I Went to a Nicki Minaj Concert. Legit.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 7.55.09 AMRecently, I’ve met up with two friends-of-friends on separate occasions who read my blog and both have remarked over the course of conversation that it was weird that they knew so much about me. One of them asked me if I also thought it was weird and I’ve gotta admit that I am pretty okay with relative strangers knowing about my divorce and my cat and the time my top almost came off at the beach.

One of the benefits of writing about my life and sharing it in a super-public forum is that it helps people put me in some context when we meet. I’ve already done the groundwork of telling you what I think you need to know about me and it then frees me up to ask a lot of questions. Having a public, one-sided conversation about myself also really jibes well with my raging megalomania. It also helps cut down on having to fill people in on what I’ve been up to. Whenever I get together with my college pals and we invariably go around the table to get the update on everyone’s kids and lives, they get to skip right over me. I start to tell them a story about something and they’re like, “Yup. Read about it. Next.”

Another interesting byproduct of this blog is that as the result of something I’ve written, I have been invited to attend a bunch of concerts. In fact, I’ve been invited to see four shows so far, two of which were dates (I sometimes joke that my blog also doubles as a low-cost dating site). But by the third round of hearing Stevie Nicks sing “Landslide,” I started to wonder whether there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I really need to start aiming higher and writing about my dream to return to Paris or Rome. Or own a Cartier bracelet.

When I wrote recently about how I briefly thought about channeling Nicki Minaj and parlaying one of her songs into my theme song — a la Ally McBeal — a woman I knew reached out and asked if I wanted to go with her to Nicki’s upcoming concert at a nearby arts center.

“What the hell?” I thought and happily accepted after I ran it past my 18yo who had bought tickets months earlier for the show and had secured a ride home from her college four hours away to attend.

Here were her thoughts (I’m the one in the blue bubble):

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 7.56.15 AM

No really, tell me how you really feel.

I assured her I would not be trying to hang out with her and her gang and really wanted to know very little about whatever shenanigans they had planned. All I knew was that my friend was bringing her 15yo daughter and a pal who would go off to their spots on the lawn and we would have legit seats inside the amphitheater.

I saw Rihanna a couple of years ago with about 10 other women in Atlantic City. We made a whole night of it and booked a few rooms at the now-defunct Revel and by the time she came on the stage at about 10 p.m., we had hit the perfect level of sobriety with which a mob of suburban moms should see RiRi which is to say we were all pretty bombed.

I had really expected a show on the level of what I’d read a Beyonce or Pink show would be, with elaborate sets and dance routines to accompany the singing. But I was sober enough to realize that Rihanna’s show consisted mostly of a lot of backup singers and dancers running around in sparkly costumes and grabbing their crotches. But I was surprised at how many songs of hers I actually knew and had forgotten how many of her tunes were hits I’d heard over and over on the radio. And because I have a teenage daughter, later I would come to love a lot of the songs from the album that Rihanna tour was promoting, which we’ve listened to a lot driving to and from various college campuses. I mean, “What Now” and “Get It Over With” are great songs.

So I went into Nicki Minaj with similar expectations. I figured I’d know a bunch of her songs from the radio and with a little bit of wine, the rest would be fun to listen to. At this stage of the game, I’ve let go of the anxiety I felt when my children were younger and I insisted we listen to Radio Disney-version of popular songs that helped weed out naughty lyrics and notions pushed on Top 40 stations like touching yourself and “S&M.” Nowadays I drive around in a car with the kids and request my daughter play Missy Elliott’s “Pass That Dutch” and we “hooty-hoo” and sing along.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot about Nicki Minaj. Like, she was cute in her role as Cameron Diaz’s secretary in “The Other Woman” and I saw on Facebook that she just had a fight on Twitter with Taylor Swift. And she has that number called “Boss Ass Bitch,” which was kind of the genesis of an essay I wrote and was inspired by until I listened to it and discovered it’s just a lot of rapping with insanely bad language and ideas (lots of p**** this and n***** that). Like, yikes.

And you guys know I like my curse words.

It turns out, Nicki Minaj’s ENTIRE lexicon consists of this type of song. I don’t even know if you can call them “songs” per se. It’s really just a lot of bad words strung together. But interestingly enough, even though I had no idea what these songs were, every other person in the entire arena did and rapped along with her. It was fascinating. I guess it’s like knowing all the words to “Thunder Road” or “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.”

Here’s a not-very-good clip courtesy of my 18yo:

A few other observations: Probably the biggest was that my friend and I were the oldest people in the stadium by about three decades. Legit. I noticed a handful of audience members sitting nearby who were obviously parents and not just really old Nicki Minaj fans. And much like Rihanna’s show, the choreography was fairly lackluster and consisted of a lot of gyrating and crotch grabbing. An attempt at sexy dancing that came off instead as some second-rate soft porn. I couldn’t really tell because my eyesight’s not what it used to be but by squinting at the giant video monitors it seemed that the backup dancers’ shiny gold outfits they wore to writhe around on the floor during “Anaconda” included zippers along their crotch seams. Talk about sexy.

So here’s what I worry about: What is Nicki Minaj modeling for my children? Is all her filthy-talk and see-through costumes (she does have an impressive backside) misogynistic or empowering? Here is a sample of lyrics from “Boss Ass Bitch”:

I said, rule #1 to be a boss ass bitch:

Never let a clown n**** try to play you

If he play you, then rule #2:

F*** his best friends, then make ’em yes-men

Or have I joined generations of parents who have fretted over the music their kids were listening to and declaring it the downfall of civilization? The Beatles and Elvis Presley seem positively quaint compared to the stuff on the radio today. The friend who so generously invited me to the show thought Nicki was amazing and had no issues with the content. So maybe I’m just becoming a fuddy-duddy in my old age, but my inner feminist struggles with whether or not she and her fans have been sold a bill of goods. I do, however, support her intentions:

If nothing else, the evening provided an interesting glimpse into what my kids are listening to when they’ve got their headphones on in the car. And it ain’t Radio Disney.

You can sign up to get all my latest posts sent right to your inbox lickety-split by typing your email into the “Never Miss a Post” box. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. 

 [wysija_form id=”1″]


That Time I Missed the Bus (Literally)

keep-calm-and-don-t-miss-the-bus-5I woke up yesterday morning to face a big “to-do” list. We were planning to leave early the next day to drive the seven hours or so south to attend my oldest child’s college graduation and I had shiz that needed to get done.

Did you just read that? My oldest child, my first-born — the one who taught me how hard it was to be a mom and how much I loved it — is about to become a college graduate (god fucking willing).

Where did the time go?

But this is not about that.

I had cookies to make, clothes to pack — especially to ensure that my little guy didn’t show up for the commencement ceremony in his typical sports shorts/soccer jersey combo — and I had to get my ass to the DMV to replace the driver’s license that was stolen out of my walled like a month ago.

There was also the matter of the license plate that recently, and mysteriously, just dropped off the front of the $400 vehicle my teenager drives nowadays and I should probably be happy that that’s the only thing that’s fallen off that beauty.

So I got the kids off to school, did a little solo exercise routine in my family room that included singing and dancing to Prince’s “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” (PS: I killed it) and jumped in the shower.

Following my abbreviated beauty routine, it occurred to me that I might need shit out of my daughter’s car to replace the missing plate — say the vehicle registration or insurance card. Or maybe I’d need the plate that remained screwed to the back of the car. So I drove to the high school and, reluctantly, switched cars and drove to the local DMV using the tips of my right toes to press the accelerator as the power seats have long since stopped working and are permanently frozen in place for a driver with legs significantly longer than my own.

So by the time I got to the dreaded DMV with my Ziploc bagged filled with all the “points” required to prove that I was who I was, it was later than I really had wanted to get there and there was a long line of folks filling out various forms along a counter where I squeezed in to do the same.

I don’t know about you, but when I have any doings at the motor vehicle agency I start acting like I’ve committed a crime or joined the service. I want to answer every question asked to me with, “Sir, yes sir!” and a salute. So I start going into my “We’re in the Army now” routine when the phone in my bag starts to ring. I look down and see it’s my mom and look back up to answer the imposing woman behind the counter asking me questions.

Then the phone starts to ring again.

And again.

And I’m really starting to sweat, wondering if my mom wanted to talk about something more than the graduation or then maybe if there had been an accident.

I had to run outside to check the license plate number and add to one of the numerous forms I needed to fill out and when I came back in, saw my younger sister had texted me, “Hey, are you here?”

“What is Betsy doing at the DMV?” I wondered, but scurried back onto the line to finish my business with the lady behind the counter.

The phone, of course, started to buzz again and instead of ignoring, I press that magic iPhone button that lets you send a quick message that you can’t talk right now.

To which my mother responds, “This can’t wait.”

“She’s usually not so aggressive,” I think, and move over to another line.

And then she texts, “We are headed to NY,” and I have one of those experiences generally reserved for dreams, you know, the kind where you show up for a test naked or that you forgot to study?

I forgot that at that moment I was supposed to be at a rest area along the Garden State Parkway to catch a bus into New York City to see a show that my mother bought tickets for months ago. She even asked me last weekend if I’d found out yet what time I needed to be there to get on the bus and I brushed her off, reminding her it was only Saturday at that point. That I just hadn’t gotten that far yet on my calendar.

I think she knew better. She knew whom she was dealing with.

Needless to say — following a mini heart attack — I finished my business at the DMV and started frantically Googling mass transportation options to get me into the city by 2 p.m. (it was close to 11 a.m. at that point and anyone who has had to journey into New York from the Tri-State area knows you need to give yourself a lot of time to get from here to there).

I was all set to jump on  a bus that would get into the city about 15 minutes before curtain time and figured I would just run from Port Authority to the nearby theater district when I made the horrifying discovery that the show — the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” — was playing at Lincoln Center. Fucking Lincoln Center about 20-something blocks north of the bus station.

And then I began to despair. My mother had gone way out of her way to get me that ticket to be a part of that bus trip into the city — along with two of my sisters and some of my mom’s pals — that I couldn’t just not go. Even offering to pay her back didn’t seem right. I had been an asshole, like, how could I have not remembered such a lovely day that awaited me?

So naturally, as I do in these situations, I did the one thing I’ve done quite often over the past few years. I called my gal pal across the street and asked her what she thought I should do. She’s like the Kissenger to my Ford — although much more chic — and always knows just what to do.

“You’ve got a lot on your plate,” she immediately commiserated after I verbally vomited what had happened and my distress. “You’ve got kids moving out and moving home and the long weekend ahead of you. You just forgot,” she consoled.

“You’re going to have to drive,” she instructed. “It shouldn’t be too terrible.”

So that’s what I did. I jumped in my car in my DMV outfit and drove the 90-minute drive into Manhattan’s Upper West Side and easily parked under Lincoln Center with enough time to spare to join the group for a lovely lunch.

And the show was magnificent. I super-love Kelli O’Hara, who plays the role of the intrepid Anna who travels to Siam to be a teacher for the king’s many children. My mom and I had seen her years earlier in the Lincoln Center-revival of “South Pacific,” which was equally wonderful and provided the additional excitement of getting to stand behind Angelica Houston on the ladies room line at intermission.

I sat next to my mom in that darkened theater and kicked myself for even considering for a moment the notion of forfeiting that experience in favor of staying home and walking around Trader Joe’s.

Of course, the ride home sucked. It took a legit hour to get from Lincoln Center to the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. I mean, it’s only about 20 blocks south. And it was rush hour so things didn’t get much better when I hit the New Jersey Turnpike on the other end.

I still don’t know what to blame my absent-mindedness on. Maybe I’ve got a lot on my mind right now or maybe I’m just plain stupid. I’m really open to that. Or maybe I have “brain fog,” one of peri-menopause’s many exciting features that accompany sweating through my underwear and the cute bloat around my midsection.

But whatever the culprit was, I’m glad I didn’t pass on the opportunity to sit next to my mom in a darkened theater under the spell of beautiful music.

You can’t buy that at Trader Joe’s.

Our New Neighbor

mrgrsI was standing in the kitchen talking to my 17yo daughter this weekend when I noticed her looking over my shoulder. This is nothing unusual. Nobody really pays any attention to what I have to say around here unless it’s what I’m making for dinner or that I don’t have $300 lying around to help fund a spring break trip to the Keys.

Anyway, I was probably saying something like, “Do you think you’re going to college next year?” or “If you don’t clean your pigsty of a room you’re not going out tonight” when she shouted, “Look what’s inside that tree!”

She pointed out the window over our kitchen sink to a giant maple tree in our neighbor’s yard, right on the other side of the chain link fence that separates our properties. Its trunk splits into two like a “V” as it reaches up towards the sky and then each half splits again. About 20 feet up, the whole shebang starts bending towards my house so all the limbs, branches, twigs create a canopy over my narrow back yard. It actually used to have a sister tree about 10 feet to its north, also right at the edge of the fence, and the two of them had been the bane of my existence since I moved into this house over a dozen years ago.

It turns out, maple trees generate a variety of little pieces of crap that they drop throughout the year — you know, those helicopter things we used to call “Pinnochio noses” when we were kids that fall in late summer, and bright green blossoms in the spring. And then there are all the leaves. And all of it — the buds, the leaves, the helicopters and all that ensuing pollen — float right into the swimming pool that takes up about half of my backyard.

I really wanted that pool when we were trying to buy the house. I really thought it was going to be so great to have it for the kids to swim and play and invite their friends over and our friends over. But I have learned after taking care of the 30-year-old thing over the last 12 years that swimming pools should be filed under “Things That Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”

Like getting married at 24.

Ironically, the tree closest to the pool came crashing into our back yard the night Hurricane Sandy blew through, its giant limbs tearing through the dark green pool cover that had just been pulled on top a month earlier. The power had already gone off when the tree fell but the wind and everything going on outside created such a racket, we never even heard it come down. We eventually noticed the branches, which earlier that day were 40 feet above our yard, lying on the steps outside our back door later that night.

Now, the remaining maple tree is not looking in much better condition than the other one did before it keeled over. A pretty big limb fell off a few years ago, leaving it looking a bit like an amputee, and there’s a big hollow in one of the trunks that indicates that the tree might not be in the best of health.

If this one goes down any time soon, it should probably be filed under “Things I Should Have Taken Care Of.”

Like that weird lump on my finger or the sinking concrete deck around the pool.

So I looked out the window at the tree my daughter was pointing to and inside the hollow was a raccoon, just sitting there staring back at us. It looked almost fake, like someone had put a muppet inside the hole, with its pointy snout and little black mask across its eyes.

And we were like, “Awwwwww.”

And now, for the past two days, we have been absolutely obsessed with the thing. We even named it.

I initially felt strongly that it was a girl and suggested we call her “Rhoda” or “Rhianna.” When those ideas were shot down, I began referring to it as “Bandit” or “Badger” but that ultimately pissed my 12yo son off, as he kept insisting we could not call our raccoon “Badger” since that was, like, the name of another kind of animal altogether.

Okay, whatev.

Then my daughter was like, “It’s definitely a guy,” and suggested we call him “Kenneth” and we all agreed that name fit him perfectly. He is such a Kenneth.

Standard raccoon meme.

Standard raccoon meme.

Lately, I spend most of my days at my kitchen table sitting at a chair tucked into a bay window area that looks right out at Kenneth’s tree about 20 feet away. All day yesterday, while I should have been doing other things, I watched him dozing in his hole and occasionally would see the top of his head moving up and down as he groomed himself. Every once in a while, he’d stop and push his face out of the hole a little to enjoy a rush of cold air going by. A few times, he actually stretched his body out of the hole and basked in the afternoon sun, closing his eyes and luxuriating in its warmth, and then he’d go right back to scratching himself. I decided right then and there that more than anything else, I wanted to come back as a raccoon in my next life. I wouldn’t mind spending my days napping and grooming myself and taking a break to feel the sun on my face or the breeze in my fur.

Sounds perfect to me.

(The above is a terrible video that really doesn’t show anything except how sick my daughter was when she went outside to try to film Kenneth this weekend).

There was a bit of debate as to whether Kenneth had always been living in that hole, watching us going on with our lives while he nipped at the bugs on his belly, but we ultimately decided he must have moved there more recently. Our real neighbor, the man who owns the actual property behind us where Kenneth is living, recently had a whole crew of tree dudes in his yard chopping down most of the trees back there (other than the one that’s eventually going to kerplop into my yard).

“Kenneth was probably living in one of those trees,” my daughter deduced, and that seems like the best explanation to me.

She came home from school yesterday and walked over to where I was sitting, my chair angled to get the best view of Kenneth’s activities, and we both sat and watched him for a while. Every time he stopped his grooming and looked up towards us, so we could see his pointy little ears and the mask, we’d stop mid-conversation and say, “Ohhh.”

As the sun went down and we could no longer see the tree through the window, we speculated over dinner as to what Kenneth was up to. We joked that he had made his way up to my daughter’s bedroom and was in her bed (she doesn’t even like me in her bed, much less a hairy wild animal) or that we would come down in the morning and find him sitting at our kitchen table with a mug of coffee.

Alas, when we did come down to start our day this morning, there was no sign of Kenneth anywhere. He’s not in his hole and we’re beginning to get a little concerned.

“GO LOOK FOR HIM,” my daughter texted from school earlier. “DO SOMETHING.”

But I really don’t think there’s much I can do when it comes to looking for a lost raccoon. It’s not like I can call the police or the SPCA. I can’t imagine, even though he’s really cute, that anyone is going to call to report that they found someone’s raccoon. Even one with a proper name like Kenneth.

So, because I couldn’t stare at our raccoon this morning, I took to looking at my son instead. I told him how handsome he looked wearing the same husky Gap corduroys — the kind where you can cinch in and let out the waist as needed — that he wears about four out of five school days during the week and his standard soccer jersey on top. I followed him into the mudroom as he went to grab his sneakers and he finally said, “Okay. You don’t need to watch me put on my shoes.”

Maybe that’s why I liked watching Kenneth so much. I’ve got fewer people who let me stare at them around here. I miss when they were little and I could marvel at how they could speak and move all on their own and their perfect little bodies. Now when I try to admire them for any length of time, I’m told I’m acting like “a creeper.”

Not to fear, though. I’ve been vigilant today, on the lookout for Kenneth, watching to see if maybe he crops up in a new nest or maybe in the next yard over. It seemed like he had such a good set up though. I’m struggling with why he would leave. Maybe all our staring got to him after a while. Maybe it was all a little unsettling.

And I mean, if worse comes to worse, I could always just go and stare at my cat.

She’s just no Kenneth.

Looking for something to stare at? Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and sign up to get all my posts emailed straight to your inbox. 


How I Learned to Shovel Snow

70538-11805-103536-1-dudley-do-rightI’ve spent most of my life being capable. Adaptable. Resilient.

I’ve never really been one of those damsel-in-distress-types. But sometimes, I’d really like to slip into that role. I’d really like some Dudley Do-Right to come galloping to my rescue and, like, fix my running toilet or figure out how to move my router.

But because I don’t really come off as needy, I’m generally left to fend for myself. The upside to this is that it means that folks assume I am on top of things. The downside is that I’m outside shoveling snow and trying to start generators with all the husbands while the wives sit inside and watch Kelly and Michael.

And when I was married, I didn’t have to worry about things like snow and generators either. I live in a part of the world where people toe a fairly traditional gender line. Most of the dads go to work in offices and the moms stay home with the kids. Men do the manly things like mow lawns and get rid of dead things that show up in and around their yards and women make dinner and mail out Christmas cards (although I recently met a guy who actually took on that job each year when he was married and I am fascinated by that). Before my husband moved out, I never even touched a snow shovel.

Now I get to be in charge of everything. The lawn. The Christmas cards. Dead things. When I was married, I couldn’t even handle the feel of a dead bunny that weighted down the end of the net I was trying to scoop it out of the pool with. It took me about 20 minutes to stop carrying on and lift the thing out of the water and into the waiting plastic Target bag and then even more time to psych myself up to carry the bag to the trash can in the garage.

Now I’m an expert at removing stuff that ends up dead somewhere in my yard. A few years ago, I even helped my neighbor Susan get rid of some weird dead bat that appeared at the base of the pine tree in her front yard. I went to my house and fetched one of the hundreds of plastic sleeves I store under my kitchen sink that my newspaper is delivered in each day – it’s one of those items I feel compelled to hoard, like shopping bags and shoe boxes (you never know) – and marched back to Susan’s to pick up the bat carcass. I slipped my hand inside the blue plastic bag and picked the bat up off the ground and then pulled the bag back over my hand so that its body fell to the bottom of the bag, which I tied off and handed to Susan to throw into one of her trash cans.

“Tell Michael I said, ‘You’re welcome,’” I told her, since I had just done his job for him.

But my two younger kids and I are staying with Michael and Susan over spring break at their new digs in Hong Kong so I guess the Universe has more than repaid me for helping a brother out and getting rid of the dead bat so that he didn’t have to.

But really, I’m okay with being stuck with the dude jobs around here. Number one, it’s a small price to pay for not having to put up with someone’s shenanigans just because they’re good snow shovelers and number two, it puts my life in more of the Free to Be, You and Me alignment that always appealed to me as a kid.

But it’s still a work in progress.

We woke up this morning to discover that the BLIZZARD OF 2015, the storm that was predicted to dump three feet of snow on my yard that had me out yesterday combing the stores for “D” batteries and loading up on water (I have serious Sandy PTSD), was pretty much a dud. I’m a terrible eyeballer of measurements, but it’s safe to say that we didn’t even get one foot of snow, much less three. But it still needs to be managed. We will still need to get out there and clear the driveway and path to the front door like good citizens.

But I’m sitting here in my bed waiting to see when my neighbor Bill starts to shovel. I use him as my snow removal barometer since he seems to be really on top of this kind of thing. I usually look out our front windows after storms to monitor his activity. I mean, he even owns a snow blower, which is a clear signal that he takes his snow removal very seriously. Until I hear that motor, I know I can remain here tucked under my covers and enjoying the lazy morning like all the other mommies.

My girlfriend across the street – you know, Punky’s mom – texted a little while ago to ask if my little guy would help her teenaged son shovel the driveway of some of our neighbors who are well past the shoveling stage of their lives.

I had also mentioned to my son as he put on his boots that he should also shovel the driveway of the elderly couple next door to us and told him that I would be out in a bit so we could get going on our own driveway.

“What,” he squeaked. “I don’t want to have to shovel three driveways.”

“You’re a dude,” I told him. “Get used to it.”

“That’s so sexist,” the little 12-year-old reminded me and I was like, “Poop.”

So, maybe he’ll live more in a world where men send out Christmas cards and make dinners and women go outside and shovel snow.

Which is where this damsel is headed right now.

Let me guess: Your husband’s outside shoveling snow and you’re inside trolling the Internet. Good for you. Why don’t you sign up to get all my posts sent directly to your inbox? Just plug your email into the “receive new post in your inbox.” Oh, p.s., it’s free and something to do while you drink your cocoa in your yoga pants.

You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter since none of my kids will let me follow them. We can twitter each other.




I’m on HuffPo, Yo

Yup, that's my mug along with a roundup of some of my very best qualities on HuffPo Divorce.

Yup, that’s my mug along with a roundup of some of my very best qualities on HuffPo Divorce.

I was going to start this post out by saying that I’ve learned lately that to get what you want in life, sometimes you really need to grow a pair (cahones, man) and take risks. But then my inner-feminist  was like, “Seriously? Do you have to have a weiner to put yourself out there?” Of course, we all know that the answer is, “No.”

There are plenty of timid men and courageous women. Balls have got nothing to do with it.

I do have big boobs though and since there are two of them, maybe we’ll go with that instead.

At any rate, whether it was balls or boobs at work, I got up the nerve a few weeks ago to email Arianna Huffington to tell her I’d love to be part of the HuffPo bevy of bloggers. I stole the idea, because I’ve had about 12 original thoughts in my entire life, from the super-smart and brave Amy (I pretty much love every Amy) over at the blog Using Our Words who did the same thing to get on HuffPo a while ago and wrote about it here. 

I’ve made a concerted effort to try to get myself on other sites besides this one lately and had submitted a few things to Huffington Post but never heard anything back. Seriously, crickets.

And I love Arianna. I’ve listened to an interview she did with Nora Ephron in 2006 at the 92nd Street Y and a book she wrote on, ironically enough, Becoming Fearless and think she’s not only smart and ambitious but a champion of other women as well. I proabably spent two days, on and off, working on the email – I mean, just what do you say to Arianna? – and finally hit the send button with a trembly finger.

And then I waited.

I probably hit the refresh button on my inbox a grillion times over the next few days to find only updates from Twitter and American Express (PS AmEx: can you please stop writing to tell me how much I’ve spent since my last statement?).

And of course, right when I’d forgotten all about it, around 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon, I checked my emails and there, would you believe, was a note from Arianna herself. It was short and sweet but she thanked me for thinking of them and hooked me up with an editor and wished me all the best.

Naturally, I screamed. And then I called my mom.

So what is it like having something posted on Huffington Post? Well, the first piece brought a lot of shout outs and hallelujahs on social media from folks I already knew but not much else happened.

But another essay that went live Friday had very different results. Like, it doubled my highest traffic day ever and also brought with it some of the meanest things ever said about me from someone I haven’t been married to. But it also brought emails, comments and Facebook messages from people from all over who have been down the same road. People who reached out to say, “Yes. Right. Me, too.”

Too legit to quit.

Too legit to quit.

And that’s what writing is really all about. Being heard and connecting. Knowing you’re not alone in all of it. Being a part of something bigger than yourself.

And, really, what better place to do all that than the Huffington Post?


Wait, I forgot to tell you that I also got to write a piece for The Stir at CafeMom this week about my all-time-favorite TV show, The Gilmore Girls. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Get thee to Netflix where all seven seasons are currently available for streaming and see you when you’re done in a few weeks.

An ode ot Rory and Lorelai on The Stir.

An ode ot Rory and Lorelai on The Stir.

Sign up to get all my posts sent directly to your inbox to read at your leisure. Like when you’re trying to stay awake until your 16-year-old comes home on a Saturday night. Just plug your email into the “receive new post in your inbox.”  Seriously, all the cool kids are doing it.

You can also follow me on Facebook and I’d love to meet you on Twitter.





The Great Decline: One Mom’s Halloween Timeline

You should have seen me 20 years ago. The magic I could pull off with a cardboard box and some construction paper was not to be believed. And on top of that, I had unwitting subjects to work with. I could do anything I wanted to do to them.

I drew goatees on baby girls. I dressed my son up in a Barney costume one of our friends had given us as a kind of joke.

Sorry, kids.

Sorry, kids.

I spent hours spray painting boxes and working with stencils to make this circus train with the big brother engineer and the baby lion in the caboose.

Back when people did what I told them to do.

Back when people did what I told them to do.

Even later, when they wanted to be more conventional characters for Halloween, I put costumes together out of our ever-growing dress-up box (Please notice the artful way I worked turtlenecks into princess costumes for both warmth and modesty. No whore-y princess outfits for my girls. They are still pissed about that)).

My princesses.

Pretty, pretty princesses.

Even as my kids got older, I still tried to stay creative with their costumes, as evidenced by this very-amazing Wayne from Wayne’s World (Garth was pretty awesome, too).



I even made an adorable cape for a Little Red Riding Hood costume using felt and a glue gun but since it was for one of my younger kids, there is no picture to use as evidence.

But, maybe due to the invention of the Internet and Facebook in particular, I’ve kind of dropped the ball on Halloween costumes with my younger guy. Lame Wolverine.



Ho-hum Harry Potter.


The year everyone was the Boy Wizard.

The only creativity coming out of this house nowadays is when my Baby Girl got involved, like the time a few years ago she used YouTube videos to teach herself how to sew the backpack for Finn from AdventureTime (a cartoon I am convinced is geared towards stoned college kids and not 11-year-olds).

But this year, my 22nd Halloween as a mom, kind of tops them all. I neither worked with a glue gun nor visited one of those pop-up Halloween stores to buy a costume. We picked pumpkins out of a big box in front of our grocery store and not a field. And I didn’t even bother getting the tombstones out of the garage to set up on the lawn or have one of the kids string cobwebs along the shrubs in front of the house.

My little guy, who’s in the sixth grade, said initially he was going to be one of the guys from “Men in Black” (presumably Tommy Lee Jones),  but later modified that, keeping the suit and calling himself a “businessman” instead. Interesting. It’s the one day of the year you can be anything you want to be and he wants to dress like he just got off the boat from Wall Street.

He had a hand-me-down blazer in his closet and got his sister to tie his tie (what can’t she teach herself how to do on YouTube?). He came down this morning with his hair all gelled and squeezed into his black band concert khakis from the spring and I had to laugh. All he needed was an American flag pin on his lapel and he could tell people he was either a CEO or a Young Republican.

My very own baby CEO.

My very own baby CEO.

My neighbor came over to exercise this morning and I showed her the picture of my baby Master of the Universe and we laughed and then she scrolled through her photos to show me what her 15-year-old-son pulled together about 15 minutes before his bus came this morning.

I got a rock.

***I got a rock.

And how we get from spray painting boxes to cutting a couple of holes in a sheet, I’ll never know. I just know that I kind of miss drawing scars on their faces, the Halloween parade at the elementary school and reminding little ones a thousand times as they raced from house to house to say “Trick or treat” and “Thank you.”

Tonight my little guy will go off with his posse to fill their pillowcases with as much candy as humanly possible as I drink red wine with all the moms back at home. He’s at his dad’s this weekend so I’ll miss seeing his loot poured out and categorized on the floor and swiping all of the candy he deems gross (come to me, Almond Joy bars).

I’m going to meet up later with another single mom and mother to older children and maybe we’ll reminisce about the good old days — the costumes and endless trick-or-treating. How much we miss it.

Or maybe we’ll just drink a cocktail and dance like moms who have done their time in the pumpkin patch.

Want to give yourself a treat this Halloween? Sign up to receive updates from me sent directly to your inbox. Just look for “Receive new posts in your inbox” and fill in your email. Sweet.

You can also follow me on Facebook and I’d love to meet up with you on Twitter, too!

Boy on Fire

See more from my favorite photographer: https://www.flickr.com/photos/maggiealice/

See more from my favorite photographer: https://www.flickr.com/photos/maggiealice/

I should have seen it coming.

Or maybe I should have smelled it.

Earlier in the evening I’d detected the unmistakable odor of teen spirit wafting up from the basement, where my youngest son has been hanging out more and more lately. I mean, who could blame him? Not only is there a sitting area with a TV and XBOX system, but his older brother’s bedroom and bathroom down there – currently unoccupied as the 22-year-old’s away at school – make it like a cozy Petri dish for raging hormones.

“Why does it reek of Axe?” I yelled down the stairs, trying to be heard over The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” marathon blaring on the television.

The unmistakable scent gave me pause. Too many times in the past I’d smelled that smelly smell – a mixture of musky armpit and aggression – climbing out of the basement as my older son worked through his teen years. And while at first I just thought he was being really fastidious about his personal grooming, later I would realize that he was using his enormous collection of stinky Axe products to mask activities other than showering going down in his lair.

So I had a PTSD moment, standing at the top of the stairs and recognizing that unmistakable odor, but then laughed it off. I assumed the almost 12-year-old had just been experimenting with the numerous cans of body spray – with names like “Dark Temptation” and “Anarchy for Him” – left behind when his older brother took off for college in August.

When will I ever learn to connect the goddamn dots?

I finished cleaning up after dinner and settled onto the couch to watch this week’s episode of Homeland when the fire detectors on all three levels of our house began to shriek.

“Is Axe really that powerful?” I thought as I ran to the basement to investigate. I was really still thinking that body spray, however stinky, could set off smoke detectors.

And then I really smelled it.


Or, more precisely, I detected something that had been recently set on fire and put out.

It’s smoky when I get to the bottom of the stairs to find my little guy standing there wide-eyed, teary and seemingly confused.

“What the hell is going on down here?” I shouted, noticing the scorched area of rug by his feet and big, grey specks of ash scattered about.

“I don’t know,” he stuttered, and I ran into the bathroom to find more pieces of ash on the floor and toilet seat and noticed that the toilet had also recently been flushed.

“What were you burning?” I yelled, not waiting for him to come to Jesus.

Jesus was fucking coming to him.

“I don’t know,” he said, continuing with his disoriented act and then I give him my scariest look. “Paper,” he finally blurted out.

“With what?” I asked, imaging some book of matches he had stolen from one of his brother’s drawers, and then he got down on his knees to retrieve the lighter he’d had the wherewithal to shove under a nearby desk when he realized the jig was fucking up.

“Are you insane?” I screamed, “Why would you do that?”

“I don’t know,” he cried, visibly shaken. “I just did.”

Here’s the good thing about the men in my family when they admit to having fucked up, which isn’t often. They finally do what I fucking tell them to do and don’t make a stink about it.

So my little man marched up the stairs and got immediately into the shower. He didn’t dawdle like he usually does and get distracted by some YouTube video, or lie down on his bed and think about the new soccer ball he desperately wants for his birthday.

He took a shower. He brushed his teeth. He told me he even used mouthwash. He read his book for 20 minutes and then he turned out the light to go to sleep.

Right around then his 17-year-old sister got home from her babysitting gig and I told her to go smell the basement.

“It smells like fiery boy down there,” she came back to report, and I laughed and told her about what had happened.

“What an idiot,” she said.

And of course, I agreed. But I also wondered how much of it was, in a way, my fault.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way taking the blame for the kid’s budding pyromania. But  I tend to give my little guy, as the youngest of four, a lot more leeway than his siblings. He uses words like “atrocious” and tells me my upcoming trip to the Hamptons sounds “fabulous.” He just seems more mature than the other kids did in middle school. Like he has his wits about him.

I know. I am a terrible judge of character.

But lately, he’s always asking to light the candle I like to burn on the kitchen counter and I even showed him how to work the same lighter he would use to almost burn down the house a few weeks later. I’ve noticed he’s lit the candle a time or two when I wasn’t around, and I probably should have been a lot more stern about that. And concerned probably, too.

But when half of your kids are in their 20s, you get to the point where you start to think that maybe certain acts of bullshit are behind you. You assume the younger children have learned from their older siblings’ mistakes and will spare you the ensuing drama.

You think certain people are smart enough not to set shit on fire in your basement on a Monday night.

And lots of things have gotten lit up down there in the past. Pipes. Libidos. Dreams.

At least now I know exactly what it smells like.

Sign up to get all my posts sent directly to your inbox to read at your leisure. Just plug your email into the “receive new post in your inbox.” 

You can also follow me on Facebook and I’d love to meet you on Twitter.







In Defense of Renee Zellweger

I don’t know about you, but I’d almost forgotten about Renee Zellweger, she of Bridget Jones and Chicago fame. But that probably should come as no surprise since I consume a steady diet of Hollywood’s newest and hottest starlets fed to me through my dedicated reading of People and Entertainment Weekly magazines and watching schlocky Extra and Access Hollywood on TV most nights (Mario Lopez and Billy Bush are like the Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite for the celebrity set). There’s always somebody newer, hotter and fresher to admire and scrutinize.

So Zellweger’s name caught my eye yesterday as I was scrolling through Facebook but the picture I was looking at didn’t quite match up to the actress I remembered. The woman didn’t even look like she could be a sister, much less a cousin, once-removed of the Oscar-winning actress.

Not 24 hours later and Zellweger, 45, is everywhere: the aforementioned Extra and Access Hollywood breathlessly reporting how her appearance at an awards ceremony set off a firestorm of speculation about the extent of work she has had done to her face. The story is all over the Internet and the Today Show (ack, what happened to the Today Show?) could not get enough of this very important issue. Matt Lauer even had Bill O’Reilly – there to discuss his new book on Patton – give his two cents on the issue (probably the only time I’ve ever agreed with the old gasbag).

“They’re not reporting on the issue,” noted my very smart friend, “they’re creating the issue.”

I wonder what the great newsman Ben Bradlee, longtime editor of the Washington Post who died yesterday, had to say in the end about what is considered news nowadays. Scroll through the home page of Today.com and you can read all you want about “Best Baby Bump Style” and “4 Moves to a Great Butt” (I shit you not), but find not one word about Hong Kong or ISIS.

But I digress.

Women in their 40s are fucked and we don’t even talk about anyone in their 50s so I guess we just slink off somewhere to pluck our chin hairs and wait to shrivel up and die.

And you don’t have to be a movie star to feel the pressure to hang onto youth and beauty for as long as possible. Even unemployed mothers of four living in suburban New Jersey succumb to a multitude of treatments to stay fresh. To look the way I do requires gel manicures, pedicures, haircuts/color/straightening, waxing of brows/lip/bikini area. Then there’s the monthly facial, the guy who comes to work out with me at my house twice a week and my face may have seen a needle a time or two.

That’s not even counting all of the lotions and potions sitting in a basket on my bathroom counter that I smear and splatter all over myself  to encourage my skin to retain whatever elasticity it has left.

And I make jokes that I have to keep myself together since I’m single and have so many kids. That I have to have one thing – other than thin ankles – going for me.

I said as much to my girlfriend this morning as we discussed Zellweger while squatting with 20-pound weights (the irony). “Yeah, but I do all that stuff too,” said my pal, “and I’m married.”

Even the great Anna Quindlen – my long-time professional and personal hero, who famously wrote, “The life span of women in our society is divided into three stages: pre-Babe, Babe and post-Babe” – has admitted to using Botox (like it’s a narcotic or something).

Another pal and I were talking not long ago about Botox and how she was told by a friend that she better start including the procedure in her maintenance schedule or she was going to look like shit compared to everyone else.

“Why can’t we all just agree not to go there?” she moaned.

But, as Zellweger has proven, things are going in the opposite direction. Botox is just the gateway procedure leading to the harder treatments like lasers, fillers, eye and neck lifts.

Why can’t we all just channel Meryl Streep, who called our push for actresses to stay young “Victoria’s Secret Syndrome” in a 2008 Good Housekeeping article?

“I just don’t get it. You have to embrace getting older,” said the now-65-year-old actress. “Life is precious, and when you’ve lost a lot of people, you realize each day is a gift.”

Society tells us that we’re nothing if we’re not babes and I can tell you, at 48 and wallowing in the final days of my own babedom (or maybe the beginning of the decay), it’s fucking scary. It’s not only how we’re defined but, for many of us, how we define ourselves.

So I get why Renee Zellweger felt the need to do whatever it was she did to herself. I like to think that I’ll let my looks go softly into the night, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be led astray and succumb to the shiny promises of Juvaderm and blepharoplasty.

At least I won’t have Mario Lopez talking about me on TV if I do.




Insulting Things Said to Me Over Dinner

IMG_2661“Hey Mom, quick question,” said my 11-year old son last night as we were sitting down to a late dinner, “but, can you still have babies?”

I paused shoveling the forkful of quinoa-stuffed pepper into my mouth, looked at him and said, “Uh, yes.”

“WHAT?????!!!!!” he responded, apparently amazed that such a miracle could occur to someone so old, causing his 17-year-old sister to convulse in laughter and bang the table.

She even repeated the whole conversation over breakfast this morning while Joe and Mika debated the whole Ray Rice/NFL thing for the millionth time. The insult was way more entertaining to her.

So I think it’s interesting that, from a youngster’s point of view, the idea of me getting pregnant — and I will point out to anyone who wasn’t paying attention the first five times I’ve mentioned this fun fact here but I am but one day older than Halle Berry, who just had her own baby — is a shocking/nauseating revelation.

While the only thing I think Halle Berry and I have in common are ovaries, I like to think that my body could still muster the energy if necessary to make a baby. Maybe one with three arms, but still.

And I might not be good at a lot of things, but I was amazing at getting pregnant. Like, a real pro.

It’s funny I’d even be offended by this exchange, given my baby factory’s been shut down for years due to the economic downturn. I was supplying more than was in demand. And really, I don’t even want a houseplant much less another person around here to deal with. Especially if it’s going to grow up to start insulting me over dinner.

Obviously, the only logical next step was to make that creep of a kid pay for his insulting behavior.

“Do you have any of those ultra-sized tampons in your bathroom?” I casually asked his sister later in the meal.

“DO YOU MIND?” my son yelled. “THAT’S DISGUSTING.”


5 Things I Feel Kind of Sorry About (In No Particular Order)


I try not to live a life of regret. I try to frame the maybe-not-so-positive events that go down in my world as life lessons. This way of thinking makes my therapist very happy and I’m a pleaser so there you go.

However, sometimes I do find myself second guessing decisions I’ve made. Wondering what the fuck I was thinking about in certain instances.

And because it’s the end of August and absolutely nothing is happening in my life – at least that I can write about – I thought I’d share the Top 5 things I’m fretting about right now.

I know, you’re welcome.

  1. Sex With Strangers

I was paying my AmEx bill last Friday afternoon and noticed a charge for theater tickets and was like, “What the hell?” A quick search in my inbox turned up an email confirming tickets my girlfriend and I had bought a few weeks ago, kind of spur-of-the-moment, for an Off-Broadway play that got a great review in The New York Times called “Sex With Strangers.” The two-person show stars Anna Gunn – Skyler White from “Breaking Bad” – and some super-hot, sexy young dude named Billy Magnussen and the review said it explored real vs. social media personas and the struggle for writers to find commercial success while staying true to their artistic sensibilities. So up my alley. “HOLY FUCK,” I texted my gal pal, “We have tickets to see that show tonight!” Usually, if I need to get into the city from New Jersey, I need a game plan because it can be a real pain, especially on a Friday afternoon. But we got our acts together and took a ferry into Manhattan and even had time to spare for a glass of wine and big bowl of mussels at a restaurant bar before the show. And here’s where the trouble started. Here’s where, maybe because of the wine or the pretty sexy show, I got a bee in my bonnet about an itch that I needed to scratch. It had been brewing for a while but the show kind of set the wheels in motion for something that happened later in the weekend. And whether it’s a relief to have scratched at that itch or, like poison ivy, I should have just left it alone, remains to be seen. Well, everything is copy, as a certain hero of mine has said. But the show is at the Second Stage until the end of the month and as long as you don’t harbor a secret hankering for a much-younger man, I highly suggest you get tickets and see it. Maybe just leave your cell phone at home.

  1. Hermit Crabs

Haven’t I made myself clear? Haven’t I told my kids, time and again, I was not interested in bringing anything else into this house that needs to be kept alive? Like, I don’t even own a houseplant. But my third child gets teary-eyed when she thinks of all the pets I’ve allowed her older sister to own/kill over the years. The frog. The mice. The poor guinea pig that slowly fossilized in our basement. It pisses the younger sister off that she never had the same opportunity to torture small creatures. So, now I see – via some videos she’s sent me on Snapchat – that she has righted those childhood wrongs and bought herself two hermit crabs while spending the week away with friends down the shore. I’ve already watched them skitter across the floor of the beach house where she’s staying. I am not thrilled and wonder how long it will take for those things to shrivel up inside their shells the way the hermit crabs we had, like, 15 years ago for the two older kids did. I give them two weeks and they better not fucking smell while they’re at it.

  1. My Raging Narcissism

There was a time when I really knew what was going on in the world. When I’d wake up early each day and read the paper cover-to-cover. But lately, I get up and grab a cup of coffee and immediately start writing about myself in my journal – documenting my weight and daily alcohol intake – while tragedies unfold in St. Louis and Iraq and I still can’t tell you the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite, much less what ISIS stands for. I can, however, report that I’ve lost almost 10 oz. since yesterday.

  1. The Fantasy of the Only Child 

Don’t tell my three older kids, but for some time now I’ve fantasized about what it will be like when they’re all off in college or starting their grown up lives and it’s just me and their little brother left at home. I’d imagine how clean our kitchen would be and all the cool things my little guys and I would be able to do together in the older kids’ wake. But, just like the reality of how things like being a grown up or marriage never quite stack up to how we imagined they’d be, having an only child is far from perfect. In fact, it’s kind of boring. Sure, my house is a little cleaner and he’s happy eating taquitos night after night, but I kind of miss the chaos of all those other personalities. Turns out, I really like having them around.

  1. The Summer of Amy

You’ve heard it here before, how my 10 Days of Fun somehow stretched into my Summer of Amy. How a lot has transpired over the course of the last three months. I have danced and I have kissed and pretty much made up for all those nights home, cooking for kids and working, over the last five years. And although I normally can’t wait for summer to come to an end, am almost pushing my kids out the door for the first day of school, this year is somehow different. I’ve loved having time off from work to screw around on my blog, sit on the beach with my kids and focus on my love life (such as it is). And I know in no time, I’ll be back at work and rushing to make dinners and go grocery shopping and it will all be a distant – fabulous – memory. So, who in the world would ever think they’d hear me say this: I am really sorry to see the summer end.

What, pray, are you sorry about, nowadays? I’m an equal-opportunity venter and would love to hear what’s bringing you down. Misery does love company, you know.