Waving Through a Window

This summer, there have been times that it’s felt like the whole universe has been conspiring to get me back here, to my dusty old blog. There have been some moments it’s felt as if the Blog Gods have grabbed me by the shoulders and given me a good shake before asking, “Amy, wtf are you doing?”

The truth is that I’ve felt stymied for a while–creatively, professionally, economically. I’ve reasoned that I should find places that pay money for my writing instead of giving it away for free here. But then I lack the motivation and chutzpah to pitch any of my work. I compare myself with other writers I read and admire and think that my writing could never measure up to what they produce so–it seems–effortlessly. If you looked at my Documents folder, you’d see dozens of unfinished essays, which is def a metaphor for my modus operandi.

Then there are all the other voices in my head. All of those mouthy bastards. Some of the internal monologues come through distinctly in my voice — the snipes of self-loathing and indecision — but there are other voices festering in there as well. Family members from whom I’m estranged. People I used to be married to. The mother of my good friend. A writing mentor.

I hear those voices and I cringe any time I read something that I’ve written. It’s like, “What am I thinking? Who cares? Will they care?”

Sometimes, all those voices seem to be standing in the way of me telling my story, which is all it really is, my take on things that happen in an ordinary life. But really, I’m starting to think it’s just me unable to get out of my own head.

Recently, I’ve gone back and read some of the things I’ve posted here over the last 5 years and am sometimes shocked that I went as far as I did in some pieces. That I shared as much as I did. But at the time, I had zero issues with occasional oversharing. It felt kind of cathartic.

I’d like to get back to that.

It’s what connected me to every person who’s read something of mine and said, “Me, too.” Not in a #metoo, Harvey Weinstein/Matt Lauer, kinda way, but more in the, “Totally,” vein. As in, “I totally get it.”

The kids and I got to go see “Dear Evan Hansen” last summer, which is something I highly suggest you refinance your house to do. It’s epic. Anyway, there’s a song the main character sings in the beginning, called “Waving Through a Window,” and it’s about how all any of us wants is to be seen. To be heard. To be loved. It’s what connects us all at our core. You can watch him perform it here to get a sense of just how moving the song can be (here I pause to watch for the 100th time).

When I first thought about writing personal essays, or maybe a bigger memoir, I felt hampered by the fact that my story was just so ordinary. My divorce, in the scheme of things, was pretty run-of-the-mill. I mean, we had some exciting moments, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t like my ex had a second family stashed somewhere in New Jersey or had gambled all our money away. We just didn’t get what we needed from each other, and no amount of couples therapy or red wine was ever going to fix that fact.

(Teachable moment: Kids, don’t get married when you’re 24.)

I remember saying this to a college friend early on in my separation, how my story was a dime-a-dozen. We were sitting around after dinner in her Brooklyn Heights apartment with friends, sipping grappa, which I was about to find out was not only very strong but could lead to blackouts. I told her what was holding me back and she shook her head and told me that my thinking was all wrong.

“People read to feel connected,” she told me. “They want to know that they’re not alone.”

Of course, it would be another few years before I put that logic to the test here on my blog, when I quickly found that both men and women, folks my age and way younger and older — some with kids and some without — would tell me they could see pieces of themselves in my stories. Snapshots from their own lives.

I was sitting around a long picnic table having dinner with friends this summer in Montauk, all the way out at the very end of Long Island, where glass box beach houses sit atop a bluff overlooking the Atlantic and there are long stretches of beach with more rocks than people, when one of the women in our group starting talking about my blog.

“You were so fucking brave,” she said of the things I wrote, and I felt kind of proud because this woman was no shrinking violet. I also noticed she’d been speaking in the past-tense.

Earlier in the summer, I met some women at a local bar that sits along the Shrewsbury River and offers a front row to a spectacular sunset most nights. It’s all pinks and purples stretched across the sky and slowly dipping into the water.

We stood in a circle with our drinks in clear plastic cups and someone that I knew introduced me to the gal she had come with. “I don’t want to come off as crazy,” this new girl quickly said, “but I love your blog. I even wrote you fan mail a few years ago.”

And this woman in neither divorced nor as old as I am. Just another human struggling on this planet to make sense of things.

Finally, just last night, I was at a mixer for my baby’s high school football team at a local bar where we stood outside on a deck and clung to our icy vodka drinks to help us not melt in the oppressive New Jersey heat. I ran into a gal I went to high school, with whose son is now in high school playing football, and she always has something nice to say about whatever crazy thing I’ve written here over the years.

“I’m not getting your posts any more,” she immediately told me. “Do I need to sign up again?”

I told her that no, I’d just been lame lately, and she said she missed reading my stuff.

“You’re in luck,” I told her, “because I am posting something tomorrow.”

You know how Oprah is all, “Pay attention to the whispers of the universe”? That eventually, the universe will start shouting at you if you don’t?

I’m pretty sure that’s what these most recent incidents were. The universe shaking me by the shoulders and telling me to write. Anything. Just write.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Are you waving through a window, too? I totally see you. Sign up to get my posts right in your inbox in the erratic fashion I’ve accepted, after 52 years, is just the way I operate. We can wave to each other (I’ll try to remember to comb my hair and put on a bra).

10 Things I Learned at Blogher ’15

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Carpool Candy, Moi, One Funny Motha, Chew Nibble Nosh and Smiles and Duct Tape at Eataly Friday night. Heaven.

I got home yesterday from the whirlwind that is Blogher, the annual ginormous conference where bloggers from all over the country gather to learn, network and eat and drink for three action-packed days. This year it was held in New York City, which made going for me a no-brainer. It was fun to meet writers in person whom you immediately recognize from their websites. And it was especially great to reconnect with writers from Bloghers gone by. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. S-T-R-E-T-C-H: Blogher ’15 was chock-full-of-speakers, addressing everything from Internet trolls to maternal health challenges and featured an A-list lineup including “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, “Every Mother Counts” founder Christy Turlington Burns and the Goop-y Gwyneth Paltrow. But the story that resonated most with me was told by Teneshia Jackson Warner, a multicultural marketing expert, who spoke about those defining moments we all have in life. She told the Blogher audience about leaving a good job that left her wanting more and having the tenacity to land her dream job with hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. “When you have a moment before you, be willing to stretch into it,” she told us, and I knew just what she was talking about. I knew that to get what I want, I’d need to do some stretching of my own.
  2. Take what you want: “Selma” director Ava DuVernay is a badass. She’s really the very definition of a boss ass bitch. She closed the conference on Saturday with a great discussion about the dearth of women – especially those of color – in Hollywood and really gave the impression that she was kind of over putting up with bullshit. “Women have been trained to ask for what we want instead of taking it,” she told us. “We’ve been indoctrinated in a culture of permission.” I’m gonna stop asking and start taking, too.
  3. Divorced parents need to get over themselves: I lunched with Gwyneth Paltrow on Friday. Well, there were probably about 1,000 of us there, listening to her speak while we ate our turkey sandwiches and faro salads. Say what you will about Ms. Goop, I kinda like Gwynnie and think she gets slammed a lot by trying to be forthcoming about her personal life. Anyway, I was especially impressed by this portion of her conversation:

  1. Conferences are more fun when you’re part of a posse: Dudes, I went to my first Blogher in Chicago two years ago and knew ZERO PEOPLE. Like, not a one. Of the four blogger/writer friends I made that year, I mostly stayed connected with two — Carpool Candy and Em-i-lis — and both were there this weekend and it was, in a word, a lovefest. I’m really getting good at surrounding myself with solid people and we added a few more to our crew (Chew. Nibble. Nosh. and Smiles and Duct Tape) and it was lovely having a posse to pose with  the weirdAquafresh guy and share a lovely plate ofburrata.


    Hanging with Captain Aquafresh at Blogher’s Expo was a little weird but I did walk away with a year’s worth of toothpaste. So that was something.

  2. Blogher makes me ballsy: In my regular life, I don’t like taking risks. I always feel like I’m bothering someone or acting needy. But for some reason, being at Blogher makes me nervy. I ask editors to meet for coffee. I go out to dinner with bloggers I think are funny. I tell writers I admire how much I like their work. And I’m not even drunk.
  3. Trust your instincts: I initially planned on staying in my room solo until I noticed a blogger I’d met online and chatted a bunch with put out on Facebook that she was looking for a roomie for the conference. It took about two seconds for me to decide that A: I could use someone to help split the hotel bill and B: She seemed like a great girl. At any rate, she seemed like someone who wouldn’t put a pillow over my face while I slept. And she’s also from New Jersey and likes cats, so how bad could she be? Err … But it turned out, Stacey Gill of One Funny Motha is not only funny but a pretty great all-around girl. She was friendly and inclusive and is a lovely addition to my growing blogger posse.

    Can you say swag? Staples back-to-school breakfast with One Funny Motha.

    Can you say swag? Staples back-to-school breakfast with One Funny Motha.

  4. Network like it’s your last day on earth: I got into Manhattan on Thursday afternoon and by late Friday night I was seriously tired of talking and I still had another 24 hours to go. Thanks to Stacey, I met a bunch of people I maybe wouldn’t have met at the conference and I had the great good fortune to shamelessly hand out my new super-gorgeous biz cards, compliments of Solari Creative and Moo.
  5. It’s all about the writing: Sometimes, I get distracted by all the bullshit. All the noise like networking and social media and forget what the whole point is: my writing. I was inspired this weekend to spend more time working on that writing and developing a larger project to start shopping around. I’m not getting any younger, for fuck’s sake.
  6. There will be bread: I went into the conference thinking I could just stick to my regular no carb/no sugar (or really the almost-no carb/almost-no sugar) diet. But that proved impossible. I mean, nothing is impossible but I’m just not a great committer and between all the sandwiches the hotel put out for our lunches and the loaf of very delicious bread I ate at our 10:30 p.m. dinner on the rooftop of Eataly Friday night after a super long day, I came home feeling less than skinny.
  7. Girls named Amy rock: What is it about girls named Amy? Why do I love them so much and feel such an affinity towards each and every one of them? They’re usually super awesome (although tread softly around ones that are amazing) in many respects. This weekend I connected with a great writer who blogs at The Amy Situation. You should check her out. I feel like this isn’t the last we’ve seen of each other.

I came home Sunday afternoon and ate a big bowl of kale at my favorite new eating spot to counteract all the bread and spent the rest of the lying on my bed to escape the heat and read the paper. I feel motivated and excited by my fellow bloggers and buoyed by all the support.

Time to stretch.

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IMG_3857My friend and I trundled into the back of the pickup truck this morning and when the driver closed the door behind us, she turned to me and said, “Well, say good-bye to your life.”

And we started laughing like crazy.

“I almost made it to 50,” she snorted and then we tried to pull it together before the driver got in behind the wheel.

It all started innocently enough. She needed to be at her pediatrician’s office this morning at 10:00 with her son so we bundled up for an early morning snowshoe trek and headed out in her car at 8 a.m. for the woods.

It’s a place I know well and have been visiting a few times a week for the past five or six years. When I was younger, it would be in a pair of shorts and a tank top to run up and down the wooded hills with one or two girlfriends while we panted and shared some of our darkest secrets. We were definitely applying the, “What happens in the woods stays in the woods,” approach to over sharing in those days.

It was running along a trail one day when I stopped short and broke down sobbing, telling my running mate that my marriage was in big trouble. The woods became the place where I ran away from all of my troubles. The leaves and trees swallowed me whole, shielding me from all the scary shit raining down on my head on the outside. It was where I escaped.

After I determined that needing to run through knee pain until the joint went numb was probably not the smartest thing I could be doing for my body, I went to the woods a few times a week with a friend and our two big, goofy dogs and we’d let them off their leashes so they could tear ahead of us on the path and then turn and run back to see what was taking us so long. I swear, my dog would be grinning from ear-to-ear during those long, woodsy walks together.

When Rudy, the finest dog a girl could ask for, moved onto the big wooded trail in the sky, I continued to walk up and down the dirt hills with friends, our conversations shifting over the years from divorce, to work, dating and SATs. And our periods. We’re always talking about our periods.

There’s been very little that’s kept me away from the woods for more than a week or two each year, and that was mostly because of rain or snow. But I found a way around the latter last year when my neighbor and I bought ourselves snowshoes off of Amazon after the first or second snowstorm of the season.

Atlas Elektra 10 Series Snowshoe - http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Womens-Elektra-1023-Snowshoe/dp/B004MOWDZK/ref=sr_1_20?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1424977350&sr=1-20

Atlas Elektra 10 Series Snowshoe – http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Womens-Elektra-1023-Snowshoe/dp/B004MOWDZK/ref=sr_1_20?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1424977350&sr=1-20

We marched around the trails I had spent years running along in shorts and sneakers and then my pal went all Pocahontas and shifted off the marked trails and we ambled through brush and branches for a bit until we somehow ended up back in the parking lot.

We even started exploring another nearby wooded park, which lacks the steeper hills but makes up for it with windy paths and narrow hollows. But we’re not as familiar with those trails and, frankly, they don’t seem as well marked as those on our usual walk.

At least that’s what we were telling ourselves this morning when, after about an hour and a half of walking around the cold woods we could not find our way back to our car. We kept coming to splits in the trail and trying to determine which icy and snowy path would head us towards the parking lot. We’d start to trudge down the path for about 10 minutes and then see something up ahead on the trail – like an open field or the back of someone’s house – that we knew did not look familiar. That told us we were heading in the wrong direction. So we would turn around and start heading in the opposite direction.

Here’s the terrifying truth: I have absolutely no sense of direction. Like, it’s kind of sad and I think something that should be filed under “Amy’s Many Learning Disabilities.” I can’t tell you how many vacation days were ruined with my ex-husband as he drove through some foreign locale while I sat beside him with a map on my lap trying to be the navigator. My cluelessness combined with his impatience left us silent and fuming.

So, I can’t find my way out of a paper bag and it turns out my snowshoe mate, a very smart girl who put herself through law school and listens to “Crime and Punishment” while driving around, is equally impaired. We stood on a path and studied a PDF of the park map I had pulled up on my iPhone and tried to figure out which “P” represented the parking lot where we parked. I mean, the basics, people. We could not even figure that out.

Eventually we ended up clear on the other side of the woods at the park’s activity center. I’ve been there a million times over the years with my little ones to walk through the reptile house and watch one of the Copperheads slither through its tank or a turtle listlessly flap its arms in a few inches of water. We spent many fall afternoons walking the nature hike, turning logs over in search of salamanders our oldest daughter would snatch up and admire, and where our oldest son had his fifth birthday party and we saw a stick bug up close.

My pal and I decided we officially needed help and slipped off our snowshoes and walked down the stone path to the main building and saw that it did not open until 10 a.m.

That’s when we started yelling for help.

Okay, maybe that was just me.

But while I was yelling, “Hello?” into the darkened reptile house, my pal caught site of movement behind the building and ran over to see if she could get someone’s attention.

And that is how we found ourselves being shut into the back of a county vehicle by a man who initially – I have to be honest – made us a little nervous. I mean, we were relatively smart women who knew that getting into a car with a stranger was not a great idea. But we were cold and pretty hungry and tired of clomping along the seriously icy trails. We were willing, apparently, to take the risk.

It turns out that Ron – that’s our driver/hero’s name – was a very nice man who works for our county park system. He told us we had strayed pretty far from where we had parked and offered to give us a lift. As he drove the windy road back to our car, he told us how challenging this winter had been and how he’s had to wear a face mask lately to clear the snow and ice from trails because of the single-digit weather we’ve been plagued with here in New Jersey.

We climbed out of his cab and thanked him for keeping our parks so beautiful and got into our car and started laughing our butts off and blasted the heater.

So maybe our next purchase off Amazon should be a compass. Or a Sherpa. Do they sell Sherpas on Amazon? Maybe we’ll have to go to Target for that.


The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.


Here are some directions I’m really good at!

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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.

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VIDEO: That Time I Pretended I Was a Successful Writer

Bummed you missed last week’s hot ticket?

I know, I wish I went to see Beyonce at MetLife Stadium, too. And after you finish Googling videos  of her performing “Single Ladies” and “Crazy in Love” in NJ last week, check out the show I put on in a slightly smaller Garden State venue.

Here’s my ode to being a Jersey Girl and the merits of getting a spray tan:

And here’s something a little heavier, reflecting on the stages of divorce:







5 Things I Learned From My First Reading

IMG_2002For the three of you left who haven’t heard the news, last week I got to pretend for one night that I was a successful writer.

And it was great.

Some friends had thought it would be fun to invite a bunch of people to come hear me read some of my work in hopes of maybe introducing some new readers to my blog. And plus, it was an excuse to get a bunch of women together to drink wine. Who’s not up for that?

So, they invited a bunch of their friends and about 50 women showed up at a local cheese shop for an event that was billed as “Wine & Words With Amy;” two of my favorite things, all in one room. We stood around and drank some wine and noshed on snacks and then I got up and spoke a little and read a few selections from my blog and then we drank a little bit more.

So fun.

But of course, not everything was perfect. There were a few glitches and things I’d do differently if I ever had the opportunity again to do something akin to it. Herewith, the top five things I learned at my inaugural reading:

  1. It’s all about the party hair. Of course, when a girl like me is faced with the prospect of getting up in front of a group of people to speak, she immediately worries about how she’s going to look. What to say comes second. So, before I knew exactly what I was going to read and then say in between to tie them all together, I had purchased not one but two dresses from Anthropologie and booked an appointment to have my hair blown out by my guy, who helped me channel my inner-Kelly Ripa and gave me mad party hair for the night. Unfortunately, I also probably should have thought about my failing eyesight and had the same foresight to pack a pair of reading glasses for the night so I didn’t have to hold the paper I was reading from about three inches from my face, thus blocking said party hair for much of the night. Sigh.
  2. Expect things to go wrong: Exhibit A. My two daughters were amazing helpers in the day leading up to the event. The older girl helped shlep stuff into the cheese shop and set up and helped do my eye makeup because she knows I am terrible at that. And my younger daughter helped cobble together a platform for me to perch a stool on and had tracked down a tripod to set up our camera to record the event. Yet despite her best efforts – charging the camera and digging up a memory card – once she started filming she discovered the card was full and had to quickly come up with a Plan B. So the resulting videos are kind of cobbled together – because of course her phone died and my other daughter had to pick up where she left off – and not shot from the best of angles. Like, I may have a “Basic Instinct” moment or two, somewhere along the way. Just don’t look down there.
  3. Expect things to go wrong: Exhibit B. After we unloaded all the junk – like the sound system and platform – from our car, I gave one of my girls the keys and told her to go park while we set up. And at some point, I did notice that she’d been gone for a really long time, but was too caught up in the prep and people arriving to really investigate her absence. The girls quickly packed up and left after the reading part was over, and I lingered and then went out to celebrate with some friends. So it wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered the reason for my daughter’s delay in returning from parking the car: she had sideswiped another car in the parking lot, requiring police and subsequent calls from my insurance company. “I didn’t want to ruin your night,” my girl told me, and she was totally right making that call. “I couldn’t sleep all night,” she added, “I felt so sick about it.” And I knew she felt terrible and we’ll figure out how to pay the deductible and I will ignore how ghetto my car is starting to look because, well, what are my options?
  4. I am an attention whore. I kind of already knew this about myself. I mean, I do have a blog and write about a lot of pretty personal things. And I’m a Leo, so being in the limelight is something I just enjoy. But I haven’t always loved getting up and speaking in public, so was kind of worried about that going into the reading. Right before I got up to talk, the owner of the cheese shop gave me some last-minute words of advice about successful public speaking. “Know your subject and be passionate about it,” he told me, and I was like, “Done and done.” I love to talk about myself. So in the end, it was kind of exhilarating and something I could do every night. Methinks I’ve created a monster.
  5. Surround yourself with friends. So, in theory, the event was supposed to be all about introducing new readers to my blog, it turned out to be a show of support from all my friends who already read the thing. And that felt great. So of course, it was easy getting up in front of big group of friendly and familiar faces who only want to see me succeed. Plus a lot of them enjoy all my cursing. “You say what we’re all thinking,” one woman told me after the reading, and maybe that’s why it’s so easy to do what I do. Because we’re all going through the same shit.

Many thanks to all of you who came out and to the many people who told me they wished they could have come. Perhaps we’ll do it again some day because we always need a reason to get out and drink wine.

In the meantime, check out some videos from the night.

















Prince Swears Off Cursing. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.

210px-No_gesture.svgI remember the first time I heard my mother curse.

I was about 10, eating breakfast at the big, round table that took up much of our small kitchen and she was opening a box of Devil Dogs – presumably to put in our school lunches and not to serve for breakfast, but this was the 70s – when all of a sudden I heard her bark, “Shit!”

Of course, back then, you didn’t try to engage with an angry parent and ask what was wrong, so I just assumed she cut herself opening the box, and went back to my Cocoa Puffs. But inside I was thinking, “Wow. Mom just used a really bad curse word.”

That never happened.

Other than getting my hands on a George Carlin comedy album around 1976 and listening over and over to his infamous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” I don’t remember hearing anyone around me using controversial language on a daily basis. It was a G-rated world.

So when something PG-13 was uttered, I took note. Once, my dad told a story and its punch line, in which he told one of his employees at a Burger King in Yonkers to get his “Puerto Rican ass off the counter and get back to work,” was so hilarious, I decided to retell it while having dinner at my friend Katy Leary’s house. And while that punch line received uncontrollable laughter at my grandparents’ house one Saturday night when my father told the story over a table littered with Budweiser cans and ashtrays, it garnered icy silence and nervous stares from my friend’s family and a follow-up phone call to my parents from Mrs. Leary.

Probably around the same time – I guess you could call this my profanity awakening – I heard some older boys, maybe 7th or 8th graders, at my tiny Catholic school using the F-word and couldn’t believe my ears.

“How could they say that about a woman’s body?” I thought, because at that point, I was under the impression that all forbidden words had something to do with the female reproductive system.

I remember standing on the quiet street in front of my suburban New Jersey house with other kids in my neighborhood, trying to work out just where the “shit” and “fuck” were located.

Almost 40 years later, I’d bet that my 11-year-old son has a better understanding of what a lot of those naughty words mean. Today, we are surrounded by expletives. They jump out at us at every corner. They’re all over the radio and on TV. In fact, last night on The New Girl one of the characters compared a folded napkin to a vagina, which isn’t one of those dirty words (although used in this case improperly) but the visual just seemed to cross a line. I was like, “Wow.”

And Jimmy Kimmel hosted his first annual Celebrity Curse Off the other night between Julia Roberts and Sally Field and you should’ve heard the mouth on Gidget. After Sally unloaded a big fat “motherfucker,” poor Julia looked at the audience and said, “Why am I in a curse-off with the Flying Nun?”

Not that I am any language prude. In fact, I have a tendency to sprinkle much of my day-to-day conversation with salty talk. It worked back in college, when my freshman roommate – a cute little blonde debutante from Baltimore – cursed like a sailor. We got along great, swearing and filling up a two-foot ashtray with Marlboro cigarette butts.

Over the years, I’ve developed enough sense to know when I needed to clean up my act, like at work and around my little children. Back in the day, “stupid” and “dummy” were on the list of words you weren’t allowed to say around our house and I think I might have washed a little mouth or two out for employing such offensive language.

But now that they’re bigger, well most of them, I seem to have lightened up my restrictions on cursing around the kids. I have confessed to yelling, “Fuck you” into a phone at my 21-year-old and was cursing to high heaven during a drive to Virginia two weeks ago. Just ask my daughter, who was sitting next to me in the car when I learned, via a text sent by my girlfriend, that I had not only missed my fifth grader’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) graduation but that his essay had been selected as the best in his class and he got to read it out loud at the assembly.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I shouted, thinking of all the DARE graduations I’d attended not only for my other children but covering as a local reporter. “Do you mean to fucking tell me after all these fucking years, one of my kids finally fucking wins and I’m not fucking there?”

“Motherfucker!” I howled.

My daughter pretty much kept quiet during the expletive-riddled outburst but later that night at dinner, she reported my bad behavior to the rest of our family. “You should have heard Mom,” she told them over a giant tower of onion rings. “She had, like, a total temper tantrum driving down here.”

“What a diva,” they all concurred, as I sat picking at a salad while they plowed their way through the spire of fried rings.

But sometimes, nothing gets the point across quite like a well-placed expletive. I do tend to employ curse words probably more than the average person in my everyday conversations — which I consider a part of my charm — and that carries over into the blog. And let’s face it; the blog is just like one giant conversation in which I get to do all of the talking.

When I first started posting, I used foul language pretty liberally but now I try to save the really big ones for where they’re going to have an impact on the story. I’m trying to keep it classy over here in the blogosphere. But I can’t tell you how many people have commented to me about how I described my ex-husband’s shoveling skills. Not to brag, but it’s goddamn poetry.

But after a weekend of driving almost 18 hours and contending with the terrible drivers south of the Mason-Dixon line, I pulled as many expletives that I could think of out of the bad-word arsenal when I wrote about the experience for the blog. 

And that post prompted a very nice e-mail from one of my Internet boyfriends – which is what I like to call my guy friends who follow my blog mostly because, even though they’re all married and there’s nothing romantic or unseemly involved whatsoever, I think it sounds really funny – suggesting that all the cursing detracted from my writing.

At first I thought, “Fuck him.”

But then I saw on the Today Show that Prince – and if you really know me, you know I loved that weirdo so much I had a poster of him hanging in my freshman dorm – had sworn off cursing. The Purple One recently told Essence magazine that he quit all the cussing out of respect to others. “Would you curse in front of your kids? To your mother?” he asked.

This from the man who sang “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” and “Sexy M.F.”?

[Here is where I spent countless minutes trying to find a YouTube video of either of these songs, which apparently do not exist in this country. Trust me, they’re racy.]

And so, out of deference to my own mom and the few of my children who read the blog, along with a handful of local officials, colleagues and other folks I’ve known on a professional level who’ve found my blog and read along, I think I might have to follow suit.

Don’t get me wrong: Some drivers will always have to be called out for their douchy ways and some guys will always shovel like, well, you know how they do it.

But I’m going to make an effort to keep things a little cleaner. I mean, they are just words, upon which we’ve decided arbitrarily to attach negative connotations, making them a threat to society. But there is something appealing about trying to preserve a sense of civility. I mean, it’s either that or we chuck it all out the window and start wearing jeans to church and chewing with our mouths open. Licking of fingers would not be far behind followed by sweatpants at the office.

I will be one small blogger trying to maintain some level of dignity in an increasingly undignified world.

And really, if I can give up pizza and bagels, cursing should be no fu… um, no problem. No problem at all.











Choose Happy

995268_10152146986632173_491263369_nWhen I started to see all those posts this week of everybody’s Facebook movie, I was like, “Really? It’s not enough we need to complain about the weather and post those Throwback Thursday photos, but now we need to set it all to music?”

When will the oversharing end?

Apparently, in honor of the social media Goliath’s 10th anniversary, Facebook came up with some magical algorithm for users that highlights their top posts and photos in a 62-second video.

I was having none of it.

But naturally, due to a burning desire to be up-to-date on all things pop culture, curiosity got the best of me and I broke down yesterday and had to just see what mine was like.

And I freaking loved it.

I don’t know how Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook evil geniuses did it, but in one minute they kind of encapsulated the last six years of my life and even gave the movie a theme.

A couple of weeks ago someone I’m friends with on Facebook had shared a meme that said “Be Happy,” and you know how sometimes something just speaks to you? That little square picture screamed, “HELLO AMY,” and so I swiped it onto my Desktop to use as my profile photo.

It really just sums up my philosophy for life. I really don’t have time to be stuck doing shit I hate with people who don’t bring me joy. Life is too short.

So, this is where it gets interesting, the video starts with a picture of me on my 42nd birthday in 2008 and I can tell you that the girl in that photo couldn’t have been further from happy.

This woman couldn't be further from happy.

This woman couldn’t be further from happy.

My marriage was rapidly deteriorating and I did not know what to do. So I just smiled and pretended everything was okay.

And then the slideshow starts and it’s mostly pictures of my kids: my two sons, 10 years apart, fishing at the end of a dock with the little one reaching up to pinch his older brother’s cheek; the three oldest kids at my big girl’s high school graduation; the photo of me saying good-bye to my oldest child his freshman year of college; the two of us together at a football game; a throwback to my little ones laughing behind their jack-o-lanterns on the front step of our old house; me standing in front of the Acropolis last summer when I threw caution into the wind and traveled to Greece alone.

There’s a picture of the post-it notes that had been hidden around my house, which when found and put in order, spelled, “Check your Facebook,” because as my Mother’s Day gift my 15-year old daughter had finally accepted the friend request I made about two years earlier.

A lot changes over the years.

The movie ends, as they all do, with a wide shot of all of the photos and then zooms in on the one in the center, which for me happens to be the “Choose Happy” picture and if that’s not perfect, I don’t know what is.

I feel like I need to tip someone.

Because even though it isn’t perfect, my life is much more real than it was when I joined Facebook in 2007. I am much closer to being the person I want to be rather than the one I thought I should be.

Unfortunately, I may have the writing part of being a blogger kind of down, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get that video on the blog and get where I need to go later this morning. So to see it, just hop over to my Facebook page here and naturally, feel free to “like” it while you’re there so that I can check in with you from time to time to make sure that you’re happy, too (shameless, shameless pitch for your love).




The Polar Vortex Has Frozen My Sense of Style


Brrrrr. The handy thermometer outside my kitchen window read about 2 degrees early Tuesday morning.

By now, we are all well-versed on the potential hazards posed by the record-breaking temperatures that have plunged the country into a deep freeze.

Just turn on the TV for a couple of minutes and you’ll be immediately terrified by the mighty wrath of the polar vortex.

There’s hypothermia and frostbite to combat and slipping and falling on icy surfaces to be avoided.

Power lines are falling and cars, trains and even airplanes are zigzagging all over the place.

Just this morning, I watched a clip on Good Morning America of cars skidding across highways and one video of a vehicle careening off an overpass and crashing onto a frozen pond below.

But perhaps the most critical issue that has been impacted by the subzero temperatures here in the Northeast is my sense of style.

It seems to have frozen.

I have gone from trying to look cute (well, most days) to trying to stay warm and cozy and I am here to report that those two criteria do not go hand-in-hand.

Case in point: I returned home from picking my little guy up from school yesterday afternoon and tried briefly to sit and work in the jeans and turtleneck sweater I was wearing. That lasted about 10 minutes.

I could not deal with the button, the zipper, the funnel gripping my neck or even my bra.

It’s like it’s so cold outside that I just want swath myself in fleece and eat pot roast.

So that’s what I did.

Since about 3:00 yesterday afternoon, I have been wearing this:


My glamorous cheetah suit even has a handy pouch in front, perfect for holding dirty tissues and your cell phone.

I ate soup in it, did some work in it, wasted time on Facebook in it and watched yet another episode of “The Americans” (which everyone needs to watch) in it and drank wine in it.

I took it off to sleep and put it back on this morning. I suppose I’ll have to change out of it again to exercise later because that would be weird.

When I received the classy Forever 21 jumpsuit as a gift this Christmas, I wore it for a day and then hung it up, considering it more of a gag than a critical new piece to add to my daily wardrobe.

But now I’m thinking that if the weather this winter stays as cold and snowy as it’s already been, it could just become a fashion staple. My go-to work-from-home ensemble.

My older children were a little more skeptical when they saw their mother emerge from her room wearing essentially a onesie.

“You’re a grown woman,” observed my 21 year old.

There could be some downsides, like, I almost had a heart attack when the doorbell rang yesterday afternoon (thankfully just the UPS guy who drops and goes). And then I was slightly mortified when some of the items I was grabbing out of the mailbox slipped and fell to the ground. I had been trying to just reach my arm out the front door so as to not have to expose my neighbors to the horror of the cheetah suit and then found myself dashing down the front steps and diving through shrubbery to grab the errant mail.

Is this what things have come to? If this is what cold weather does to me, I can’t imagine what I’ll be wearing during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Michonne will have nothing on me.

Back in the day, I would be slightly concerned about what I wore to drive the kids to school each morning. What if I got into an accident or was stopped by the police? Forget clean underwear. At the very least, I always made sure I was wearing a bra. Or a very big coat.

But had something gone awry during this morning’s early and icy ride to the local high school, the paramedics would have had to have sliced through this getup:


And it makes me wonder, as I pass all the other parents carting their kids to school, am I the only one who has foregone style, and a bra for that matter, for comfort?

Has style taken a backseat to staying warm for you this winter?

Because God knows, my former sense of style is sitting in the third row today. Wearing headphones.



A Very Gosling Christmas

IMG_0005Even though my days of getting fancy gifts are on hold right now – there were no diamond studs under the tree this year – I still got some pretty amazing presents for Christmas.

And because, according to my therapist, I am to view all challenges, hardships and difficult people in my life as gifts – here to help me learn about myself and grow – receiving less-expensive items has taught me a lot.

First, the people in my life know me really well and give me amazing presents. And second, great gifts don’t need to cost a lot of money (first witnessed last year with the amazing deck of cards my daughter made me).

Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t say “No” to a Cartier watch. But for now, I’m happy to settle for opening amazingly-thoughtful things.

There were definitely some themes to the gifts I was given: Of course, it was a Very Gosling Christmas this year and I got not only the probably-soon-to-be-best-selling book 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling (I am partial to #29: He can do the Dirty Dancing body lift and #99: It is biologically impossible not to love Ryan Gosling) from my daughter, but a pair of earrings from my BFF featuring the young actor’s scruffy face and giving new meaning to the term “stud earrings.”


Only on Etsy can you find such treasures.

Who thinks to make these things?

I got lots of stuff with my name or ‘A’s on them, like notecards and pillows, a makeup bag and not one but two cool bracelets.

And speaking of makeup bags, this one from my gal pal was pretty funny:


My kids totally nailed their gifts to me.

I got the Walking Dead version of Monopoly from my older daughter that I’ve already played twice and a sticker of the cover illustration from The Giving Tree to put on the back of my laptop and makes it look like the boy is plucking the apple from the tree.

My oldest son gave me a stuffed zombie that you can pull apart and see its guts. Sweet.

My little guy gave me a pair of silver heart earrings, which I was told he hand-selected and I am tempted to make a joke about what a stud he is, but think that might come off as really creepy.

And my younger daughter gave me a fleece cheetah-print onesie so that I could now work from home without the annoyance of pesky yoga pants waistbands digging into my muffintop. I spent about 36 hours wearing it after Christmas and can attest to its comfort but am concerned that it seemed to raise my body temperature 10 degrees, leaving in a bit of a perpetual sweat during its wearing.

I liked pairing the outfit with a scrunchie atop my head and am concerned that if I started eating Cheez-Its in bed with the suit on and drinking wine, I just might be single forever.

So for now, it’s hanging on the back on my bathroom door. (I thought about posting a picture of me wearing the suit, but decided that no one, especially potential love-interests, need to see that selfie).

But I loved how thoughtful my gifts were and how much the people I love really “got” me.

And that is really the greatest gift of all (besides the Cartier watch). Right?

When I wasn’t opening presents or running around in my onesie this week, I was busy blogging about my fondness for dudes and that sometimes the Elf on the Shelf inspires kids to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Check it out ..



I ♥ Dudes

Dear Men of the World,

I learned an interesting thing about how it seems I am perceived by you fellas – as a divorced lady – when I hosted a party the other night. (READ MORE … )



photo(86)Sometimes, Elves are Okay

I went to my annual cookie exchange the other night and as we sat around the hostess’s kitchen island eating the salad she prepared to balance out the fondue and Trader Joe’s wontons we’d been feasting on earlier, someone pointed to the elf perched high atop the cabinets.

“That’s Steve,” out hostess said brightly and picked up her iPad. “Wait, you’ve got to see this.” (READ MORE … )