This One Crazy Summer…

There are moments in life that unequivocally change everything, whether by fate, or God, or a conscious decision made, after that minute passes, your life has changed so completely you will never be the same because of it. My most significant moment happened so long ago, it seems like it was a past life. But as these moments go, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the summer of my 21st year, I was terrifically reckless and hopelessly in love with life. I lived in my parents’ vacation home at the beach, I barely worked and college had become a distant memory. I had an awesome group of friends to spend the lazy days and wild nights with, and we partied like we were the last rock stars on Earth. My place was a revolving door of roommates, party crashers and couch-surfers. It was an amazing, magical and crazy fun time.

And then I got pregnant.

I had been dating the guy on and off for a few months, though I had invited
him to move in the night I met him. It wasn’t serious, he was a drummer in a band, I loved musicians, and we had a lot of fun together, but he would never be “the one”. And through some stupid twist of fate (and maybe one tequila shot too many) I was pregnant with his kid. Clearly that was just not going to be something that would work for us.

I had the intention to go back to school someday, I had hopes and dreams for my future that could never come to be if I had a baby then. And in case I haven’t already painted clear enough of a picture, I was far from responsible. There was no way in hell I was equipped to raise a child at that age, it just couldn’t happen. Even on the nights when I lay in bed with my doubts and what-ifs, wondering about the possibilities, I still couldn’t see how it could work. I was angry at myself for being so heartbreakingly irresponsible, and already feeling guilt like I had never known before, but ultimately I saw no other way out.

I made the appointment when I was just shy of 12 weeks. The closest abortion clinic was a 45 minute tear filled drive away, the longest journey and shortest 45 minutes of my life. We walked past the picketers, the guy was with me, he held my hand, he tried to be supportive, but I know all that he felt was a greater sense of relief with each step we took. I left him in the full waiting room, I was quickly taken away, through doors and down halls.

They spoke to me, they asked me questions, they gave me a gown and I put it on. I felt like I was in a very bad dream and I was trying to keep track of the labyrinth of doors they took me through so I would know how to get back out. They brought me to a waiting room full of girls, laughing and chatting, comparing notes on how many times they had met Mr. Hoover. For real. I would imagine they were trying to comfort themselves, making it less important, less of a big deal, less bad, but I found no comfort in their indiscreet chatter. As I sat there in my gown, trying not to cry but failing miserably, I looked down at the desk next to me and saw the ultrasound of someone who had gone before, through the last door. In that moment, looking at this picture of a baby that would never be, I realized that the noise I was hearing was no longer the girls and their mindless quips. It was crying, but it wasn’t my own, it was coming from somewhere very deep inside of me.

And that was my moment, the one where I made the most important choice of my life. I got up and walked out. Through the doors and down the halls. I was going to have this baby. Holy. Crap. I found my clothes and dressed. I was going to be a Mom. They tried to stop me, to talk to me, they wanted to help me think things through, but it was too late. I was keeping the baby. I made my way out, back into the waiting room. I found the dad, he looked confused, I grabbed his hand and I didn’t speak until we were out of there. The crying from inside me had gone, and seemed to have been replaced with a seed of hope, the hum of strength, a sort of peace that could only come from the absolute certainty I was doing the right thing. I was going to have this baby. I didn’t care if I had to do it on my own. I didn’t care about the fact that I was choosing the much harder path. I didn’t care that this was not a part of the plan. This is what was meant to be.

My son is 17 now, and I have been thankful every single day of his life for that moment, the one that held the best decision that ever almost didn’t happen.


So the beautiful and magnificent Mama Kat asked, what makes me smile? Aside from my kid, my boyfriend, pets, coffee and wine, that is… I would also have to add writing to this list of my obvious favorite things, as I would probably not have started a blog if I didn’t love to write, right? So excluding the obvious smiles, what else does it for me?

Photography. It’s the one thing that needs to be included amongst the others that make me smile, it completes me. You can get the scoop on all that I have going on and where photography fits in here. It’s true, it is what keeps me sane. And sanity makes me smile. If a few days go by without any sort of creativity, I begin to feel like I can’t breathe. If the writing is blocked, then I focus on the photos. If I don’t have photos to edit, I grab my camera and go take some. And that moment, when you realize that you just captured pure magic, whether it’s through words or a photo, is just absolutely priceless. And that shit makes me smile A-whole-LOT!

I started getting into photography when my son was born, back in the days of film. I took so many photos of that child! It seemed the more I took, the better I got at it, and when digital came on the scene I got really dangerous. That was when I discovered I could sit there for hours with a child (mine was becoming less willing, so I began to offer up my services to friends and family), waiting to capture that magic. I would wait them out, playing with them and taking photo after photo, until I got what I was looking for.

My favorite subjects to photograph are beautiful people and special places, children, LOVE in all of its forms, places of legend, and things that have been abandoned (especially old insane asylums, I don’t know why, it’s just one of my things). And of course, I love to take photos of my kid, my boyfriend and my pets too! So, now I’m going to share some of my favorite smiles with you. I hope you enjoy them!

True Love.

A Father’s Love.

A Child’s Light.

Bike Week, South Dakota.

Bryce Canyon, Utah

New York City

City at Night

Cape May, NJ

California Loner.

Outside Bear Lake, Idaho

Coney Island

Coney Island Art

Overbrook Insane Asylum, NJ

Overbrook Insane Asylum, NJ

A Boy and His Beach

My Kid and His Cat

My Man.

Mama’s Losin’ It

I Never Thought I Would Have a Fish Story…

The FishMy boyfriend (who from this day forward shall be called Brian) has this stuffed fish, it’s a barracuda that he caught in Florida about 10 years ago. In his old place it hung in the dining room, over the table that was primarily just used for our monthly poker game. I barely noticed this fish, so it really wasn’t even on my radar when we decided to move in together, and not a subject that came up in all of the conversations that followed about where things should go in our new place.

The day of our big move was chaos from the very start. We were exceptionally blessed to have so many super awesome friends volunteer to help us with the move. A bunch of them had gathered at Brian’s house to help him load up the truck, with the plan to then go to my place to load up my things. My son had arranged for a small army of his friends to help us out with the move as well, all of whom were at our place throughout the week helping to move smaller things over to the new place prior to the truck getting there. These kids made me have to seriously re-think a lot of the bitching I have done about teenagers over the past couple years. They STEPPED UP. They were powerhouses of strength and energy, who followed direction, kept the stuff moving, and really never complained about anything. Even my son, who gives me crap about everything.

I drove out to Brian’s house with my son and two of his friends to help move the truck loading along. As it would turn out, there would end up being 2 truckloads necessary to empty Brian’s house, and 1 ½ to empty mine. I don’t know how we ever thought it would ALL fit into one truckload, clearly spatial reasoning is not a strength in our home.

When we got to his house, people were everywhere, emptying the house and loading up the truck as well as their own cars. There were a ton of things sitting on the front lawn, waiting to find out if they would be loaded onto the truck, or left behind on the curb. In the midst of the chaos, one of our friends jokingly asks what don’t I want to make it onto the truck. I looked around at it all, and replied “The Fish”.

Here’s the back story on the fish, because as I’m sure you know, every stuffed fish has a story to go along with it. It was on a business trip in Miami, his team went out deep-sea fishing, and after 2 hours on the boat he caught this 4 ½ ft African barracuda, which took just under an hour to reel in. They asked if he wanted to keep it, and of course he did! They would stuff and mount it for him, and he would have to pay half up front, priced at about $100 ft. Clearly the fishing crew knew they had caught a big one as well. $1000 and 6 months later he finally got his fish and it was hung on his dining room wall. Until moving day.

So the move was chaotic, at best. It may have also been referred to as a cluster fuck of a train wreck, depending on who you asked. At the end of the day we had 3 refrigerators, 3 sets of washers and dryers, too many dressers and dining room tables, an extra bed, and boxes EVERYWHERE. The only thing that wasn’t there was The Fish. This was discovered during the minor meltdown Brian had at the end of this very long day, due to his lack of actual control over every aspect of the move. We looked everywhere, The Fish was definitely missing.

After a bit of investigation, it was discovered that The Fish was put in the back of one of our friends cars, and somehow “forgotten” there when he left that day. Once Brian could finally start to laugh (a little) about the move, I had to come clean. So when the subject of the fish came up again, which did not take very long at all as it had become a bit of an obsession, I mentioned that I had been asked what I didn’t want moved that day, and how I had responded. He was mildly disturbed by this I think, though he understood that it was not said seriously, and I had NEVER expected anyone to honor this request. It had now become my mission to get The Fish back as well.

Three months, 200 text messages, 27 phone calls, and 2 poker games later, The Fish finally made its way home. I feel a little bit bad that I thought it was so funny how obsessed Brian had become with getting The Fish back, though I’m relatively certain that the reason it took so long was because everyone else thought it was rather entertaining as well.

In the end, I was so happy to have The Fish home (and the subject of it no longer being
discussed) that I didn’t care where it got hung. For real. So I had absolutely nothing to do with it being hung in Brian’s walk in closet, he did that completely on his own. Swear. Though in all honesty, The Fish is a scary looking, stuffed, dead animal. Thankfully, my man is smart enough to know that it would best be hung somewhere that I wouldn’t see it very often. Yep, I caught me a keeper!

My Broken Funny

This post was supposed to be about a stuffed fish. But then BlogHer ’12 happened, and now the fish has to wait until next week.

BlogHer is the mack daddy of all blogging conferences. I was very fortunate to have it in my own backyard this year in NYC, just me and 4,999 other super awesome, mostly female bloggers. The President (of the freaking USA!) gave the opening address, it’s some pretty serious shit. There are already hundreds of blog posts floating around out there about the experience that was BlogHer ’12. I’ve read some really fabulous ones, like this post by my friend Ado over at The Momalog. Or for a different take on it, this one by Rock & Drool. The conference was simply amazing, I learned a lot, I was INSPIRED, I met an incredible number of really fabulous women, I drank a little too much, and had a blast hanging out in NYC with my sister Erin, who writes over at A Book for My Daughter. And… that’s about as much as I’m going to go into a recap of BlogHer ’12. If you want more than that, you can go on Twitter and search for #BlogHer12 and I promise you will find all of the awesome stories I mentioned.

I do have one very specific thing to tell you though, about something that happened to me at the conference, along with a bit of a back-story to give you some perspective.

The Back-story:
My Funny is  broken. Or maybe just very damaged. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but let’s just chalk it up to LIFE (i.e. pain, heartbreak, loss, fear, etc) I wasn’t actually aware that this tragedy had occurred though, until my boyfriend pointed it out to me. In just that way. Your Funny is broken. And my son completely agrees with him, though I don’t know if he remembers me ever being very funny. Maybe my Funny got broken when being Strong was all I could focus on? I don’t know.

This unicorn is a cake, at a sparkly unicorn themed BlogHer rave called Sparklecorn. Now, this is funny.

I do have a sense of humor, though it might be a bit on the darker side. I laugh out loud, when something is actually funny. I’m not a big fan of most comedic movies, though I loved The Hangover, and anything with Dane Cook is just AWE-SOME. And intelligent comedy, give me that any day. I stopped watching sitcoms when Friends went off the air, and have only recently found an appreciation for them again through watching The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, which is a part of my boyfriend’s prescribed therapy to fix my Funny. See, he is really funny. And he really likes funny things. And he wants me to be able to appreciate those things with him, almost as much as he wants me to fix and embrace my own Funny.

When it comes to my writing, the stories in my head are funny, at least the tone I try to tell them with is, even if the content is not. Not haha funny, but the darker sort of funny that comes with life’s lessons learned. The kind of funny that comes from just having survived some bullshit or other. But I don’t think it translates very well. I mean from my head to my fingers, I think something gets lost along the way.

So, I’m working on it…

The Incident:
Following the Voices of the Year program at BlogHer ’12, Violence Unsilenced sponsored an Open Mic night called Listen To Your Mother. It was a spectacular idea, to give random bloggers a chance to read one of their own blog posts to an audience of fellow bloggers. There were three topics you could choose from to submit a post for: Life, Funny and Rants. Not that I cared, because I was just there to listen. No way in hell was I going to get up there on stage and read a post. Especially after listening to the women I was with discussing which posts they would submit, because I knew both of their stories and they were awesome! And funny. My stories are not funny like that. You know, the kind of funny that people want to hear after they have had a couple of cocktails and are out for a good time? And… I have this sort of enormous fear of public speaking. So it just was not going to happen.

But then, well, ugh. I realized that I was here, at BlogHer, to promote, celebrate and grow my blog, and I knew for damn sure that if I didn’t go throw my name in the hat I would regret it forever. And then I heard my boyfriend’s voice in my head, encouraging me as he does, in his own very unique way, by refusing to speak to me until I finish writing a post, or whatever it is that I am working on at the time. I imagined him sitting there ignoring me until I went up and submitted my name. And then I thought of my son, and the thought of him not putting himself out there for something he really cared about, because of fear, was just too much for me. So I did it. I felt like I was going to throw up the second the paper was out of my hand. And as I looked around and saw the room REALLY filling up, I mean, all the tables were full and people were sitting on the floor, wall to wall, I realized two things. There were a couple hundred people here maybe? And 15-20 of them would be picked to read, so my odds were really good for not getting picked. And O.M.G., this is a full house, and I saw more than a few members of mommy blogger royalty in the room, I seriously better not get picked!!!

I. Got. Picked.

I walked to the front of the room to wait for my turn. I focused on my breathing so I wouldn’t pass out, wishing that I hadn’t been so late for cocktail hour, and sat there praying that I didn’t have to follow someone really funny. The post I had picked was A Boy Making a Man’s Decision, and needless to say, there wasn’t much humor in it.

As it turned out, it was a solid combination of funny and serious blog posts that were read that night, and the one I followed didn’t cause mine to become a total buzz kill. Somehow I read the words of my post from my mobile phone without throwing up or passing out. I read it way too fast and without much emotion, or at least that’s the way I heard it in my head, but all I wanted to do was get through it, without going too far over in my allotted time of 5 minutes. I have no idea how long I took or how I really sounded, all I know is that I DID IT.

I left that room filled with emotion. My cheeks hurt from all of the laughing that I did at some of the stories. My heart hurt from the stories that made me cry. I was elated that I was able to get up on that stage and tell my story. I was also more determined than ever to find my Funny, to get over the shit that’s held me back, to heal the part of me that still couldn’t laugh as loud as it wanted to, for whatever reason. I was determined to find my true voice, and tell my stories with the humor from lessons learned, with the tone of those words as I hear them in my head, with laughter, and without taking it all so damned seriously.

read to be read at

The Millennial Monster’s Monsters

So our cats have gone insane. As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve all been adjusting to our new home and new routines since my boyfriend and I moved in together. It was totally expected there would be a period of adjustment, more for my son and my boyfriend than for me I think, but I TOTALLY did not think there was going to be such an issue with our cats! But they aren’t just having adjustment issues, it’s been 4 months, they have seriously lost their minds. The oldest cat, Joey, was a birthday gift for my son on his 7th birthday. I suppose it is possible that he may just be getting a bit senile, or maybe showing the long-term effects of the less than gentle early years growing up with my son, but we have another theory on what’s going on with him. We think he’s talking to dead people. See, our house may or may not be haunted, a subject which I don’t really want to go into too much at the moment (since it’s getting close to bedtime), but if it is, then that little guy is talking to those ghosts without any doubt. This is what he does – several times a day, almost every time he goes up into the loft over our living room, when he gets to the top of the spiral staircase he stops, looks into the darkness and gives a very guttural “meow” 4 or 5 times, which really sounds like he is saying “hello”. Watch this video and listen for yourself. He then looks down at us, and walks into the loft, as though he was just given permission to enter.

Kinda creepy, right? That’s nothing compared to what is going on with our other cat, Zoe. She is full on possessed or something. This is the sweetest little love bug of a cat you are ever going to meet, but since we moved, she has these psycho fits of growling and hissing and scratching and biting, it’s crazy to the point of us just waiting for her head to start spinning around while she projectile vomits pea soup. Now, there is a very specific trigger for this, which is whenever my boyfriend stands up. That’s it, nothing more than that, he stands and she freaks out. She used to absolutely adore him, when he would walk into the room she would literally stand up on her hind legs begging for him to pet her, he was her favorite. Now she only likes him when he’s sitting down. This photo was taken half an hour before the video, take a look.

Crazy, right? Yep, I know. Our third cat is Indiana, she came with my boyfriend, and she is a little over a year old. She is super cute, and really sweet, and doesn’t really seem fazed by any of this, nothing unusual going on with her at all. Maybe because she’s so young, and everything is still new to her? Maybe because she was a stray and on her own not so long ago? I don’t know. We’re just thankful that one of them is still normal. Wait, there is that strange thing she does at night, lying on the kitchen floor staring under the stove for hours at a time. I guess that is sort of odd too? Hopefully these things are all just move related adjustment issues, because it would really be awesome if our cats would all just get over it and behave normally again. It would also be pretty cool to stop wondering if there are ghosts that are making them act so odd, not that I necessarily believe in such things, but sometimes you just have to wonder, you know…?

A Letter To My Poor, Neglected Blog

My Dearest Blog,
I am so very sorry that I have gone totally M.I.A. on you for the past few months! I know it sounds rather trite, but things have really been sort of crazy for me lately. For real. But I think about you all the time, I have missed you dearly, and hope that you will forgive me for my absence. I know, I know! Just hear me out and let me try to explain…

I had all of the best intentions when I wrote my last post on New Beginnings. I was ready to embrace the fresh start that the new year offers, and I was committed to telling you everything. Well okay, not everything, just the stuff that I would let my Mom read, because I know you’re friends. So the intentions were there but then everything changed. My boyfriend and I decided to move in together and began looking at houses immediately. Well, technically, we started looking at houses first, and then we had the conversation about it, because sometimes things just happen backwards, you know? We found a place that we totally fell in love with, but we had to sign a lease that started in less than a month. Then we had to tell my son and make sure he was cool with the whole thing, which thankfully he was,  so we were a go! Crazy packing chaos ensued, quickly followed by the moving day insanity.

Strange Things My Boyfriend Owns #37

You’re not going to believe this, but the most stressful part of the move wasn’t any of the things I just mentioned! I know, it’s hard to imagine, but the most painful part was the unpacking. I mean, holy fucking shit, that part sucked. To put it in perspective for you, three and a half months later and there are still 4 or 5 boxes left. Yep, seriously. But I learned a few valuable lessons from it, which I hope to never have to use because I would like to NEVER have to move again!.Let’s just say that I rescued my boyfriend from a possible future as a hoarder, and leave it at that. For now.

Combining two complete households of crap into one wasn’t the only challenge that we faced once we were all moved in, because the two households of crap belonged to two, somewhat set in their ways, grown adults with their own ways of doing things. And issues. I have mine, he has his, some are definitely bigger than others. There was even a bit of undiagnosed OCD that reared it’s rather peculiar head. So yeah, major adjustments had to take place, the least surprising and most significant one of course was with my son. He had to get used to having my boyfriend around all the time, and my boyfriend had to deal with adjusting to the wonderful world of parenting a teenager. It could probably go without saying, but THIS WAS NOT EASY. It is an ongoing process of adjustment and learning, but I think we’re doing pretty okay now. And I am absolutely certain we are going to be awesome.


So, on top of all of that, the cats have gone insane. The house may or may not be haunted, possibly by a ghost cat. We lost the thousand dollar stuffed fish in the move, which eventually (sadly) found its way home. We had a total nightmare experience with the gangsta cable guy from hell. We’re still pondering the bizarre security system, and the need for video camera surveillance in this neck of Suburbia (my theory is that Russian drug lords were the last renters). I finally have a deck garden again!! My son turned 17, and has no interest in getting his driver’s license. We survived junior year (what a bitch). I discovered Family Locator (best freaking invention EVER). I also discovered Pinterest… I know, I know, I said I would NEVER go there, but it was for work, and well, it’s really not so bad. Don’t get mad at me, there’s room for both of you in my life, and you will always be my true love!

Well, that’s all the major stuff, I could go on and on, but I just wanted you to know where I’ve been and what’s been going on. I promise to sit down and tell you all about all of these stories very soon. Please, please know that a day has not gone by that I haven’t thought of you, I have truly missed you dearly and promise to visit with you on a much more regular basis going forward. Thank you so much for understanding, I’ll talk to you soon!! xoxo

Yours Always,

Mrs. Monologues       read to be read at

New Beginnings

The greatest thing about the New Year is the opportunity for a fresh start, a clean slate, new beginnings. This is something I generally really appreciate, but this year more than ever, I am seriously embracing it. Last year was chock full of love and happiness, sadness and heartbreak, fear like I have never known before, excitement and joy, pain and confusion, hope and healing. It was beautiful, and exhausting.

Now is the time for letting go.

I haven’t been able to write anything for this blog for a while now. I got stuck on something, a thing I couldn’t completely put into words, at least not for the whole world to see. Well, not just yet anyway. A thought from the past, a feeling which came from decisions made long ago, has been haunting me. It breaks my heart, it makes me cry in my sleep, it takes my voice away, though I wouldn’t say the words even if I could. I say I have no regrets, but sometimes I wonder if I’m strong enough to survive the repercussions of my actions. I couldn’t have done things differently, I couldn’t have made other decisions, and that’s why there are no second thoughts. But the fact that it couldn’t have been any other way still does not take the pain away, and I sometimes wonder if I will ever really get past it. Sometimes I wonder if I’m really just being punished.

I do have a place for these thoughts, where I can lock them away until they are ready to be released. I’m working on a novel, a memoir really, and that’s where I write all of my secret truths. So that’s where all of my words have gone recently, because they are just too much to share with anyone right now.

And so, I get up every day, and I take care of everything else in my life, I get it all done, and I go on. I remind myself every morning how strong I am, how far I’ve come, and then I pray for a little more strength, just enough to get me through the day. It seems this prayer is actually answered on a daily basis, so for all you heathens out there, don’t make fun, faith comes in a million different forms, and I know MY God will never give me more than I can handle. I am not a religious person by any means, but my spirituality is unquestionable. I have faith in love, and in all that is good in this world. I have faith in the fact that the energy we put out there is what we will get back in return, good or bad. I have faith in the kindness of strangers, and in what we can learn from the innocence of our children. And I have faith in myself, because I know that I am strong enough.

And so this is my new beginning. This is my letting go. All of the words I couldn’t say have been put away, written somewhere else, releasing me to focus on the present, to embrace my life and to share my stories. I have so much to be thankful for, so much love and light in my life,  and I do have a story or two to tell, so now I’m going to get back to it…