I welcome change
I hate change. And yet I crave it. I’m a creature of habit, but I get uncomfortable and frustrated when my life becomes stagnant. Living in the suburbs of Southern California was supposed to be temporary. 2 years—max. Enough time for my ex and I to save up money and move back up north which we both agreed was a much better environment to raise our son.

Welp, 11 years later, things didn’t go quite as planned. The ex and I split and there I was, stuck just trying to keep a roof over my son’s head. I don’t necessarily regret staying in this area for so long, (even though I have nothing but horrendous memories I wish I could lance out of my brain), because I provided stability and a somewhat decent environment for my son for the first 11 years of his life.

But we’ve exhausted our time here, and while I would have loved to give my boy a nice suburban upbringing with extracurricular activities ad nauseam and vacations once a year, I just can’t. So I’ve decided to do the only thing I can think of to bring some free diversity and experience into my child’s sheltered life—move to a big city. Chicago to be exact. Yes, I know it’s freaking cold and windy there. And yes, I know it will be a huge culture shock. My son may hate it. I may hate it. The diva, who doesn’t like weather below 70 degrees, will definitely hate it.

But here’s the logic behind this move: I want my boy to be exposed to different cultures, food, customs, colors of skin, mindsets. If he winds up not being college-bound I want there to be a plethora of other opportunities available to him. I personally want to be able to make more than $12/hr without having to drive an hour. I want to be able to visit the world’s largest aquarium without having to add 3 hours onto the journey for being stuck in LA traffic. I want to be able to walk outside my door and stumble upon a street fair, Farmers Market, musicians. I want various experiences at my fingertips because the truth is I’m dreadfully lazy and unmotivated. And I suck at planning outings. Oh, and I also want to associate with people who speak grammatically correct English, no more “I don’t got no more.” And I really want to live in a place where every other person hasn’t done meth or sold meth.

Basically, I want to be able to grab the boy by the hand sans Xbox controller and say, “Hey, let’s go explore the city and see what we find.”

Am I freaking nuts?


Jordan's 11 Birthday-2013 003 (This sign does nothing to keep the kids away)

Every summer I write a post about how much summer bites–when you have kids, that is, and no relatives to pawn them off on. My sanity can handle one month of summer vacation—no homework or projects due, no waking up at 7am. Any longer however, and my inadequacies as a mother become blaringly apparent. I don’t like having day-to-day reminders of what a crappy job I’m doing as a mother. It slowly chips away at my already precarious self-esteem.

I haven’t always been a crappy mother. In fact, I was the greatest mother back when my son was a baby. Too bad he’ll never remember all the things I used to do with him. I had more energy, I wasn’t working, he wasn’t talking—all these factors contributed to a much more harmonious relationship between us. We’d go walking with the stroller or baby carrier, play ball or Hot Wheels. I’d hold him in my arms and dance around the living room to Enrique Iglesias. We’d nap together, eat together. Life was so much simpler.

When it came time for me to go back to work, my son went to day care in the summers. $500 a month x 3 months. Well, Mommy works from home now and doesn’t have $500 a month to spend on daycare, so Mommy bought son an Xbox instead. Yes, an electronic babysitter, because all the single moms have one!

I’m well aware that my son’s brain is atrophying, but I’m at a complete loss for alternatives. Most of the kids I know either visit relatives for a while, or the entire family goes on vacation to break up the monotony that excessive summer leisure can bring. Cancel those out for us. My son’s father didn’t even remember to call him on his birthday a few days ago, and the grandma who lives in the same town flaked on his party due to her booming new business, so you can see where their priorities lie.

If I knew how to entertain children for 8-10 hours, I’d be a preschool teacher, instead of a writer. Most writers just want to be alone with their thoughts. Or their Facebook. And while I can take my son swimming and shopping, and to the occasional movie, it’s Just. Not. Enough to fill an entire summer.

Last night I awoke at 4 in the morning to find my son still playing video games. My head almost exploded in disbelief. I stayed awake for 2 more hours trying to decide punishment. Do I take away the Xbox? But that will punish me. How bad do I want to be punished? How bad do I want a paycheck for the work that needs to be done?

Well-meaning folks are so quick to give advice. “Take away all the games,” they say. I’ve done that before, and guess what happens? Every 15 minutes or so, my son wanders in, claiming he’s bored and doesn’t know what to do. Without looking up from the computer screen, I tell him, “Read a book, play with something, wash my car.” He scoffs at those ideas. Because my son is borderline obsessive-compulsive, he’ll continue to interrupt me for hours until I finally lose my temper, then feel guilty and agree to do something with him, which in the end, results in me not getting any work done. So, unless these well-meaning folks plan on paying my bills, they all need to stfu.

The sad thing is my son’s not doing anything different from what I did at his age. I started flying from New York to California to spend summers with my dad when I was 8. He never had a babysitter for me, so while he was away at work all day, I’d watch TV for hours. If you’re in your 40s, you’ll remember shows like Love American Style, Hogan’s Heroes, Love Boat, Fantasy Island. As I got a little older, those shows were replaced with soap operas. Almost 5 straight hours of ABC soap operas a day. Yes, indeed, I was one of the privileged to witness Luke and Laura’s historic wedding on General Hospital.

I’d like to think all that romance watching contributed to my present vocation as a romance writer, but the jury’s still out on that one. The only positive data I’ve read on video-game playing is that it promotes intrinsic motivation, concentration and cognitive effort, and requires a cumulative effort over time to achieve a goal—which could also be loosely translated to mean my son will grow up with the skills to help him be able to score drugs if he wants them, and be successful at doing whatever it takes to continuously score drugs.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to keep a preteen boy busy in this age of technology?


I read a lot of crap about relationships and marriage, even though I’m not in a relationship and I’ve never been married. Human dynamics fascinate me, as do the myriad reasons relationships work or don’t work. I figured because of this, it’s my duty to impart my wisdom (and I always try to be objective and not take sides—except when I’m talking about my exes).

Although I haven’t cohabitated with a man in quite some time, I consider my son to be a little man in training with similar propensities. I’ve had to learn what’s important to him, what he responds to or doesn’t respond to, and I’d like to think all this will help me in future relations with the opposite sex. Mind you, we’re taking food and sex off the table here, because if you were to ask me what men’s 3 top priorities were in life, those two would immediately come to mind. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a third, although it’d probably be a toss-up between money and family.

The following rules are the “little things” that seem important to a man.

1. When he comes home, run to greet him with an effusive hello.

I know a few wives who don’t greet their husbands at the door when they come home from work—either because they’re always in the middle of something or because they’re not touchy-feely women in general. Imo, this makes their husbands feel like they’re not happy to see them after a day of being away. When my son comes home from school, I usually see him walking from the bus before he reaches the front door. This gives me a moment to finish typing a sentence or save a document, get up from my seat and wait for him with open arms. I scream his name, the diva barks uncontrollably—It’s pure chaos and my son loves it. He runs into my arms for about 2.5 seconds before disentangling himself from me. Since he’s admitted he looks forward to this welcome every day, I make sure never to disappoint him.

2. When he’s in a bad mood, leave him alone until he decides to emerge from his shell.

This is hard for me. If I see someone in a bad mood, and especially my son, I want to know what’s wrong RIGHT AWAY. Women may be able to talk about whatever their problem is immediately, but I’ve never met a man who could. Men are like beef stew—it takes awhile for the flavors (issues) to come out. I’m not sure what they’re doing while they’re “stewing”—ruminating, perhaps? Decompressing? In any case, if I push my son to talk about what’s bothering him before he’s ready, he’ll clam up. The few times he’s come home, gone straight into his room and shut the door without saying anything are the times I’ve had to sit on my hands, literally, and give him a few moments to unwind alone. It’s tough, but way better than getting my head bitten off.

3. When he wants to tell you something, stop what you’re doing and listen.

My son’s not a big talker. Except when I’m in the middle of very important work or it’s late at night—my least favorite times to chat. Any other time I get one-word answers to my questions, but it’s when he’s in the mood to talk is when I get truly significant information, like what happened on the playground, which girl likes him, and what he wants to do when he grows up (work at GameStop so he can play video games all day). Sure, I could continue staring at the computer screen while he’s divulging deep, dark secrets, or fall asleep, but these times of disclosure are so few and far between that I make the effort to stop what I’m doing and make eye contact. Even if it kills me.

4. Be his biggest cheerleader.

If you’re not, who will be? My son lives to please me. My disapproval crushes his little spirit. Many husbands say they live for their wives’ approval and when they don’t get it, well, they do naughty things in retaliation like cheat and forget your birthday. I’ve been known to take perverse pleasure in playing the devil’s advocate simply because I like to argue, but that never puts me in good favor with a man because then they think I’m against them. Any male, whether they’re 10 or 70 wants to know that the woman who claims to love him most is in his corner. Even when he’s wrong.

5. Be interested in what floats his boat.

Oh, the pure torture when I’m in the car with no place to escape to and my boy’s yapping about the video game, Minecraft. Crap spews from his mouth like, “There were 5 creepers in a hole, so I had to YOLO dive and pull out my sword and then dive into the pit, yelling ‘YOLO!’ to try and kill them.” It would be so easy to tune it out and fantasize about a romance hero instead, but if I don’t show interest in what he’s talking about, he’ll never want to talk to me, ever. Especially when he’s a teenager. Men are the same way. You may not care how the Dow did, or even what the Dow is, but force yourself to listen anyway, because there will always be another woman out there willing to listen about the cam shifter and interrupter your man replaced in the 1988 Olds with the V-6 engine.

Anybody have anything to add to the list?


naked barbies
When my son got his Xbox for Christmas, it had to be hooked up to our TV in the living room. It was a new flat screen TV, and since my son had one of those crappy, dinosaur TVs in his room, it made perfect sense. For him, not me. I have an open floor plan in my home, which means the TV room is near the dining room is near the kitchen is near the living room, if that makes sense.

The dining room doubles as my “office.” Every day, I get to listen to hyper preteen boys yelling and reveling in the game of Minecraft while I try to get some work done. Normally I pride myself on being able to work through distractions, what with the diva barking all day long at every creature that dares to breathe around her and the parakeets that don’t have a melodic bone in their feathery bodies.

But it eventually got to the point where the words Fuck, Shit, and Bitch being spewed from the mouth of babes was no longer conducive to my romance writing. I couldn’t concentrate anymore, so something drastic had to be done. (Something other than shipping them off to Abu Dhabi, which was my first choice.) Part of the fun of these Xbox games is being able to do multiplayer with split screens. Apparently, one can’t do that on a crappy, archaic TV, which would have been nice to know before moving all the equipment into my son’s room. Son had a fit of course, so singlewritermom had to get a new TV for her spoiled son to ensure her peace-of-mind.

Once the electronic devil was hooked up to my son’s new TV and the boys were ensconced in my son’s bedroom, I breathed a sigh of relief. With the bedroom door shut, their voices were muffled. I didn’t have to listen to the garbage that came out of their mouths any longer. But then I realized I could no longer hear the garbage coming out of their mouths, which meant I no longer knew what they were talking about. Which could be dangerous. There was no monitoring of mouths. And no monitoring of eyes. Which meant…

…the possibilities for porn were endless.

A mother never had to worry about any of this when I was growing up. If someone wanted to watch porn they had to go to a theater with sticky floors in Times Square. Or buy a shoddy VHS tape from a sex shop in Times Square. I didn’t watch my first porn until college, and it was only because my friends thought it’d be a hoot to go to a porn theater in Italy. It was a hoot until this guy plopped himself down in the empty seat next to my friend and started wanking it.

You can access the internet on all game systems if you have Wifi. Internet = Porn. Boys = Porn. My son is still innocent in my eyes, but when my neighbor told me she found out one of my son’s friends had been watching porn on the family’s communal laptop, well, I realized my “innocent” boy could be corrupted by one of his horny friends at any moment.

I know you can put parental controls on these systems, but it would require a boatload of changes to accounts, etc. and I will indeed do it, but for the moment, I had to channel my inner dominatrix and have a porn talk with the boys. (If there’s anything I know about talking to boys, or any males, it is to be brief. The last thing they want to hear is long-winded explanations about why they shouldn’t do something. Get to the point, and quickly.)

“Listen up,” I told them. “If I catch anyone watching porn, you will be in so much trouble my head will explode.”

They looked up at me, wide-eyed and embarrassed that I was even having a conversation with them about porn.

“You will never be allowed inside this house again.” I turned to my son. “And you, will have your Xbox taken away forever. Understand?”

“Yeah,” they murmured and went back to playing their game.

Just to seal the threat I let them know I could track their every viewing move on my computer, and I threw an extra arched eyebrow at my son’s potential porn-addicted friend.

Would I have had to make this announcement to my daughter (if I had one) and her friends? I think not. The only thing we girls did when we were younger was mash our naked Barbie and Ken dolls together. That’s mild compared to the kink that’s out there today.


Phallic Parsnip

I realize I will probably lose all my male followers after they read this post.

DISCLAIMER ALERT FOR MEN: Reading this post may cause feelings of rage, sorrow, and desire for revenge against the writer. Please do not act on any of them.

I’m usually extremely in tune with the penis. We go waaaay back, you see, from the time I was 8, maybe 9, and me and the boy upstairs took nudie pictures of our privates with my Kodak Instamatic camera. The photos were developed, but there was a note attached to the envelope alerting my mother to “inappropriate content.”

Fast forward 35 years and to more penises than I care to recall. I understand that we women need to treat a penis gently. To listen to men describe their pride and joy though, you’d think one needed to treat it like a premature incubated chick, with a temperature-controlled climate and white kid gloves.

I know it hurts when men get hit there. I’ve seen them doubled over in pain. Girls are usually schooled in the art of handling the package, often from a man himself, and it’s a wonder we’re not frightened to go near it. Such importance, power, and domineering characteristics—we react to it like we do to celebrity lifestyles: we ooh and aah over them, but in reality, we have no concept of what it’s like to have one.

My 10 year old son adores his penis, although he doesn’t worship it yet, if you know what I mean. I try not to make his love of nudity a huge issue because I don’t want to give him a complex, but I will tell him to put the little General away when I’m in his room, hanging out. It’s enough that my son’s friends are always hanging out, I don’t need to see his dangling participle hanging, too.

He told me the other day, “My penis hurts.” The first thing that came to mind was to ask him whether it burned when he peed, except he’s too young for gonorrhea. My words in Prissy’s voice (Scarlett O’Hara’s maid), kept ringing in my ears: “I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout little boys’ penises.” I cursed my son’s father for not being around to discuss these boy things.

I asked my son if it hurt on the inside or the outside.

“All over,” he said.

“Okay, well…uh, have you been, er, maybe, aah, um, touching it too much?”


“Did you bang it on something?”


“Get hit with a ball?”


“No one else has been touching it, have they?” I said, starting to panic. He looked at me like I had just asked him if he wanted a side of broccoli with his birthday cake.


I had nothing else. “I’m sure it’ll be fine,” I told him.

Because of my thinking of his penis always in the third person, coupled with his constant waving it around like the American flag, I forget how fragile the wee little thing is. A few weeks later, when my son lost at a card game we were playing, he attacked me and all I saw was his crotch heading for my face. I should mention he wasn’t wearing any pants at the time. Or underwear. (Before anyone decides we must live in a freaky clothing-optional home, please know his entire lower half was covered by a blanket the whole time we were playing cards.)

So my son’s crotch was heading toward my face and I did something I have never done to any man or boy. I flicked it. Yes, I flicked his junk. His tenders. His privates. Flick. I immediately realized what I had done, and we both froze and stared at each other for a moment, eyes wide in horror. Then my son’s lip started to quiver, the tears came, and I felt like the worst mommy on the planet.

How could I have done that? The worst possible thing to do to a male and I had done it to my son. I had caused my son pain and he was crying. I felt worse than pond scum. I hugged him, rocked him, begged his forgiveness. I made sure I stressed how wrong I was to have done that, I had violated the unspoken rule between men and women, and I would never, ever do it again. Pinky swear.

I think I need to lay down some rules in my home. My son needs to have his goods covered at all times. I don’t want to see them, and I sure as hell don’t want them coming anywhere near my face. I don’t think that’s too unreasonable, do you?



If you’ve read my blog for awhile you know I have to be both mother and father to my 10 year old boy. Often, I have expressed frustration over being at a total loss when it comes to teaching him how to be a man. But there’s no one else around to do the job, so that leaves me. I don’t claim to understand men; if I did, I’d probably be in a healthy relationship right now. Even though I write from my male character’s POV in my romances, who knows whether it’s really accurate? It may be, it may not be—ultimately, it’s a male mindset from a woman’s point of view.

Women are always complaining about how they want their men to be more emotional, more expressive and sensitive. I don’t want that. I’m already that. I sure as hell don’t need two of me blubbering over a romantic comedy. I need a man to be strong mentally, esp. in stressful or dangerous situations, and strong physically, as in they’re able to kick the ass of another man if needed.

I happen to be one of the least warm and fuzzy women on the planet. I don’t like talking about my feelings, and I sure as hell don’t want to discuss my feelings with a man. That’s what I have girlfriends for when I’m so inclined. I don’t need to know how you feel about me or where our relationship (if we have one) is going, because as far as I’m concerned actions speak louder than words. I’ve had boyfriends tell me they loved me while at the same time were screwing other women, so words don’t mean much to me.

Weakness in men makes me emotionally uncomfortable and frustrated. I know that comes across as harsh, but if you have a toothache and you’re writhing about in bed, asking for last rites to be delivered, well, in my eyes, your penis has just gotten smaller by about 3 inches. I’m pretty sure that unapologetic attitude comes from having gone through 16 hours of unanesthetized back labor, getting a cavity filled without Novocaine, and growing up with a mean, nasty father.

How does this all translate to my son? From the time he was little I was the kind of mom who, when he fell down and hurt himself, would coddle him for a few seconds, then send him on his way. (Suck it up, you’re a boy.) I don’t have a hellava lot of sympathy for him when he’s whiny with a head cold, but I’ll happily administer the Motrin and vitamin C. I don’t force him to talk when he doesn’t want to, or demand he give me a proper kiss (he gives me the top of his head to kiss). And from what I’ve seen, most people tend to act the same way with their boys, esp. dads. After all, we gotta teach our boys to be tough, right?

My son is extremely attached to me, definitely a mama’s boy, not real aggressive, slight in body, shy, anxious. These are not traits that bode well for a man, imo. Men should be confident, self-assured, outgoing, bold, shouldn’t they? In the words of my father, my son is “a weenie,” made worse by the fact that I’m a single mom.

I am embarrassed to admit I agreed with my father for a time, if only because I couldn’t get the kid out of my bed until he turned 10. He wasn’t tackling the crap out of others in football, hanging out with a pack of boys on the corner, setting off fireworks, or able to watch scary movies without becoming frightened. How in the world would he ever be able to assimilate into a society where the majority of boys are like this?

I’m reading a book called The Strong Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff, and I realize now that my son isn’t a weenie, he’s sensitive, and trying to force him to be something he’s not will result in more harm than good. Example: I took my son to see a concert when he was 8. The Black Eyed Peas (who he loved at the time) opened for U2. He wanted to leave after the second U2 song because they were “too loud.” I was so disappointed in him. (It was U2, for God’s sake!) What I didn’t understand at the time was that he’s extremely sensitive to loud noises and I’ll never be able to change that.

It’s a shame that boys growing up in North America have a harder time of it when they’re sensitive, creative introverts—that is, until they grow up to become a famous musician or actor and the world worships them. Telling sensitive boys not to cry or forcing them to do activities they don’t feel comfortable doing will undoubtedly saddle them with huge intensive therapy bills later on in life.

Our western society thinks Bruce Willis in the Die Hard films or James Bond when they think of “real men,” or (shudder) Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don’t know about you, but I think I need to reevaluate my definition of masculinity. After all, I had to reevaluate my definition of a “real dog.” I wanted a Lab—strong, steady, reliable, but the weight limit in our complex dictated we set our sights more on little runt dogs. Well, that and my son insisting on a Chihuahua after seeing the movie, Beverly Hill Chihuahua. While the Chihuahua we ended up getting is certainly a miserable diva to the tenth degree, I’ve learned to be thankful for what we have, even if I have to grit my teeth the entire time

What’s your definition of masculinity? Do you think perceptions of men are changing?


Easter labor

photo by Dan4th


My son still believes in the Easter bunny. And Santa. And the Tooth Fairy. He’s almost 11, so every year I wonder, will this be the year when all his “role models” will be exposed for who they really are?

He came to me the day before Easter and asked, “Mom, are you the one who hides my eggs?” I asked him what he believed. (Always answer a question with a question when you don’t have a good answer.) He thought about it for a moment. “I still believe in the Easter bunny,” he said.

Which meant I had to once again scurry to hide eggs in the dark that night when I walked the diva Chihuahua. Yes, my life would be easier if I didn’t have to pretend to be these larger-than-life figures. I wouldn’t have to sneak around stealthily hiding eggs and candy, or set my alarm to ensure I don’t fall asleep on Christmas eve before putting presents under the tree (one of my worst nightmares), or hold my breath while I rummage under my son’s pillow for his tiny tooth.

The look of sheer joy and delight on my son’s face when he wakes up to discover these surprises makes all the worry and lost sleep worth it. It’s okay that he woke me up at 6:45 on Easter Sunday and dragged me outside into the cold, damp morning to search for eggs with him. Walking behind him down our backyard path, watching him swing his colorful wicker Easter basket in his footie pajamas made me wish he could stay young and innocent forever.

Of course, after he consumed major amounts of chocolate and jellybeans he was so jacked-up and annoying, I couldn’t wait for his grandma to pick him up and take him away for the day. But during that morning hunt, I had as much fun as he did. I rue the day when he discovers Santa, the TF, and the Easter Bunny are just plain, old Mom.




photo by

For some reason everyone I know always asks me to watch their kids. My mother thinks I’m so fabulous with children that I should open up a day-care center…to which I respond, “Why don’t you just commit me to an institution now instead of later?” Because that is surely where I’d wind up if I had to make hotdogs for 15 screaming kids every day.

I love kids—but only in small doses. A little kid goes a long way in my book. But I do make sure to always respect them, never ever talk down to them, and I try to answer their questions as truthfully as possible.

For a commitmentphobe like me, having a kid is numero uno in terms of a huge commitment. It took me somewhere around the 4-5 year mark before I was able to look at my son as my own, and not simply some child I was babysitting. The fact that I was a mother never felt real to me; my son would call me Mom and I’d still turn around expecting to see my own mother.

I continue to have panic attacks over the diva Chihuahua. I still look at her after almost 4 years and think, What the fuck am I doing with a dog? That’s a huge commitment! This dog will be snoring next to me in bed for the next 22 years. Gah!

In terms of mothers, I’m like the fun aunt. You know, the one who never had kids because of one too many ectopic pregnancies and 2 failed marriages to alcoholics—so when she gets to spend time with kids she goes all out. Like the Disneyland Dad, who overcompensates because he doesn’t want to seem like the bad guy by having to discipline or follow any kind of routine.

My self-centeredness works in my favor when entertaining kids. For example: a good friend of mine has 2 boys who she keeps extremely busy with sports and extracurricular activities so they have less time to play video games. But when I watch them, they get to play like 6 straight hours of video games while I’m on the computer. I’m also not crazy about cooking, so one night I took them to Del Taco for dinner. They went back and told their mom I took them to Del Taco and it was THE GREATEST THING EVER.

“They’d never eaten Del Taco?” I said. “How is that possible?”

“We don’t eat fast food. But they think you’re God for taking them there.”

At first I was kind of embarrassed. Who wants to be known as the God of fast food? It’s not like we eat the crap all the time…okay fine, we do Del Taco once a week. Then I thought well, it’s a win-win situation for me. Why fight it?

I have this neighbor who’s twenty-something with 2 kids—2 different baby daddies. Lives with Mom. Mom watches the kids during the week. My neighbor frequently manages to pawn off both her kids on the weekends so she can go to strip clubs or Vegas, and do all the things a twenty-something that doesn’t have kids does.

She called me Sunday evening to say she was stuck in traffic on the way home from Vegas, her mom had to leave for work, and would I watch one of her girls until she got home? I’m smart enough to know she was full of it and had not even left Vegas, that it would be 4 hours before she got home, and I wouldn’t get a damn thing done if I watched her very cute, but chatty Cathy 4 year old daughter. So I said no, because one, I’ve already watched her kids a hundred times before and two, in my book if you get the privilege of being kid-less for an entire weekend (something I haven’t experienced since…um, before I had a kid), then your ass needs to make it back in time to fulfill your maternal obligations. Not my problem.

Except it became my problem at 10:30 that night while I was walking the diva and I saw chatty Cathy pounding on the door to her house wondering why her mother wasn’t home yet. She noticed me, flew into my arms, and screamed, “I wanna go home with you!”

“What the heck is going on?” I asked the teenage boy with her (another neighbor). “Is your mother watching chatty Cathy?”

“She was, but then we all had to go to the hospital because my mom was in a lot of pain.” (His mother has uterine cancer and is in the process of getting chemo and radiation.)

I sighed. Of course I wasn’t going to have his poor pain-riddled mother continue to watch the little hellcat while her irresponsible mom partied with a carload of hussies. I tossed chatty Cathy into her house through an open window and told her to get her footie pajamas on. Then I hauled her over to my house, popped in The Proposal on DVD (because a girl is never too young to see Ryan Reynolds without a shirt on), and answered her twenty million questions about life and the universe until her mother finally arrived at midnight.



Usually I don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions, because I already know where I stand on any changes I need to make. I suppose if I made my resolutions more realistic, I wouldn’t fail miserably at them. For example: Drink more coffee; Exercise less; stress more. I would definitely feel a sense of accomplishment over achieving these.

But I’m feeling a little more optimistic this year, what with my first book having been published, thus proving that 2012 wasn’t a completely craptastic year for me, so I figured, why the hell not? I could stand some improvement.

I hate to be a cliché, but yes, I need to exercise more. Let me tell you why. A month ago something happened to my back that rivaled the pain of my 18 hours of back labor—one minute I was fine, the next I was in excruciating pain for days. It gave me a premonition of what it’ll probably be like when I’m old and decrepit, and it wasn’t fun. If I had been in better shape physically, I’m convinced my back would have never made me privy to what it feels like to be shot in the spine. The truth is I sit on my ass in front of a computer all day. This does not bode well for the body, as opposed to, say, farming or being a crossing guard, so I need to do SOMETHING more than I’m already doing (which is absolutely nothing).

I’ve also been trying for months to embrace my fatness, and I’m sorry to say it just ain’t gonna happen. I can try to admire this type of body:


I can even superimpose my head on her body and then stare at it every day with the hope of achieving a kinder, gentler body image. I can curse social media and the fashion industry for setting unrealistic standards for women. I can choose to actually believe the men who claim they don’t like stick women, but in the end, this is what I find sexy and attractive:


I’m sure it stems from my unhealthy obsession with wanting to be a model when I was young, my various eating “disorders,” and a general shitty sense of self-esteem, but I don’t like being heavier than a size 6-8. I feel gross, unsexy, and like I swallowed 2 of my 3 cats, so…

Resolution #1    Exercise more!

It’s also time to get another tattoo. I think long and hard about tattoos. I look at my body in the mirror, and all I see is skin…a blank canvas needing art. I studied art history in college. Look Dad, I’m finally using my major! People always say: Imagine how your tattoos will look when you’re old. I say: Imagine how ALL of me is gonna look when I’m old! Saggy, wrinkled skin vs. saggy wrinkled skin with tattoos…both look like crap, in my opinion, and besides, I won’t be prancing around in a bikini when I’m 70. I. Just. Won’t. At the rate I’m going, the only one who will see my pruny tattoos will be my cats…and the diva Chihuahua, who will, I’m convinced, outlive me. Replace the Yorkie with a Chihuahua, and this will be me in 10 years.


photo by stevegatto2

Resolution #2    Get another tattoo!

This leads me to matters of the heart…My heart is presently like this:


photo by CarbonNYC

I need to start working on forgiving my son-of-a-bitch ex-boyfriends for all the pain and torment they’ve caused me, so my heart can heal and become whole again, like this:


photo by woodleywonderworks

I need to visualize this lovely romantic scenario:


photo by delam

instead of envisioning taking that sword and plunging it into any one of my exes’ hearts. Ahem. Okay, so a lot of work needs to be done in the forgiveness department. I used to have this poster on my wall in my 20s:


photo by deflam

That was how I imagined love to be. Here’s the thing: I love men; I worship men; I appreciate men—I just hate my exes, who have soured me on men in general; not to mention every man I meet nowadays seems to be a prototype of one of my exes, just with different eye color. Still, I don’t want to die a bitter old woman, so it might be nice to live happily ever after with a mate, especially when I’m a senior, if only so he’ll be able to dial 911 when I fall and can’t get up.

Resolution #3    Heal bitter heart!

I’m always striving to become a better mother. Case in point: my son wants to go to church, so I force myself to go to church. It certainly can’t hurt. I’m the first to admit needing more of this in my life:


photo by Guillaume Paumier

God knows, I resemble this way too closely:


photo by DementdPrncess

So more of an effort needs to be made on my part for my own spiritual development. I also need to remember that going to church can be a bonding experience for my son and I, as can playing card games together. So instead of feeling this way when my son asks me to play the game, War, while I’m trying to write a sultry sex scene:


photo by Clearly Ambiguous

my mind needs to focus on the importance of nurturing our relationship, instead:


photo by linek

Resolution # 4   More quality time with son!

And speaking of spirituality, I really need to strive to be more like this in terms of my writing and my career:


photo by HaPe_Gera

After The Accidental Cougar was released, I experienced post-partum publication blues.


photo by rocketjim54

Instead of feeling proud of myself for all I had accomplished, I only looked at how far I still had to go, and how much further others were ahead of me. It’s tough to look at an author you admire—an author who already has an established career, having published 9, 15, 20 or more novels—and not compare yourself to them and feel like a failure. It’s also tough not to fall into a deep spiraling depression over this and consider chucking everything to move to Tahiti to make puka shell necklaces to sell on the beach. No doubt the life of a writer is tough, with many ups and downs. But if it’s the life I choose, then I need to suck it up and deal…in the most zen-like way possible, or risk having to write my next book from within the walls of an institution.


photo by llya Boyandin

Resolution # 5   It’s okay not to be Nora Roberts.




It’s Christmas Eve, and I cannot wait for Christmas Day—if only to shut my son up about wanting an Xbox 360. For the entire month of December, I’ve heard nothing else from his mouth except how much he wants an Xbox so he can play the game, Minecraft. When he first heard about this game, he thought he could only play it on a computer.

“Absolutely not!” I told him. “You cannot download it onto my computer.” I kept imagining it eating up all my laptop’s memory like little Pac-men, or infecting it with a porn-like virus. I was however, excited he was interested in a game that didn’t involve blood and machine guns and swearing. So I brought my old laptop in to get fixed—the one that fell off the couch while my son was chasing the dog; yes, the one that stopped working the instant it hit the floor; and yes, the one I cried over when it happened.

This will be his Christmas gift, I told myself in November, since he’ll eventually need a laptop for school as well. But then we went to a friend’s house a few nights later, and their son was playing Minecraft on an Xbox. When we left their house that night, my son was like an over-excited boy who had already reached puberty and had just touched his first set of naked breasts.

“Wow! I can’t believe he has Minecraft on an Xbox,” he exclaimed. “Did you see that, Mom? Did you?” “Yup,” I mumbled. “It’s so much easier to play it on an Xbox than it is a laptop. I want an Xbox, Mom.”

“I don’t think so,” I said, and expected to never hear about it again. Ahaha, silly girl that I am! Little did I know every day from there on out, I would indeed, hear about it. I heard about my son wanting an Xbox at all hours of the day and night. “Guess what I dreamed about, Mom?” he’d ask first thing in the morning. “A laptop?” I’d say hopefully. “No, playing Minecraft on an Xbox.” “Guess what I’m going to dream about tonight, Mom?” “Puppies?” “No, playing Minecraft on an Xbox.”

And on and on it went.

His obsessive-compulsiveness kicked into high gear. “I sooo want an Xbox. Are you going to get me an Xbox, Mom? Mom?” He’d follow me into the bathroom, and I’d push him out and slam the door. “Mom?” he’d whisper at the door. “Can you at least think about getting me an Xbox 360 while you’re going to the bathroom?”

I tried to talk him out of wanting one; tried to convince him a laptop was way better, but it didn’t work. His steel-trap mind was set. Less than one week to go until Christmas, and I had a dilemma: Should I stick my son with a laptop he doesn’t really want, and risk seeing the disappointment on his face on Christmas Day—even though it may teach him a valuable lesson about life being full of disappointment? Or should I get him exactly what he wants even though I really can’t afford it, just to witness the sheer pleasure of seeing joy on my boy’s face, thus reinforcing the fact that he’s spoiled, always gets everything he wants, and has Mommy twisted around his little finger?

Do I need to tell you which way I went?


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