When Living In The Past Keeps You From Building A Future

Castle In The Air

All I ever wanted was a castle in the air: a place to stretch my legs as far as they would go, and beyond, but my parents could not see that vision through their murky breakup. Living in the past can ruin your life if you let it, especially when you are too young to comprehend its magnitude. I was eight-years-old the first time my parents split up. They separated for what seemed like an eternity but in all actuality, it was only a couple of months. I remember sliding across the kitchen floor one day; examining the faded pattern that splashed against the linoleum while pretending not to listen to my mother. It was obvious—as she spun the yellow phone cord around her fingertip and let it bounce and twirl to the ground—that she was speaking with my father. Her tone, though knotted and strained, oozed a quiet calm that piqued my big-eyed curiosity, but the nervous energy of her body exuded a language I did not understand. Still, I knew this was an important conversation and did not want to miss a word. As I inched my way closer, she announced that she had found a new place for him to live. This was it, I thought; he was never coming back. My heart turned to stone as I scooted in closer to hear and just then, she looked down to me, smiled and finished her sentence, “…with us.” It was the happiest three seconds of my life.


The next time dad left would be his last. He moved out a few years later and never returned. It was, according to him, easier to walk away and start over than to keep coming back to face us. Whenever we did see one another, I was reminded that he was only a phone call away, but as I learned much later in life, actions speak louder than words. My only regret is that I allowed his leaving to affect my desire to stay. By the time senior year rolled around, my grades were at an all-time low and any hopes of graduating had been replaced by an overwhelming fear of repeating the twelfth grade. Thankfully, the school administrators gave me a reason to start over by handing me a diploma and sending me on my way.


For the next twenty years, I focused on becoming a workhorse; hurdling obstacles and climbing corporate ladders for minimal pay, but never quite reaching the top. It would have been easy for me to stop there and never dig deep enough to discover my purpose in life, but everything changed on the morning of September 11, 2001. As I sat on the couch watching people jump to their deaths from twin tower windows, I realized how quickly life could end. “What have I got to lose?” I wondered. “Tomorrow may never come.” The next day, I threw together a poorly executed business plan and started a company, but despite how fast it grew, I still felt like a teenage dropout. In 2007, the year my daughter was born—just as everything seemed to be falling into place—the company my husband worked for filed for bankruptcy and we lost everything. Once again, everything I had worked so hard to create had been taken away and we were forced to start over.


I am firm believer that every decision you make leads you to where you need to be, even when it doesn’t feel right. When I told friends and family of my decision to become a writer, there was quite a bit of pushback. They could not understand why anyone facing financial hardship would choose a career as uncertain as freelance writing, and their questions traveled like weighted bullets. “How are you going to pay the bills? Why can’t you get a real job? Do you even know what you’re doing?” The answer was no. No, I did not. But somehow, I knew I would survive.

“We blame past circumstances for our failures and keep our fingers crossed that society will throw us a lucky bone.”

To this day, when people ask where I went to college, I typically respond with my go-to method for handling uncomfortable situations: diversion and sarcasm. I tell them that there was never any time for school because I was too busy having fun, but that is far from the truth. What I should say is that I did not attend college because I stopped believing in myself, that I turned abandonment into something personal and forfeited my academic achievements for a lengthy walk down a spiritual path. What I have learned over the past few years is that the only voices worth listening to are those that believe in your ability to conquer fear because life is hard and will knock you down—repeatedly. It takes every ounce of spirit and restraint to look adversity in the eye and keep walking, but we must if we wish to survive. There are a lot of people, myself included, who have made a career out of feeling sorry for themselves. We blame past circumstances for our failures and keep our fingers crossed that society will throw us a lucky bone. The truth is that there is no bone; there are only cards and we are each dealt a different hand, but is up to each individual how he or she will choose to play. The only way to truly fail in life is to throw down your hand and give up, which is something I will never do. Perhaps I should stop playing solitaire.


Anyone up for some crazy eights?

20 Reasons To Celebrate Back To School Season

Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta. #IJWTBP

I was chatting with a friend last year about the first day of school. She said that the moms at her daughter’s school were crying at drop-off. Did you hear me? They were CRYING. “What?” I screamed while half-laughing, half-swallowing my tongue, “Should I assume they were tears of joy?”


“Not exactly,” she laughed, “they were sad that summer was over.”


“What’s there to be SAD about? Were the kids starting Kindergarten?”


“Nope,” she answered coolly, “those were the moms in every class, including ours.”


We laughed for a long time at their expense; swapping anecdotes while calculating our free time, and then I started to think about it. I mean, I get it… kids are great and all, but after being cooped up with them all summer, why the hell would anyone want to spend one more day arguing over snacks and screen time when facing a maternal sabbatical. It made no sense. Therefore, I have decided to put a list together of all the reasons why we should celebrate this monumental occasion, embrace our inner solitude and afford ourselves the opportunity to get shit done. So, whether you are a mother lamenting over drop-offs and leisurely naps or one serving high-fives with shots of tequila, there is one thing we both have in common: The school year is about to begin, and below are 20 reasons why you should be applauding it instead of crying into a pillow that you’re just going to have to wash later.


  1. You can hear yourself think.
  2. No one is going to stick their head in the shower the second you step in.
  3. If you want to, you can curl your hair.
  4. Fewer dishes to wash.
  5. If you make a sandwich, you get to fucking eat it.
  6. The only arguments are the ones that happen before and after school.
  7. No SpongeBob.
  8. You can pee with the door open.
  9. Doing laundry will no longer require taking breaks to prepare snacks.
  10. The toys will remain in one room until the bell rings.
  11. You are guaranteed not to hear the word “Mommy” repeated 38 times in a row.
  12. If you buy a bag of M&M’s, no one has to know.
  13. The only whine you’ll hear is the sound of cork popping.
  14. You can nap whenever you want.
  15. If you walk around naked, no one points and laughs.
  16. Going to Target won’t cost you an extra toy.
  17. The house stays clean for at least five hours.
  18. If there is a toy that pisses you off, you can destroy it without getting caught.
  19. There are only a few hours of real parenting before bedtime.
  20. The only ass you’ll wipe is your own.

When Grandma Gets A New Wig And Thinks She’s ALL THAT

Always Test The Produce | Photo cred: Chris Chabot on flickr

Seeing my mother in action is like watching a rerun of I Love Lucy after a few margaritas. She just does shit that makes you laugh without even trying. One of the things she insists on doing—religiously—is to walk around wearing the female equivalent to a man’s toupee. For whatever reason, my mother has been wearing hair hats for as long as I can remember, but every once it a while, they betray her. Recently, her eyes fell on a flaming red wig with spiked edges. I image you could achieve the same effect if you were to mesh Liza Minnelli’s short tresses together with Galina ‘Red’ Reznikov’s disheveled mess from Orange Is The New Black. It wasn’t exactly my taste, but my mother was seeing stars. She was certain that this new look was going to cast a bewitching spell over men that would cause her to become irresistible and, at seventy-four-years-old, my mother was eager for worship.

When she entered the store that afternoon, her confidence was through the roof. She knew she looked good because the reflective glass on the supermarket doorway said so, and because she was wearing her Galina ‘Red’ wig. As she perused the shelves in search of nothing particular, she noticed an attractive gentleman staring at her from across the room. Uncertain as to whether or not she was his focal point, she nonchalantly inspected the aisle and confirmed there was no one else around. “I still got it,” she thought to herself while gushing over his gallant appetite for lust, “I told them this wig was special!”

As she maneuvered her way around the produce department, caressing the fruits and vegetables and breathing in their delightful aroma, she had forgotten all about her mysterious friend; until she glanced up and saw him again. He was still there, ogling her with a beckoning steel-blue gaze. “Who was this man?” she wondered. “And why won’t he take his eyes off me?” Determined to confront her unshakable stalker, my mother began the lengthy journey toward the imported cheese section where he was standing. It was her belief that this bold move was going to force him to run for the hills—brokenhearted and terrified, but when their eyes locked one last time, halfway between the condiment section and health foods, there he stood; transfixed, like a deer in headlights. Only, this time, he confused her by waving.

What. The. Fuck.

One of my mother’s strengths is her ability to see the humanity in everyone, so she did what she thought was right: exposed her pearly whites and promptly waved back. She sauntered past the bakery with her eyes to the ground and eased her way over to a wheel of cheese right next to his brazen frame. “This is it,” she imagined, “it’s do or die.” And that’s when she met The Most Interesting Man In The World: a life-size, cardboard cut-out of the Dos Equis guy with a springboard arm inviting strangers to come on over and grab a chilled beverage to pair with an exquisite fromage.

Spoiler Alert: None Of Us Are F*cking Perfect! #IJWTBP

  • I hate my mother-in-law

I have been writing for a while now and have learned some things. One of them is not to expect miracles; like having an Editor from the New York Times stumble across your blog and offer you a job on the spot because that shit only happens in the movies or when you videotape yourself wearing a Chewbacca mask and it goes viral. Whatever… I don’t even like Star Wars, but my point is this: I DO like writing and don’t suck at it as much as I thought, but it was time to step up my game.

Last year, I attended my first blog-related conference. It was an intimate group of (mostly) humor writers—many of which I had been following for years—and I wanted to meet them all for different reasons. Jen Mann from People I Want To Punch In The Throat was at the top of my list. She is a master at marketing and promotion—The Mother of Anthologies—and everything she touches turns to gold. There was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to introduce myself and pick her brain, and I was grateful that she didn’t throw up when I squeezed her.

I met some kickass writers that weekend and walked away with an inspirational hangover and a plethora of new best friends. Since then, I have watched my career unfold like an origami bubble. There are some days when I pinch myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming and one of them happened a few months ago. Anyone in the industry, primarily those who write about parenting, can tell you that an invitation from Jen Mann to submit to one of her books is a big deal. I studied that email as if we were going to be tested, and quickly flipped open my calendar to plug in the due date. This was my one chance to prove myself and I wasn’t going to screw it up.

Aside from all the drama surrounding my personal life, everything seemed to be falling into place. I was gearing up for my next big workshop and looking forward to seeing a few of my friends. The first night, we snuck into my room with an oversized bottle of red wine, compliments of Sammiches and Psyche Meds and Foxy Wine Pocket. We were three glasses deep when Jen’s latest project came up. I assumed my friends had received invitations because they had in the past and I was particularly excited about mine. “I was honored that she included me,” I smiled, “and shocked that I was even on her radar.”

When Fox asked if I had sent in my piece yet, I didn’t think anything of it. “Not yet,” I laughed, “I’ve got until May 28th.”


Me: You’re kidding, right? April Fools!

Fox: I’m not kidding.

Me: Are you serious? Oh my God, please tell me this is a joke.

Fox: I’m so sorry. It was due on March 28th.

The next several minutes were a blur: a wine-induced haze that caused my eyes to puff up like pink marshmallows. “What am I gonna do?” I cried, “I can’t believe I fucked this up. I am so pissed off at myself right now I can’t even think straight!”

Fox: Send her an email—now—and own it.

Me: I will totally own it because I’m an asshole, but not NOW! I can’t send her an email now… I’m drunk… and crying! How about I give you my phone and you write it for me?

Fox: Just write the damn email and we will proof it before you hit send.

Another thing I have learned as a writer is to never miss a deadline, especially with Jen Mann. Aside from being a brilliant publisher, she is one of the most organized motherfuckers I have ever met, and the fact that she gave me a second chance was a stroke of compassion that I didn’t see coming. I cannot tell you how excited and appreciative I am to be gracing the pages of her latest anthology, “I Just Want To Be Perfect” with some of the funniest bitches on the planet. If you’re looking for a good summer read, pick up a copy today. And also, take a minute and share some of your not perfect moments below because I hate to party alone, especially when I do something stupid.


Jen Mann
Bethany Kriger Thies
Deva Nicole Dalporto
Julianna Wesby Miner
Lola Lolita
Kim Bongiorno
Alyson Herzig
Kathryn Leehane
Harmony Hobbs
Erin Dwyer Dymowski
Tara Wood
Kelcey Kintner
Joelle Wisler
Christine McDevitt Burke
Meredith Spidel
Meredith Gordon
Nicole Leigh Shaw
Alison Hart
Jennifer Lizza
Suzanne Fleet
AK Turner
Robyn Welling
Ashley Fuchs
Kim Forde
E.R. Catalano
Chrissy Woj
Stacey Gill
Wendi Aarons
Jen Simon
Janel Mills
Jessica Azar
Susanne Kerns
Audrey Hayworth
Hedia Anvar
Christine Organ
Shya Gibbons

Escalator Boot Camp For Kids

Escalators are scary when you’re little. They’re even scarier when you are a mom and have to balance a stroller in one hand and a kid in the other. It’s sort of like dropping your keys in a thunderstorm while wearing high heels a week after giving birth; there’s a good chance you might fall, but you do it anyway because it’s quicker than taking the stairs.

I don’t know what the protocol is for training toddlers to mount a moving stairwell, but my kid wanted no part of it. She was scared shitless and rightly so. I never told her about the girl who got her arm caught in one when I was growing up or the lady in China who fell to her death after saving a little boy because I didn’t want to freak her out, yet somehow, it happened. For years, I have hoisted her up or located an alternative method of transport whenever traveling to higher (or lower) grounds: eight years, 72 pounds, and a whole lotta attitude.

Over the holiday break this year, I decided it was time to prepare my daughter for the future. She was going to learn how to ride an escalator on her own—even if it killed me. I chose Dillard’s as a practice field because the store near our house usually didn’t get busy until later in the day and I didn’t want her to feel pressured or overwhelmed. We showed up when the doors opened at 10:00 am and started slowly with one foot barely skimming the surface. She would tap the metal grate with her faux Ugg boot and then pull it back to safety. “See,” I smiled. “I told you it was nothing.” For the next ten minutes, we stood on the P1 platform and practiced touching the step with one foot. She was beginning to get the hang of it, and once her terrified face eased up, I knew she was ready for more. “You’ve GOT this!” I cheered. “How about keeping your foot ON it this time instead of taking it off.” Still hesitant, she continued to pat her foot on the ascending stair. “But Mommy,” she cried, “I’m scared!” Just then, a three-year-old girl blew past and climbed her way up, backward, toward the shoe department. It was a slap to my daughter’s face and we both froze, laughing at the irony. “It’s time,” I whispered, “Just DO it,” —and she did. She grabbed the railing with two hands and held on for dear life while verbally applauding her success. “Did you see me? I DID IT, MOM! I can’t believe I did it!”

I would like to thank Dillard’s for not kicking us out that day. We spent four hours riding up and down the escalators and didn’t buy a thing. That night, she took her father back to Dillard’s and did the same thing. The next day, she begged me to take her again. She was hooked. She needed a stairwell fix to get her through the day, and no other store would do. I told her we could go on one condition: that we only stay for an hour and bought something while we were there. Though our escalator training camp was a huge success, it didn’t come without a price. My daughter locked in on a pink ruffled dress, and I walked away with a little more pain than I ever thought possible. Who knew that standing still on a moving stairwell could be such a tough workout? Do yourself a favor and don’t wait until your kid’s eighth birthday to teach them. Your body will thank you.