It’s Different for Girls



This message is for men, women, young girls, daughters, and sons. Today I type with a heavy hand, despite fear of poor judgement or being misunderstood. But, difficult things sometimes need to be shared.
Back in grad school, one of our professors warned my cohort: “Don’t share too much. Don’t reveal too much personal stuff,” and that struck a chord. Ever since then, I hear his words in the back of my head, when I blog, when I post, when I chat with my girlfriends.
He was right and also wrong.
Silence is what enables wrong doings. Silence is what keeps us repressed. Secrets weigh heavily on our shoulders and suppress us from moving on with our lives.
Like the time I was out with my girlfriends and one of them found it difficult to discuss the changes in her body, the difficulties that come with menopause. Why was she afraid? Why do we, as women worry not share the ugly sides of aging? Why are we silent when we are hurting?
Like the period of my life in California when I dated a young man who abused me. I kept that secret well-hidden for a while, and eventually broke down and told an older friend, a father with four children. The night I decided I’d had enough, the guy I’d loved had threatened me with a knife in our kitchen.
Clear as day, I can see him stabbing a roll of paper towels. I remember the fear that rose up in my belly. Was he going to vent his anger on me next? He’d been mentally and physically abusive in the past, but until the paper towel incident, I never feared for my life.
I raced from my apartment and biked the streets of Santa Monica feeling more alone than I’d ever felt. I remember the wind on my face, the lights and noises of traffic, the shock and confusion, the embarrassment of letting myself get to that point.
I don’t remember the day it happened. I only remember the timeline because I was in school there at the time.
I remember it was the moment I decided to choose life and never let a person have control over me again. I’d hit rock bottom, but I saw light in the proverbial dark tunnel.
I took a leap, broke the silence, and my friend helped me get away from my abusive beau.
After that, it was hard to trust men. It was even harder to trust my own judgement. Six months later, I met the man who would one day become my husband, the father of my children, and much later my ex. I remember calling his step-brother, the person who’d introduced us, and asking him, “What’s wrong with him? He seems so nice, but he must be an ax murderer if I like him.”
I’d said it half-jokingly, but the truth was, I didn’t believe a nice man would like me. Not ever again.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
It took years to heal, and there are still broken parts of me, like a china pot that had shattered and been glued back together. It’s mended, but you can still see the crack lines, the dried glue. You still worry it’ll still leak water.
It’s different for girls.
In Maryland, our house backed up to Rock Creek Park. On pleasant days, when the air was cool and the sun was shaded by the canopy of trees, I’d go for long runs in the woods. There, I felt free, my music and woodland creatures, my only accompaniment. I ran whenever I could, until the day my neighbor told me a story of a woman who’d been running in the woods had been raped.
“She had a ponytail, like you,” my neighbor said.
After that, I ran inside on my treadmill.
Because it’s different for girls.
Years later, In Florida, while training for a half-marathon, I decided to run outside, lest I not be prepared for the event. Our neighborhood was relatively new at the time, and the road that ran parallel to my home was surrounded by palm trees, endless fields, and miles of open space. At first I loved the fresh air and picturesque landscape. But soon doubt picked at my brain. Someone could attack you. Who would find you? You’re not safe here, alone.
I told myself I was paranoid, yet I opted to run back inside.
Because it’s…you know, different for girls.
Here in my new neighborhood, I walk my dog before dark. Mainly to avoid being mosquito bait, but also because fear whispers in my head.
Sometimes my timing is off, night comes early, and I find myself backpedaling away from unlit paths, away from the basketball court, where shirtless men playing are playing innocent games.
Because fear still whispers to me. And because…
It’s different for girls.
My daughter is away from home, in college, and too often our breezy conversations switch to stern warnings. She tells me she’s going out clubbing with her friends, and I immediately go mama bear.
“Stay in a group. Don’t take a drink from a stranger. Have a code, or a call system. Don’t be alone. Stay on guard.”
My daughter assures me she knows all this, that her friends are all in sync. But then she tells me about the day she went to a guy’s home, one she recently met on social media, and I want to get in my car and drive the three hours and wrap her in a protective bubble and keep her safe.
Fear won’t quiet when I try to shush it.
When my son goes out, I warn him to be home on time. He’s too young for clubs or online dating, but I doubt if he were that I’d have the same fears.
Because it’s different for girls.

This week’s Supreme Court nomination was not a win for women. It wasn’t reason to laugh or gloat. It saddens and disturbs me to hear a president mock a woman who was assaulted. I am neither Christian nor conservative, yet I find it morally reprehensible that we live in a nation where we elected a person who openly bragged about grabbing a woman by her most private place, or watched young women stripping down to their skivvies, or shushed respected female reporters or rated females’ worth by their looks.
Honorable men don’t do this.
So, this week I mourn, because I fear we as a nation have taken our forward step back. Back to an imagined era some find “great.”
We have been catapulted into a time where a man might or might not upturn a critical decision that will affect women’s choices.
We will be represented by a person many of us cannot trust to be level-headed.
We are mocked or punished for speaking the truth, even when it means uprooting lives or hurting our loved ones.
Please understand this before you laugh and celebrate your “win.”
Your country is hurting. There’s no winning if we, as a collective, are bleeding.
I hope one day we’ll, again, have a president who celebrates women’s accomplishments. I hope one day, my daughter will not have to worry if her outfit is too suggestive, if she’s too outspoken, or if she’ll receive equal pay for the same job as her male counterparts. I hope one day, women won’t be regarded as emotional or inferior or unable to complete certain tasks because of uteruses or hormones or different chromosomes.
I hope one day, it’ll be…
The same for girls.

Mamma Mia


When writers feel pain they either write or they cave.
I’m finding it hard to write today.
Yesterday I wanted to cave. I wanted to cancel my plans and hibernate, go quiet. I wanted to turn off the hurt and curl up on the couch with my dog. But I’d made a promise to be someplace with friends.
The show must go on, they say.
Let me back up.
My father called yesterday. He told me my mother reached out for the first time in years.My step-father died and she wanted to connect. I haven’t seen her in almost two decades.
My father told me my mother wanted to first inform me of the wrongs the world and I have cast upon her.
My instinct gave me false hope. Every child wants to feel loved by their parents, but reality came as a hard slap to the face.
She probably needed money.
The last time I saw my mother was during my daughter’s first birthday. Mom left in a huff, disgruntled because my ex and I wanted to hold our baby as we sang the birthday song, cut the cake, blew out candles.
When they told me mom left, I stared in disbelief but quickly rearranged my expression. I’d learned over the years how to hide “mom pain.”

Still, it haunted me. It wasn’t the first time my mother distanced herself. We were estranged for years before the party and only reconnected a few months prior.
I wanted her in my life, wanted a mom to tell me how to parent a baby, wanted my daughter to receive the love I’d received from my grandparents, but what I really wanted, mom wasn’t capable of.
I thought about this all afternoon
Was it selfish to hold my baby on such a momentous occasion?
Was I selfish to keep my mother from her grandkids?
It was my step-mother who threw me a baby shower.
It was my step-mother who came every Monday to babysit my child from the month she was born.
It was my step-mother who gave my ex and I a few hours to ourselves while my daughter had colic/was fussy.
My step-mother who took my daughter to tot shabot on Saturdays.
It was my mother and father-in-law who babysat my first born and took her on adventures with her cousins. It was my father and aunts and uncles and grandparents who helped nurture my child, my friends and extended family who helped out/gave parenting advice. My father, step-mother and in-laws were at the hospital the day my baby was born.
Thus, I realized, my mother didn’t deserve to hold my baby the day of her celebration.
It was the village who helped raise my daughter that deserved to hold her that day.
My sisters-in-law, surrogate mothers, aunties, friends, and family who were there for my little girl, who has now blossomed into an incredible young woman, that deserved to hold her.
My mother’s anger poisoned our relationship.
Anger is a poison I try not to drink, one I’m trying to keep away from my children.
Parenting isn’t easy. Some days your kids hate you or ignore you or think you’re clueless. Sometimes your kids laugh at your music, your silly jokes, your individuality.
But sometimes they’re wonderful. They snuggle with you and your dog on the couch, they help you put on winged eyeliner because some things should be left to the experts. They blast rap music and hand jive with you in the car. They share their hopes and dreams and listen to (some of) your advice. They tell you you’re beautiful when you’re not wearing makeup or fancy clothes.
It’s hard for me to imagine ever not loving my children. It’s hard to imagine a mother not loving her own flesh and blood. It’s hard for me to imagine not being a part of their lives or missing out on their accomplishments and failures.
Sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I say things I regret. Sometimes I hear my mother’s words slip out of my mouth. I’m far from perfect, but I’m doing my best, always striving to be better.
I hope my children realize how fortunate they are for having a large/silly/supportive family. I hope they never know the pain of not being loved by the people that share their bloodline.
I hope one day my mother can release her anger and see what she’s missed.
She doesn’t understand it’s not about holding the baby or showing off for photos. Parenting is about the sleepless nights, cleaning vomit/wet sheets, wiping away tears, being empathetic when their hearts break, comforting them when they’re scared. It’s a dirty, depleting, sometimes thankless job. And it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
I’m glad I stayed out of the cave yesterday. I’m grateful for the friends that shared a night of music, bouncing, and laughter. I’m grateful I have this catharsis to share my feelings. I’m grateful for the friends who will read this. I hope anyone rejected by a parent knows they’re not alone, that they’re worthy of love and that they can still be a good parent.
I hope we all stay out of the cave.


Cold Little Heart

IMG_0229 (1)


I heard the news today that a friend passed. Before you offer condolences, please refrain. I don’t deserve them.

I write this today for my friends that knew and liked her. She was colorful, eclectic, and had great taste in music. We were close in age, and she was about to embark on a new chapter in her life. A new home, her own, a place in Florida. Years back, she and I were friendly. Two things connected us. Our passion for music and our admiration for one man. The latter is what killed our friendship.

Let me back up.

When I was newly single and dating I met a great guy, but I had other interests and didn’t want to commit to anyone since I’d spent two decades with one person.

He was friends with that gal and she lived closer to him/had strong feelings for him. They shared friendship which I was okay with. Until the day I realized I was about to lose him. After some soul searching, I realized I needed to make a decision. I don’t know if I was ready but I knew she was.

Over the years they remained close. I encouraged the friendship but still vented my frustration. She’d badmouthed me to him and I was jealous. Insecure. Stupid.

Despite his constant affirmation I was the one and only, I still grit my teeth when she was mentioned.

I’d see her posts on a page we all were active members in. I’d mention her name with a sour face and drop an occasional joke that, in retrospect, wasn’t funny.

Like I said, I was stupid.

Last Friday I vented additional frustration about her to my friends. I don’t know why I did this. I usually like everyone. I go out of my way to see goodness in others. For some shallow reason, I couldn’t give this woman the forgiveness I offered strangers.

Maybe I found humor or positive reinforcement by having one nemesis. It was unfounded. She had tagged me in a song post, along with others, a few weeks prior. I didn’t respond. Or thank her. Or give her post a like.

It would’ve cost me nothing. It would’ve been a small effort toward forgiveness. It would’ve made me a better person. Taught my kids something.

Now she’s gone and today I’m wrecked. Because I was petty and will never have the opportunity to right my wrong.

I see her pictures on Facebook, read the comments and refrain from liking them. I don’t deserve to be a part of my mutual friends’ grieving.

My father advised me to write her a letter and apologize. It’s good advice but I haven’t been able to do so yet. I need to do that. Say sorry for being small. Be a better human. For my kids.

My daughter came by and I told her what happened. She is well aware of the animosity I held for the gal. Between tears, I told my daughter to forgive people. To not hold grudges. She understood.

If anyone reading this knew her, I offer you my condolences. It shouldn’t have happened. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sorry I wasn’t kinder.

My resolution is to be less petty. To not harbor coldness in my heart. To accept the olive branches. Remember her fondly.

It’s a beautiful day here in Florida. She would’ve loved it here.



Burning ManI remember the day my French nieces came to my family’s home for a holiday dinner. It was warm and stuffy inside my parents’ townhome, and the girls, ages two and four at the time were bored. We took the girls out to the courtyard to release some of their pent-up energy. Free from their confines, the girls made a B-line to the center of the courtyard, stripped off their clothes, and shouted “Voila,” at the top of their lungs. My eyes grew wide. Each home faced inward, and the girls, I feared, had drawn some attention.

Giggling, they ran in circles while we, the parents and onlookers watched them from the sidelines.
“Should we bring them inside?” I asked.
“Let them be,” someone responded.
“Well, they are French,”  My step-mother joked.
I glanced at the small heap of clothing my nieces had abandoned and smiled.
Good for them. Let them play without fear or regret. Why shame them? Society, unfortunately, would do that eventually.

Shame of the naked form is taught early-on. Its roots stem from religion and sadly, females are sexualized from elementary years on. I remember the struggle I had finding a non-sexualized Halloween costume for my daughter. I noticed with horror her doctor Barbie doll wore stilettos.
I like to think of myself as a feminist, albeit a bad one. I embrace the sexual revolution but still dream of a world that will provide equal pay, respect, and opportunities for me, my daughter, and her female friends.

The other day, I was talking to a friend about a physically-challenged character in my latest novel, and that friend urged me to watch an episode on sexual healing in Lisa Ling’s This is Life, a highly-acclaimed series on CNN.
The show featured a few guests who had been sexually abused, but it was at the end of the show I felt the most empathy. The man with cerebral palsy had been working with a therapist to learn to love his body. As an adjustment exercise, both the therapist and the physically-challenged man took turns standing naked before a fill-length mirror. There, they mentioned what they liked most and least about themselves. They were vulnerable and honest. It was truly beautiful.
The guests invited Lisa Ling the host to have a turn. At first Lisa hesitated but she soon agreed.
Lisa confided that she was not enthralled with certain aspects of her body since she’d recently given birth. She also confided that she hadn’t let anyone—including her spouse—to see her naked. Her breasts weren’t as perky, she honed in on her cesarean scar.
Within moments, her self-criticism dissipated. She pointed out that her C-section scar was the result of her children. Her breasts were fine. She liked her legs. Love and a nurturing tone replaced criticism.
Nickel-sized tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched. Later, I ran to my full-length mirror, stripped down to my birthday suit, and focused on a positive body image. My toned runner legs, strong biceps, breasts that sag but nourished two infants once-upon-a-time. Belly swell that reminded me I am blessed with good nourishment and I never go hungry.
I made a mental note to no longer berate myself for not looking like an image in a magazine

 * * *

I’ve been troubled by a post I’d seen on a friend’s social media account. My friend, a hard-core feminist I once admired, was calling for a boycott against a proposed sculpture to be featured on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

The proposed statue had been previously seen at Burning Man in 2015, created by artist Marco Cochrane. The efforts to bring the statue to D.C. are headed by a group, called Catharsis on the Mall, who hope for the theme to be “nurturing the heart.”
In an interview with DCist, Cochrane’s creative partner Julia Whitelaw said, “Having that on the Mall in D.C., where she’s just standing there holding her own space—just being. It’s not aggressive. It’s just ‘I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. I have a right to be in this space. I have an equal right to be in this space.’ It’s an incredible message.”

Artist Marco Cochrane said the sculpture was conceived to “demand a change in perspective… intended to challenge the viewer to see past the sexual charge that has developed around the female body, to the person: to de-objectify women and inspire people across the world to take action to end violence against women, create space for women’s voices and demand equal rights for all, thus allowing everyone to live fully and thrive.”
Sadly, the artist’s vision seems to be lost on those who cannot look past the ugliness in the naked female form. Narrow-minded folks are unable to view this as empowerment. They equate naked as female suppression, which is the opposite of the artist’s intention.

Banning the sculpture is repression, not evolution. Viewing a naked human form as vulgar suppresses equality. It is art. Art is subjective. It is interpretation.
For me, I shall view it the way the artist intended:
As a work of empowerment.




Carefree, like my nieces running in the courtyard.

Connecting the Dots…






      I didn’t want to write this. I’d shared what happened with certain individuals and thought that was enough, but apparently, it wasn’t. This is probably too long. It’s also embarrassing to write but I’d promised to be transparent and vulnerable in the hopes that it could help one person. Just one.  


     It wasn’t a near-death experience, though I worried I was suffocating at the time. In retrospect, I thought once the episode ended and called a few friends the story would be put to rest. But something kept nagging me. I didn’t see the relevance. Until today.


     Sometimes stories buzz in your ear like a gnat or a mosquito until you connect the dots and release words onto a keyboard. Until then, you cannot silence them. But some stories are meant to be shared.


     So, here’s what happened last Sunday.


     I’ve loved the singer Jack Johnson for decades. His music accompanied me through endless occasions. Happy songs sang in unison with my kids, mellow songs listened to in solitude while contemplating my marriage, and then the happy realization that someone close to me also adored his songs.


     For years we waited for jack to play locally, so I was thrilled when my beau scored tickets to see him. Not only were we going, but we’d be standing in the pit.




     The eve of the concert we arrived early and wormed our way as close to the stage as possible. Despite the blistering heat and tightly-packed bodies around us, I limited my water intake for fear of losing my coveted space. As the opening band played, the sun shone strongly and sweat streaked down my belly, stopping at the elastic waistband of my sundress.


     Dang, it’s hot, I thought. No breeze in the pit, no relief from the sun. The overhead fans weren’t providing a hint of comfort.


     The young gal in front of me that had been sitting on the dirty floor ended up fainting. I was thirsty but refused to ask for water.


     The opening act ended, and the crowd’s energy was infectious. As I glanced over my shoulder I saw nothing but bodies and smelled cannabis in the air.


     Sweat continued to drip down my belly, down the side of my face. I’m usually unnaturally cold, so this surprised me more than the man I stood beside.


     The crowd started to rumble and applaud.


    “There he is,” someone behind me said.


     I strained my neck to see Jack Johnson, and it happened.


     First came the “whooshing” sound. Then a wave of heat and a tingling sensation that ran from the base of my spine up to my head. My left leg started to shake and the sound in my left ear muffled.


      I felt a sickening wave of nausea, and my bowels threatened to open. I clenched my butt cheeks together and silently prayed to literally keep my shit together.


     I grabbed Eric’s arm, or his neck, and clung to his body. He was asking me if I was okay and I bobbed my head but I wasn’t okay. I repeated something he later told me was “hot.”


     The moments felt like they were playing in slow motion. I remember thinking don’t ruin this for him. Don’t poop your pants. Is this all the junk and lack of sleep from last week? I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.


I. Can’t. Breathe.


I lifted my head and gasped for air which wasn’t enough and felt thick and soupy.


Jack Johnson had arrived and had played a few chords when I realized I couldn’t make it. Eric had been asking me if I needed medical attention, which I’d refused, but my pride and stubbornness were losing the battle.


“Can’t,” I whispered. “Hot… hot…too hot.”


I don’t remember getting out of the pit. I don’t remember walking up the stairs. What I remember is the lack of sufficient oxygen and finally seeing an empty row of chairs. I remember sitting down, slumping onto my date’s shoulder, my inability to focus. I heard music from my right ear, but my left side was still clogged. I remember thinking how awful I felt for ruining the concert for Eric. How close we’d been to the stage. The pictures I knew he’d hoped to take.


“Go take a picture,” I told Eric, “I’m fine now.”


“I’m not leaving you,” he said.


The significance didn’t hit me then. I knew I was lucky and grateful for having someone take care of me while I was under the weather, but I didn’t realize until today why this in particular meant so much.




In 1991, I’d gone skiing with my boyfriend, my ex, and my ex’s girlfriend. We’d done long runs all day and I was past my limit but agreed to do a black diamond run before we left the slopes. My inner voice said no, but my boyfriend insisted.


I wiped out halfway down. My leg was twisted at an awkaward angle, but I was able to move it, so I doubted it was broken. Duke my verbally abusive an insanely jealous boyfriend taunted and teased me. While I asked for help he called me pathetic and mentioned something to the effect of “Ask B—-. Clearly you’re more in love with him than me.”


I was in too much pain to defend myself. Duke spit on me and skied away. I felt tears and shame but don’t remember a lot after that. My ex and his girlfriend came to my aid and the medics took me down the mountain on some kind of flatbed contraption. That was almost more humiliating than being spit on.


I never told anyone that part until now.


In California, Duke became physically abusive. The night he pushed me in the kitchen and grabbed a knife and stabbed a roll of paper towels I realized I’d hit rock bottom. I ran from my apartment and rode the streets of Santa Monica on my bike wondering what to do next.


The following day I called a hotline. They guided me to an anonymous meeting and encouraged me to get out of my apartment. I bought the book they recommended: “The Battered Woman” by Lenore E. Walker and sped-read through it.


I didn’t leave immediately, because I knew my boyfriend’s cycle. After abuse—mental or physical—they go through a honeymoon period. A super-attentive, loving phase. They become the boyfriend they should have been all along.


I confided what had happened to my closest California friend.


“We’re getting him out. Today,” my friend told me.


It didn’t happen overnight, but we did get Duke out. After that I vowed I wouldn’t speak of it. I’d never let it happen again. I’d reinvent myself. I wasn’t that girl.


I moved on and kept men at bay. I promised myself I’d never be vulnerable again. I’d never marry. I’d never let a man hurt me.


Time healed.


I loved again. I married. He was a good man. It worked for twenty plus years. Until love ran out.




While I leaned on Eric’s shoulder at the concert, I briefly remembered a few moments of being sick at clubs. Cheap wine and cigarettes had occasionally made me sick and others had come to my rescue. Two weeks before the concert I’d gone through a pseudo-breakup, and the friend I called on a moment’s notice arrive at my house without hesitation and offered a friendly ear.


There are good men out there. Good people who support you. Friends that show love through calls, texts, food, and laughter.


I didn’t realize the significance between the people in my life now and the man who degraded me on the ski slope decades ago.


Today I shared this ugly story with you because I don’t want anyone going through this to feel alone. Today I connected the dots. I don’t want anyone to feel weak or responsible for the poor treatment of another.


Find your strength to break the cycle.


Find a good person to stand beside you.


Be brave to leave.


Be brave to love again.






Break the Cycle: A Mother’s Day Post

Mother and Child



      What I’ve learned is that you have to stop the cycle. I think I’ve done that, but each year on Mother’s Day, old familiar feelings stir, and I find myself falling into old patterns.

      I still cannot fathom how a mother could reject their child.

      She only physically hurt me once. I was just shy of ten and hadn’t come home immediately after school as was the norm.

      Mom scanned the neighborhood in a panic and finally heard from my schoolmate that he’d seen me on the bus but not since. He also told my mother I’d left my cigarettes behind.

What mom didn’t know was that I’d bought them for a friend, smoked one, and hated it.

      When I traipsed through the door hours later, I was greeted by my mother’s smoldering red cheeks, her long hair coiled around oversized pink plastic curlers high atop her head. She grabbed me by the throat and flung me across the room. I shook my head in disbelief. I wasn’t that late, and I hadn’t known about the kid who’d ratted me out about the smokes.

      Mom laughed whenever she retold that story to friends. I never saw the humor.

      During my adult years, mom was more of a sister than a parent. She was emotionally and financially unstable and never got her act together. She distanced herself from family members I adored: her parents, her brothers, my aunt who treated me like a mother . . . everyone. She kept in contact with my father, but it was usually to ask for money.

      I married and started a life. My ex and I gave mom money, but it was never enough and my success only seemed to fuel her anger. She wrote me scathing letters, banishing me for being a horrible child.

      I did my best to ignore the venom in her letters and cried on my ex’s shoulders.

     The day I learned I was pregnant I decided I’d break the cycle. My son would fill the void I’d carried, and I vowed I’d be the perfect mother to him.

      During the sonogram, the assistant told us I was carrying a girl. I felt the sensation of a trap door opening in my gut.

      Please, no. Not a girl.

      My daughter arrived the following July, and from the moment she looked up at me with her big baby browns, it was love at first sight.

      We were inseparable, and I finally understood the meaning of “unconditional love,” a phrase I’d heard but never fully understood.  

      Years later, I welcomed another child. A healthy baby boy.

      They say sons love their mothers, but my daughter and I shared a bond I’d nevber imagined possible. To this day, we fight, we disagree, but I feel connected to her like no other person. I often tell her, “I’m your mom, and sometimes I have to implement rules you won’t like, but if I were your age, I’d love to have a friend like you.”

      In the past, Mother’s Day had been difficult, but my ex and my kids understood my feeling and went out of their way to make my day joyous, make me feel cherished. My ex had lost his own mother—a remarkable woman who’d treated me like a daughter.

      I had surrogate mothers. My aunts, both mothers-in-law, girlfriends, women I’d admired. To this day, I tend to gravitate to older women in my writing groups. They, too, tend to treat me like surrogate daughters.

      I do not lack for love.

      Last night, while watching TV with my kids, I sat between them, my back resting against my daughter’s chest. The dog was nearby, and my kids and I shared a red fluffy blanket. I glanced at my son, and then squeezed my daughter’s hand.

      This is all I want. This is all I need, I thought.

      I broke the cycle.

      Life is good.

      Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

      I’ll be thinking about you this Sunday.

Before the Storm

IMG_4440.JPGBefore the storm

Twisting leaves fall

And I strain to hear the wind’s aria,
Beneath the cacophony of

tree-trimming tools

the undertones of a running fountain
the jangle of my terrier’s tags
As he persues lizard tails.
In order to hear nature’s opera

one must listen with implicit clarity

block out the noise of
motor’s whirr

fountain fuss
and dog tag jangle

Only then will you hear

Nature sing

Quiet in Water


Quiet moments are fleeting. This week has been exceptionally hectic, and when my kids are with me it’s a wild, wild world.

I have a pool. And a Jacuzzi tub. Luxurious items people would love to sink into that, for me, rarely get used. Call it mommy guilt or poor time management, but the things that would help alleviate stress are the things I stare at longingly but never indulge in.

Today, I made an exception. After my run, I turned the faucet for my shower then hesitated. The morning had flown by, my best friend and I had played phone tag, there were documents to be signed, and I had to write my evening’s lecture, I’d snapped at my daughter due to heightened anxiety, but I stopped, took a much-needed breath, and turned toward my bath.

To heck with it.  I needed a soak.

The tub was half full when I heard my cell chirp. One call, two, three in a row, I knew at least two were from my friend.

Tag, I was it.

Instinct had me reach for the phone, but the small voice in my head instructed me to let it ring.

So, I did.

While soaping my legs, I checked for stubble and felt the smoothness of my skin. It’s funny, I thought, how infrequently we touch ourselves. Aside from masturbation, I rarely touch my skin. I’ve always been fascinated with the warmth and softness of others’ epidermis but hardly ever feel myself.

I stared at my exposed breasts and belly and the soft voice in my head shouted: “Look at that. Your abs are weak, your breasts too hard. You shouldn’t have eaten so many carbs this week. Sit-ups are required.”

I shushed my inner voice and rolled onto my belly.

My cell rang again but I ignored it with a breath I exhaled into the water.

The ripples made half moon circles and I caught the reflection of the Hollywood lights above my mirror reflecting in the water. I moved my hands and listened to the splish-splash sounds.

I’ve been in the tub too long, my inner voice scolded.

I silenced the voice with another exhale into the water and rolled onto my back.

Eyes closed, hands on my belly, I concentrated on my breathing.

Stillness is foreign to me. Idle hands a proverbial sin.

Toady, while soaking, I realized how important it is for us to slow down sometimes. As a society, we overschedule ourselves and our younglings. We rush through our day, our meals, and our lovemaking, rarely enjoying what we’ve experienced. We drive to destinations with divided consciousness, creating to-do lists in our head, multi-tasking, not enjoying the surroundings.

“It’s the destination, not the journey,” my friend and I always say, yet I’m guilty most of the time of being unaware of the road I’ve traveled.

Today I spent thirty sinful, unproductive minutes in a bath touching my skin, listening to the splish-splash of water, taking slow breaths.

Best half hour of my week.

After dressing, I high-tailed it to my keyboard to share this with those who take the time to read my blatherings.

Sadly, many of the thoughts I’d hoped to share disappeared like the bathwater that funneled down the drain.

Why share such intimacy with strangers? Because a close friend who’d left social media had said that the things people share weren’t real. She was frustrated that we don’t talk about real life–even the ugly side. The day she’d told me that, I’d vowed I’d keep it real. Even if it was ugly or embarrassing.

I’m not sure my friends want to hear about the beautiful necessity of touching yourself, but I hope some will listen.

My cell is ringing.

I have to call my friend back.


This One Sang To Me Today


I’ve been thinking about the friends, lovers, and orgastic interludes that have shaped my heart. This song sang to me today.

“I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You”
by Colin Hay
I drink good coffee every morning
It comes from a place that’s far away
And when I’m done I feel like talking
Without you here there is less to say
Don’t want you thinking I’m unhappy
What is closer to the truth
Is that if I lived till I was a hundred and two
I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you
I’m no longer moved to drink strong whiskey
I shook the hand of time and I knew
that if I lived till I could no longer climb my stairs
I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you
Your face it dances and it haunts me
your laughter is still ringing in my ears
I still find pieces of your presence here
even after all these years
I don’t want you thinking that i don’t get asked to dinner
cause I’m here to say that I sometimes do
and even though I may seem to feel a touch of love
I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you
if I live till I was a hundred and two
I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing…

“The Trick Is To Keep Breathing”
It’s the eve before my daughter’s sixteenth birthday, and I’m sitting outside watching the moon overhead, smoking, what I hope will be, my last cigarette.
I needed an appropriate song for the occasion, so I keyed up Spotify and turned on “Keep Breathing,” the song that played when I started smoking again, the song that played on repeat when I wrote a particular blog.
I remember that day and the concerned comments and personal messages that followed.
People worry about you when you smoke.
Here’s why I do it.
I like it.
It helps me escape.
It transports me back to places and people I long to be with.
It makes me feel mischievous.
When I smoke, I’m somewhere else. A place other than Suburbia, a gritty city with bohemians and better writers like Fran Lebowitz or Bukowski, perhaps.
Anywhere other than Boynton.
Everyone has vices, but mine is hard to conceal. There’s the telltale smell of stinky hair, the scent that lingers on one’s fingertips, the clothes that retain the stench of stale Capris, the treadmill screen that notifies me that it’s taking longer to reach the six mile mark, the lines that bracket my mouth, the neck—my neck—that once looked fuller.
Ugly things. Things I don’t welcome when they greet me in the mirror or tickle my olfactory senses.
Smoking is a disgusting habit.
So I decided to quit, and now I panic at having made that promise. I panic that I won’t be able to succeed. I panic that my only escape will dissipate. I panic that, if I fail, I’ll disappoint the one I vowed to quit for: my hours-away-from-turning-sweet-sixteen daughter.
I promised to quit for her.
“It’s an escape,” I tried to explain to her this week. “But for you, I’ll try to give it up.”
For months I tried to hide it. When I finally confessed, she admitted she knew all along.
As I take my last drags, I remember the day she came into the world. Three hours of pushing, and there she was, this tiny creature with giant almond-shaped eyes. She looked fragile and helpless, and watching her nuzzle my breast I felt more scared than she would ever be.
Because suddenly I was responsible for someone other than myself. Suddenly, I had to take care of another human. I was petrified of fucking things up and foolishly enamored with the idea my daughter would change the world, cure cancer, or perform some other notable feat.
I was too scared to bathe her in the hospital. My ex took over with joyful enthusiasm. Parenting came naturally to him. Like riding a bike or flicking a lighter.
I don’t remember her cry or even a peep that announced her arrival. I remember her big eyes and the slick tufts of hair that crowned her head. I remember how I cradled her close and silently vowed to always love and protect her. I remember how I promised myself to learn how to be a good mother—the best there was—one she’d someday be proud of.

I take my last drag, take one last glance at the moon, and silence the song. Inside, she’s waiting for me. She knows what I’m doing, voiced her disproval, but said she understood why.
She told me my quitting would be the best gift I could give her.
That’s all parents want to do, right? Make their children happy, sacrifice what we can and provide stability in an unjust and sometimes insane world.
Deep down, I’m not sure I want to quit. I grapple daily with pros and cons—yes, cons outweigh the good, but without smoking I’m here, away from family and my besties. Away from Paris or New York or gritty places with better, more eloquent writers.
Lebowitz and Bukowski smoked.
Tomorrow, I won’t.
I think about my daughter’s first breath, so pure and un-tarnished by nicotine or tragedy or longing.
Will my lungs return to their original state?
Will my running speed increase?
Will my clothes and hair, once again, smell floral, not foul?
Will the cravings subside before I give in?
Before you comment or judge, ask yourself if you struggle with something. Ask yourself if you hide things from the ones you love. Decide if we are different. I eat well, exercise daily, drink the occasional glass of wine, laugh often.
Are we really so different?
As I type these last sentences, I think of my beautiful girl. I think about how happy she’s been this week as I reported the decrease in my nicotine diet. I think of her first pure breaths and the promises made.
For her, I will try.
No expectations, just effort.
The trick is to keep breathing.
One day at a time.