That's Not Okay

That's Not Okay

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PP should stand for People, People.

September 20, 2015 1 Comment

standwithpp{Trigger Alert: overly personal material ahead}

After my divorce I spent three lonely years, abandoned by my youth and the promise of marriage, petting my cats and wondering if a man would ever come warm the cockles of my broken heart.

Well that’s not exactly true. I spent a lot of time having fun with my friends, throwing dance parties, propping up a false reputation of being a wild single lady and actually once leaving my pantyhose in the front yard. But there wasn’t anyone special. And to get to the point, birth control was not on my radar.

Prior to this Ice Age, I had what is legally known as a long-term marriage: almost ten years. My ex and I had two kids and didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about birth control. When you have small kids and a less than love-filled marriage, birth control is no brainer: you are too annoyed and too tired to have sex.

With amazing good fortune and an abnormal number of shots, a real live decent man with whom I had crazy chemistry happened upon my couch and the usual shenanigans ensued. One does not plan for such things! One wouldn’t take the leap of letting a good-looking young male specimen view your mom bod if one’s judgement wasn’t just a smidge impaired. That being said, cooler heads prevailed (not mine) and we (he) decided we should wait…

….until the next time we saw each other.

Now…now…now, we were safe. We used protection. I’m in my 40s for God sakes, but every month I am reminded the old engine still turns over, so you gotta be prepared. And we (he) were.

But…..but….but….as they tell you in little pamphlets from the gyn and in health class, no birth control is 100%. No protection is 100% fail proof. And this one failed.

When he pulled out, the condom stayed in and that’s not what’s supposed to happen. In my cuckoo head of happiness this seemed very insignificant and I didn’t bother to really mention it and neither did he. Jesus! We hardly knew each other! These things are EMBARRASSING!

I really liked this guy, you guys. Soooo much. And I wanted to keep doing what we had done but without the weird after game of “where’s the condom?” (Even though it’s a bit more fun than “where’s the tampon?” cause two can play.) I wanted to get on the pill and quick but I had no health insurance and a limited income.

So the very next day I went to Planned Parenthood. I went to the one on Van Nuys Blvd here in Van Nuys, CA. I was super nervous. I had never been in a Planned Parenthood and I was kinda raised (culturally, not by my family directly) to hate PP. I had thought they just gave abortions. But I had learned otherwise in my matronly years and so I braved it.

It looked just as you would expect inside. Sterile, fluorescent lighting, white tile floors, lots of folding chairs, a TV blaring VH-1 in the corner, a bullet-repellant receptionist desk. What I didn’t expect to find in Planned Parenthood was kids. And there were KIDS. Lots and lots of kids. Babies. Toddlers. Toddler-advanced. Children. Families. Moms and Dads. This was no different than any health clinic anywhere.

What I also didn’t expect to see were young men. Of all sorts. Some were there with girlfriends but most of them were there alone. Getting their health ON.

I sat there for 3 hours. Had a lot of time to observe. At one point I kid you not “Teen Moms” came on the TV. That had to be on purpose.

When it was finally my turn I was taken into the inner sanctum and put in a totally normal tiny little check up room. The nurse came in and asked questions, took my vitals and then a female doctor joined us. I retold my previous night’s escapades and requested birth control. She asked me to tell her more about the condom. “There wasn’t much to tell, heh heh,” I said. “Kinda lost track of the condom inside my lady parts.”

“You need emergency contraception.”

“What? No! Bfff!”

Resting doctor face.

This nice lady sees hundreds of patients just like me who relate the same stories. All the embarrassing, giggling, shameful, nervous, hurt, confused, immature, mature…the entire range of madness that is human sexuality. She knows people. She knows statistics. She knows what’s what.

Still, I was like, “No!!! What????? Me? No silly. Bfffffffff.”

A little more annoyed than before resting doctor face.

At this point I decided to stop wasting her time.

“Ok what do I do?”

She wrote me a prescription for Plan B and birth control. She was going to give me 3 Plan B’s as I seem like a total fuck up. No, actually that’s very convenient. Thank you. And it was all available RIGHT THERE. I didn’t have to go anywhere else for it. I thought that’s really nice for all those families out there especially.

The doctor also schooled me on how to use a condom. Oh. (Pull out right away boys and girls. Right. Away. How do we miss these vital pieces of information?)

I was shown to another waiting room that was very different than the other waiting room.

This was for the patients only. These patients had all been given news that they may or may not have been more or less expecting but a heaviness was in the room. Everyone had grown up quick. I stayed there for another hour. It was insanely cold for some reason. The TV had been turned off. There were no magazines. A girl looked like she was crying but she was very, very quiet about it. I figured anyone going to that much trouble to look like she wasn’t crying didn’t want people to acknowledge she was crying.

Someone started talking about McDs. I don’t know how it started but I think someone said they were hungry. And someone else said they thought they smelled McDonald’s fries and we all said, yes we smelled it too. Now that’s probably just what Van Nuys smog smells like but nevertheless the food conversation was off and running. We chimed in about what we would eat at McDonalds were we anywhere near one right now. We moved on to what we would we eat anywhere. What our moms and grandmoms cooked best. What we cooked best. What our kids liked. What our kids didn’t like.

This was inside a Planned Parenthood.

The crying girl wasn’t crying anymore but talking about her aunt’s empanadas. We all so wanted to eat some feelings just about then! If I ever could, and I wish I would, deliver McDonalds to that inner waiting room in Planned Parenthood you would see some happy grateful responsible intelligent ladies getting their munch ON.

At the end of the hour I was given 6 months of birth control and 3 Plan B’s. The Plan B at the time was 2 pills. I was really conflicted about taking it. Mostly because of some strange stigma but I was way more conflicted about having a baby with this guy I just met! So I took it. They told me about some side affects blah blah blah.I know…but I had NO IDEA it was going to take so long and I had a garden install that day which I was mentally already at.

When you leave PP you have the option of paying or not paying if you are under a certain income bracket. If you can’t afford the full cost, you have the option to pay whatever you can afford. I gave them $40 and left. I wanted to high five everyone in that waiting room.

In the car, driving over the 405 I had a kind of Hulk-esque takeover of my body. All of the sudden I realized I was gripping the steering wheel really tight. My breathing was shallow. I felt really INTENSE. I’ve since heard that Plan B is like taking an entire pack of birth control at once.




I didn’t know what was happening to me at all. I didn’t put it together that the Newton’s Cradle of emotion I was in the middle of was due to the two little pills I took.

Today just happened to be the day I was installing my first drip irrigation system. By myself. I had done the research. Talked to some people. Tried it out at home. This was going to be great! I was going to be able to offer a really valuable service to my clients. At this time, I had less than 5 clients. But one was Olivia Wilde so I was pretty sure things were happening!

This garden was actually for a co-workers of Olivia’s. I arrived all the way in Culver City and set to work installing this drip system in their backyard container veggie garden. The timer for the system was locked inside their garage so I used the valves to manually turn on the sprinklers. Irrigation is set up on different areas or zones throughout your yard, and you can manually turn on the valves that control these zones by gently unscrewing the head or handle of the corresponding valve. The pressure releases manually when you unscrew it, runs the sprinklers and then when you screw it back down, the pressure closes off causing the sprinklers to stop.

Fascifuckingnating. Get back to the story.

So to test which zone has my new sprinklers on it, I turn all the valves off and on until my drip irrigation begins to run. And it did run. Yeah!

Then I kinda notice that the other zones have not actually shut off. Half the yard’s sprinklers are still running.

I go over to the valves. Screw them on tighter. Nothing. Unscrew and rescrew. Nothing. Except a lot of water that is.

At this point I am panicked. And will you remember that I am in a unbeknownst to me in a Hulk-like state of hormones? My head feels like it’s on fire. My eyes are pinwheels. I do a sprint around the house looking for the emergency shut off valve. But I don’t see anything. I run around the garage. Nothing! I have to call the owner and ask where it is…and that’s when I realize I don’t have any contact number for this client. Like I said, I only had a handful of regulars at this point. I had this guy’s email address but not his phone number.

I email him.

What choice do I have? I text Olivia with a 911. My nerves are shot. I’m certainly flushing my company down the toilet right now. I’m sure of it. A regular chorus of “you’re such an asshole” is playing in my head. And the back yard is FLOODED. I mean it. It’s draining off and down the driveway and into the street. Is this enough water to drown in? Please!

Someone from the front of the house calls over the fence, “Hey uh…there’s a lot of water out here?”

“YEAH! I KNOW!” I scream maniacally, Plan B in full effect.

I call my friend Jesse Burch. He helped me with my first ever garden install and he’s an actor so he’s always available. And he’s not easily turned off by hysteria.

“Hey Erin!”


Through the phone, Jesse calmly walks me around the house so I can look for the shut-off valve.

“Every house has one Erin.”


We find it on the 2nd pass behind some tall grass and the water is mercilessly turned off. I’m completely soaked. Remember I am walking around the house and yard while the sprinklers are on this whole time. I hear from Olivia who says he’s on set and I should have him paged. So I do that. I page him on the set because I’ve screwed up his irrigation. He’s lovely. It’s fine, he says. His gardener comes tomorrow. He will have him look at it.

I drag my sad super tired ass home and break it to my not quite yet bf that I Plan B-ed his baby and he forgives me. Thanks me even. Tell him the condom thing. Educational.

I find out later that when valves aren’t manually turned on on a regular basis the little filament or little piece of cardboard that provides that pressure to signal the valve to start or stop can dry up or wash away or even disintegrate. Then, when you turn on the valve and that little bit of something something isn’t present, there’s nothing inside the top of the valve to fasten or add pressure to the hole when you screw it down.

I was so relieved it wasn’t something I had done wrong. Sweet Jesus, it wasn’t my fault. Nevertheless, I remained scarred. I hired an irrigation person to do all my irrigation and she and her crew are the light of my life and I wouldn’t have much of a business without them.

I can see lots of super obvious correlations between these experiences.

There’s nothing like experience to educate.

You’re never too old to learn something new. Even if it is something you should have learned from the get go.

Things break. They fail. They fall apart. And it’s no one’s fault.

New things come along. You rethink the past. You try again.

You learn. You are open to surprises. You appreciate truth and those who give it to you straight.

And you see families in Planned Parenthood. There are also nurses and doctors who professionally and sympathetically attend to patients in some high stress situations. This is where people go when they have no one to talk to. This is where they go when they want to do the right thing, want to be informed, want to be safe, careful, healthy.

I stand with Planned Parenthood. I stand with the families I saw. I stand with the care I received. There’s nothing like it folks and no one else to do it. Stand by it too.

Entitlement Garden

August 7, 2015

tumblr_m5nfi1b3gN1qjp4z6o1_500For a long time I couldn’t quite understand what a narcissist was. Everyone used the word and I knew the definition but a deep knowing eluded me. That was until I found one chewing at my ankle one day and realized they had been feeding on me for years. It’s like googling bear and realizing you need to stop covering yourself in honey and running around the wild. I understood.

I have also reached this great “a-ha” moment with “entitlement.” Entitlement was such a weird word to me. Teens are entitled, people would say. Well, duh. Of course they are.  All children are. Until you carry your own debt, you are entitled. What’s the big deal?

People want their coffees and their iStuff and universal healthcare and they want it now. They’re entitled. That’s not news. It used to be houses, low gas prices, pensions and Social Security. Geez, they even call it entitlements. Not news.

But I think there’s an entitlement that I have experienced that truly does take it to another level…although I don’t know if it is news as my story is about the ultra-rich. Are they not entitled by definition? Let’s find out.

A 3%er had me over to build a veggie garden. We built one. Some mysterious animal ate it all. With the client’s approval, we decided to erect a fence to see if it was rabbits. It the 3’ fence got scaled, then we could look at trying to keep out rats and squirrels.

I erected an inexpensive temporary fence. I sent a bill.

3 times while my associate put up the fence a minion crossed the expansive green lawn to say, “does that fence come in other colors?” My associate at first apologetically and then assuredly and then bewilderedly replied, “no, this is the only color.”
The last time the minion crossed the lawn she started off her question with, “Just so you know I’m quitting this job, but I have to ask you…”

This fence was made with store-bought materials. (This is where mere mortals buy things. Rich people we find out can evidently have other people shit whatever they desire out of their ass) It was a green plastic poultry fence with green metal t-posts. Standard, budget-conscious, easy to build, and most importantly, easy to open and close so the garden can be accessed. Many of my clients have these as their permanent fence.

Immediately the emails and texts started. This fence is an eyesore. I can’t believe this is up to your standards. This is within eye sight of my house. You need to take this down. You need to fix this.

I explained many, many times why I chose that fence, how there are few other options, how we needed to diagnose the problem before we could move on to something more attractive, more expensive and more permanent. All this was met with speculation, pettiness and insults. We hate the fence, one text said.

These numerous texts, voicemails and emails came from four different people as well. The owner, her two assistants, and her business manager. There was at one time nine different email threads going at once…about a bunny fence. And then about how they expected me to switch out the test fence for a nice fence for free. Meaning for free like not even pay for the original fence. And not pay for the new fence.

In the meantime, I had been checking on the garden, tending it. The fence, although hideous, held up. The test lettuce was growing uneaten. As part of my maintenance I check the irrigation system, in this case a drip system we installed in the boxes. So while I was there, I clicked through the dial of the Rainbird manually as I wasn’t sure what station the veggies beds were on. While I worked through the numerous stations of the back yard I noticed a sprinkler head was broken along the side of the property, water shooting way up in the air. I ran to the back door so I could show the owner and the assistant which head it was. After telling them, I ran back to the Rainbird, shut off the station and capped the head so it wouldn’t blow wasteful water while it waited to be fixed.

The next day an email appeared stating that I “or a member of my company” had broken a sprinkler head on the property and that I was going to have to pay for that.

A very very bad feeling ran through my veins. I cced the entire group of darkness that I would not be responding to emails, visiting the garden or replacing anything until my outstanding invoice for maintenance, irrigation and fencing was paid.

That’s when I was told by the business mananger, “Oh you’ll be paid when you swap out that fence.” I told them (ccing all parties) that I was broken-hearted. I explained I was a small company and a single mom. I had bought materials out of my own pocket and subcontracted out my crew trusting that my invoice would be paid. That I had even visited twice to check on the bunny fence and the irrigation without charging them. That I had spent hours answering emails and researching alternate fence materials.

It may sound silly but I pour my soul into my gardens. I had special ordered purple radishes, round zucchini and a special version of cherry tomato because my client wanted them. This is a garden service with heart and compassion. And this woman, in her 6 million dollar house was not going to pay the $600 invoice they had racked up…well, it seriously threatened my faith in us as a species. I’m a sensitive sot. And I told them so.

They didn’t budge.

So I informed them I was suing them in small claims court. Emailed over the paperwork from the government website.

And then? And then?

Then came the texts, emails and phone calls again.

When are you coming to fix the fencing?

There’s something wrong with the irrigation?

The plants are looking sad. When are you coming?

Did you get my voicemail? I think it cut me off.

When are you coming again?

Unless I have been willed to her for a lifetime of indentured agricultural servitude; maybe there was some strange clause in my adoption, maybe I am to be locked in her palace Cinderella-style to maintain her garden…outside of that, I am not voluntarily coming back to work on your garden. I really don’t know how else to put this in a way that could be more clear to you. So I am putting it here.

I have told you. I have told your assistants. I have told your business manager. I have told the Los Angeles Courthouse. And now I have told the world. I am not bringing my beautiful ass to your Entitled Garden ever again.

Your prissy, princess hissy fit will not force my hand. Your withholding of payment and your promise to pay if I just do this one……more…. thing…will not bend my back.

Entitlement does not have to be tied to wealth but it seems particularly predictable and repugnant when it is. I know for sure that their unwillingness to pay is not tied to their ability to pay and that their wealth and power has for so long paved easy street for them that to not get their needs met on their own terms at every turn sets assistants running for their iStuff as my refusal to play whip the servant elicits a complete meldown and probably a facial expression last seen on Cruella de Vil. What???? I’m not getting my way??? When are you coming back????

never. ever.

In the defense of rich people, I’ve worked for some really nice ones. And still do. But this one, this one is the human equivalent of posting warnings about the effects of the #CAdrought on your facebook page while at the same time running 100 sprinkler heads in your back yard. I guess I can say now I paid for one of those. You’re welcome.


February 28, 2015

paulnewmanjoannewoodwardoscars2There’s been enough written about being a single mom. It’s tiring to hear about. The title is meaningless. I rebelled against the idea of that title “single mom” when I became one. I didn’t want anyone calling me that. To me somehow it harkened of other even less savory titles like “cougar” or “welfare mom.” Pretty radically different stereotypes but it was all stereotyping and I wanted to avoid it.

Now however, six? seven? years later (I’m pathologically bad with dates) I probably utter the words single mom every day for one reason or another. Today it was during a chat with our parish priest. Another day it could be at Trader Joe’s or at school or at my job.

My new post-divorce job as a landscaper is the first place it came up continually and where I learned to use it myself, to my advantage. With the help of my friend Nikki Maxwell, I came to understand that it wasn’t just flowers or organic veggie seedlings I was hawking, it was a story.

A story of a “single mom” who took lemons and made some organic lemonade. A “single mom” who created a business from nothing, with nothing, so she could provide for her kids. She zigged when life zagged and got her shit together and made something of herself. From stay-at-home mom to single mom to entrepreneur!

There’s a reason we all know the Steve Jobs/Apple story. It sells computers.

So, I learned to tell my story, to embrace that single mom story and make it mine. I mean it is mine. It was true. There was no reason to rail against the label. If the shoe fits…

Scrappy and single, I ran around in my flannel shirt and work boots and presented my business card made with vegetable inks and recycled paper and I was successful.

I was asked to talk at schools and represented single moms at career days. Several times the idea of a reality show has come up. It was inspiring for people. To think about me in that way.

But reality is way different. The past few weeks have been devastating in slow motion. The need to take care of my kids takes away from the time I have for work. Which makes me behind on my projects. Which makes clients angry. Which means I have to pay other people to do the work for me. Which means I don’t get paid. Which makes bills pile up. Cause I take care of my kids.

This went on for a couple weeks and then this last week, Tuesday morning, I realized my son who had relentless cough was going to have to stay home another day from school. I only get two full days a week to work. The other days are half days so I can drive my kids to school and pick them up, so on those two full days, I usually work 12 straight hours to make a dent in the work. This was going to be my third straight week of having those days interrupted by having to be a mom. A single mom.

As I moved around the house, waking kids, making breakfast, answering emails, prepping for the day, the realization just descended and descended. He’s staying home. You’re not going to work. You’re falling farther behind. You have no booked jobs. You owe so much money. As I found lunchboxes and homework and unloaded the car, my chest tightened, my brain chugged on like a train. I have to go to work. I missed work yesterday. And last week. And the week before that.

And my hands moved laundry and made lunch while my conscience churned. I was steeling myself for the reality that I was going to have to leave my sick kid at home. And go to work.

I could feel the veneer cracking so I headed to my safe place and had a cry. I cried for the way it is. I cried for changing course. I cried for expectation and for the rules of this world and for decision-making.

And then a fresh wave of sadness hit me. And this is such madness under the circumstances but I swear to you it is true. Heartbreakingly true. I was just tying up the loose ends of my career vs. family cry when this newsflash was sent in over the wires: I also wasn’t cute. I was no longer pretty. I wasn’t pulling this off. I’m tired and stressed. The wrinkles on my face bare witness to years of turmoil and they upset me.The weary look around my eyes. The deep seismic worry line that has cracked through my upper lip. The transcontinental forehead freeways…so many wrinkle metaphors!

What is wrong with this picture? What isn’t???

Simultaneously I felt even more grief that this was the state of affairs. This is how it is. This is life. For me and for all my sisters. And brothers. There are too many strings tugging at every extremity. Look good. Be happy. Make money. Be independent. Be loving. Nurture your children. Be a good citizen. Recycle. Exercise. Be thin and active. Volunteer. Vote. Vaccinate. Provide for your children. Cook. Make kombucha. Write. Do yoga. Meditate.

This old “how does she do it all” debate is so tired. It’s hard to fathom it still exists. But this territory in our modern culture…single parenting, the nuclear family, the need for dual incomes, the lack of community and extended family…is maybe at its oldest in the terrible twos. We are young on the adaptation timeline. Although the “single mom” label feels tired (and she is tired!) the concept is not. This is something we have not figured out. The ladies…this lady at least…is not making it work.

While working with the kids at school, a young girl genuinely asked me, “Why has there been no woman president?” I see the accusatory look in her eyes. Why haven’t you done something about this? You’re old. You’re an adult. You, with the Starbucks cup, why aren’t you on this?

I will tell you why. Because every second of my day is spoken for. If a truck ran me over I could rest peacefully. I could do something I wanted to do for once.

And my seconds have been spoken for for over a decade and they will continue to be spoken for for another decade. Fuck I’m right in the goddamn middle. Okay so maybe we aren’t in the terrible twos, maybe we are in the middle of all this. Ooohhhh, a mid-life crisis. I see…how original.

I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve been living it and I have no insight. I’m lucky I have sight, nonetheless, insight. I don’t even have the energy to wrap this up properly. Or reread it. Or edit it. In fact I’m dangerously close to no longer editing anything any longer, I fear.

Truth be told, I’ve had too much coffee and too little sleep. I had that big party last night and Paul and I have been sitting here staring at my Oscar all morning. I’m due for my toilet cry.

Write Write Write

May 12, 2014


Good morning happy readers! I’m in a bit of heaven today. You see, I had my first writer’s group last night. I can’t believe it myself that I’ve never been a part of one. I have wanted to of course, just never had the opportunity. And because I had these 3 women come to my home, I actually did some writing. Just like that.

My good buddy and all around celestial creature, Maggie put us all together and we met at my house over snacks and the back of my curious cat for the purpose of becoming better writers.

These ladies were creative and lovely and funny and sweet and fuckaduck, they were writers! We talked about our goals.  We did timed writing exercises and read them out loud. One of the gals brought a couple short stories and she read those too. I felt so much pride in the work I did last night, and so connected to the process. What a wonderful use of time I thought to myself.

And I so rarely think that.

I’m liking this feeling of pride and accomplishment. It was well worth letting people see my dirty house.

It’s easy to get hung up on the words “writer” and “artist” when you are unpublished and not making a living at your “art.” It was enlightening to be able to call myself a writer OUT LOUD and not succumb to that hateful inner snickering, but rather to give and receive support.

Truth be told, I’ve always known I was a writer and here’s the big reason:

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”Flannery O’Connor

I like to learn about myself. I’m a bit obsessed with my life and the inner workings of my mind and other lives and life in general and the search for meaning and I find it easiest to start to parse that out when I put fingers to keyboard.

I encourage you to write a  bit today. Or do whatever that thing is that makes you feel artistic: cooking, gardening, drawing, rearranging your bedroom…and hear what you have to say.


Thoughts on Meditating

March 30, 2014


I sometimes think I was born under a dark cloud. I have never experienced this thing they call “luck.”  My mystic says this is my dharma. I came into this world wanting things to be harder for me. She says I designed it this way before I even got here.

Can I un-design it?

I see the value of challenge. I even see the value in toil. When you work hard for something, it tastes sweeter. You appreciate the little things all the more. And you have greater empathy for the majority of the world who have practically nothing in their lives that resemble comfort or prosperity.

I get it now. Lesson learned. Empathy elevated! Done.

Ahhhh, but no. Still the toil and struggle.

I see that I am lucky in lots of ways. I have never been seriously ill. I have an unexplained source of inner confidence and optimism. I’m naturally smiley.  My children are healthy in mind and body. And I am surrounded by a vast community of friends. Right there, is all I can ask for.

But for the sake of Christ, at almost 45 years old having worked hard all. my. life. I would very much like to be able to pay my bills. Professionally and financially, I seem to be missing a wingnut. Somewhere something needs tightening down…or maybe loosening up. I’m not naturally mechanical but that shouldn’t stand in the way of my financial independence.

Since long before the break up of my (last) marriage, I’ve had trouble connecting the professional and financial. I’ve worked plenty hard, graduated with a great GPA (if only I’d known how little that mattered in the real world) and took every work opportunity presented. I have often worked 2-3 jobs at a time. I don’t have a spending problem either. Although I like to reward myself on occasion, I can live frugally.

Presently, I live quite frugally. The kids and I don’t take vacations. We don’t have cable. I don’t have a  gym membership. I color my hair at home. There’s not a lot of extras. But despite the penny-pinching, there’s just not enough to pay the bills.

My biggest obstacle is a common one for many. I’m both the mom and the breadwinner. The child support I receive although appreciated,  is quite honestly, a pittance. And at any rate, it’s not intended to be something to live on. I never thought about marrying for money. At the time, my spouse seemed like a good earner…certainly good enough, but over the years that shifted and post-divorce, his sense of responsibility for us has been annihilated. He would only give the minimum ordered by the court and God damnit, I say So Be It.

The issue at hand is greater than that and the solution does not lie in squeezing water from a stone. Although life would be easier if I could rely on my ex to help support the kids, the fact is I can’t. And anyone in a divorce situation cannot. Those days are gone, that ship has sailed. It seems on some levels, both right and just that I am shoehorned out of any reliance on my ex. I am an independent entity and solely responsible for the success of every aspect of my life. There’s the dharma.

(((Insert uncontrollable fear and subsequent weeping.)))

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

I don’t exactly romanticize modern marriage. It hasn’t worked for me. But this single parenting doesn’t exactly work either. I have strived and connived but I still cannot strike the balance between being Mom Extraordinaire and Head of Household. The hardness of it all has crushed me. I’m a little tin can smashed flat by an anvil off a tall building.

The struggle has laid waste to my sense of self and my hope for the future. I have put my dreams on hold and worked 60 hours a week for 5+ years and have little (in my short-sighted vision) to show for it. I ask myself again and again,

What am I doing wrong?

I know this is the “wrong” question. I know I’m not doing anything wrong. I know I am loved and valued. I know I am loved and valued by a God that created me OUT OF his love for me. I know I am love. My heart beats with nothing but love. It is the breath in my lungs, that little song in my heart, the living embodiment of my gorgeous children. It is what causes a smile to spread clear across my face when I hold a tiny leaf of a plant in my hand and have the great honor and pleasure to wipe off an aphid and I hear it whisper, thank you.

I know. I know.

And yet…the bills pile up. The clients don’t pay. The children want and want and want. Rates go up. New things are invented every day that cost a $1,000 and you will not be able to deny them or live without them. You will get letters from school saying your kids are truant. Your ex will hit on you. Your family will want distance rather than intimacy. Your friendships will shift and people will grow apart. Your children will develop wicked tongues. Everyone in your privileged home town will seem to be getting ahead while you get left behind.

Shit breaks. Shit costs more than you can afford. There are a finite number of hours in a day and a finite amount of false happiness you are able to generate. This is the truth. This is reality.


…maybe not.

Truth and reality are perhaps not so cut and dry. That little song in my heart, that little glimmer, that shimmery mirage of hope…like heat on asphalt, you can’t touch it and you can only see it from a certain angle, that stuff still lives. It believes in miracles and divine intervention. I firmly believe there is MORE. More to life than bills, and custody arrangements and IEPs and petty disagreements and pimples in your wrinkles and late bills and mounting debt, there’s MORE. In fact, there’s a whole other life. In my mind I’ve always called it the Life Under Life. It runs under our day to day, our physical world, like a river. A life-giving, unconditional river of love. It’s where we are from and it’s where we will go. It is the true truth. It is the real reality.

I have touched this river and felt its flow while doing yoga and meditating. I have experienced its magic while laboring and birthing my kids. I have experienced it every time I didn’t follow despair all the way down the rabbit hole.

I need to get in constant contact with this river. I need to pull out of this present rabbit hole and get healthy and hopeful. I have toiled and tried and it has only gotten me so far. I need less toil. I need a new truth. I need a new reality.

I would like to journey with you through my commitment to meditation and yoga. I spent 15 minutes this morning with a guided meditation on my iPhone from an app by Abraham-Hicks. Abraham is a  non-physical being who speaks through a woman named Esther Hicks. They end every session with their message, “There is great love for you here.” And even though the idea of a non-physical being talking through a human gives me wicked heebie jeebies, that message brings me undeniable comfort.

I am not a great meditator. I am an antsy pantsy kind of person. Prone to itchiness and unable to sit still for long this is not natural for me. But I have seen the benefits. I know that this practice clears the mind, dredges that river so it can flow and is the ultimate reboot.

More than this, I have felt every day of my life, from when I was a very small child, through school and despite my total anonymity and all the failings of my adult life, I have felt inexplicably called to a higher purpose. I have felt that strong connection to the rest of the world. I have experienced the power of a smile or a kind word, and somehow I have felt it ripple all around the world. The power of meditation is universal. I know sulking around my life, feeling despondent and worthless and unlucky, does not serve me nor does it serve the world I was sent here to influence. Meditating and putting myself in the mindset of love for 15 minutes a day can change so much. I’m gonna give it a try. This was from my guided meditation today:

“Your life continually calls for expansion through you. And All That Is benefits from the important part you play.” Abraham

See you in the river…

Any Way You Slice It

March 17, 2014

An encounter with some really bad luck.

 bad luck

First off: you and I both wish this were shorter. But it is what it is. Thanks for bearing witness.

I want to tell you a story. A funny story. A story I hope you’ll find funny. A story I hope to continue to find funny.

My friend Soph and I wonder if we enjoy our foibles too much and that’s why we have so many, so consistently! As believers in the law of attraction we hold that that which we give energy to persists. And if positive energy is the most attractive energy, it would stand to reason that if we find enjoyment in our problems perhaps more will come to us.

Of course I don’t know that we really believe this but the important thing is we all have our things we attract. Our issues. Our baggage. Perhaps ME more than others (as you might be convinced of at the end of this story) but, rest assured, and I do, we all got SOMETHING. Here’s mine du jour. May your life feel a little better in comparison.

Almost a month ago, my transmission went out on my 2002 RAV4. It took the mechanic over a week to fix and it cost a buttload of money. Too much I thought, but I had my car…which I need. As you all know, I’m a single mom and I drive all over this great city for my landscaping job and I need a car. Unfortunately, after a day of having my car back I realized it was not fixed. It drove the exact same, dangerous, herky-jerky way so I took it back and in a not-great mood. The guy fixing my car loaned me his car so I would not have to rent a car again. This car.
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My gangster box. Of course, I appreciate not having to rent a car but this car is not great for transporting landscaping equipment as my SUV was. But that’s not so much of an issue cause I’m pretty much not working in August. My kids are out of camp and their father is on vacation and working for the entire month so I’m on my own with the kids this month.
Now I’ve been prepping for this month of August. I knew it would be challenging. No work means no money. And being with the kids 100% means no breaks and that’s just what August is. August to me is like December without Christmas. However, my long-awaited vacation will be coming in September and the kids will be back at school. All will be well. Nothing to do but muscle through, right?

Well…then the ex drops the bomb that I would not be able to take my September vacation as things were changing at his work and he wouldn’t be able to take the time off. (This being the day before he left for his two-week vacation.) AND he would not be able to take the kids overnight as he was going to have to be at work earlier. When he dropped this bomb I had to just turn and walk away cause I was not going to let him see me cry. The god-damned pressure of being a single mom/provider/human being is so, so intense. I need that fucking vacation. I need to live my life. I need to CREATE my life. I’m beyond frustrated.

The next morning my neck goes right out. Like…OUT. The pain runs down the back of my head, through both sides of my neck and down my left shoulder. I can barely drive my kids to their physicals at the doctor that morning (the gangster box does not have power steering). Since, I simply did not have the time or money to hit the chiro I call Soph and she reads to me from Louise Hays’ book Heal Your Life and the basic affirmation is about the need to be FLEXIBLE. (no, really? ;-) The affirmation goes: “I am at peace with my life,” and I say it over and over and over and I’m reminded that morning that I am blessed with super healthy kids and a wonderful pediatric practice and in the end I heal myself. My body tells me I should probably do some yoga that night but I think I just end up drinking beer and watching The Bachelorette.

Next day, I get a letter saying my dishwasher has been recalled (It could burst into flames!) and Maytag will only refund me my money if I buy one of their high-end dishwashers. Whatever, right? Be flexible. I’m at peace with my life. So I get someone to watch the kids and I head out the next morning in my gangster box to Sears to buy a god-damn dishwasher.

Let me stop here for some juicy backstory. Since separating from my ex, I have had five car accidents and gotten four moving violations – in two and half years. Prior to that I had gotten a total of two tickets my entire life and never been at fault for an accident. Things change. So after my fourth moving violation I got this letter from the DMV.
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I would like to say in my defense, that (at the writing of this letter) I had never ever CAUSED a crash. So that first sentence is just not true. I feel that’s about as far as I can defend myself however. I had a little fender bender after that and before that I totaled my car by hydroplaning and crashing into a tractor trailer on the freeway but the truck didn’t even stop so that’s hardly causing a crash.

Let me also tell you that when I went to see a psychic last year, she said that I had some trouble with cars and accidents and I said yes. And she said I had a special guardian angel that had been protecting me through many lifetimes (What up. Gerome?) and she said that I kept him very busy. I told her to tell him that I was sorry about that and so she kind of mentally went away and came back and said, “Gerome says it’s okay. You were the same way on a horse.” Funniest line uttered by a psychic ever. Anyhoo…

A few months ago I got pulled over for speeding. A whole ten miles over the speed limit. I’m a menace I tell you. Luckily it had been long enough between tickets and I could take the traffic school option. Of course you have to “pay off” the DMV to keep a point off your license so that added $150 to my $350 ticket. Yeah. Awesome.

So back to our story: I’m at Sears and I get this big run around (they want to charge me to pull a permit for installing a dishwasher?) and I leave very frustrated and without a dishwasher. As I pull out of the mall parking lot I hear sirens behind me. I pull over to let the cop pass and he yells at me to pull through the next light and pull over. No. Fucking. Way. You know, maybe I have a tail light out. I mean this isn’t even my car. Wait. I don’t even have the registration. I don’t even know my mechanic’s last name. Uh. Oh.

So the cop claims I ran a stop sign IN THE MALL PARKING LOT which is not even true and he and I argue back and forth but then I have to start explaining about the car not being mine and now it’s “let’s step out of the car.” I TOTALLY LOSE IT. Yep. I’m one of those folks standing outside her mechanic’s car, crying on the side of the road while the cops writes me a ticket and threatens to impound the car. I sign for my ticket (not an admission of guilt, I’m assured), pull my shit together and go on my way with the knowledge that I am going to have to go stand before a judge in Chatsworth and plead my case just to keep my license. Holy Shitstorm Batman.

That’s Sunday.

Monday. I decide to get Molly a cell phone. Her father doesn’t tend to carry his and sometimes I’m not sure where she is when she’s with him so I like the idea of being able to contact her when I want to. And then I can cancel my home phone service which is still under the ex’s name and is inundated 10 -15 times a day by creditors. Molly’s thrilled and I’m up for a free Blackberry upgrade so we are ALL happy campers. We go back home, I spend 45 minutes on the phone using a “man’s” voice, pretending to be my ex canceling my phone service. I get the service cancelled, plug in my new phone to my computer and proceed to wipe out EVERY CONTACT I have on it. Somehow the software or whatever replaced everything on my phone with the contents of my computer address book which I only use to keep about 700 email addresses for Molly’s school and La Leche League. I jump on the internet to figure out what the hell I’d done and realize that I’ve knocked out my internet. My DSL was attached to my fucking home phone line! I have erased all my contacts and snuffed out my access to the internet in less than an hour’s time.

I really wish I could say to you that I did not have a giant, big-ass pity party for myself that began with the thought: if I had a HUSBAND to help me with this shit, none of this would be happening. Cause that’s an unfriendly road, my friends. And I don’t want to take you down it.

So Jana comes over and takes my kids so I can put out the fine china for the pity party. I go down to Verizon and they are gigantic losers and can’t help me and I just have to bear it. It’s a hassle. They are all just hassles. It’s a shit storm no doubt. But it’s not WHO I AM. It’s just crappy circumstances. That’s all.

I do finally listen that night and do yoga and meditate and read my inspirational books and get centered and make an appointment with my therapist. I hire a sitter to watch the kids all day the next day so I can go write and peace out and make things better in my life.


Sitter comes. All’s lovely. I pack up my computer and put on makeup and look forward and upward. I get in the gangster box, start the car, pull away from the curb, my phone rings, I pick it up and hear:

I get pulled over on my own street.

My emotional state at this point kinda plummets. I really feel like there is a good chance I am living some other kind of parallel life. Like everyone else, I saw Inception and loved it. Loved the idea of the totem a lot and in fact, walking out of the theater after seeing the movie, I found a pendant in the pocket of my jeans. It’s a pendant my friend Anne got me. I have no idea what it was doing in my pocket but I decided to make it my totem and I enjoyed rubbing it and touching it all day…communing with my totem. Keeping myself in the real world. Well I forget once again that my totem was in my jeans and I wash the totem in the jeans. I then discover the totem in the dryer…broken in two.
HOLY SHIT! That means, you realize, that for me and by the extremely realistic rules of Inception, this is all a dream?

Moral of the story: keep track of your stinkin totems.

So as soon as I realize I’m being pulled over, I turn off my phone and throw it on the floorboard. It’s total instinct. I actually have no memory of this exact moment. I’m piecing it together backwards like a police detective.
So the cop pulls me into a parking lot and walks up and says he’s citing me for talking on a “handheld device.” I mumble something. No idea what. Maybe, “okay.” What other response is there at this point. “Okay.”

I’ve really taken the path of least resistance now and have just gone numb. It’s safest. Then I realize I gotta explain about the car again and we go through all that somehow. He then asks me to sign for the ticket (…not an admission of guilt…) and I do and he stops and looks at the ticket and looks at my license and says to me, “It doesn’t look like you’ve signed the ticket the same way you signed your license.”
Now there’s a fucking handwriting quiz?
I kinda laugh and say, “I’m sorry. I’m a little upset.” (To say the least, right?) And he says, “Care to try again?” and hands me the ticket. I do try again but it’s no better and he lets me leave.
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This is the beginning of my great day?
I get my bearings. Put my license away. And where is the damn phone? And I can’t find it. Anywhere. Okay. I start the car, drive away from the scene of the crime, relax myself somewhat and stop and look again. The phone is not there. I’m on my hands and knees looking everywhere and nothing. The phone is gone. The phone without the contacts. The phone that just got me pulled over (well, I didn’t do it…) THAT FUCKING PHONE. Nevertheless, I still need the fucking phone. But it’s just not there. Totem. Breaking.

So I drive to my friend’s house who lives nearby and to whom I know I can present myself in pretty much any state and she will have me. (This is true of all my friends actually. This is pretty much how I IDENTIFY my friends.)
I knock on her door and she’s happy to see me. She claps her hands and says, “I have a PRESENT for you!” She skips off and comes back with a beautiful bud in a baggy. “Humboldt!” she exclaims. I laugh and as good as it looks, I think, I’m probably the LAST person you want to give that to…

“Follow me,” I say. “I have a story to tell you.” I take her to my car and make her help me look for the cell phone and start filling her in. Thing is, neither of us can find it. We move the seats back and forth. We empty every bag in the car. We scratch our heads and look again. My friend slides her hand down between the bottom and back of the driver’s seat and all of the sudden, she pulls out a KNIFE. A knife that has been wedged in the seat and pointed at my back the entire time I have been driving this dude’s car!
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We spend the better part of five minutes laughing our asses off. We send her kids for a flashlight and find the phone immediately. Right under the seat.

This knife has been literally stabbing me in the back. So there’s that. There’s your totem. Your law of attraction. Your poison arrow. Your affirmation.

And I’m glad that knife’s no longer there. Life has been calm (i.e. regular shit storm) but I keep hearing in my head the words that came to me when I was meditating that night as an explanation of current events: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

I can translate this for myself in two ways: either I’m Spiderman (I do spend a lot of time around spiders), or my life needs to be much, much more than IPAs and The Bachelorette.

These days I feel bi-polar, caught between thoughts of suicide and the experience of transcendence. I feel close to God but mad at him. I want to be at peace with my life but I also want a peaceful life.

My friend Soph quoted our friend John Paul who said to her, “When the shit hits the fan you know you are in a sacred place.”

Guess for now, I’ll just go with that.

Nameste, bitches.
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Bad things come in threes.

A Legitimate Rape

August 21, 2012 3 Comments

This blog is a direct response to Rep. Todd Akin’s now famous and memed remarks of 8/19/12 regarding rape and pregnancy:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s (pregnancy) really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The ire and attention his comments raised has been called by Republicans: a “reflect and redirect” strategy by Democrats; “instead of focusing on the REAL ISSUES of the election.”

I disagree. I think these ARE (some of) the real issues of this election. Concerns regarding women’s rights and experiences are bubbling to the surface for good reason; they are legitimate and important. For me, personally, “legitimate rape” has been an issue I’ve been exploring for the last decade.

Ten years ago, if you had asked me if I had ever been a victim of rape I would have told you, “No way!” But I know better now.

Perhaps it was the forced sexual encounter I experienced when I was seven years old that colored my later sexual experiences in such a way so as not to understand, to not see that sex should be completely and 100% consensual. Perhaps also, maybe, the ‘date rape education” of the 80s came to me too late. My brain was already filled with images of masked intruders and women screaming “RAPE” at the top of their lungs to understand that there was a gray area of rape. That you could be raped by people you knew. Even people you were attracted to.

How, I wondered, was it rape when I was too embarrassed and humiliated to scream, or to stop him or to interrupt him, or to even utter a word? Back then, in my pre-30 year old brain, it wasn’t rape. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t rape. It was just the way things were.

I feel differently now. I feel sex against your will is rape. No matter the circumstances. Do I bear a responsibility in what happened? Yes. Is that man still a rapist? Yes. Was what happened rape? Yes. Absolutely.

I’ve often thought about writing this blog to educate young men on some really simple ways to know if you are raping someone or not. I don’t mean that as snarky as it sounds, for truly I believe, some basic rules of sex might make things clearer to young men, and take the pressure off the scared, confused and insecure girl who wishes she could stand up for herself, rather than just submit, pray it is over soon and go home.

I lost my virginity to a rape. A boy I met at the beach, who I liked a lot, took me into a stranger’s house on the morning of the 2nd day of our acquaintance, and laid me down on a bare mattress. There was some heavy petting that progressed at amazing speed and within what seemed like seconds, he was inside of me. I think asking first is nice. Lesson #1.

The next time was that same destructive summer. On a whim, I allowed myself to be driven by a couple of boys, who I thought I knew well but didn’t, to a town several hours away from my home. When I got to their hometown, the boy I knew better disappeared with his car and his promise to drive me home. His friend invited me to tag along with him to a party. I was hopeless in my despair…how could I have gotten myself in this situation? so I drank quite a bit at the party. I was raped that night by at least 2 different guys. I woke up from my black-out several times in locations inside and outside of the house with some asshole pumping away above me. Lesson #2 – don’t fuck unconscious girls.

The next sexual phase of my life was a good one, with a loving, long-time boyfriend. However, one afternoon while we were expecting his parents to return back to the house, he grew impatient and badgered me for sex. I said no several times but he forced me to have sex with him anyway. This is the only experience of rape I ever accepted as such although it was with my sexual partner. Later that day, he and I talked about it and he took full responsibility for it and apologized. He apologized again when we met up some 20 years later. In fact it was the first thing he said to me. Lesson #3 is a chestnut but still true: No means no.

During my college years at Penn State, there were some loose sexual assaults on campus but nothing that would qualify as rape. The rape during my college years happened during a holiday visit home. I was playing cards with some longtime friends at a stranger’s parents’ house. This stranger who I will call Mike (his real name) and I seemed to be hitting it off while we played poker at a card table in the garage. He was really cute and all that jazz. After everyone left I stayed behind and we finished our beers and then he kissed me while I sat on the washing machine. Before I knew it, my bare back hit cold concrete. I can still vividly remember how my head conked on the stone-hard floor. He used his full weight to keep me pinned and took my jeans and underwear off. I told him no. I told him not yet. I thought about yelling but knew my friends were long gone. I begged him to wait. To slow down. To stop. It stopped soon enough. And he rolled off me, and said thanks, and laughed.

As I raced out of there, I chastised myself for what had happened. For putting myself in that position. For sending the wrong signals. I think now, in my heart, that voice was the abused seven year-old talking who didn’t know any better but to blame herself.

Now I think, I KNOW, I did nothing wrong. I believe with all conviction, that there is not a girl in the world who really wants her first sexual encounter with a man she likes to be on the oily floor of his parents’ garage. Her bare ass frostbite cold on the concrete of an empty house in winter. Lesson #4. No woman wants that.

I did not blame Mike at the time, in fact, I didn’t hardly remember the occurrence, until many years later while swapping stories with a girlfriend. Recounting one story led to another story and another and I realized I had many experiences with rape. All legitimate.

I think we all have something to learn from these experiences. I think it is damn important we do so. By sharing our stories, our fuck-ups, our misjudgments, we can help young men and women sort some of this stuff out, see the gray areas, find their voices, act with respect and patience, and do a lot less hurting of each other and a lot less damage in our culture. And calling a rape a rape is a step in that direction.

spiritual parenting explained. http://tm

April 5, 2012

spiritual parenting explained.


The Art in the Everyday Challenge

March 7, 2012 3 Comments


Hey you!

Discontented mothers. Regimented wives. Whatever the male equivalent is. You! You, who’s never been to you. Let’s find ourselves. Let’s get expressive. Artistic even.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Click here and  Follow Me on Pinterest check out my “Art in the Everyday” board. In an effort to…keep up with me…see the art in the everyday…I have posted some photos that express my life. The idea is simple:

Capturing the small moments, striving to see the beauty in everything, the art in the everyday.

Please send me an email ( or a message through Pinterest and I will add you as a contributor to the board and then you can post your “art in the everyday” photos to inspire others. And best of all, YOU get the experience of seeing your life through a new lens and of creating art from your every day. You may even gain a new appreciation for your life and for your self as its creator. Or just post a photo and we’ll see where it leads…

A little background. I’ve been consciously honing what I consider my artistic identity for well over 5 years now. When I started writing again, after a hiatus I will refer to as “stretch marks,” I only had one day a week to write so I had to make that writing day matter. I could not waste time fiddling with doubt or bantering with the inner critic…I had to get words on the page! There were lots of little ways I defeated that time wasting crap, but one of the big ways was to convince myself that what I was doing MATTERED.

I mattered.

I was a writer. I would be read. I was an artist. I would be seen. What I had to express was important enough, relevant enough to fight for. I counted. I needed to master the craft of writing (a girl can try!) and that was going to be time well spent, god damnit. I HAD to consider myself a writer. I HAD to call myself an artist, cause no one else was.

To make art you need to observe. You need to listen, watch, record, reflect. This takes effort. This takes a limb and a person brave enough to walk out on it. You need to say, okay, this one time I will be a total narcissistic fuck and pretend everyone gives a shit and post this photo of daisies for all to see!

(((Insert inner voice screaming, “PLEASE DON’T JUDGE ME!”)))

These days, I don’t sweat that uncomfortable skin-crawling feeling I get when I refer to myself as an artist. I don’t worry as much about people rejecting my material or judging me, but you might. You might not see yourself as an artist. You might not see yourself as someone worthy of hearing from. You might not see your world as something worthy of reporting from. But I challenge that idea. Literally…I’m challenging it.

Show me the Art in the Everyday. Your every day. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. Just something seen through your thoughtful eyes.

Again, email me or  Follow Me on Pinterest and ask me to add you to the contributors for the “Art in the Everyday” board. Before you know it, you’ll be posting!

Thanks in advance for playing!



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Shit My Kids Ruined – A Tribute

February 13, 2012

That’s NOT okay. The name of a web series and a blog and what I hear myself say all the time.

This video illustrates just that.

We all must walk the walk. No one gets out unscathed. Our stuff is no exception.


A Tribute to the Damage Kids Inflict from erin riley on Vimeo.


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