ALL laugh at periods, that’s the ultimate equalizer, amiright? (Also, it lends credence to the term “coin purse,” which is one of the more colorful slang terms for vaginas.)
Speaking of “Madame President,” the other thing that makes 2016 the Year of the Vagina is it’s ALL we can talk about when it comes to our presidential election. Whether we’re being told to vote with our vaginas or NOT to vote with our vaginas, it’s all about, well, voting with our vaginas.
As a side note, I’m guessing that Donald Trump must be really, truly hoping that people with vaginas won’t use their genitalia to vote — as the New York Times pointed out, the best word to describe his private relationships with women is “complicated.” (Over here at Bitch’in Suburbia, we just calls it as we sees it — and Trump has a bad case of PMS — Patriarchal Misogynistic Syndrome. In other words, much like his multiple millions, he inherited something else from his daddy: total disdain the very people who will make up more than 50% of the voting population come November.)
Does it worry Trump that the word vagina comes from the Latin root meaning “sheath for a sword?”
(This is a rhetorical question, and also one I really wish Megyn Kelly would’ve asked him — especially since he made her menstrual cycle the butt of a [not funny] joke. You’d have thunk that someone with “gyn” in the middle of her name would’ve played a little more lady hardball with the Donald, but not so much…)
Vaginas in general make excellent decisions vs. penises in my opinion.
Witness these vagtastic statistics:
Women have nerve, and the driver of that ballsy boat is sensitivity:
Look no further than the magnificent clitoris, which sports 8,000 nerve endings — about double the amount that penises have. Clits spread the good word to 15,000 other nerve endings, awakening the dragon and arousing the warrior in all of us.
Vaginas are a muscular feat and a show of strength all in one tidy package: A Russian woman once lifted a 31-pound weight with her vagina. But we don’t need extraordinary displays of weight lifting prowess to prove our power — we routinely birth babies anywhere from six to nine pounds, which is akin to pushing a watermelon out of a garden hose. Also, there really is a thing called penis captivus, and it’s just what it sounds like — no dick can escape the wrath of a clamped-down vagina. Maybe that’s ANOTHER thing a Madame President could use to fight terrorists? Just a thought…
Everyone loves vaginas — even Disney: The first movie to use the word “vagina“ on film was Disney’s, The Story of Menstruation, released in 1946. Of course the film wasn’t released theatrically — it was a glorified ad shown to 105 million girls about “that time of the month” — AND the blood was shown as white, not red. But still, Disney busted that cherry.
Vaginas, like everything else about women, are totally self-sufficient: Much like the other kind of pussies (cats, people, I’m talking about CATS!), vaginas are self-cleaning. Natural secretions, or discharge, are the special sauces in our “self-cleaning ovens.” In fact, it’s things like perfumed soaps, smelly douches and other products geared toward masking the scent of a woman that can cause problems, as these items can upset the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels and irritate the lady bits.
So if you see me having a cackle with my camel toe, just know that I’m reveling in the Year of the Vagina. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have to go page Mike Hunt…
In the meantime, enjoy this hi-larious Funny Or Die clip featuring the vagtastic Mary Lynn Rajskub (CHLOE!), with a funny ass video about voting with your vagina —
The last couple of weeks have been a blur as I’ve been down the rabbit hole with a sick child.
If you’re a parent, or even have a pet you adore, you know how that illness sitch goes: routines be damned, time stands still and you shore up in your nest, focusing all your healing energy on your baby.
When you emerge, it’s like leaving a movie theater after watching a traumatizing film, say about evil clowns or demonic puppets — you blink your eyes, attempting to focus as bright light shocks your system.
Try as you may, it’s nearly impossible to shake off that unnerving feeling that nothing is the same and nobody is safe.
And then I turned on the radio for the first time in a couple of weeks, and the first word I heard confirmed my worse fears… it was… OLDCHELLA.
Talk about shuffling off this mortal coil — in bedroom slippers and a drool-stained robe to the strains of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
If you don’t know what “Oldchella” is (because your kid is sicker than mine or you’re technically dead), it’s a megaconcert to be put on by Coachella producer Goldenvoice over two weekends, October 7-9, 2016 and October 14-16, 2016 featuring classic rock giants (dinosaurs?) The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who. The average age of the rockers is 71.7; at a price tag of around a grand, you better hope you get some sort of AARP discount or maybe they take Medicare?
I’d almost rather have ringside seats at Sherman’s Deli to watch the concertgoers battle the Palm Springs residents over the early bird special.
The actual name of the concert is “Desert Trip” — and I’m assuming it’s less about acid and more about parked walkers and canes strewn about that ensure the tripping factor is high at the festival — but you know who dubbed it “Oldchella?”
Freakin’ Mick Jagger himself!
If that’s not the lead horseman of the Apocalypse, I don’t know who is. (Although I always thought Keith would have that honor…)
I know the loss of Bowie and Prince freaked everyone out, and not in the good sense of the word “freak” — but c’mon, this feels like kicking the tires on a hearse to me.
And yet… I’m SO IN!
Are you kidding me? A chance to see the classics and even introduce my kiddos to the original people that created them?
Worth the price of admission, even if I’ll probably need a vat of Prozac to recover from the shock of seeing the rockers I cut my teeth on singing through their dentures.
Still reeling from Oldchella, the next mistake I made was watching SNL’s annual Mother’s Day “tribute” sketch — not just on my DVR, but littered all over my Facebook timeline.
Did we learn nothing from the trauma that was “Mom jeans?”
Let me backtrack and say the viewing was on the heels of a healing retail therapy trip to West Elm where I fondled a variety of candles, seriously considered the blue sea glass vase collection for my bathroom, and ended up buying $270 worth of rustic glasses and dishware to gussy up my chipped and mismatched collection from the last couple of decades. With a certain farm-to-table je ne sais quoi, I was feeling pretty pleased with my new home goods look.
For years now, I’ve been sporting a ‘do that looks like “a soft waterfall in the front, but knives in the back.” My own personal “curtains in the front, iron throne in the back.” And NO I can’t leave a wedding without snagging a centerpiece and YES I litter my house with candles in that I never light. My bathroom is styled like a seashore and it’s only thanks to tremendous restraint that I don’t have cow knick-knacks strewn about my kitchen.
WHEN DID I — YOU — BECOME A CLICHÉ?
After all, many of us managed to resist the siren song of the minivan all these years. That MUST count for something.
And while clinging desperately to fading youth is our society’s favorite pastime, there are times that maybe the best thing to do is to let go and embrace our inner tropes.
So if you see me popping some pills before heading out to Oldchella, just know ecstasy’s out, glucosamine is in. All the excesses of our youth have smoothed out the bumps in the gray matter and that is actually a good thing. Top that sucker off with an easy, breezy cunning short ‘do, and Audrey Hepburn’s got nothing on you. (Cindy Crawford, on the other hand, just might…)
Now, enjoy “The Cut” – and try to remember it’s satire, just satire. And all those young beyotches in the sketch will get “the cut” in real life soon enough…
Last weekend I went to my first baby shower in many moons…. ever since I said “goodnight moon” to breeding some 15 years ago.
The mom-to-be is in her ninth month; as I watched her drape tiny onesies, precious caps, baby gangstah hoodies, miniature t-shirts and wee shorts over her built-in clothes rack belly, I couldn’t help but let out a few involuntary gasps.
Not because the of wardrobe — although who knew that giraffes were the gender-neutral IT creature of the infant set nowadays? — but because of all the amazing things my mommy-to-be friend has to look forward to:
That feeling you get when you hold that previous tiny bundle in your hands for the first time and are hit by a zillion pound realization that NOTHING will ever be the same.
The first feeding, when “doing what comes natural” and breastfeeding is actually not all that natural, it turns out. Nor is almost anything maternal that you thought you knew. Much like Jon Snow, your little Wildling is proof positive that you know nothing.
Being annoyed in the hospital by the nurses waking you once or twice during the night to feed your newborn… only to realize once you get home that was the last good night’s sleep you had… ever again. Or at least it’ll feel that way.
Getting into a routine with the baby, which not only takes time but is also at the expense of all other routines — work, “alone time” with your partner, hanging out with your friends, your personal hygiene regime, your workouts, getting back into your non-maternity wear and well, everything.
Projectile poop. It’s a rite of passage, y’all.
The feeling that the only book you’ll finish reading ever again is the aforementioned Good Night, Moon. Even Dr. Seuss feels like heavy lifting in the early days. And forget that stack of magazines, newspapers and your own books, too. Your “mommy brain” is a combo platter of sleep deprivation, abject terror from looking up everything in the What to Expect… books and hormones. For all those aspiring dictators out there, if you could bottle the essence of mommy brain, you would NEVER be challenged because nobody would ever be able to read, think or effectively function other than burping, changing diapers, rocking and pacing around in circles with the ultimate goal of getting to nap time.
The list could easily go on, but the point is this: the initiation into motherhood has NOTHING to do with taking baby steps. It is all about a magnificent yet terrifying leap from the Mountain of Self into a deep, endless Sea of We. (Sea of Wee?)
For the first few years, things are a total blur. For example, one time in a total sleep deprived haze at a kiddie concert in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, I can remember begging my mother-in-law to promise me that things would get easier.
She smiled, knowingly, and said, “I’ll raise you one — not only is it easier, you’ll barely remember this. So stay present and enjoy it.”
As I recall, I was busy wiping sour milk spit-up from the last clean shirt I had and her sage words seemed fully insane and also ironic.
Cut to today, where I recently was organizing old photos and realized that I had no good way to say exactly how old my kids were in most photos, nor could I remember where we were or what we were doing in so many of the shots.
Which made my mother-in-law’s words that much more prescient — and super ironic because that conversation was one of few distinct memories from my kids’ early childhoods.
And then one day you wake up and realize that your kids are pretty much self-sufficient. They have their own friends, their own plans, their own wheels, their own cash, and well, their own lives.
This has been a very heavy trip for me, and I’m guessing it is (or will be) for you, too.
My choice — and I am SO LUCKY to have this choice — has always been the fuzzy gray area between full-on career woman and at-home mom. It has been a source of enormous joy and also deep frustration at times; and it’s only recently that I feel my kids are ready for me to start getting back full-time to kicking ass and taking prisoners.
That I’m ready to fully get that ass-kicking, prisoner-taking career woman show back on the road.
The Monday after the baby shower I have to say things were really looking up. My new content marketing biz, It’s the TruStory, is officially launched, and I just got word that Copyblogger has approved me as a Certified Content Marketer. I had several inquiries on throughout the day from potential clients, and the groove was starting to feel, well, groovy.
The icing on the cake was that the Kickstarter campaign for the short film, HOME IS WHERE THE PARK IS, which is adapted from a 10-minute play I wrote, was going along swimmingly. (To ALL who have backed it, THANK YOU AGAIN!!! Together we can create beautiful things =)
Around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, I was awakened from a deep slumber to the sound of a child screaming, “Mommy!”
Having plenty of training over the last decade and a half in the various permutations of bodily fluids, I knew instinctively it was a bile-driven yelp, and sure enough, almost crashed into my daughter as she flew into the bathroom.
Within a few minutes, my intuition told me this was no ordinary flu bug. An unusual pain that sounded like heartburn was searing its way from my daughter’s belly into her chest. It was so vicious that it made her cry.
And not just an ordinary bawl, either. You know that cry when the kid is really hurting, and it looks like a Godzilla flick where the beast opens its mouth and there’s a horrendous pause before the actual sound comes out?
Yup, it was that one.
Before you could say “Goodnight, moon,” we’d made our way to the ER. All that muscle memory of being kept awake in the wee hours came flooding back, although this time I was filled with adrenalin vs. breast milk. (Less nutritious, far less delicious.) And although she was discharged after just a few hours, it was clear by midday the following day that all was still not well… so back to the hospital it was.
The ensuing days in the pediatric ward were nerve-wracking, nail-biting, and in a strange way, sorta fun (I’ll take my mother-daughter bonding time where I can get it! Although next time make my overnights at the Ritz…)
That the room we were assigned to had a giant giraffe painted over my daughter’s bed gave me comfort and convinced me that not only are giraffes this year’s gender-neutral “IT” creatures, they’re also kick ass, lucky spirit animals for moms and babies of all ages.
And so while we did get to the bottom of things and the awesome news is she’s on the mend, the ultimate diagnosis was this:
EVERY step a woman takes from the time she gives birth until her last step will be a baby step. It may involve tremendous accomplishments, huge successes, and incredibly satisfying strides ahead on her path to self-realization, but when crisis hits, every baby wants his or her mommy. And so we step right back into the role that we chose all those years ago.
And that, my bitches, is why we get cards and meals and flowers and presents on Mother’s Day. We earn that shit over and over with some serious blood, sweat and tears.
So if you see me fighting back the water works at a baby shower, just know that it’s a mom’s right to get the feels any damn time she wants. After all, the struggle – and the snuggle – is real. (I’m just quoting the best onesie I saw, ya’ll!)
You come home from grocery shopping with three bags on either arm, fumble for your keys, loudly shove them in the lock, stagger through the front door to the kitchen… only to realize that every member of your family is sitting in the family room, in technology-induced trances, and not a single soul even glances your way as you slam the bags on the counter.
Or maybe it’s a girls night out — you head to the local watering hole, saddle up to the bar… and watch, for 20 minutes or more, as the bartender serves everyone else (from cute 20-something girls to bros and even men of a certain age that look like good tippers) BUT you.
Perhaps you catch the eye of someone you know from PTA or somewhere else where being visible gives your kid a boost (so you hope/pray/guess) — and then that person plays the “You see me, but I don’t see you game” and looks right through you.
While you might feel invisible, the reason these things happen is easy to see:
You want something from them.
Whether it’s assistance, acknowledgement or just plain old human connection, in today’s world it’s far too simple to make excuses, glom on to distractions and avoid interactions.
Look, I get it — as a chronic multi-tasker, I have plenty of random things that can easily occupy all of my time and attention. Left to my own devices — and by devices, I primarily mean my senses-numbing smartphoneand the vast abyss that is Words with Friends— and I can go hours if not days without making eye contact with another human.
And what a lonely, meaningless pit that whole shebang can be.
My alter ego, a turnt (off) ‘n burnt (out) mom, Jessica, hits a wall when her car breaks down outside a park. Her lunatic rantings summon a sage hobo (his word, not hers =) to her rescue.
How he saves her is simple: he listens to her.
Conversation, debate, sympathy, understanding and empathy ensue. A satisfying connection is made. And preconceived notions of what another person is all about are blown apart because in the end, we are all just one breakdown away… amiright?
But this of course is fiction, so I decided to take my theories on the road… all the way to Venice Beach where I decided that I’d put myself out in the real world to see what it would take to genuinely connect with strangers by asking and giving all at the same time.
If you don’t know Amanda Palmer, she’s a freakin’ amazing musician, artist, writer, visionary, and all -around kick ass broad. (That’s my opinion — she can be pretty controversial out there in the wild world of the Internets, too.) Amanda is also legendary for perhaps the most successful music Kickstarter of all time: she had $100,000 as a goal, but ended up raising more than 10x that — $1.2 million.
Amanda’s early career included her busking (being a street performer) in Cambridge’s Harvard Square as “The 8 Foot Bride,” where she acted as a living statue that handed flowers to strangers in meaningful, connect, albeit silent ways.
While I’d be at that sort of thing because I’m not theatrical like Amanda, I decided that I should work with my strength, which is writing — I figured offering up a custom-crafted, perfectly complimentary sentence should do the trick. Doing it in a pink wig, purple sunglasses, a t-shirt that read, “Careful or you’ll end up in my next novel,” and a pair of universe-splattered leggings was my nod to the joie de vivre of street performance. For good measure, I brought along my rescue Chihuahua, Chazz Michael Michaels, who himself had been a man of the streets for four years before he was picked up by the pound. He has an unnerving, cold, dead-eyed stare, but he’s so small it registers as adorable.
In addition to the complimentary sentence, I’d also have available my mom’s amazing brisket recipe and a slew of Grateful Dead teddy bears, just in case potential donors didn’t have time to wait for me to write something special for them. All would be offered for free, without any expectation of raising funds, although I would let it be known that would be greatly appreciated, too.
I figured I’d make about $50 or $100, and be much richer for the experience as well.
Some, but definitely not all, of that prediction came true.
First off, busking is hard work. In an area full of street performers, it took me a while to find a spot in Venice Beach that was both “legal” and also where I would not be harassed by my fellow buskers.
That sounds like an exaggeration, but when I set up my little table and chair in the first designated area I found, a man came over and told me some “vicious acrobats” wouldn’t take to too kindly to me setting up shop in their normal spot and would likely kick my ass.
Moving right along then, I finally found a space next to a relatively peaceful bunch of acid trippers, one of who had a sign up asking for money for his pregnant girlfriend.
At first I felt sorry for him, but after a few minutes of him telling me that I should drop the offer of the brisket recipe and stop promising people that I’d write them a “perfectly complimentary sentence” because “nobody knows what the fuck that is,” and instead to flip over to telling men they could get lucky if they’d get their lady a free teddy bear, I started feeling more sorry for myself.
Another woman, Rain, showed me how to find “beads” (sparkling pieces of broken glass), and for her payment, was very pleased with a fistful of teddy bears and a complimentary sentence about her vivid blue eyes and ability to find diamonds in dirt. She smiled as she read her sentence, and then declared that in her opinion, I’d do much better if I’d push up my boobs, and to prove her point, she juggled her own for a few seconds and then whispered a poignant, parting message in my ear: “Padded bras are how I do it.”
While connecting with members of my busking tribe was not a problem, getting anyone else to stop for even a split second proved impossible. Finally, after about a half-hour, a nice lady with a big smile on her face came right over to me.
I immediately launched into my spiel, but before I could finish explaining about the brisket recipe, she reached into a little wagon she was pulling, grabbed a sandwich and handed it to me.
“Oh no — I don’t need that,” I said. “I’m actually raising funds and awareness for a short film I co-wrote called ‘Home is Where the Park Is.'”
“I’ll just leave it for later. We also have free dog food if you need,” she said, once again not remotely acknowledging what I’d just said.
“OK, but I’m a filmmaker,” I said, more loudly now. The lady just smiled and repeated, “Really, we have plenty of free dog food.”
Either “I’m a filmmaker” is LA code for “I’m poverty stricken and homeless” or the charitable lady just wasn’t listening. And suddenly, for the first time all morning, I felt invisible once again.
A couple hours later, after screaming at people about brisket and bears and Tinder profiles (yes, on the advice of my new friend, the dude with the pregnant girlfriend, I shifted “write you a perfectly complimentary sentence” to “write you a Tinder profile guaranteed to get you laid”), I was exhausted. And feeling virtually nonexistent.
And so, I took a break. I removed my sunglasses, rubbed my eyes, and just looked up quietly. At that exact moment, I accidentally caught the gaze of a woman who was walking by.
“Could I interest you in a perfectly complimentary sentence, an amazing brisket recipe, and/or a free teddy bear?” I asked.
We struck up a conversation, and I explained that my busking was in part about doing some live-action work to raise money and awareness for the Home is Where the Park IsKickstarter. We finished our chat with me writing all about her gorgeous, glittery sandals and she tossed a buck in my box.
That dollar was all I earned that day — well, that and a deeper understanding of how to stay visible even when you are doing uncomfortable things like asking other people to support you and/or your passion projects.
So if you see me quoting Amanda Palmer, you’ll know that I’ve experienced firsthand the transformative properties of making myself visible. Because as Amanda says:
“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen.
When you are looked at, your eyes can be closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight.
When you are seen, your eyes must be open, and you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light.
One is exhibitionism, the other is connection.
Not everybody wants to be looked at.
Everybody wants to be seen.”
So here’s to being seen. AND if you’d be so kind as to back the Home is Where the Park Is Kickstarter, then I will craft you a perfectly complimentary sentence OR a Tinder profile guaranteed to get you laid — just email me and let me know you’re a Home is Where the Park Is backer. (Amazing brisket recipe is below — it’s FREE and all yours regardless of if you back the Kickstarter or not =)
We’ve got just one week to hit our goal of $9,125.00 US — we’ve got approximately $3,000 to go — and with your help, we can do it!
And here is your amazing brisket recipe — enjoy!
HOME IS WHERE THE PARK IS KICKSTARTER PRESENTS: Amazing Brisket*
5 lbs. of brisket
1 cup ketchup
1 cup ginger ale
1 envelope Lipton’s Onion Soup mix
2-3 cut up onions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix the ketchup, ginger ale and Lipton’s Onion Soup mix.
Put onions on the bottom of a large roasting pan, then put the brisket on top of the onions.
Pour the mixture over the meat, and cover the pan tightly with tin foil.
Bake, covered, for 3 ½ – 4 hours, until tender.
Note: Brisket is best made ahead of time. Separate the meat from the gravy, and put both in the fridge, preferably overnight. Slice the meat against the grain, skim the fat from the gravy, and put them back together to reheat. ENJOY!*
* Full disclosure: One of the Venice Beach trippers told me his brisket recipe is way more amazing than mine. So this might be the second most amazing brisket recipe there is.
Oh my bitches, we’ve gotta broken heart again — don’t we?
First Bowie, now Prince. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that it’s been a devastating few months for humankind.
These artists changed the landscape, the style, the conversation, the sentiment and the funk.
Permanently, and hallefuckingluyah for that.
I could spout a ton of information about Prince Rogers Nelson, aka Prince, aka The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, but of course we can get detailed bios and intimate details of the storied life of the legendary performer elsewhere.
Here on Bitch’in Suburbia, as we gather together to get through this thing called life, I’m going to share a few memories of and thoughts about Prince in hopes that you’ll do the same in the comments.
Those of us GenXersthat were in high school or college got turnt on by Price through Purple Rain — the movie and the soundtrack.
For me, the film came out the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Of life’s many transitions, that one was a real doozy. Knowing I wasn’t a child anymore, but not necessarily ready to stand on my own two feet, I could TOTALLY relate to Prince’s character, “The Kid,” who was also a crazy jumble of angst and drama as he attempted to break free of his familial bonds, while also trying to be a star and score a hot bae to boot.
OK, maybe our story specifics weren’t the same, and maybe I did overdo it trying to look like Apollonia (lemme just say the “freshman 15” and corsets weren’t the exact best combo platter) BUT Purple Rain was very literally on constantly throughout my freshman year.
The first picture I took with my BBFs from college I made photo copies of and scrawled on it, “The Beautiful Ones.”
Our first road trip together was to Detroit (OK, not Minneapolis but close enough) to see Prince play a tiny theater downtown. We rented a Caddy (I’m not kidding), pulled on our lace gloves, and danced our asses off. The smell of sweaty Aquanet will forever remind me of Prince.
That and the moment I lost whatever innocence I had left watching him embody everything amazing about human sexuality when he played “Darlin’ Nikki.”
As soon as we got home, it was a headfirst dive into Prince’s early works, like Controversy and Dirty Mind.
Made you (me) wanna be his lover — I mean, c’mon, I can’t even… witness: “Head,” “Sister,” and “Do It All Night.”
SO DAMN GOOD.
But Prince wasn’t just about sex; he was also deeply spiritual, quite an activist, and also fully ahead of his time. In fact, the song, “Controversy” was my fave then and still is — check out how the lyrics, written in 1981, are completely relevant today:
I just can’t believe all the things people say Controversy Am I black or white, am I straight or gay? Controversy Do I believe in god, do I believe in me? Controversy Controversy Controversy I can’t understand human curiosity Controversy Was it good for you, was I what you wanted me to be? Controversy Do you get high, does your daddy cry? Controversy Controversy Controversy
Do I believe in god, do I believe in me? Some people want to die so they can be free I said life is just a game, we’re all just the same, do you want to play? Yeah, oh yeah Controversy Controversy Controversy Controversy Controversy Controversy….
Listen People call me rude, I wish we all were nude I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules… (Repeat, baby, repeat!)
Don’t you wish that too? AND FOR GD’s sake, DON’T YOU WANT TO PLAY?
Not to be a starfucker, but I once met Wendy Melvoin (as in, “Wendy? | Yes Lisa | Is the water warm enough? | Yes Lisa | Shall we begin? | Yes Lisa) and almost had a nervous breakdown from beingthisclose to The Revolution (now just Wendy & Lisa).
Sitting in the softball stands watching the Lady Bombers play ball, I became friends with the legendary music manager/producer/music industry honcho, Bob Cavallo, who managed Prince through the mid-80s. I won’t say I bullied him for details about that heyday, but I feel like the word “badger” was about right. Bob confirmed to me all the genius, and perhaps a touch of madness, that fueled the artist when he was actually known as Prince.
As a grown ass woman, whenever I need a fix of happiness I grab some Prince. The last time I saw him play, five years ago at LA’s Forum, he was just as nimble and raunchy and fabulous as ever before.
And just last December, I donned a raspberry beret (or something like that) and witnessed the brilliance that is Princess, Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum’s Prince tribute band.
In full Apollonia make-up, and my 1985 Purple Rain tour t-shirt.
Singing at the top of my goddamn lungs.
These are all just random thoughts that keep flowing through my brain as I try to process the grief in losing yet another beloved idol.
There is actually a scientific reason that we’re so nostalgic for the tunes of our youth, by the way. Music in general stimulates our cerebrum (or did we learn NOTHING from “Baby Mozart”), so it follows that when our brain is doing the most dynamic growth of our lives, between the ages of 12 and 22, certain jams get stuck in our neural grooves. (Or grooviness, depending on your artists of choice.) (For more on this note, check out this excellent 2014 piece on Neural Nostalgia in Slate.)
What cements the music there are the emotions and the hormones that make indelible connections to those memories.
And for that I’d like to thank Prince for paving the way to my holy alliance with getting down and getting super fucking funky.
Prince didn’t need to die so he could be free.
But he did always say he would die 4 u.
So if you see me mounting a purple motorcycle, my ruffles and gigantic teased hair flying in the wind, just know that I’m working on being not so damn human… I’d like to be a dove — all conscious, all love. I mean, wouldn’t you?
All we need to do is to believe.
So believe this my bitches — we are all much better off for having grooved in the time of Prince’s Purple Reign.
May he rest in diamonds, pearls, perhaps a little red corvette, maybe a hotel lobby… and yes, in peace.
I meant RAGER JOE’S, which is what I call it the second I pull into the parking lot and realize that the person who designed their goddamn tiny-ass parking lots probably also devises evil Halloween corn mazes in his or her spare time for shits ‘n giggles.
For the record, I HATE Halloween corn mazes. They’re right up there with puppets, clowns, carnies and Victorian dolls in terms of fear and loathing.
The saddest part about this particular Sunday morning excursion is that it came on the heels of a perfectly delightful group meditation session.
Astute readers of this here blog know that I’ve been working with some pent up aggression of late. Trying hard to stop being so damn scrappy, letting go of grudges and generally doing the work to get centered and be a happier, healthier human being.
I didn’t lose it immediately — in fact, the second I walked in the store and heard the soothing strains of Hall & Oates, I took a deep healing breath and let it out while sniffing a few melons, which always calms me down.
But then, predictably enough, the offenses began to mount. Ear-splitting howls of a shopping cart bound, tantrum-throwing child drowned out the dulcet tones of the TJ’s soundtrack. There was a pile-up between the produce and meat areas that kept me trapped in front of raw chicken for several minutes longer than I would’ve liked. A lady yammering away on her cell phone was parked right in front of the olive oils so I had to uncomfortably shift around her in order to grab my favorite extra virgin. (That sounds dirty but believe me, it wasn’t fun.) Finally, a dust-up in the wine section completed the half-hour horror show, confirming my theory:
Sunday shopping at Trader Joe’s is totally Dante’s 10th Circle of Hell.
I know, I know — first-world problems, right?
But still, I was truly bummed that the post-mediation calm was so quickly replaced with anger and frustration.
And then, a funny thing happened on the way out of the parking lot.
Unlike getting in, which can take an eternity, getting out was relatively quick. A half-dozen cars hauled ass out of the lot ahead of me, and as I turned the corner to the back exit, I saw a woman and her teen daughter standing quietly against the cement wall.
The ladies were dressed in their Sunday best — the mom wore a colorful skirt and a pretty pink sweater; the daughter had on skinny jeans, cute sandals and a magenta and black striped top.
They could’ve been anyone I knew, except I didn’t know them. And when I looked more carefully, I realized why.
In the woman’s hand was a cardboard sign that said, “We’re hungry and need food. God bless you.”
My first-world problems didn’t have shit on theirs.
I pulled over and filled a bag of groceries, which I handed to the mother. I also happened to have in my trunk a bright yellow Forever Tiny One bag stuffed to the gills with outgrown clothes that I’d intended to drop off at Good Will. The daughter took the bag with a shy smile.
Don’t think for a minute I’m writing this to pat myself on the back. Actually, I drove away feeling like a complete dick. All that ridiculous frustration about food shopping. I didn’t have to think twice about any of it — the money for the groceries, the time, the wheels to get me to and fro, the house that has a refrigerator and pantry to stick it all in — none of it.
By the time I got home, I was pretty worked up. It got worse as I looked around and noticed that the chores I’d asked my kids to do before I left (put away their laundry, clean up their rooms) still weren’t done. They were out to lunch — literally — so I sent them a relatively calm text saying as soon as they were done, they should come right home and do what I’d asked them to do.
Then my oldest sent a sarcastic text back (which is not totally out of character for our family text chains), and I lost it.
“I’m SO DAMN SICK of asking you guys multiple times to do what you should know is your responsibility. It’s not funny.”
The hasty sorry I got in response did nothing to stop my spinning.
“I just gave groceries and clothes to a girl and her mom and a bag of hand me downs, too. We have so much – gotta realize how HOW LUCKY YOU ARE TO HAVE A ROOM, NEVER MIND STUFF IN IT.”
Full words + all caps in a text – heart-blowing happy face emoji = SCREAMING MOMMY LOSING HER SHIT.
Minutes later, my contrite kids rushed through the door and went straight to their rooms to do what I’d asked. Still, I couldn’t help thinking that all my raging, not to mention elaborate playing of the mom-guilt card, didn’t really shift anything.
I thought about earlier in the day at my group meditation when the leader talked about how we all have stresses and grief in our lives. Someone who’s lost a loved one, even a pet, can feel as traumatized as someone who’s in an abusive relationship. Comparing our lives from afar to others’ in order to force empathy is not necessarily a fruitful act — especially when it’s not even something you’ve experienced firsthand.
Recognizing that we are not alone in our suffering is where things really begin.
Take away qualifiers around words (for example, first-world) and problems are problems.
I thought back to the women I gave the clothes and the groceries to. We didn’t utter a single word to one and other, but I got her. I have a daughter around the same age, and while feeding her is a big chunk of what I do every day, I know she’d much rather have a bag of cute new outfits to wear.
I could relate 100% on that level.
I know I would do whatever it takes to provide for my kids.
Again, relating 100% on that level, too.
So while I didn’t know the other mom’s particular story, as soon as I dropped my assumptions about what I didn’t know about her, and moved to a place of relating and understanding from a place I did know, all that anger and frustration faded away.
Also, once I stopped judging myself and gave myself a little love, some genuine happiness and yes, gratitude rolled in.
Because after all, being grateful isn’t about making yourself feel bad that you have more or a better situation than someone else; it’s all about finding the good in whatever comes your way, and focusing your attention and appreciation on that. And paying it forward is a sure way to bring some positive connection into your day to day.
This is also the point of the short play, which is now being turned into a short film, that I wrote called Home is Where the Park Is.
The tagline for the movie is, “We’re all just one breakdown away…”
It’s the human condition, y’all. Strip away the preconceived notions of one and other, and you’ll always be surprised at how much we have in common.
Speaking of Home is Where the Park Is, the Kickstarter campaign to fund the film is going on for the next three weeks. It’s all about what you gain when you lose things — like a vehicle that works, your cell phone, your dignity, your sanity (even temporarily) and how you find the more important stuff along the way.
Speaking of breakdowns, I recently had an amazing opportunity on the React Channel’s “Lyric Breakdown” to analyze the words of Kendrick Lamar’s, “How Much a Dollar Cost” from his Grammy award-winning, critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly. President Obama called the song his favorite of the year — check out the lyrics and you’ll understand why:
So if you see pimpin’ for the Home Is Where the Park Is Kickstarter, just remember the cost to make a difference is as low as a little spare change, but what you get from supporting an arts project that is all about starting the conversation to make the shift from apathetic to empathetic is priceless.
It’s got just three little letters, but infinite potential when it comes to opening doors and inviting in opportunities for growth and change.
While it may not be easy to lead with, once you spit it out, you are on the path.
It works best on its own, no buts about it.
It is, by definition, a positive response that can only lead to great results. Even if the outcome is not what you wanted or expected, you are better for just taking that first step from resistance to acceptance.
Here’s the thing about yes, though. NO is a much safer bet much of the time. (And definitely when it’s used as a 4-letter word. I’ll totally say YES to saying NO when someone else is forcing his/her will upon you in an uncomfortable or dangerous way.)
But in the day-to-day, no is usually about grabbing the easy way out. Cuts off the risk, saves you from spinning wheels, protects you from possible rejection.
Be honest — and feel free to say NO to this — is that REALLY how you want to live your life?
That’s the question I asked myself six years ago when I got a call from a friend of a BBF, Elizabeth “Buffy” Wright-Drier, about writing a short play. Buffy was then married to a guy that was directing a series of 10-minute plays called “Quickies” at a local Los Angeles theater, and she wanted to submit her concept for consideration.
Problem was that Buffy was an actress, not a writer.
And so she called to ask me if I would be willing to do the deed and pen the play.
This leads me to the first rule of using YES to get your mojo risen’ —
1. Listen to your Universe when opportunity knocks.
I had a very robust double secret life as a writer at that point; in fact, the timing was prescient, as I had just finished a terrific online class about crafting compelling stories. Problem was, nothing I was noodling with had ever seen the light of day. I needed a reason to venture out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. I figured the worst thing that could happen is I would write something crappy that didn’t get chosen to be included in the show. No big whoop, and so YES it was.
Which led me to the next problem: while I love theater, and from my initial conversation with Buffy had a pretty good idea of where I could take the story, I had no idea where to start when it came to structuring a short play.
2. Fake it till you make it is a reasonable corollary to accepting a challenge.
As soon as I hung up the phone, I immediately Googled “How do I write a short play?” Not only were there a ton of blogs on the subject, I also swiftly found a free Word template that rivaled Final Draft in terms of easy formatting for a theatrical piece.
3. The first yesis only the beginning, so pace yourself as you find your footing.
Once you’re at the starting line and committed to the race, there’s no problem with taking baby steps out the gates. In the case of the play, I had the basics: the setting of the play was a park. (That was the one thing that all the short plays in that particular Quickies series had in common.) The character that Buffy wanted to include was a homeless man who’d chosen to live a life in the streets (or so he’d professed) — this person was loosely based on someone she’d known of. I figured it would work best if I could write what I know, and so the character I dreamt up was a version of myself in a state of high anxiety and conflict; a stressed-out working mom whose car had broken down near a park even as she herself was on the verge of a personal breakdown. The idea that the homeless man was the one that had it all, and the middle-class mama was the one losing it all was very compelling to me. So once I made that connection, the pistons started firing and things started to move forward.
4. Yes is, by definition, an affirmation; I can then becomes your mantra.
I must’ve written a dozen drafts before I had anything remotely worth sharing with Buffy. We then honed it to a point where we were ready to submit the piece we now called Home is Where the Park Is — and wonder of wonders, we got the YES we had worked for! But it came with a caveat: the twisted ending (in which the lovable sage of the streets turns out to be a complete dick) was rejected. In order to keep the spot in the show, I was told I’d have to rework the ending so it had a more positive spin, but I should feel free to keep the sassy snap as well. Yes had gotten me this far, so a blind faith and a big, phat I CAN did the trick.
5. The true power of yes is that it amplifies, multiplies and expands exponentially.
Saying yes to working with people I didn’t know (first Buffy and then the whole Quickies team), taking on a project doing something I’d never done before, and interacting in a new setting (the theater — although do camp plays count?) yielded so many amazing things: new friendships, new collaborations and new opportunities. I’ll always be grateful to Ashley Taylor, the creative genius behind Quickies, Moosie Drier, the fabulous director who brought Home is Where the Park Is to life, and to Richard Horvitz, the amazing actor who portrayed the sage homeless man. Gianna Burke, who so gorgeously played the stressed out mom (and admittedly, my alter-ego) in Home is Where the Park Is brought a friend of hers to see the show — a UK-based screenwriter/author named Lynwood Shiva Sawyer… and he liked it so much that he asked me if I’d give him permission to turn the play into a short film.
By now you know what I said — YES!
6. Yes is always a game changer, and sometimes it’s a life changer.
It took six years and incredible persistence, but Shiva has gotten several amazing people to say YES to Home is Where the Park Is — first, a terrific producer/director, Marianna Dean, joined the team. Then the film’s two stars, Gemma Paget and Justin Aves, were cast. In a review of the original short play, LA Splash reviewer Wayne Bethanis noted that it “…[wasn’t] Shakespearian farce (in the park)…” but now that I hear these proper British actors delivering their lines, I have to wonder about that.
Did I just compare my work to Shakespeare? Why, YES, I think I did…
But truthfully I am so blown away by the myriad opportunities and shift in my own life that happened when I dared to utter that powerful little word.
So if you hear yourself saying yes, just know that I support you wholeheartedly. The best things in this world are happy results of decisions made when no was not an option. To hell with the double negatives, let’s make a spit-pact to always say YES…
And speaking of saying yes, I’m hoping that you’ll start your positive journey right here, right now.
In the title of this post I’ve invoked another powerful word that has the ability to make great things happen: Kickstarter.
Marianna has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise a very modest amount of money (approx. $10,000 U.S.) to shoot the film.
Please check it out and give what you can — every little bit helps so much!
As y’all know, I’m not afraid of chucking a few 4-letter words out there in my blog.
But today I’m going some place different — it’s dark, it’s scary, and it’s not often the subject of an otherwise (relatively) lighthearted “mom” blog like Bitch’in Suburbia.
And that is exactly why I am going there:
Because I am a mother.
Because I am a woman.
Because I stand with Kesha, whose case against Dr. Luke will go well into 2017 if not beyond.
Because I am still outraged about UVA rape case, which thanks to horrendous reporting and a gross, potential “catfishing” scenario at its core, now makes it much harder for women to come forward AND be believed when they claim that they have been sexually assaulted or raped.
And while there is an endless amount of more becauses, I’ll go right to the one that makes it personal: Because I am a victim.
Which I was reminded of when I made a video recently for a contest aimed at igniting the conversation about feminism called #TheFWord, sponsored by SheKnows Media and the Ms. Foundation.
First, a quick overview of the video (which you can watch below): While I’ve always been a feminist, I know that if we’re ever going to level the playing field, we MUST ignite the passion in our daughters to fight for equality. And so I dropped some “F Bombs” — statistics that illustrate gender-based inequities in all aspects of our society — on my daughter’s softball team.
The visual of the girls hitting those balls with all their might makes the case, I feel, in a very powerful, moving way.
F Bombs included things like the fact that only 20% of our congress is female (which means 80% of the laws here in the good ol’ USA are made by men); more than 280 pieces of legislation have been passed at the state level since 2011 that limits or even effectively blocks a woman’s right to choose; women make 78 cents to every dollar a man makes, etc.
But the one F Bomb that incited me most was this: 1 in 6 women will be the victim of rape or sexual assault in her lifetime. (Source: RAINN | Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
In the context of the video, that means that at least 2 girls on my daughter’s team, statistically speaking, will be raped or assaulted. For college girls, that statistic is actually 1 in 4. This happens most when the woman is incapacitated in some way or another.
And actually, that’s my story. I was working as a camp counselor the summer before I was a senior in college, enjoying a night out at a local watering hole towards the end of an otherwise great season. During the course of the evening, a guy I had known for years struck up a flirty conversation with me, and I flirted back.
While I wasn’t obliterated, I certainly had had a few drinks. Eventually I excused myself to go to the bathroom. As I turned to shut the door, I realized the dude had followed me in. I gave him a playful shove and told him to get out. He shoved me back.
Not so playfully.
I stumbled backwards, and landed on the ground. A second later he was kneeling over me, fumbling with his belt buckle. At that point I yelled, “What the hell are you doing?” and kicked him where it counted, hard. He seemed as stunned as I was and quickly ran out of the bathroom. I locked the door behind him, my heart pounding.
As I left the bar, I told a friend what had happened. She must’ve told another friend, who told another… and so on… because the next morning I was called into the camp office.
I figured I was in trouble, so once again, my heartbeat kicked up into high gear.
Instead, I was met with kindness and compassion as the camp director gently asked me what had happened. After protesting that nothing really went down — that I maybe had a little too much to drink and that it was no biggie because I handled it — she quieted me down and said to me the words that every woman who has gone through something like that should hear. “It wasn’t okay, and it wasn’t your fault. We’re going to take care of this.”
After that, the enormity of the situation hit me, and a barrage of emotions overcame me. The shame and guilt was replaced by tears and anger. Still, knowing my bosses were on my side gave me great comfort and hope that justice would be served. The directors of my camp did talk to the directors of the boy’s camp where guy worked.
And while my people asked that they do the right thing and fire him, the directors of the boy’s camp decided otherwise. Because there were only a few days left at camp, and perhaps because in the end, no physical harm had befallen me, the dude was disciplined (no more nights out, poor baby!) but not let go. I was told he was very well liked by the campers, and if he left abruptly, it would be upsetting for the children.
I’m guessing the boy’s camp directors also didn’t want the word to get out that they had a potential rapist on their staff.
And this is exactly why rape — attempted, completed, etc. — is a 4-letter word. It’s just too loaded for so many people, particularly those in power, and so it’s suppressed, minimized, bastardized and often, worst of all, ignored.
(Footnote: I had a vigilante BBF [Best Bastard Forever] that took matters into his own hands and keyed my attacker’s car. So some kind of justice was served.)
And that was that — a story from decades ago. But then a funny thing happened on the way to creating the video I called “#TheFBombs.”
When I described what I was doing to some friends, I couldn’t help but pause when I mentioned the 1 in 6 and 1 in 4. I felt compelled to say I was part of those statistics.
And in every single instance — at least a half dozen times — the woman I was talking to said, “Oh yeah, me too.” And then she’d tell her story.
2 out of 2.
2 out of 2.
2 out of 2.
2 out of 2.
2 out of 2.
2 out of 2.
Which in my itty, bitty poll made it 100%. We’d all experienced some unwanted sexual something — from inappropriate touching all the way to rape.
I knew I had to write about this in my blog, but there was another precipitating event that made it that much more urgent. And no, it wasn’t just noticing how both of my teens — a girl (15) and a boy (16) — are coming into their own. I see their posts on Instagram — cute, sexy, strong, posing, posturing, etc. — and know they’re starting to experience their sexuality and experiment with things as teens are wont to do.
It took opening this week’s Lenny letter and reading the story of author Jessica Knoll’s gang rape at AGE 15(!) — THE SAME AGE AS MY DAUGHTER — which informed her novel Luckiest Girl Alive, to make me realize that NOW is the time to talk to my children about sexual assault and rape.
To teach them what that 4-letter word means to girls and guys alike.
And to make the story personal, because unfortunately pretty much everyone has their own story about times when NO didn’t seem to mean NO. This applies to all parties — from innocent bystanders to perpetrators and victims.
Thing is, NO always means NO. If not to someone else, then to yourself — and so if you have that knowledge, you might just say NO I don’t wanna be here and get the hell out of a bad situation before it turns horrendous.
There are no guarantees and no givens — thanks to shame, fear, peer pressure, guilt and a whole host of other complicating scenarios — and that’s why the statistics are so grim.
So if you see me dropping atomic F bombs (R bombs?) just know that I don’t think anyone is a statistic, and that everyone has a story. TELL is also a 4-letter word, as is STOP and NOOO. (That last one is just for effect but you get my drift).
Now — here’s my #TheFBombs video. It didn’t make it to the final 6 BUT there are some amazing videos that did and that deserve your time and attention. Voting goes through April 3rd, so go VOTE NOW!
Well, mostly all of them. I am very honestly working on the word “fifty,” which has been a hard one to allow to roll off the tip of my tongue and embrace with my whole heart. But after today, I feel like I can drop that load and move on to more important things, like cracking the code for world peaceormeditating on the meaning of life.
For now, though, an exercise in F words feels like a positive distraction and a fun little listicle that I’d love you to join in on (so comment below). For the record, here are my fifty favorite F words, in no real order:
50) Fascination: I find that fascination is an excellent distraction. Once you hook onto something interesting that captures your attention and piques your curiosity, it’s much more likely you’ll finish the task at hand. Or at least have a chance at grabbing a little passion for what you’re doing.
49) Father: While I’m not so happy with the frequency my dad kicks my butt in Words with Friends, I am happy to know that his genetics allow me to pay that butt kicking forward. Also, I will always be my dad’s little girl, and that is the ultimate safety net and blessing.
48) Fangirl: Back in the day, us fangirls were called nerds — a mantle I have always proudly worn. My fangirling started with the Chronicles of Narnia, the V.C. Andrews “Dollanger Series” (hullo, Flowers in the Attic!) and Star Wars, and now has extended to The Walking Dead (I’m just saying I shippedRichonne a year before it became canon — red, hot, sexy canon), Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Blackand Justin Bieber. I know, one of these things is not like the others, but a fangirl’s gotta love what a fangirl loves.
47) Fellowship: This is both a nod to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I loved — especially The Fellowship of the Rings — but wasn’t totally obsessed with AND the idea of fellowship. I always say that common interests and values are the foundation of a solid relationship. It’s the real precious…
46) Freak: Both an excellent dance move AND the perfect way to describe an outlier, I know I’ll always be a freak. (The Bowie kind, y’all — clearly.)
45) Fuzzy: Always connected to warm, I like feeling fuzzy on my feet (socks, people, socks! Take your mind out of the gutter!) and in my head sometimes — it’s an excellent way to relax and unwind.
44) Flip: From Flip Wilson (now you know I’m a child of the 70s!) to flipping someone the bird (ditto!), I love to flip out. Don’t you?
43) Feelings: I love feeling my feelings, because that is the creative juice that fuels the highest of high, the lowest of lows and everything in between. Nothing like a good case of the feels to kick out the jams and resetyour system.
42) Futz: This is a Yiddish word that basically means to waste time doing something. But futzing is a great way to take a break and for me, often leaves me with a spotless house or a solution to an otherwise mundane and annoying problem.
41) Fact: I love to spin, which can be a very disorienting practice. And I’ve learned, thanks to a BBF of mine with both life and learning experience, that when you stick to the facts, you pull out of emotional and other tailspins much faster.
40) Fame: We all deserve our 15 minutes — some more than others:
39) Fonzie: Is it fair that I made the Fonz follow Bowie? Of course — because when it comes to cool, the Fonz is right up there. Until he jumped the shark, of course.
38) Fat: Some people make this a dirty word, but for me, it’s a teaching moment when I explain to my daughter that she’s fat like me.
37) Fear: Such an awesome motivator, fear is! And it’s also often False Evidence Appearing Real. I like to make a practice of facing my fears, with a hall pass for dealing with puppets, clowns, carnies and Victorian dolls.
36) Fuchsia: Both a lovely smelling flower AND the most badass shade of pink. Divine.
35) Festival: Is there anything better than a music festival? The tunes, the scene, the mishmash of styles and people — listening to music in the open air is one of my absolutely favorite activities. I was a huge Lollapalooza fangirl back in the ’90s (or, as we called it back in Boston, Lawnfullaloozahs) and still enjoy Bottle Rocket, Outside Lands and the occasional Coachella — with this year’s headliner, Guns ‘n Roses, I’d say the adage that everything old is new again is terrifyingly real.
34) French Fries: I’m hungry just writing that! There quite literally might not be anything better than a bucket of thin, crisp shoestring fries. In my humble opinion, anyway.
33) Fancy: While I’d describe my regular look as sassy ‘n stained, I do enjoy getting fancy every once in a while.
32) Fever: I’m not talking about the fever you get when you’re sick-sick — I’m talking about this fever:
31) Fight: Ohhhh baby, I love a good fight. Not necessarily with fists or worse, but with an air-clearing words between friends and loved ones that may suck in the moment, but brings you closer in the aftermath. In my opinion, being able to fight and then forgive is one of the most intimate things you can do.
30) Film: There is NOTHING better than getting fully absorbed in a great movie. Also the idea that we can so easily, with our tiny little handheld devices from the future (aka smart phones) capture precious moments on film is one of the greatest gifts of our times. I really believe that =)
29) Field: I spend half my life sitting on the sidelines of some field or another, watching my kids play ball. The smell of sod reminds me that these are the good old days, despite the ups and downs of youth sports.
28) Flow: I love a good, creative flow. Life is so often a series of fits and starts, but on these days when the groove takes you from dawn till dusk with ease and grace — well now, that’s the perfect day, isn’t it?
27) Frida: Frida Kahlo is my favorite artist. From her tortured yet passionate life, to her brilliant, original selfies, political activism and no nevermind monobrow, to me she is the symbol of glorious, feminist creative expression.
26) Flexible: You know how you remember certain random things? I was once standing in line behind a woman who proudly told her friend, “I’m no pretzel, but I can contort.” (This was in Boston so that last word was pronounced, CAN-TAHT.) To me, that’s the definition of flexibility. You don’t have to stretch all the way, but being a bit flexible allows you to fit into places and spaces that will work out to your benefit.
25) French Roast: I like my coffee only slightly lighter than motor oil. Give me a cup of Peets French Roastor give me death! (That’s what most mornings feel like, anyway.)
24) Frank: I’m not a big hot dog fan, so this is not that kind of frank. But I do appreciate when people are honest with me, especially in a constructive way, and I am happy to do the same. Frankness is a deal breaker for some folks that would rather live in another F word – facade – but those aren’t my kinda peeps. (Is that too frank for you?)
22) Fun: My feeling is this; if it’s not fun, why bother? As a little kid this is pretty much the litmus test of all activities, so why would we ever let go of such a simple and true gauge?
21) Fashion: Despite my supermodel past, I really give zero fucks about fashion. This is the kind of fashion I like:
20) Fire: There are SO many fiery things I love – a campfire, A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones, people, Game of Thrones!), and that fire in the belly that is also known as passion. Burn baby burn is all I’m sayin’.
19) Friendly: While I am a self-proclaimed Bitch (‘in Suburbia), it doesn’t mean I’m not friendly as hell. Being friendly has a most excellent outcome — you make friends. Or at the very least people like you, and if we’ve learned nothing from Sally Field, it feels good to be liked.
18) Fantasy: Get your dirty minds out of the gutter — just kidding! I do enjoy a good fantasy, although if you refer back to #48 and #20, you’ll know that I’m as much about fangirl fantasies as I am about the grown-ass woman kind. (Which include someone else doing the laundry and making dinner. Sad I know but then again — so damn easy to make a reality!)
17) Fart: Both an endless source of humor and an important test of how close you are with another human (as in if you can fart in front of him/her, you are CLOSE), who doesn’t love a good fart? EXCEPT when modified by the word “old” — then it’s rotten.
16) Flesh: There are dirty F words, but I’d argue that “flesh” has the most down ‘n dirty ring. And flesh-to-flesh is the best yet!
15) Float: As a young adult, I was a swim counselor. But the truth was I’ve never been much about the actual swimming part. A nice leisurely float, however, is absolutely divine. I’m particularly inspired by Better Call Saul’s Jimmy McGill’s take on floating, which includes having a tropical fruity drink on one side of you and snacks on a mini-float and your cell phone in a plastic baggie on the other.
14) Fresh: Old ‘n stale, or fresh and fantastic I ask you?! No contest. ALSO it’s nice to get fresh with someone every once in a while, too.
13) Flower: Speaking of fresh, the best damn way to perk up your day is to stock a vase with some fresh posies. Flower as a verb is good, too, as we do so much planting of ideas and plots, it’s very gratifying to see them flower.
12) Fair: Life is not goddamn fair — that’s something I learned at my momma’s knee. And that’s exactly why it’s so interesting, challenging and ever-evolving — our collective mission to get our fair share — now isn’t it?
11) Fix: I’m terrible at fixing actual things, but I do enjoy a fix. Chocolate, old man drinks (martinis, Manhattans), binges on my favorite TV shows (see #48) and of course, if you add an x, it’s the Fixx, the legendary 80s band that was totally right — one thing always leads to another.
10) Failure: Everyone screws up at least once or twice or a thousand times, and we’re told this is the way growth happens. The biggest successes have also endured the most crushing failures. Although I do wish there were an easier way, I’ve got a long ass list of rejections and other unsuccessful attempts at many things… that were either protection or stepping-stones, or both.
9) Fine Bros. Entertainment: From the annals of shameless self-promotion and #40, I’m plugging Fine Bros. Entertainment and its head dudes, Benny & Rafi Fine— YouTube pioneers, writers, directors, producers and all-around good guys. I’m a grateful and proud cast member of their Adults React show where I do stuff like this:
Now you know about the condom challenge and… you’re welcome.
8) Funny: If it aint’ funny, I ain’t interested. I mean, are you?
7) Feminism: I am a proud lady American who has been a feminist since the very beginning. I’d like to say that we’ve achieved wage equality and closed the gender gap, smashed the patriarchy, elected women to hold at least half the political seats in this country, eliminated the threat of sexual assault and rape, shattered the glass ceiling, passed the long-festering Equal Rights Amendment, and done everything necessary to level the playing field for girls and women…. but we DEFINITELY haven’t. And so Feminism is a badge of honor I wear and am passing down to my daughter.
6) Foo Fighters: Hands down one of my all-time favorite rock ‘n roll bands — if Dave Grohl isn’t the ultimate music fan boy, I don’t know who is. They might be taking a break now, but my love for the Foos is everlong, and that’s true and also a really bad pun. Hope you’ve seen this — all I’m saying is Nick Goddamn Lachey!
5) Forgiveness: I know it sounds clichéd but without forgiveness, there can’t be love. And without love, there’s no forgiveness. Seems like a solid formula to me!
4) Faith: Don’t worry that I’m going to get all religious on you here — in fact, it’s the opposite. While I am spiritual, my faith is as much about believing in others around you as it is about believing in a higher power. In fact, my favorite quote on faith is from a famous atheist — Greg Graffin of the punk band Bad Religion, who said, “In the family, in interpersonal relationships, even in friendship, faith is tremendously important. If you have a partner who you believe is a good person, then it is your duty to have faith in them until the end, despite the fact that they might have done some bad things. And you have to support and believe in your children.” Amen brutha is all I’m sayin’.
3) Friends: I’m all about making new friends but keeping the old — they’re both solid gold if you ask me. Now cue up some James Taylor, because I’m definitely gonna start weeping.
2) Family: Whether you’re born into one or you form your own, family (along with friends) is the best part of every day and what shapes the direction of your life. This is for better or for worse kind of stuff, but I hope you have a family like mine that’s all for the good.
1) Love: Is always the #1 four-letter word — and I know it doesn’t start with F, but I figured my mom would be much happier if my #1 word on my favorite F words lists wasn’t, well, the F word.
(Although FUCK is ground zero for me — a perfect word because it’s every part of speech — noun, verb, adjective, adverb, determiner, pronoun, preposition, conjunction and an interjection OF COURSE).
So if you see me rattling off F words, just know that when you reach a milestone like (GULP) fifty, you might just feel like there aren’t enough F bombs in the world to get you through. And while you’re probably right, just remember that being a fatalist is fucked, and there’s always more you can do to fly, be free… and fucking fabulous!