Help Me, Help You

There is no doubt it’s still a man’s world. I work in radio where 62.4% of all announcers are men. It’s 2021 and, in this industry, women earn 93% of what men make.

Still, I love my job and the people I work with. I wasn’t built to sit in a cubicle. In this business, no two days are the same. We have had some of the most interesting people in studio. Since I have been on air we have interviewed politicians, magicians, actors, and comedians. Chazz Palminteri was the most charming man I have ever met. He said to me in a thick New York accent, “Where did you get those eyes?” I smiled and replied, “My father.” He said, “Tell him I said Thank You.”  Marlon Wayans oozes class. He is even more handsome in person. He smelled like heaven, but more importantly, he was respectful and kind.  Some men were playful and funny. Others were complimentary. Most of the women were delightful, especially Tiffany Haddish. 

In 2019 we scheduled actor, comedian Jay Mohr on the show. “You had me at Hello.” “Show me the money!” I cannot even count the number of times I saw the movie Jerry Maguire. He also does a solid Christopher Walken impression. I was really looking forward to meeting him. Mohr had a late flight the night before. He sat down at the mic beside me and we engaged in small talk.  My initial impression was he seemed agitated. Over the next hour he whispered sexually explicit things to me. “You need a daddy to spank you.” He told me I was sexy and he knows what to do with me.  “I bet you would like that.” I didn’t respond.

I handle social media for the show. Whenever we have a guest in studio I broadcast the interview on Facebook. I told him I would be live. Then, held up the phone to record Mohr. Apparently, he wasn’t pleased with his appearance that morning. He looked tired. Mohr went from agitated to hostile. He knocked the phone out of my hand. It bounced off my chair and fell underneath the desk. I had to crawl on the filthy carpet to pick it up. My face was red. It was humiliating. He called me a bitch.  After he left I posted a photograph on social media of Mohr in studio promoting his appearance at the local comedy club. He responded online and told me to “fuck off.” I was stunned. Yet, because Mohr is a celebrity and I was afraid I would lose my job if he complained, I apologized. This encounter stuck with me. I was ashamed of myself. Not because I did anything wrong, but because I felt like I needed to apologize to a man who didn’t deserve it. I sent him the message below. He did not reply.

In recent interviews Jay Mohr has talked about making life changes for his mental health. He is now a life coach. On his website, Mohr proclaims, “I am an intuitive.  It’s like a psychic but real.”  It’s too bad he didn’t have that visceral awakening when he was in studio.

 

 

 

West-Side Rules

When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional dancer. I would choreograph routines in my bedroom. I would have been a TikTok sensation. Unfortunately,  there aren’t any recordings. I didn’t want to cover the videos I taped off MTV.  If dancing didn’t work out I was going to be a pop star, live in a mansion and drive a red Ferrari. I don’t want to brag, but I had a solo in the 5th grade chorus Christmas concert.

“Christmas means the spirit of giving Peace and joy to you, The goodness of loving, The gladness of living; These are Christmas too.”

That was my part. Yet another piece of useless information I retain while it takes me 10 minutes to find my car in a mall parking lot.

That solo landed me a spot in the all-county chorus. Each county in our area chose its best vocalists to perform together. It was one night only. Trust me, those tickets were a hot commodity. But, alas, my career as a solo performer would be short lived. I was a Soprano. Then, I hit puberty and it was all downhill from there. I decided instead that I was going to be a television news reporter so that I could feel dead inside by the time I was 30.

In my opinion, the older you get the more difficult reporting becomes. I felt dirty every time I had to knock on a door trying to interview the family of a homicide victim, person killed in a car accident, etc.  For some people telling their story was cathartic. They wanted the world to know their loved one was more than just a statistic. However, I believe most people said yes because they were in shock. Otherwise, I don’t think they would have agreed to go on camera. There was one particular family I will never forget. They lost their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren in a fire. I sat at their kitchen table as they showed me photographs of their young family taken just days earlier. The couple was in their late 20s. The children were in elementary school. They had a party at their house and a tiki torch set their home ablaze. The father got out, but went back inside to save his family. They died together. After the interview I got back into the news car and sobbed uncontrollably. It was then I knew I had to find a different career.

I focused on this blog which led to a weekly appearance on a radio show. During my segment, I would talk about the not-so Instagram worthy moments of parenting. I have always been quite the talker. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Packard, called my mother for a conference because I wouldn’t give the other kids a chance to speak during circle time.  So, I suppose I was destined to be a radio talk show host. I could never have imagined a job in radio would revive my music career, but it has. I recorded background vocals last week for the newest country music star. Well, his name is John DiTullio and he is actually a co-host on The Brother Wease Show.  Oh, and the song is about living on the west-side of town and it was written as a joke.  Still, I went into an actual studio with Elvio Fernandes, a member of the band Daughtry and sang background vocals for the chorus. We used to call it the refrain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t a solo and it won’t make me millions, but it did make me happy. Perhaps, instead of asking children “What are you going to be when you grow up,” we should ask, “What will make you happy when you’re older?” Then, instead of feeling like failures because life didn’t turn out as expected, maybe they would be satisfied with what they have and find joy in the little things like singing about the west-side of town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know Your Worth

 When I was young I dreamt of living in an apartment in New York City, working on “Good Morning America” and owning designer clothing, handbags, etc.  I briefly lived in the Big Apple. I worked as a nanny for a family on the Upper East Side. I had just graduated from college with a degree in broadcasting/journalism, but decided I needed to take a year to “find myself.” I am still looking. I also worked as a nanny in the Hamptons the summer  before my senior year. The family had three boys and three nannies. Two of the women worked full-time, year-round and I was hired for the summer.  Oh, and two of the kids went away to summer camp. The mother spent her days at spin class and getting her hair blown out. I was from a town of about 16,000 people. I couldn’t believe women paid someone to dry their hair. I will never forget one night when their middle child got sick. His bedroom was on the second floor and I was in the basement quarters. This was a basement in the Hamptons. There was a living room, bedroom and bathroom. The walls were a faint yellow, the decor was professional designed and the sheets on the bed were a thread count I will never be able to afford in my life. This little boy walked passed his mother’s room, all the way downstairs, in the dark to wake me up for help at 3 a.m.

I didn’t have a lot of money growing up. I wasn’t able to shop at the GAP or join the ski club, but if I got sick at night my mother held me. I had two great siblings and parents who loved each other.  Still, I longed for the finer things in life. Kids nowadays are influenced by TikTok, we had actual magazines. I would flip through the pages of Vogue imagining I was the woman wearing Chanel while dining in Paris. At one point in my life I met someone who promised me the world. He was ambitious and, truth be told, valued money more than almost anything. He would also tell me how great I was and in the same breath remind me how lucky I was to be with him because I came from a long lineage of “scum.” When you are torn down enough you can’t tell up from down. I started to believe my worth came from how I looked, what I owned or how much money was in my bank account.

I haven’t made it to Paris yet, but I did purchase a black Louis Vuitton satchel. To me, at the time, that logo represented success. I walked differently when I carried that bag. Then, I had to sell it in order to pay legal fees while going through a divorce. I understand that sounds like a first world problem. However, I worked hard to buy that bag. I came from humble beginnings and boxing it up for sale made me feel like I was going backwards.  Maybe he was right. I thought.  I won’t amount anything. That voice in your head can wreak havoc if you don’t silence it.

I had no choice, but to keep swimming. It took time and a lot of therapy, but I went from sobbing on the bathroom floor, wondering how I would ever survive both mentally and financially…. to thriving.  Something else changed this Christmas. I have an incredible new man in my life. He is kind, patient and thoughtful. He arrived on Christmas Eve with a box perfectly wrapped in elegant silver paper. I tore it open to discover a new Louis Vuitton bag. I cried. It wasn’t because I received an expensive bag, but because someone is treating me like I am worthy of one.   (But truth be told, I love that f*cking purse.)

 

Wham!

I received a $50 coupon to Urban Outfitters in my inbox. So, that means I might be able to afford a shirt if  I get a second mortgage on my house. My daughter loves this store which pains me because it is basically my closet from the 1990s. I could have saved so much money if I didn’t get rid of my acid wash jeans and shaker knit sweaters. We rocked those windbreakers and color block shirts a long time ago. The difference between my daughter’s generation and mine is they look like they are 12 going on 21 and I looked like Kimmy Gibbler. They skipped over the tween awkward phase. I just took my daughter to get a manicure. My nails look like I have been working in a coal mine without gloves and she is walking around looking like Cardi B. We didn’t do our nails or sculpt our eyebrows before becoming a teenager. I had two caterpillars walking across my forehead when I was in the 7th grade. Then, by graduation I had two thin lines hovering above my eyes. Now, I have to fill in the overplucked bare spots with an eyebrow pencil. If I ever get caught in the rain my eyebrows are going to disappear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter has her own unique style and I love it. She was rocking a pair of oversized, plastic earrings last week. I had a pair in every color when I was younger. I also had the most amazing Wham! shirt. This wasn’t just any old off the rack Wham! 3/4 length sleeve t-shirt. It was custom made with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley on the front and my name in capitol letters on the back. I was so proud of that shirt.  I saved money I earned babysitting to buy it at a local screen printing shop. I was happy and confident. I marched into the middle school like I was walking the runway in France. Then, I ran into a boy who we will call Brian because that is his name. It’s strange the things you remember in life. I often forget why I walked downstairs or important dates, but I know every word to an Ace of Base song and I have a vivid recollection of that day in 6th grade. We were standing outside of classroom because the teacher wouldn’t let us inside a second before the bell rang. Back then, I wondered what she was doing in there. Now, as an adult, I know she was just enjoying the silence. Brian and a group of boys were standing with their backs to the heavy wooden door when I walked up. Brian turned, looked me over and started mocking my shirt. He was handsome with brown hair and blue eyes. He shopped at the Gap and dressed as if he could attend an emergency meeting at the country club at any moment. I never wore that shirt again.

My goal as a mother is to teach my children, especially my daughter, to love themselves first. I want her to have enough confidence to wear what she wants and to be who she wants to be. I want her to leave a relationship the moment someone becomes verbally abusive. I was with someone in my life who regularly mocked my weight or what I wore. “You’re a cow.” “You’re disgusting.” It got to the point where I cut the tags out of my clothing so he could not see what size I was. I was a size 8. An abuser will discover all of your insecurities and, during their fits of rage, will use them to tear you down. If you had an eating disorder in your lifetime, like I did, he will say, “You are looking a little chubby. It might be time to go throw up your food.” In the beginning, he would tell me, “I’m just kidding.”  It was never funny and slowly crushed what little self-esteem I had. He knew what he was doing. The greatest lesson I can give my children besides self love is that words matter. Something they say to a kid at school may have an impact they cannot comprehend. So, be kind, don’t listen to the Brians of the world and wear the Wham! shirt again. Hell, one day that shirt may be sold for hundreds dollars at Urban Outfitters.

 

 

 

 

Dead Serious

 

I learned a valuable lesson recently about texting.  Like most people I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone. I didn’t want one when it first came out.  I actually said, “Why would I need to call someone when I’m not at home?” That seems like a lifetime ago. Want to feel old? The first text message was sent in 1992.

My children cannot believe I was born before smart phones and lived to tell about it. They wouldn’t last a day not being able to make a call because a sibling just booted up the computer to play World of Warcraft. They will never know the pain of dragging the phone down the hall into your room, closing the door with a bulky cord jammed in the frame, getting situated on your bed only to get a busy signal over and over. If I don’t respond to my child’s text within seconds they text, call, text, text, call and text again. Meanwhile, they are upstairs in the same house and their emergency is needing a snack.


Texting has given people 24 hour access to us. There is no relief and that is unhealthy, especially in an abusive relationship. That keyboard is a powerful weapon. Over time, the simple ping notification will stop you dead in your tracks and make your heart race. Sure, it could be something as simple as your mother reminding you what time Christmas
 dinner will be, a friend sending a funny meme, but it is often something much more sinister. Consider yourself lucky if you have never been on the receiving end of rapid fire texting where the sender just wants to remind you what a “worthless cunt” you are.

 

I try to choose my words carefully when communicating via text. I certainly wish I would have during a recent exchange. I sent a message to a contractor who had done work on my house. A few weeks went by and I finally got a response. He appreciated sarcasm as much as me. We joked often. So, I responded, “Nice to hear from you. Was my text delivered pony express? Lol” My high school social studies teacher would have been proud. Moments later my phone rang.

“Hello!”

“Hi Deanna. This is ****’s sister. He died.”

“Wait, what?”

I was confused. I pulled my phone away from my ear to double check who had just texted me.

“I’m sorry. Who?”

“**** is dead.”

“Dead?”

“Yes. He died in a car accident a few weeks ago.



Apparently, there was a tragic accident, but the company was going to continue using his phone for the business. I apologized profusely for my message and her loss. Then, I hung up and sat in silence; stunned. If this were an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” I would laugh at how much Larry David just humiliated himself. Unfortunately, it was me. I just sent a dead man a snarky text message because he didn’t respond in weeks. I texted a dead man about pony express. As I sat with my foot in my mouth, inside the hole I crawled into; the only comfort I had was knowing this man would have LOL’ed at my faux pas.

The D Word

 I am officially divorced. Those four words elicit different responses. You are either treated like a leper or a temptress. Some people apologize as if they had something to do with the demise of your union. Others look at you with immense pity or won’t look you in the eye at all. Many are afraid to talk about the “D word.” There is a sense of shame associated with saying you have an ex-husband or ex-wife. I’m surprised I haven’t been brought into the town square and made to stand on a stage while everyone laughs and points. Perhaps, we should celebrate when one leaves an unhealthy or unhappy relationship. Isn’t that what we should be teaching our children; that you shouldn’t sacrifice your happiness, health, or safety because of any social stigma? We need to make divorce showers a thing; complete with gifts, cake and even the cheesy games that everybody dreads. Did I mention I want gifts.

There are men who equate divorce with desperation. One gentleman said he would be willing to let me take him out for a drink, another wanted to put me in a position that may be borderline illegal and one guy even offered to lick my face. Many of these men wouldn’t normally have the confidence to be this bold, but apparently, they are doing the divorcee a favor. Plus, keyboard warriors are alive and well. Here is a fun fact: I’m not on the clearance rack because the finger on my left hand is bare. In fact, my stock is rising. I have raised my standards.

I started this blog years ago to write about the darker and funnier side of motherhood nobody talked about. From the mesh underwear you don after the birth of a child, to the hell that is Walt Disney World, to wasting money on coats your children refuse to wear. Now, I’m going to document another phase of my life. I will write again because it is my first love. The romance began in a high school English class with Mrs. Gurrant. She was a curvaceous woman with wavy dark hair that sat at the base of her neck. She had skin like a porcelain doll. She walked with such grace and spoke softly, almost to the point of a whisper, emphasizing each syllable of every word. One of her assignments was to write about something nobody knows about you. I wrote about having an eating disorder. I hadn’t found the courage to tell anyone until my pen touched that paper. It was cathartic. I stopped blogging after my self-esteem took crushing blow after blow. If you are told long enough that you’re not good enough you start to believe it. You lose yourself. Well, I have been found. Maybe something I say will inspire you. Maybe not. Either way, it does wonders for me.

 

Virtual Learning

I used to dread having to get my children ready for school. Packing a lunch is emotionally draining. What will he/she eat? What do I need to put in the lunchbox to appear to be a health conscious mother?  We all know damn well my children are going to throw the carrots in the garbage can. What food group does a Lunchable fall into?

A child will wake up during the week at 6 a.m. ready to conquer the world, but on a school day they are practically comatose. I am also one of those rare animals who still irons clothing. Yes, I own an iron and I use it. It’s a sickness I inherited from my mother. So, I would have to iron clothes for school at night or early in the morning.

Looking back, that all seems like a walk in the park. Virtual Learning is hell. I would rank it with glitter and Caillou – both sent directly from Satan himself. I have so much empathy for teachers trying to educate children through the World Wide Web. They should be making millions. We have had a child playing Cardi B’s “WAP” over his speaker. That is beyond anything taught in sex ed. Most kids aren’t paying attention when the teacher is talking. Thank God for Google because I don’t think they are learning much. The wifi intermittently drops out. Kids have large breaks in the day to play video games. My son’s NBA team is dominating. The worst part for me is the snacks. I get text messages a million times a day about snacks. They want a snack. They want a drink. They went an entire school day in class without a bite to eat besides lunch. Now, that they are home these kids are famished. My grocery bill has skyrocketed. My patience is dwindling. I would rather watch a marathon of Caillou then do this another year.

My Journey

I was forced to take down several blogs, but not because I said something that wasn’t true. I will keep writing. I will not lose my voice. It took me a long time to get it back. I will continue to write about this next chapter in my life, being a mom and learning to make myself a priority again. I hope one day my children read this blog and realize a few things. First of all, their mother was a damn good, witty writer. She never should have stopped writing. Writing is therapeutic.

She loved being their mom. She hated being pregnant and that is okay. It’s okay to admit when things aren’t easy. It’s not easy cleaning up puke at 2 a.m. and definitely not fun.  You shouldn’t be embarrassed about struggling. We all struggle at times. You shouldn’t pretend to be happy when you’re not.  You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. I hope these posts stir up happy memories of adventures she took them on. I hope they read this and know they were always her top priority and she would do anything for them.

I hope they see a strong woman who faced serious challenges in life, but made it out the other side. I hope they learn from her mistakes. Finally, I hope they realize it’s only okay to talk about yourself in the third person when writing a blog.

 

Covid-19 Homeschooling 101

It feels like a year has passed since schools were shut down and my children began virtual learning. Each week teachers send a report. It has a long list of assignments your child should have completed by Friday. If scrolling through Facebook didn’t make you feel like an inferior parent before, the Karens have a new trick up their sleeves. They are determined to be the greatest homeschooling mom ever. They have busted out the white board, enforce strict schedules and lunchtime includes sandwiches cut into shapes. Their children are even doing extra credit. My daughter has learned how to sign “Basic Bitch” from a clip on Tik Tok.

I applaud teachers for their hard work during this pandemic, but I don’t care what score my children get on their assignments or quizzes. I am more concerned about their mental health. We don’t set alarms. When they wake up, I encourage them to go outside to play basketball or ride their longboard before doing schoolwork. They are dealing with as much anxiety and stress as adults. I don’t want to hear what great-grandma went through. One person’s hardship doesn’t negate another.

My daughter is 10-years-old and isn’t allowed to go near her grandparents because they are at-risk for serious illness or death if infected by the coronavirus. Even a trip through a drive thru for ice cream is different. Seeing every worker sporting a face mask is surreal. My daughter made the observation, “I cant tell if anyone is smiling.”

My oldest son was in his first year at college. He was given a few days to gather his things and move back home in the middle of the semester. On a positive note, I sent him to school with a tote of cleaning supplies. He brought them home unopened. I have never been happier that college students are slobs. He had Lysol spray, cleaner and paper towels. It was like being handed a winning lottery ticket.

My middle child is missing his travel basketball season. He lives for this sport. It has given him confidence and joy. Plus, as we speak, he is outgrowing the overpriced Lebron Nike sneakers he needed for games. I know, that is a first world problem. Save your angry emails for the person who doesn’t agree with your politics on Facebook. He also turned 13 under quarantine. I was grateful some of his teammates drove by to wish him a Happy Birthday.

 

 

My children are learning how to ration toilet paper. They ask if stores will shut down and, when this began, wondered if we would have enough food. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to avoid reports of death and job loss. I can’t tell them when it will be over. Nobody has any real answers. So, I don’t care if my son can solve the problem -2n (-8n-10) -6 (-107-3) or graph out how much sodium Jimmy consumes if he eats 10 pretzels. Jimmy needs to look at the back of the damn bag. I will be content if my children get a passing grade this semester. They are living a future social studies lesson. That is enough.