Picture Perfect


I just returned from a two day trip to New York City with my son and daughter.  It was a Christmas gift. My daughter wanted to see Conan Gray perform at Radio City Music Hall. Truth be told, I didn’t know who he was before my daughter introduced me to his music. It was another reminder of my age. He has hundreds of millions of views online. The show was sold out. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fun concert!  Conan Gray is a talented performer and I appreciate the message he sends about inclusivity. It was beautiful to see young people from all backgrounds and sexual orientations at this show. Afterward, I stood outside for two hours so my daughter could get a photograph or autograph with him. During that time, these kids were talking, singing and laughing as if they had known each other their entire lives. Meanwhile, I wasn’t sure I would be able to walk back to the hotel. It turns out, as you get older, just standing puts a strain on your body. It was worth it. He came outside after midnight to meet his fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She got the photo and autograph.  I don’t think I have ever seen her that happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the pandemic I took my children to New York at least twice a year. I want them to value experiences more than things. I got up at 5 a.m., loaded the car and off we went. It is about a 5 1/2 hour drive from where I live. We checked into our hotel and hit the streets. My children know when we go to the city we don’t take the subway or cabs; we walk and explore. Our first stop is always Central Park. This time we looked at benches. It sounds silly, but in fact, was interesting. Each bench in the park had a message.  There are proposals, dedications and inspirational quotes. We loved imagining who these people were and where they lived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in the park, my daughter wanted to snap a photo. So, I obliged. That night I was scrolling through social media and there it was! My daughter posted it online. Instead of seeing a mother and daughter bonding, my first thought was that I had dark circles under my eyes and looked bloated. I felt anxious and thought about asking her to take it down. It was an eye-opening moment for me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent years avoiding cameras. That will happen when you have someone regularly telling you how ugly and fat you are. I don’t want my daughter to look at herself the way I did.  I wasted so much time trying to change who I was. I starved myself to become a size I was never meant to be. My hair was never the right style or color.  My skin wasn’t smooth enough. My legs weren’t thin enough. Seeing a photograph of myself would send me into a deep depression. I could hear him saying,

“You have a lizard face.”

“You are a pig.”

“You are an embarrassment.”

Admittedly, I welcomed the invention of filters. He couldn’t mock me if I didn’t look like me.

I have made friends crop me out of photographs. I have refused to be in group shots. I wasn’t going to do that this time. I didn’t say a word to my daughter. I want her to look at that photo fondly; of her exhausted  mother who was determined to give her a happy memory….. and did. 

Crooked Stitches

I was in a department store today standing in line behind three young girls. Young is a relative term. When I was 12 I thought 25 was old.  Now, to me, 20-somethings are babies. These girls appeared to be junior or seniors in high school. They were all wearing socks pulled over their Lululemon pants, crocs and their hair tied back with a clip. It reminded me of the days I would call my friends to coordinate matching outfits.

“Wear your black crop top shirt and acid wash jeans pinned on the bottom with the pink scrunchie!”

They were talking about a girl who they felt was being dramatic. “It’s not like he hit her. He just called her a bitch,” said the petite blonde standing in the middle of the trio. The other two laughed uncomfortably. It took every fiber of my being not to tap them on the shoulders and give a stern lesson. That girl was not being dramatic. She was setting boundaries. This is exactly why there needs to be more conversations about domestic abuse. You don’t have to have a black eye for someone to beat you down. That includes emotional, financial and verbal abuse. We need to teach our daughters being a victim of domestic abuse is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s not their fault.

The man who abused me was to blame. He was wrong for slowly destroying my self-esteem with every insult and threat he hurled at me. He was wrong to make me question my worth. He was wrong for telling me on many occasions, that I should kill myself.   

“Do you know what you need to do today? Go to the rope store and then find yourself a rickety stool.”

I walked on eggshells, in fear of the next outburst. Some memories I have blocked out, but many I will never forget. I remember I had purchased my very first “designer” item. It was a cashmere Burberry scarf. This was a big deal for someone who grew up buying clothes at Kmart. I didn’t have the luxury of shopping at the Gap like many of my classmates. We got five outfits and you rotated those suckers each week. The soft cashmere was like a hug wrapped around my neck. I loved how I felt  when I wore that scarf. One day, I made the mistake of questioning a decision my partner made. He walked over to that Burberry scarf, told me how worthless I was and tore it down the middle. Then, he stormed out. My heart sank. I picked the scarf off the ground like it was a wounded animal, but actually I was the wounded one. I gathered a needle and thread, my hands shaking, tears streaming down my face as I sewed that scarf back together.  I dragged my fingers down the crooked stitches every time I put it on.  I didn’t want to forget how I felt that day. I needed to remember why I needed to get out. Soon after I was free from that relationship I purchased a new Burberry scarf.  I wear it with pride knowing he can never tear it or me down again.


 

 


 

 

Get it together, baby!

The death of actress Regina King’s only son is another reminder that depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter the size of your house, bank account or car you drive.

My struggle with depression began when I was away at college. It wasn’t brought on by anything in particular. In fact, by all accounts, things were going well.  I was just sad and couldn’t shake it. It got progressively worse. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to leave the house. Virtual learning didn’t exist back then. My boyfriend’s mother recognized I needed help, sat me down and encouraged me to see a doctor. In fact, she offered to drive me to the appointment. It was one of the single greatest things anyone has ever done for me. Her son, however, ended up cheating on me with an Applebee’s waitress. It turns out he was enjoying more than the Half-Price Munchies or Triple Chocolate Meltdown. My doctor put me on an anti-depressant. It saved my life. Nothing, however, could save that relationship. It was dead the moment he started “Eating Good in the Neighborhood.”

I have been on various medications ever since. Our brains are wired differently. It is not your fault if you struggle with depression or anxiety. The problem is the people who don’t recognize it is a disease. I was once in a relationship with someone like that. Then again, a narcissistic abuser will use your struggles or insecurities as a weapon whenever they can. He would tell me I was unstable and crazy whenever I questioned his actions. “You  should just kill yourself.” He tried to shame me for taking medication.  He probably needed the medicine more than I did.

Surround yourself with people who are supportive and understanding. Teach your children about the warning signs of suicide. Encourage them to talk to you. My children and I speak openly about mental health. I received this text message from one of my kids while they were in school, “I’m not feeling well mentally today.”  I was so proud my child reached out for help.   Pretending depression doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. 


I am a huge proponent of therapy. My children have the “Calm” app on their phones. We also discuss breathing exercises to work through stress. I am not a perfect mother. I’ve raised my voice. I have forgotten field trips, missed important school deadlines and accidentally thrown out homework. My daughter brought bright red lipstick to school when she was 6-years-old and put it on for school pictures. The photographer must have thought I was Patsy Ramsey. I cannot figure out Common Core Math.  I have completed school projects my child put his name on and was pissed when it didn’t get an “A.” But when a friend in school recently talked to my daughter about her anxiety it was my child who encouraged her to speak to a parent or counselor. “I told her it is nothing to be ashamed of.”  I would say I’m doing something right. 

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.