Sunday - A Poem for the Start of Every Single Week.

Sunday - Victoria Fedden

This is the week I will stop being disgusting. This is the beginning of my story, not the end.

This is the week I’ll give myself a second chance.

This is the week that I will drink enough water. This is the week I will learn to drink tea with no milk and sugar. This is the week I’ll take it plain.

This is the week I will try apple cider vinegar.

This is the week that I will meal prep. I will pull my dinner in a box from the shelf like a library book I will eat without complaint because food fuels your body like books fuel your brain and macros but poetry is what taught me how to feel something not think something.

This is the week the blackberries won’t rot in the crisper.

This is the week that I will fit into those pants. This is the week that I’ll do it.

10,000 steps every day. This is the week that I will work out.

This is the week that I will have all the parts of the eating disorder instead of just the endless thinking part.

This is the week that I will reduce my screen time, and stop looking for and at and wishing and wondering and searching. This is the week that I will stop thinking about you.

This is the week that I will be brave. Try new things. It will be better. Step out of the comfort zone, out of the box, out of the bed and girl, wash your face, and maybe someday someone will think you’re pretty. Be a bad ass. Go to war. Unjunk your spirit. Subtly don’t give a fuck. Get unstuck. Follow your bliss. Find that big magic. Enormous magic. Magic the size of the universe magic. Take an entire course in miracles, make the agreements. Stop resisting. SOULdier on. Just breathe.

This is the week that I will observe my breath. Start saving money, pay off the debt, go to the bank, assess the situation, plan, make spreadsheets. Take control.

This is the week that I will relax.

This is the week of a radical shift.

This is the week that I will finally speak up and ask clearly for what I want, but I will also stop talking about myself so much because that is awkward. Am I a narcissist? Am I a sociopath? Where does the trauma hide inside my body? Have I been gaslit? Each night why do I dream of voodoo?

This is the week I’ll find some piece.

This is the week I’ll stop forgetting the wet laundry in the washer. This is the week I’ll remember.

This will be the week TO remember.

This is the week I’ll go out, make friends, make out, shine, sparkle, be present, in the moment, have a drink. This is the week they’ll all get my jokes.

This is the week I’ll break down and take a pill. This is the week I’ll stop the medication, yes I know it’s only for heartburn.

This is the week that something’s got to give. This is the week it all stops. That’s why I’ll start writing again, reach the muse. Where have you gone? Why don’t you text me anymore?

Sometimes in the middle of the afternoon I will stop what I am doing which is never anything and I will go outside and look at the sky and wonder exactly what you are doing at that exact moment and what did you do with my ideas? Where are my words? Who holds them now? And I will make demands. The bullshit stops here. Give me back everything I’ve ever lost.

I used to think you were so beautiful.

This is the week that I will show up and throw down. This is the week that my ass is in the seat.

This is the week I’ll be results-driven. I don’t even know how to speak the language of synergy’s optics in the new millennium. Ambition. I can learn.

This is the week I’ll get enough sleep.

This is the week I’ll learn to let go. This is the end of the stories I tell myself. The stories have to end. The stories never end. The stories have no end. This is not the end.

Nothing to Lose, Fire Away

As a teenager, I was not one of those girls who mooned over magazines about their favorite celebrities, but as a grown ass woman in her forties, I am all over any article I can find about my celebrity boyfriend Jimmy Fallon, which is exactly how I nearly sent myself to the hospital after trying something called “bulletproof coffee.” I’m blaming the goddamned Internet for this one.

            According to the worldwise Interwebs, my famous, future second husband, the great Mr. Fallon, drinks coffee with butter in it, and coffee with butter in it apparently fixes everything. Literally. Everything.

            Are you a mess like me? Do you have a collection of old Chick-fil-a bags all over the floor of your car? Does your kid get too much screen time? Did you get passed over for that big promotion? Is your hair dry? Does your poop sink in the toilet? Because it’s supposed to float, did you know that? Is everyone else significantly hotter and better dressed than you? Obviously you have not been putting butter in your coffee, and you are a loser, and if you put butter in your coffee you can absolutely change your entire life.

            One day I was messing with my phone, which is not a surprise because 95 percent of my life is spent messing with my phone. I’d like to say that I at least use my phone to read The New Yorker, but I don’t. I read lame ass articles that friends I’ve never met in real life, and distant cousins in other states share on Facebook, and this is my main source of learning what’s going on in the world at any given time. I know nothing about the growth of the economy, but I am an expert on “Eleven Little Things He Does if He’s Super Into You,” plus videos of alpacas skipping, and of course Jimmy Fallon’s beverage choices.

I am even more ashamed to admit that I am the person who reads the “suggested” articles that show up in my feed, which are actually ads, and not even stories shared by people I sort of know. That’s like the lowest form of reading that exists, and I have a terminal degree and I still read it although you’d think I should know better. I think it’s written by robots. Not that that has stopped me, obviously. Basically nothing can stop me from reading garbage, especially if it involves Jimmy Fallon. That’s how I found out that Jimmy Fallon “totally swears by” something called bulletproof coffee.

            Bulletproof coffee sounds badass as hell, and I consider myself a wimp. The most badass thing I’ve ever done in my entire life is one time, when my husband was out of town, the breaker on the water heater flipped leaving me without hot water. In a death-defying feat of bravery, ignoring the terrifying buzzing sounds coming from the electrical box in my laundry room, I flipped the switch back on, thus restoring hot water to my house and saving myself from having to wash my hair in seventy-degree water. I felt like a god-damned super-hero, if that gives you any idea of how not a badass I actually am.

I can’t even program the clock on the stove after a storm, yet I long to be the sort of woman who can change a tire, although I make zero effort to learn how to do things like that because I am lazy and like to sit around and read “The Kind of Blowjob He Likes Based on His Zodiac Sign.” So if I could be a badass by doing something with as minimal effort as drinking a cup of coffee, which I did all day long anyway, and if Jimmy Fallon was all about it, well, I was in.

            As far as I could google, there was nothing unpleasant about bulletproof coffee — fancy coffee beans, butter, coconut oil, and that’s it.  I liked all of those things, and when I read the words “bulletproof coffee,” in my brain I heard Sia singing them to me in her pouty growl, which only added to the appeal. Obviously, this new adventure was going be nothing like the time I watched Dr. Oz at my grandmother’s house in rural Delaware and decided that the cure to all that ailed me was drinking a slurry of chia seeds and tart cherry juice. Rural Delaware has no Whole Foods, but so determined was I to FIX MY LIFE NOW with chia seeds and cherry juice that I managed to find the only natural foods co-op within a sixty-mile radius, and I swear to you this place hadn’t changed at all since 1976, and it reeked of vitamins and brewer’s yeast. It had chia seeds and tart cherry juice, though, so forty dollars later I was choking down some crunchy, snotty assed chia seeds stirred into a horrifying, black, Harry Potter looking juice for which the term “tart” was a very tragic understatement, all because Mehmet told me it would make me skinny. IT DIDN’T.

            But bulletproof coffee would. I mean, it even has its own Instagram account. Chia seeds don’t have a hundred and seventy five thousand followers, do they? Exactly.

            Part of the reason I felt like bulletproof coffee might finally be the thing that worked for me is that I love coffee. My favorite flavor of Haagen Dazs is espresso cookie crumble, after all, and I think it makes a reasonable, or at least wonderful, breakfast. The chia seeds were disgusting, so I had a hard time sticking to Dr. Oz’s regimen, because no one in their right mind wants to ingest several glasses a day of gritty slime. Coffee, however, was a whole different story. So was butter.

            I love both coffee and butter so much that if someone told me I had some tragic disease that prevented me from ever having coffee or butter ever again, I might actually consider euthanasia, because it would be a more humane ending for me than spending my last years drinking mugs of hot water and slicking vegan margarine on a desiccated square of gluten-free “bread.” I’m just assuming the bread would have to be gluten free, because why on earth would wheat be okay if butter and coffee weren’t, you know?

            Very few rap lyrics are as relatable to me as the line from the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” which says “I like my sugar with coffee and cream.” In a nutshell, or perhaps 67 packets of raw sugar, this pretty much sums up my coffee problem. I love coffee so much that sometimes (a lot of times) I go to bed at night excited to get up in the morning, just so I can have my next cup, but I think that it’s not so much the coffee I love as much as the sugar. Cream is a close second. Without those two magical ingredients, my morning cup of coffee may as well be a can of synthetic motor oil. I realized this at my friend’s house.

            My good friend is a barely size-zero, successful executive. On paper she is that woman who “has it all.” She is an independent mom, who in every way lives up to the mainstream beauty standards. She even has huge boobs. Her six figure income affords her all the things, brands, stuff, vacations, and leisure activities that we’ve all come to unconsciously associate with success, and her Facebook proves that she is indeed having a lot more fun than the rest of us. Her only fault is that she can’t make a decent cup of coffee to save her life.

            My friend was all excited because she had a new Keurig coffee maker, and when she offered to pop a K cup in the machine I was nothing short of enthusiastic. Until she plopped a box of artificial sweetener and a bottle of organic, non-fat, almond milk creamer on the table in front of me.

            “What is this?” I asked.

            “What are you talking about?” she said, pouring half a yellow packet into her oversized café au lait bowl.

            “Chemists discovered that shit when they were trying to make a new pesticide. You’re basically pouring pesticide in your coffee. You won’t put it on your lawn because it causes cancer, but you’re totally cool with drinking it?” I asked.

            She nodded. “It doesn’t have any calories.”

            “And what is this?” I wondered, twirling the bottle of “creamer” in my hand trying to read the nutritional information that explained that there were 900 servings at fourteen calories each.

            “Creamer! It’s healthy and so delicious!” she chirped.

            I poured some into my coffee, winced in pain, and asked her if she genuinely enjoyed drinking this, to which she replied, again, that it was delicious.

            “Do you have half and half?” I demanded.

            “Half what?”

            I sighed. My friend was so thin that she didn’t even know what half and half was.

            “How about real sugar?” I needed to know. “Do you have real sugar?”

            “No! Of course not. Do you?”

            “It’s not like I asked if you had cocaine or something.”

            “Oh, cocaine? I don’t like it, but I probably know someone -”

            “Jesus Christ. No! I just want some real sugar for my coffee, and yes, at my house I have sugar – brown, white, coconut palm, honey, agave, maple…”

            I decided to poke around in her fridge where there was so little to eat, that I began to wonder how my friend stayed alive. It was painfully obvious now that I had two choices: drink my coffee black, or dress it up with artificial sweetener, dilute it with nut water, and hope for the best. I went with door number two, and I swear I must have used at least 700 of the 900 servings of whatever that almond creamer stuff was and it still stayed black. That’s when I realized that I don’t really like coffee. I like sugar and cream, and coffee is just a more socially sanctioned vehicle for those things.

            The joyless coffee I had that day made my soul ache. It sort of looked like coffee, but that was deceptive, because it tasted thin and bitter, and was mildly redolent of the ant killer aisle of Home Depot.

            “Have you ever heard of bulletproof coffee?” I asked her.

            She shook her head, and then I explained it to her.

            “Butter?” she said scrunching her nose.

            “Yes!” I said.

            “In coffee? Eww. No. I haven’t eaten butter since I was in middle school. Aren’t you scared?” she wondered.

            “Of what? Butter is amazing!”

            “The fat,” she whispered. The word was so repugnant to her that she couldn’t even say it aloud. It was like the Voldemort of food – the spread which cannot be named.

            “I fucking love butter,” I said. End of conversation.

            True. Butter in coffee sounds weird on the surface, but think about a traditional breakfast. You’ve got a nice cup of coffee and some toast on the side, and the toast has butter, so technically, we’ve all already, at some point, had coffee and butter. It’s not a stretch. In fact, there are stranger combinations. For instance, I love pineapple and I love pizza, and while I understand that there is some controversy over this and that the two things together sound almost terrifying, pineapple pizza is one of my favorite things on earth. Butter coffee wasn’t nearly as unusual a combo as tropical fruit on Italian food.

            The next morning I found myself standing in front of a blender with a brick of Kerrygold, a bulk-sized tub of coconut oil, and a pot of freshly brewed Starbucks Breakfast Blend. I was ready to be slender, focused, motivated, and self-assured. I was also a little bit ready to be Jimmy Fallon’s future second wife material.

            “Bulletproof, nothing to lose,” I sang.

            Pleasantly surprised, I held up the finished product in a ray of morning sun that shone through my kitchen window. My coffee cups are clear glass, so I could see the bulletproof coffee pretty well, and it wasn’t what I expected. As promised, and let’s face it, none of these things are ever what’s promised, the bulletproof really did look like a latte. I feared it would stay black and that the butter would melt and rest on top in a queasy layer of oil like one of my daughter’s science experiments, but it didn’t. The Vitamix had emulsified the butter and coconut oil into the coffee, so that it looked almost like normal coffee with cream, and this brought joy to my heart.

Maybe I was going to be okay. Maybe I really could stick with something this time. My only fear was that this coffee wasn’t allowed any sugar. Like none, and technically, you weren’t supposed to add any sweet tasting, calorie free pesticides either, but I’d already broken a few of the other rules, so…what could a little pink packet of cancer powder hurt?

            I guess I should state here that I didn’t exactly make real bulletproof coffee. Instead, I made poor(ish) people’s bulletproof coffee. First off, you’re supposed to get some kind of really expensive coffee beans that are supposed to not mold or something, that I felt sounded a bit ridiculous and snake oily, so I splurged on Starbucks because that felt fancy enough, and also I bought them at Whole Foods and not Walmart, which I feel counts for something. Next, you have to get grass fed, unsalted butter. Fine. I bought the five dollar Kerrygold that’s made from Irish Riverdancing cows. Done. After that you have to pour in something called MCT oil, which is mostly coconut oil, but if you buy the real stuff it’s basically seven thousand dollars for three ounces, and my credit isn’t good enough to obtain a second mortgage, so I was going with the coconut oil I already had.

 As a side note, I had a lot of coconut oil to use up since my failed oil pulling experiment. According to an online slide-slow a year earlier, which I didn’t finish because the ad-filled pages wouldn’t load on my phone fast enough, if you swish coconut oil in your mouth and then spit it out, some kind of health miracle is supposed to occur. I googled it extensively, and apparently there’s something in coconut oil that can kill bad bacteria in your mouth, and when your mouth is healthy, the rest of your body is too, so oil pulling isn’t totally bogus, unless you’re talking about the texture.

At first, I thought swishing a spoonful of coconut oil around in my mouth for twenty-minutes sounded pretty simple. I liked coconut after all, so what could be so bad? The texture made me want to hurl almost instantly, and sucking a mouthful of saliva and grease through my teeth repeatedly, while letting the resulting slime coat my tongue was flat out disgusting. I found it nearly unbearable almost instantly — except it didn’t feel like it was instantly. I thought for sure I’d had the oil in the mouth for longer than the prescribed twenty-minutes, but when I looked at the timer I’d set, only three minutes and forty two seconds had passed. I spit it out in the trash as instructed, because the oil clogs up plumbing, and spent the rest of the day feeling like I’d rubbed lip balm not just all over my face, but inside my mouth. I guess that I just didn’t have the patience for oil pulling.

Which is exactly why I convinced myself I needed bulletproof coffee: I had no attention span. My preschooler had better focus than I did. I mean, the kid could play with Legos on the floor for hours, whereas I spent most of my days repeatedly walking into rooms and forgetting what I’d gone in there for. I’d open up the refrigerator and stare blankly inside unable to remember what ingredient I needed or what I was craving. My daughter asked me all the time to sit on the floor and play with her, but it was like torture for me to sit and stack blocks without grabbing my phone to scroll through Facebook and see what everyone I went to elementary school with was having for lunch. I couldn’t pay attention to much of anything for very long, and the second I’d begin a task, I’d start to worry about something else, feel compelled to open an app, or I’d feel like I needed to turn on the TV to compare what was on all three major news channels. I heard a lot about highly effective people, and I was not one of them. But maybe with bulletproof coffee, I finally could be.

I have long suspected that I may have a mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder, which, in recent years, has been greatly exacerbated by the distraction wonderland of the Internet. I’m not concerned enough about my functioning to get an official diagnosis — my medical file already looks like an alphabet soup of acronyms, and frankly, the medication for ADD scares me. At the same time, it also intrigues me because I know a ton of women who take it because it makes them skinny. Some of them, adult women here, even take the pills, crush them and snort them.

I will never forget the day I learned this secret. Apparently it is a thing, a common thing even, and I’d had no clue that everyone was illicitly snorting their fidgety sons’ meds. I was pissed when I found out.

Being a woman today, for me, was an Olympic feat. I was expected to be a super mom who looked like a supermodel. I was supposed to have money, a successful career, an enviable relationship with my husband, and a car that was not held together with duct tape because I couldn’t afford the insurance deductible to get it fixed from two accidents in one day. I was supposed to be smart and organized, a clever conversationalist, and an expert entertainer, and I was required to look good in the middle of all this, and everyone knows that part of looking good is being thin. I was trying so hard to do it all, to the point of utter mental and physical exhaustion, and still failing to qualify for the medal round, while these bitches were doping to win the game, Lance Armstronging their way through life and it wasn’t fair.

I wasn’t willing to risk my health to have it all, because everyone with any sense knows that snorting amphetamines is probably not a long-term strategy for success, but I theorized that bulletproof coffee could work in a similar, if milder, fashion, and that it could actually afford me some health benefits instead of, you know, landing me in rehab and probably killing me. Caffeine is, after all, a natural stimulant, so if I drank enough of it, then it would likely have the same effects on my concentration as ADD meds.

I drank three large cups of bulletproof coffee that morning alone.

It was like coming home again. It was like finding everything that I’d ever lost.


I’ve never tried cocaine. I’m such a goody-goody that I’ve barely even seen it in real life, but as I spent the next hour confined to the bathroom, I surmised that the jittery, amped up, I CAN DO ANYTHING RIGHT NOW feeling that I was currently experiencing must be why so many people (at least in movies) are willing to pawn their TVs for a bump of blow. Except for my stomachache, I liked this new energetic, productive version of myself. I didn’t want to lie in bed. I wanted to make the bed, and properly, with those hospital corner things my grandmother does! A mild case of diarrhea seemed like a small price to pay in exchange for actually getting things done for once in my life, and doesn’t everyone need a good intestinal purge once in a while? I had an organized kitchen AND I’d lost two pounds of water weight. Bulletproof coffee for the win.

Since it was working so well, that afternoon, after skipping lunch, because this stuff really did suppress the appetite, I made myself another enormous mug of coffee with butter and coconut oil in it. I figured I needed the extra energy, because I had to babysit at yoga that evening.

I’d been babysitting at the yoga studio on and off for a couple years now, and I enjoyed it a lot, because it was my way of showing up and being part of a community that I felt good supporting. A lot of nice and interesting individuals practiced yoga, and many people came there to heal. I was one of them, and I wanted to help others on their journeys (yes, I just said that). At the time, I figured the best way that I could lend a hand was by babysitting, so some other moms could get a break and have 75 minutes alone in a hot room to stretch their joints and process their emotions for once without tiny humans climbing all over them with sticky hands and snotty noses. It was the least I could do, and it made me feel good.

But babysitting did require a bit of stamina, in some ways more than an actual yoga class, because instead of keeping track of one kid, I now had to supervise about ten of them, in a very small room, with a DVD of Frozen playing on a loop, and a bin of donated toys. The job required focus — I had to watch the babies to make sure they didn’t choke to death on a Shopkin that belonged to a preschooler with separation anxiety, while keeping the kindergartners away from the surly middle schooler who wanted to be left alone to play Minecraft on his iPad, in addition to protecting the little girl with allergies from the boy whose mom didn’t know and dropped him off smeared head to toe with peanut butter, at the same time that I bottle fed an infant and made funny faces at a fussy six month old bouncing in a jumper. Bulletproof coffee  was exactly what I needed. So I had another cup.

The yoga studio is about fifteen minutes from my house in traffic, and when I was about halfway there my stomach began to feel a little…off. Okay, I’m being delicate. My stomach had become Kilauea.

Before a volcanic eruption, there are tell-tale signs: a series of small earthquakes, rumbling, and the sounds of small explosions beneath the surface. The volcano will begin to swell, or bloat, with increased emissions of hot gas from the mountain. Small animals will flee in terror.

I was about to explode, and this wasn’t going to be pretty.

Waiting until I got to yoga wasn’t an option either, and not just because the studio was still about eight minutes away. No one at yoga pooped. I figured their systems were so balanced and efficient from their vegan paleo diets that they’d transcended shitting altogether. Clearly I hadn’t, and I’d like to issue a formal apology right now for what I did in the Starbucks restroom that day.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The seismic event at Starbucks was merely a precursor for what lie ahead.

My little Starbucks detour had made me a few minutes late to babysitting for the first time, and when I finally stumbled through the door, probably looking more than a little tweaked out on caffeine, there were already seven children and their harried mothers waiting for me.

“We’re late for class! They’re already in child’s pose setting their intentions!” one mom complained.

I apologized profusely, blaming traffic, as my stomach made a noise much like a draining bathtub.

I cold sweat my way through the next hour and a half as toddlers squirmed and writhed en masse on the padded floor of the babysitting room. I didn’t supervise them as I should have. There was no story time that day, no cut and paste craft. I could barely tolerate another Disney film, because every ounce of my energy went into not shitting my pants. I actually envied the little ones for the convenience of their diapers.

That day, my favorite couple was there. Like everyone else at yoga, I’m convinced these two didn’t go to the bathroom. They were vegan and lovely. The wife’s bodily proportions were that of a Malibu Barbie, whereas if I were a doll, I’d be shaped more like a Raggedy Ann. People who look that good don’t have embarrassing experiences, and they certainly don’t have diarrhea, especially not in public places, because their gut health is perfectly balanced. Mine clearly was not, and by the time class let out and all the children had been retrieved, I was convinced I was dying.

“You look dehydrated, and on edge. Are you okay?” the wife commented.

“You should try meditation. It changed my life,” her husband added.

“You should drink LIVING water! Did you know the water that comes out of your faucet is actually dead? So is bottled water, so it doesn’t actually hydrate you and 99% of people in America suffer from chronic dehydration - look it up!” said a random stranger.

This sort of thing happens a lot in a yoga studio. If you mention any kind of not feeling well 35 people will pounce on you with different reasons why Western society is making you sick, and give you 35 different remedies for it that Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about.

“I think I ate something that didn’t agree with me,” I said, and this was not a lie, because five cups of coffee (maybe, I lost count) and at least a stick of butter definitely did not agree with me.

I don’t know how I made it home, but as I spent the rest of the night feeling like I was near death on the bathroom floor, with bolts of jagged pain knifing through my abdomen. I was sick. Like food poisoning sick, and I convinced myself that I’d given myself a gall bladder attack. At one point I seriously considered an ER visit.

Nearly a bottle of Pepto later, I decided to do a little more research on this whole bulletproof coffee thing. There were many articles and blog posts touting the benefits of bulletproof, but there were just as many others calling Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey on his supposed bullshit. The New York Times went so far as to compare it to a cult, while yet another article alleges that Asprey takes performance enhancing stimulants banned in the sports world, plus off the label use of thyroid meds, and that these things are responsible for his ripped abs, not “magic butter coffee.” Others accuse him of faulty logic and bad science. Asprey apparently claims that he “discovered” bulletproof coffee in Tibet (and we all know every New Age hipster will gulp down anything that comes from the Himalayas, home of the Dalai Lama) where he observed the locals mixing yak butter into their tea (eww). He then concluded that their spryness and longevity was because of this, and not, as some studies have suggested, a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes.

So what did I think? Hard to say. Bulletproof coffee, at least my more affordable version of it, tasted good, but technically what I made wasn’t exactly REAL bulletproof because I had to wing it on a few ingredients.

It did suppress my appetite, but I mean, that’s what caffeine and fat do, so no alchemy there. I also lost weight, albeit from severe gastrointestinal distress, but still, I’ll take it, and I couldn’t really blame the coffee for my stomachache. That was my own fault because I went overboard. My verdict on this one is that it probably does work to some extent. It tastes great and it’s unlikely to hurt you unless you lose your damn mind and drink too much. Don’t do what I did. I guess I wasn’t titanium after all.

The Journey Begins With 10,000 Steps a Day

I suffer from an alphabet soup of mental illness - PTSD, OCD, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, there are probably some more in there. Surprisingly, I manage to function miraculously well most of the time in spite of this. Sometimes I am medicated, and sometimes I’m not. Some days I’m amazing, and some days I’m a god forsaken disaster. I’ve learned to accept this and to ride out the bad moments. Learning to do that one thing alone, has made the disaster days fewer and farther between. But they’re still there, and I still need coping mechanisms to get me through.

For the past few years, in addition to traditional methods of dealing with mental illness - for the love of all that is good if you don’t feel well go to a god damn doctor, there is no shame in this PLEASE - I have also been experimenting extensively with every alternative therapy, remedy, and whatever else I can find (and afford). Admittedly, I’m doing this partly for my own entertainment, but I’m also doing it because I am skeptic enough to give other people, who are also dealing with the same shit as me an honest account of what works and what is complete and utter BS. I’m going to write about share all of my experiences with you in the hope that I can help you too. At the very least, some of my escapades will surely make you laugh, and as they say, laughter is the best medicine. Except, that’s a ridiculous cliche, and I think SSRIs might be the real best medicine, but whatever. Laughing is good, and I like to make people laugh.

Here is the story about one thing that has worked, even though I’m slightly pissed that it did. I discovered this one a couple years ago when one of my thousand diets wasn’t producing results.

I know, like we all know, that the real only way to lose weight is to eat less (starve yourself half to death), and exercise. Exercise, at least enough of it, was what was missing from my weight-loss equation, but look, I’ve never been good at math, and I barely scraped by with a C in college algebra, so finding X isn’t exactly my forte over here. I don’t even like writing mathematical metaphors, so I think I should be given a temporary pass for ignoring the most obvious reason that I wasn’t slimming down much sooner.

You can’t expect to lose weight without exercise, and while I was still regularly practicing yoga (I worked at a yoga studio at the time), I probably needed more cardio (I don’t know, it sounded good), so I started taking walks around the block. I was soon discouraged when I learned that my little jaunts burnt a grand total of forty calories, and I calculated that in order to eat what I wanted and still lose weight, that I’d need to walk to Key West and back each day. I wanted better results, but I felt far more motivated to watch the next episode of my favorite TV shows than I did to break a sweat.

I’d never been the type of person who enjoyed exercise. My sister did. She said she felt awful on days that she skipped the gym, which was incomprehensible. I’d always thought that exercise tended to make me feel worse. Being winded, sweaty, sore, and exhausted was the very definition of misery to me, so was there any hope? Could anything motivate me?

It turns out, there was.

Around the time that I went on my lifestyle change, I began to notice that everyone I knew was suddenly wearing identical black rubber wristbands. All of the women I saw at yoga, who, incidentally possessed the enviable BMIs of hairless show cats, wore Fitbits — jazzed up pedometers, synced with their smartphones that allowed them to obsessively monitor their calorie intake, heart rate, hours slept, weight lost, minutes active, and steps walked. The device set daily and weekly goals, and when met, the user could earn virtual “badges” to mark their progress. Fitbits were all the rage, and I obviously needed one.

One of the many things I hate about myself is how easily I fall prey to fads. One of the other things I hate about myself is that whenever I fall prey to a fad, I am always the last one to find about it. I’m always the person who only starts liking a band once they’ve had a big hit. I can never claim the hipster-level cred of having loved Coldplay back in the late 90s before everyone got sick of “The Scientist.” In fact, I am still not sick of “The Scientist.” So basically, I will never be a trend-setter, only a follower, and to be truly cool, you have to be the first to do something, but I’ve never been the first to do anything, because that would require too much social risk. Yet at the same time there’s another kind of social risk in taking too long to catch on. I’ll never forget the time I brought my brand new Cabbage Patch Doll to school in the fifth grade, only to find out that the popular girls had abandoned theirs the previous weekend.

Timing is key when it comes to trends, and I was already late to the Fitbit party, but this time I didn’t care because I was still determined that being thin was the ultimate solution to everything. At the very least, I believed that if I were a size two that my career would take off, my marriage would be secure, I’d have lots of glamorous friends, and I would finally HAVE IT ALL.

I got my husband to buy me a Fitbit because this would kill several birds with one stone: I didn’t have to pay for it, I could prove that I was taking concrete proactive steps to be healthier and more attractive, and I could also harbor resentment toward him for not telling me that I was flawless as-is and did not need a Fitbit in the first place. For the record, my perfect relationship would be with someone who required absolutely nothing of me except my existence. I once saw a viral Internet post that was a picture of a guy hand-feeding his girl chicken nuggets while she got her nails done, and that seemed like a couples’ goal worth striving for. I put the photo on my vision board, but as yet my man hasn’t run to Chick-fil-a while I’m at the salon.

My husband is one of those people who is excellent at putting things together, hooking up electronics, and filling out online forms. When confronted with any of those tasks, I lose the ability to function normally, decry all technological advances, and melt into a heap on the floor gnashing my teeth, wailing how I should have been born in pioneer times. Except, if we are going to be totally honest here, I am no Ma Ingalls, either. I have zero interest in making hoop cheese, and I’m consciously grateful every day that the only corset I have ever worn was an ill-advised late 90s purchase from Charlotte Russe. So needless to say, my husband was in charge of setting up my Fitbit.

The Fitbit came with parts: chargers, cords, mysterious chips that needed inserting into USB ports in my laptop. Like everything in the complex new millennium, there were logins and passwords to create and confirm, emails that must be exchanged, and endless questions that the device wanted answered. I even had to tell it my actual weight, and I was honest, because I had a sneaking suspicion that it would know if I lied. My husband helped me with all of that, but then it was my turn. I’d have to do my part by walking.

“Take a spin around the block and try it out,” he said.

I gave him the side-eye. I may have audibly growled, but I laced up my sneakers and went outside.

The bracelet syncs to a smartphone app that tracks steps and time spent consistently active, so while I walked I stared at my screen (obviously a safe thing to do) watching the numbers tick up. It was practically euphoric. My initial goal was to walk 10,000 steps per day, or just under five miles, and to log at least thirty active minutes. Although the device didn’t say this explicitly, it definitely implied that if I did this every day that all of my dreams would come true.

They say that it only takes one time smoking crack to become dangerously addicted, and the same rings true for walking with a Fitbit. I was hooked after approximately 2,000 steps. When I got home from my first jaunt around the block, it rewarded me with a push notification, further sealing the deal. I knew I was in trouble when later the same evening, when I went to Target for the 76th time that week, I parked at the far end of the lot just so I could grab a few hundred extra steps. Normally, I’ll circle the lot a minimum of twenty-minutes just to get a spot three feet closer to the door. Later that night, I took another walk, this time longer than the first, because I needed to reach that goal. I was almost scared of what might happen if I didn’t, because the Fitbit looked like it might zap me with electricity as punishment if I didn’t stay in line. But no. The bracelet sent me more texts, colorful with praise and exclamation points. The next morning, I bounded out of bed predawn to take another walk.

I barely recognized myself.

In the spring of 2000, a psychiatrist formally diagnosed me with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’m not one of those people you see on TV who washes the skin off their hands, or counts the ceiling tiles — my version of OCD is a lot less theatrical. Over the years, I’ve learned to manage my symptoms, to channel them into productive activities like baseboard scrubbing and closet organization. Sometimes, when my compulsions have gotten out of control, I’ve had to tone them down with medication, but this hadn’t happened in a long time, and I’d come to think of my OCD as more of a personality quirk that I could live with instead of a full blown disease. That was before I got a Fitbit.

The Fitbit had awakened a sleeping monster in my basal ganglia. It was the ultimate OCD trigger, appealing to everything that made my brain spin and whir like a windmill in a hurricane. Calculating, logging, and tracking, the Fitbit showed me that my actions produced measurable results. On top of that, the damn thing praised me incessantly, which was more than I could say for any of the human beings in my life. Whereas the people around me had often become impatient and critical of my faults, the Fitbit was an electronic source of the unconditional positive regard I’d always craved. Don’t even get me started on its connection to my iPhone addiction. It wasn’t like I needed another excuse to mess with my phone, but I certainly welcomed it with open arms, or thumbs as the case may be, checking the app a few times an hour to rate my progress. I struggled with loneliness too, and wished that my friends would text me, and where real people failed, technology succeeded. I heard from my Fitbit hourly as it cheerily encouraged me to get up and move. People weren’t that reliable.

Within a week, I had turned into Joaquin Phoenix in Her, only instead of being enamored with a computer program, I was in love with my Fitbit. It had managed the impossible by turning me, the girl who was so unathletic that she’d been suspended in high school for cutting the dreaded gym class to buy potato chips at an off-campus convenience store, into a woman who couldn’t stop exercising. On more than one occasion, I found myself pacing the floors of my darkened house close to midnight while my family slept, because I was THIS CLOSE to my 10,000 steps and could not go to bed without making my bracelet buzz.

I loved my Fitbit so much that I began to wish it tracked and rewarded other aspects of our lives like parenting, or romantic relationships. Imagine the possibilities.

I would love an app that rewarded me for all the things I did as a mom. Forget earning a badge for walking the equivalent of the length of India. I needed a parenting app that sent me motivational quotes, logged my hard-earned milestones, and awarded me with a message like: “Fantastic! Between camp, swimming, Mommy and Me, Kindermusik, the grocery store, and a last-minute playdate, you drove 250 miles in two days while listening to Kidz Bop. You are excused from cooking dinner. The calories from fast food drive-thru officially do not count tonight!” Or how about a “Zen Master” Badge for not cussing out that smug crunchy mom at the playground who told me my daughter’s picky eating could be solved with something called “Thieves?” That was a real milestone, especially when it was obvious she was just trying to sell me some overpriced MLM essential oils. Talk about thievery.

Husbands everywhere could use a romance Fitbit reminding them of their wives’ birthdays, and sending words of encouragement for finally fixing the ceiling fan, or making a simple snack without the kitchen looking like a scene from Apocalypse, Now. Think of how many marriages would be improved if our partners wore bracelets that purred with approval each time they brought home flowers, or let their other half sleep in while they took the kids to the park.

But maybe my regular Fitbit was enough for now. It had, after all, consumed me. Incidentally, I hadn’t lost any noticeable weight. My husband commented, after I’d worn the thing for about three weeks, that I appeared more toned, but I saw no difference. Instead, I felt a difference.

I am absolutely loathe to admit this, but when I walk ten thousand steps a day, I am a lot less sick and depressed. There. I said it.

One day in yoga, my teacher said something that registered with me as both obvious and simple, but totally profound all at once.

“What is the purpose of the human body?” she asked.

I immediately thought of a list of things that pissed me off about my body. A lot of the time, it seemed to me like its purpose was to be attractive to others, and that it continually failed at that one job. Thanks, stretch marks on my ass and rogue hairs. Or maybe my body’s purpose was to thwart all of my efforts to live how I liked. I mean, why else would I always get diarrhea when I was nowhere near a bathroom, or start my period the day before vacation? It tended to get sick before parties too, and it further summoned my ire by refusing to bend and twist into advanced yoga poses. It hurt, smelled, made weird noises, and remained stubbornly animal and abject no matter how much vanilla-scented, glitter mist from Bath & Body Works I tried to spray on to transform myself into a fairy princess.

“The purpose of the body is to move,” the yoga teacher said, “Think about it. Your body is the container for your soul, your consciousness. You need this body to transport your spirit around, like a vehicle, through the world. You experience life and creation here through your physical body. When you are sedentary, when you refuse to use your beautiful body for its intended purpose of movement, it stops working properly. Everything malfunctions. You get sick mentally and physically.”

It made so much sense. My body, even with its limitations, craved movement even when my mind tried to convince me that the healthiest possible activity was reading in bed. Reading in bed is still wonderful, but when I walk, everything is more balanced. My digestion improves and my stomach hurts less, and I”m able to focus my thoughts better so they don’t spin out of control quite as much or as dramatically. Since I’m essentially wearing myself out I also sleep better, and for me, walking is my favorite form of exercise because I have always enjoyed being outside.

On my daily walks, I look forward to seeing the birds, or petting my neighbor’s cats at the edges of their driveways. I liked seeing some orchids blooming in a sabal palm, and watching the progress on a home being remodeled down the street. Some days I go to the beach, kick off my shoes and walk in the wet sand looking for sea glass and shells. If it rains, I walk in the mall and entertain myself by admiring the new summer collections in the store windows. None of these things seem like a work-out. They just seem like fun ways to pass time.

Eventually walking became something I looked forward to, instead of a chore, or some weird OCD compulsion that I had to satisfy lest I feel even more anxiety. Taking walks turned into something pleasant that I did for myself to shake out my joints and clear my head, instead of a miserable obligation, because lord knows, I already have enough miserable obligations.

Exercising, and using our bodies for their intended purposes, shouldn’t feel like torture. In fact, walking became such a part of my life that eventually I forgot to obsess so much about my weight (this is a lie) or my Fitbit. I’m proud to say that my Fitbit has integrated nicely into my life as more of a pleasant reminder to get up and move throughout the day instead of a freaky obsession. It doesn’t feel like punishment, it doesn’t hurt, and although I still don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model, I’m glad I’m using my body for its intended purpose more.

Why I Won’t Be Your Next Self-Help Guru

I have to confess an embarrassing secret. Several years ago I imagined myself as your next big, self-help guru. I made this my goal, I pasted it on vision boards, and I spoke it aloud to make it real. My dream was to travel the world speaking words of inspiration to awed crowds who would leave my speeches with a renewed sense of hope, feeling that they were now able to face their problems with inner peace, loving themselves. I wanted to write books that made people feel like they weren’t alone and that they were going to be okay in spite of the hands they’d been dealt. In doing this, I think I somehow believed that I too would have inner peace and self-love and be fixed. I would also, finally, after all these years be the kind of person who likes green juice, has discipline, does not watch trash TV, never spends hours on Instagram stalking former exes and the bitches that terrorized me in middle school, and oh my god feels awful when I don’t exercise every single day.

I am exactly zero of this. For the record, I feel fantastic on the days that I don’t exercise, my worst sixth grade bully made crock pot pulled pork yesterday, I want to gag when I see people chugging celery juice on social media, and I dream of spending hours watching 90 Day Fiancé or something equally tawdry and exploitative, with a king size Snickers in one hand and the remote in the other. That is who I am. Partly anyway.

I will never be a light-worker. I shudder to think that at one point in my life I proudly announced that this is what I was. Not even wanted to be, but WAS. Like for real, I can’t even change the bulb on my ceramic, probably cancer causing, scent-warmer thing without a major production, but here I was announcing to the world that I was a LIGHT-WORKER.

I gave myself a job that I now realize I am not qualified for. Here’s why:

1.      I am not a skinny blonde. The first five successful self-help gurus I can think of off the top of my head are all rail thin, blonde white women. There are even more than that. I will never ever be a skinny, blonde woman, although I am white. My natural hair color is a shade away from black. My eyes are the same color. Skinny I am not, nor will I ever be. I come from burly farm woman stock. I’m tall and thick, and I have big boobs, but not in a good way because my big boobs are real and nursed a child for a long time, so they are disqualified. The way I look is not a beauty archetype.


I have a working theory about the whole skinny blonde thing, and I do believe that how these women look plays some part in their success. I’m sure they would argue me on this and credit The Secret or something, but hear me out. These women DO look like a beauty archetype. They are the embodiment of mainstream beauty ideals. They LOOK like what most people unconsciously equate with success. When you look like this, to paraphrase Glennon Doyle to some extent, people automatically assume you have your shit together. People will listen to and glom on to people they think have their shit together, like that shit-togetherness and privilege will rub off on them.


Another thing is that these wellness-leaders look like stereotypical popular girls. The vast majority of us were not popular in middle and high school, many of us felt left-out and lonely, and those feelings have never totally left us. Inside every one of us is the kid who wanted to fit in in high school and who spent hours alone imagining how great life would be if we too could be popular. We are still trying to grab that elusive ring. Although they’d never admit to this either, the Queen Bees of self-help are essentially selling what we always wanted in adolescence – a how-to guide to popularity and perfection.


I can’t be a self-help superstar because nobody wants to look like me, which means no matter how wise I might be (I’m actually not, but more on that later) no one will listen to me. Also, my hair is as coarse and straight as a horse’s mane, so I can’t do that beachy wave thing that every inspirational speaker does with her expensively highlighted hairdo.


2.      I have no tolerance for vague BS. The entire holistic community speaks a bizarrely vague, coded language of faux positivity that doesn’t actually say much of anything. It’s right up there with the creepy jargon of evangelicals, just different. As an English teacher, who grades papers daily, when I read self-help books and inspirational quotes, it’s all I can do not to grab a red pen and x out half the page, scrawling VAGUE across entire paragraphs. What are these people actually saying?

 In the present space of the divine now, greatly brave in the lightfulness of your true source authenticity. Hold space for your vulnerability to manifest bliss at the soul level. Purge your quantum essence of stagnation. Breathe into your fullest equanimity.

 The fuck does that even mean? Nothing. It means absolutely nothing. I know because I made it up using New Age buzz words, but I guarantee you I could take that paragraph into a yoga class and recite it when people were in savasana and half the class would be in tears about how my words had resonated with them.

 So why do people eat this stuff up and spend tons of money to hear it? The answer is precisely because it’s meaningless. They can project their own meanings onto it. When people say these words speak directly to them, it’s because they’ve attached their own meaning, which means they don’t have to hear actual concrete advice that is usually difficult, unpleasant, and not fun or magical at all. This stuff is way easier and much prettier.

 I suggest that if you enjoy lyrical language so much that your soul would be much more nourished by reading actual poetry.

 3.      Food is wonderful. I have fraught and complicated issues with food because I am a middle class white woman in America and I am basic AF, so of course my relationship with food is problematic. The problem is I have no will power whatsoever and I love food more than I wish to be thin. I constantly say I want to be thin, but I am not willing to give up deliciousness to get there, so there ya go. I love to eat, and I love to eat all kinds of things. In order to be a successful self-help guru one must develop of deep and pervasive terror of food, but it cannot be for vain reasons (even though it is). It is for HEALTH reasons, because TOXINS. I have yet to develop this level of fear for long enough to make any sort of difference in my physique.

 Entire food groups must be eliminated. Questionable science should be cited. In fact, forget science period. You can just blatantly make up health facts and if people want to be skinny enough they will accept it without question.

 For real, I know people who ate actual clay and charcoal because they swore it was healthy.

 3A. This is kind of a sub-point. I’m not willing to body shame anyone in the name of enlightenment or self-improvement. The majority of the wellness community engages in horrific backhanded body shaming, and they get away with it because they make it sound nice, and positive, and like it’s all about self-improvement and being your best self and health. It’s the equivalent of your annoying aunt who points out at Thanksgiving that you shouldn’t have seconds of stuffing, and when you get mad she says something like “But, sweetie, it’s just because I love you so much and I care about your health and I don’t want you to be alone forever, because you know how people are.”

 4.      I trust my liver. The holistic wellness folk are obsessed with toxins and cleanses and ridding your body of whatever these mysterious toxins are. They are completely preoccupied with and phobic of toxins. Here’s the deal, if you are worried about toxins, you probably don’t actually have any. Stop being obsessed with purity. It doesn’t exist. You’ll never get to a state where you’re like “okay, I’m pure now so I can stop worrying about this.”

 I don’t do any of those things. I think my liver can handle the relatively small amount of actual toxicity I impose on it, and I figure if I’m too pure, my liver would get bored. I have to give it SOMETHING to do. Come on.

 5.      No one wants to see my ass on Instagram. Sex sells. And it sells to New Agers same as everyone else. They just reframe sexy pictures as anything other than sexy, add some quickly googled inspirational quote that’s probably misattributed and BAM. Watch the likes pour in. I can’t even count how many times I have seen comments on ass pictures saying how deeply life changing, inspiring, and moving that ass picture is. I’m like “IT’S AN ASS PICTURE.”

Am I jealous? Obviously. See? I’m also too petty to be a New Age influencer.

I don’t really like to take or post a lot of pictures of myself. I’ll do it every now and then if I get one where I don’t look old and misshapen, but I don’t want to make a habit out of it. I feel like, why would people just want to look at a bunch of pictures of me? That seems so narcissistic. I prefer turning the camera lens outward. I’d rather show you the beauty in the world as I find it, rather than have you look at me and tell me I’m beautiful.

 6.      I am an asshole. I don’t want to be an asshole, but I’ve had to accept the fact that I am far too much of an asshole to ever be a self-help guru. Everything gets on my nerves. I am perimenopausal and please don’t mess with me. I have no patience for your nonsense. I just want to sit in bed and play with my phone. Go away. I do not radiate divine light, and I am not floaty or dreamy or breathy when I speak.

 To be a successful Light Worker, one must be your standard manic pixie dream girl. I’m not happy about this, but I am far from the days of ever being a supporting character in a Cameron Crowe movie. Even that reference shows my age.

 I am now a depressed crone-like middle-aged nightmare woman.


7.      I don’t think everything that happens to us is our fault. At some point I probably did believe this, but I looked more deeply into this belief system, which is pervasive in American culture in particular, and I’m not buying into it any more. Someday maybe I’ll write more in depth about this, but essentially what I’m saying is that we have this culture where we’re told that we create our destiny. Everything is up to us. Our choices shape us. We are in control of everything. Hard work pays off. If you don’t have what you want you are obviously doing something wrong. This is a core American belief, it’s part of a lot of Evangelical beliefs, and it’s been repackaged with different language and pretty crystals in the New Age world. But just because it smells like palo santo doesn’t mean it’s anything different than the same old you get what you deserve nonsense.

 Sometimes people do get what they deserve. A lot of times they don’t. Sometimes hard work is just hard work and makes us sick and exhausted instead of rich and famous. Often we can make all the right choices and the rug still gets pulled out from under us. Sometimes shit just happens and it isn’t for a reason. I tend to embrace randomness. That’s probably why I have panic attacks.

 Sometimes it really seems like the bad things that happen to people occur as a direct result of their choices, but only sort of. On the surface it can often look like this, sure, but what about when you go bigger? What about look at why people make those choices in the first place, or look at how limited those choices often are and why. Turn it around in your head a few times, go beyond the obvious, and you’ll see that things aren’t usually as simple as blaming everyone for what went wrong in their lives.

 I’m more a fan of blaming the collective over the individual. Not in every case, but in most.

 When that’s what’s going on, the advice and language used by the wellness community is actually, dare I say it, pretty toxic. I’m not saying that the gurus are intentionally harmful. I know most of them are coming from good places, and I always give credit for meaning well (I think it’s awful not to), but I also think that maybe instead of so much telling people they aren’t breathing right and trying to sell vagina crystals and luxury spa retreats in third world countries, that they could direct some of their time and “energy” and MONEY toward working on dismantling the systems of oppression that societies have in place that are what’s actually making everyone sick, sad, anxious, and unfulfilled in the first place.

 8.      I am so not fixed. Some days I’m fantastic. Some days I’m a mess. I’m usually pretty honest about it and I do possess a decent level of self-awareness even if I don’t have the skills to act on that awareness and make changes. I think some of the reason my aspirations for being a Light Worker never panned out is that I’m still a work in progress. I just haven’t earned it yet, baby. Besides that, I cuss way too much.

 9.      I can’t afford most of this stuff. Holistic healing in an expensive undertaking. That’s because, like anything else, it is a business. I don’t have a problem with that, except when it tries to make people think that it isn’t the industry that it, in fact, is. I mean, just be honest. These people who are trying to sell you essential oils, meditation retreats, kombucha workshops, mala beads, yoni steamers, and whatever the trend is this week, are trying to make a living too, and I don’t necessarily begrudge them of that. I also don’t necessarily think that it’s all a sham (some of it is, some isn’t) but I do think that to really be able to live this lifestyle, which I’m sure is undoubtedly healthier than most alternatives, you truly need a lot of money. That means that the healing promised isn’t accessible to everyone, and therefore it’s no different than the mainstream healthcare system in our country where the rich people are the ones who get to heal and be healthy, while people with less means stay sick and struggling. That’s not fair. So would I be healthier if I could consistently afford weekly acupuncture, all organic produce, a personal trainer, meditation classes, salt therapy, float therapy, a weekend yoga vacation, and all the other treatments and supplements that go along with it? Hell yes I would. Obviously. But is any of that practical for most people? Definitely not. And that’s my point. And I have a problem with people who can afford all of that stuff telling people who cannot that if they would just do these things that they’d be fixed.


We need self-help for poor people that doesn’t make them poorer, and then blame them for not being rich and beautiful already.


So here’s where I am instead. I’m fine with my failed career in New Age holistic wellness woo-woo. But I still want people to know that they are not alone, and I began to look deeply at what I was actually trying to accomplish. I want to be a helper. That’s the root of this. But perhaps the world doesn’t need me to help out by charging people thousands of dollars to go on a fancy vacation with me so I can tell them, gently, to love themselves more.

 I needed to take my own advice about that dismantling stuff, and it was overwhelming at first, like, what can I even do? What do I have that can help? And then I figured it out. I had an education, and I could teach. I DO teach. And wait! I could work to dismantle a lot of wrong and unfair shit just in my little classroom alone!

 So I’m starting small and I’m working hard and I’m still trying to figure things out as I go. I’m doing my best and I’m okay with it.

 The reasons I’d be a terrible self-help guru are the exact qualities that make me a great teacher. I question everything relentlessly, even obsessively. I love to analyze. I don’t take anything at face value. My BS detector is state of the art. I will always love the wellness world – it’s very pretty and relaxing over there and there’s a lot that’s very appealing. I just don’t think I’m as cut out to lead workshops in vibrational vortex healing as I am in rhetorical analysis.


Halloween in the 70s vs. Today

A Step by Step Guide…

Halloween in the 70s

1.      Two weeks before Halloween bring the small box of Halloween decorations up from the basement. Scotch tape the two dimensional, cardboard skeleton to the front door. Open up the crepe paper honeycomb pumpkin and put it on an end table in the living room next to the gigantic, iron eagle lamp. Dump a bag of candy corn in an amber glass candy dish. Done. Smoke a cigarette and let the kids watch Creature Feature on the TV set all afternoon to get in the mood.

 2.      One week before Halloween grab a pumpkin at the supermarket when you run in to get cube steaks.

 3.      Check the TV Guide to make sure the kids don’t miss “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” when it’s on. Let them have the Swanson TV dinners in the little tins on TV trays in the den as a special treat that night.

 4.      Go to the town drug store down on Main Street to pick up supplies. Get a big bag of Smarties and Tootsie Rolls, film for the Kodak and some flash cubes, and let the youngest kids pick out a costume in a box – basically a flimsy plastic rain poncho with a picture of their favorite character on the front and a mask with minuscule eyeholes and a teeny slit for a mouth to (somewhat) breathe out of. They’ll probably choose something like Wonder Woman, Holly Hobbie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Bullwinkle, Wilma Flintstone, Mighty Mouse, or Dom DeLuise. Possibly Vinnie Barbarino from “Welcome Back Kotter.” Or you know, maybe a cute, happy, clown. Everyone loves clowns.

 5.      Allow the older children to come up with their own costumes. Let them rummage through the attic for ideas. Possible options are: use the old rubber mask that you’ve had for fifteen years and wear one of dad’s flannel shirts and be something vaguely scary, or take an old sheet and cut some holes and be a ghost. They will go as a bum, a gypsy, and someone will throw an Afghan over their shoulders along with the sombrero that Grandma brought back from her cruise to Puerto Vallarta, and call that a costume.

 6.      Bake some homemade (Duncan Hines) cupcakes for the class Halloween party and make bright orange frosting by mixing red and yellow food coloring right in the can. Top with a Brach’s Mellowcreme Pumpkin. Deliver the cupcakes to the class party, enjoy the kids’ costume parade through the school, then go have a Virginia Slim with the other moms on the playground (no dads are there).

 7.      The night before Halloween, let Dad carve the pumpkin with the children. Cover the dinette set in the kitchen with newspaper and give him a butcher knife to make triangles for a nose and eyes. Have a Tab and watch “Laverne and Shirley” until it’s time to clean up. Toss all of the seeds because no one ever eats them anyway. Leave the jack o lantern inside because this is Mischief Night.

 8.      Halloween Morning, survey the Mischief Night damage. You got off easy with a light toilet papering of the shrubs in the front yard. There are several smashed pumpkins in the street, and some egged Chevrolets. Your El Camino and the Duster next door are clean. The house that got hit the worst belongs to the weird family on the corner who, instead of Three Musketeers bars, hands out creepy comic books about trick or treaters going to Hell.

 9.      Halloween evening. After an early dinner, turn the porch light on, light a candle in the jack ‘o’ lantern and put it on the front stoop. Tell the children to get into their costumes themselves and hurry up because their cousins are on their way over (on foot) and it’s important to get to the house across the road where they hand out McDonalds gift certificates. Those things go fast now that everyone’s in on the secret.

10.   When the cousins arrive, bundle your brood within an inch of their lives. So what if you can’t see their costumes, they’ve still got masks. It’s freezing out there. There may even be flurries. They will all throw fits about their coats covering their costumes. Ignore them.

That's me as Casper.

That's me as Casper.


11.  Give the kids some old pillowcases for their candy and don’t forget their Unicef boxes. Hand them a flashlight from the garage and turn them loose. They will inevitably complain about the house on the corner that hands out raisins and toothbrushes. You understand though. Who does something like that? (People who watch PBS.) All the other neighbors are fine. Tell the kids to get you an extra rice krispie treat from Mrs. Allen. Hers are the best.


 12.  Hand out candy to all the trick or treaters. It seems like there are at least a hundred. Every year there are more. Thank heavens you got an extra bag of Dum Dums and Bazooka.

 13.  When the kids get back, quickly scan their candy to make sure it’s okay, knowing this is ridiculous because you know all of your neighbors. You are secretly excited about all the homemade treats and the McDonalds gift certificates because you can go get those crispy, bubbly, deep fried apple pies tomorrow. Steal a couple Snickers.

 14.  Throw out ALL of the Necco Wafers and Sugar Daddies. These are disgusting. Take snapshots of the kids smoking candy cigarettes. Send everyone to bed with the rest of their candy.

Photo via Snopes.Com (It's a joke!)

Photo via Snopes.Com (It's a joke!)

Halloween Today…

1.      September 1st. Pumpkin Spice is upon us. Buy pumpkin spice coffee, coffee creamer, candles, air freshener, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread, pumpkin kale chips, pumpkin spice gluten free granola, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spiced oreos, and tampons.

 2.      Redecorate your entire house with fall wreaths, decorative gourds, wicker pumpkins, all things orange and brown and rustic, and be sure to remember as many pieces of wood with inspirational quotes about harvest and family and gratitude painted on them as possible.

 3.      October 1st – begin important research into acceptable Halloween costumes free of cultural appropriation, micro-aggressions, and anything that may, in any possible way, cause anyone to feel even slightly uncomfortable about anything. Scour Etsy for cute felt animal costumes that look very twee and somewhat vaguely Scandinavian. No, your toddler can’t go as Chase from Paw Patrol because people have been seriously traumatized by dog attacks and many people have phobias of dogs and may be triggered.

4.      Fail utterly at convincing your eleven year old daughter not to pick a “cat” outfit that looks exactly like a feline prostitute, complete with fishnet thigh-highs and a bustier because “ALL HER FRIENDS’ COSTUMES HAVE GARTER BELTS, MO-OM.” Well, maybe this is because she has a healthy body image and will grow up to be a sex positive woman.

Photo via Pinterest.Com (Also a Joke, Don't Flip Out.)

Photo via Pinterest.Com (Also a Joke, Don't Flip Out.)

 5.      Paint a teal pumpkin and buy non-food treats. Spend $87.00 on organic, locally grown boxes of raisins, and toothbrushes made from recycled yoga mats. Candy is out of the question. What kind of a monster would give kids candy?

6.      Pray that your four-year-old son’s witch costume is not offensive to actual Wiccans, because Samhain is a very important holy day in their religion and people’s belief systems should not be objectified and reduced down to caricatures. The whole broom and pointy hat thing is an unfair stereotype, as is the green skin. Call your own mother and ask how one year she actually let you go as a Roma woman, because they are an oppressed European minority. She has no idea what you’re talking about.

 7.      Receive robo-call from your daughter’s school RE: URGENT CLOWN THREAT. The school is on lockdown because scary clowns. No one panic now.

 8.      Plan pumpkin patch visit. Pack family in car in coordinated plaid, earth-toned outfits, drive over an hour away, fight the hoardes of PSL fueled maniacs for a parking space. Stage informal, spontaneous (not really) photoshoot in the pumpkin patch with 400 other identical families doing the exact same thing, and then spend $135.00 on biodynamically grown pumpkins and a bushel of heirloom apples. Post 27 pumpkin photos on Instagram. Come home to find that everyone has an itchy rash from the hayride. Put arnica on it. #itsworthitfortheciderslushies

 9.      Buy expensive pumpkin carving kit with Dremel tool, stencils, and templates. Let the children watch as you spend four hours masterfully etching a complicated Halloween scene into the pumpkin’s flesh per something you saw on Pinterest. After fifteen minutes they get bored and disappear into their rooms to watch Charlie Brown on their iPads. Save all the pumpkin seeds to roast via the recipe you saw on Epicurious.

 10.  Dip elaborately carved pumpkin into bleach solution that you read about online in desperate attempt to preserve your masterpiece until Halloween. Place LED candle inside. Put on front step to find that the next morning it has been eaten by opossums. 

11.  Try desperately to get the kids to watch Hocus Pocus with you. Feel heartbreak when they don’t “get it.” Come on, there’s a talking cat! How can they not love the Sanderson Sisters?

 12.  No one liked the Epicurious pumpkin seed recipe. It was like eating tear dropped shaped bits of cardboard sprinkled with cinnamon.

 13.  No, your son cannot watch Halloween on Netflix. This movie attaches a stigma to mental illness, a serious condition that doesn’t actually cause people to wear weird masks and go on mass stabbing sprees. Michael Myers was a character that needed compassion and understanding, and a team of good medical professionals and holistic healers. Reiki could’ve totally saved Haddonfield, Illinois.

 14.  Receive note home from kids’ school that explains there will be an “Autumn Harvest Celebration” the week before Halloween, but that it must, under no circumstances, contain any references to actual Halloween. There will be no costumes or costume parade, and all treats for the classroom must be store-bought and individually wrapped and cannot be in the shape of ghosts, Goddess forbid.

 15.  Buy personalized, artisan-crafted, wicker, trick or treat baskets for the children on Etsy.

 16.  Mischief Night? Huh? That doesn’t sound very mindful.

 17.  Wonder why you feel like that mom in The Babadook. Post something on Facebook about how tired you are and how much coffee you need.

 18.  Halloween afternoon: Take the children trick or treating at Whole Foods so they can fill their artisan wicker baskets with free samples of vitamin drink mix, pumpkin quinoa chips, Mayan spiced pepitas, vegan gummies, and 70% cacao, free trade, dark chocolate, which everyone knows children love. Feel bad and buy them sunbutter cups and hibiscus iced tea.

 19.  Realize you were so busy that you forgot to dress up. Your Halloween costume is officially the gold butterfly sparkle Snapchat filter. Change all your social media profile pics to a butterfly head selfie. This is fine because you look more attractive, are more interesting, and lead a richer life online anyway.

 20.  Relent when the entire family revolts and demands to trick or treat for actual candy. Explain that trick or treating is an unsafe activity, that you will not let them knock on strangers’ doors in the dark because we have no idea who our neighbors are, and even if we did know them, there are too many people leading double lives these days, so you can never really know anyone, so, fine we are going to the mall.

 21.  Joylessly trick or treat at the mall. Live Tweet your frustration as this turns into an epic battle to keep your youngest away from Build a Bear and your eleven year old in her “cat” costume out of Justice.

 22.  Get home before sunset. Attempt to get everyone to eat gluten-free, butternut squash and sage tortellini.

 23.  Meticulously inspect each piece of candy your children received from the mall because you can never be too sure about those girls that work at Pottery Barn. Find zero razor blades. Hand each child one cream soda Dum Dum because they seem like they have less food dyes.

 24.  Turn on the porch light, put out the terra cotta jack o lantern from Hearthstone, along with the teal pumpkin, listen to an Indie Halloween playlist on Apple Music, and wait for trick or treaters.

25.  Three hours later – There was only one trick or treater and he appeared to be about twenty-three and was wearing a suit. Oh wait, he wasn’t trick or treating. He wanted to talk about some kind of religion. Give him all the raisins and toothbrushes anyway. Make him take them.

 26.  Bust out the Switch Witch. She needs all that garbage candy the kids got at the mall to heat her house or some BS. The kids look dubious, but you convince them to give up their Swedish Fish, Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, and Pretzel M & Ms anyway because the Switch Witch will leave them some toys in exchange.

 27.  Once the kids go to bed, eat ALL the Pretzel M & Ms. Throw the candy in the outside trash where no one will find it and leave the children a bunch of trinkets from Dollar Tree knowing full well they will hate you for this in the morning.

 28.  The next day – Relief. Now you can start getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Happy Halloween Everyone! May your October 31st be free of refined sugar and micro-aggressions.

If you liked this piece, you’ll also enjoy these:

Thanksgiving Back in the Day Vs. Now

Don’t Be An Asshole on The Internet

If 70s Moms Had Blogs

 And if you enjoy my posts, you’ll love my memoir THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE, now available everywhere!

You're Better Than That, Corey Feldman.

Photo cred: US Weekly

Photo cred: US Weekly

Dear Corey Feldman,

Hi. I’m guessing that you are probably reading this because you have set up a Google Alert for yourself. No shame. Not judging. I have one too, so I get it.

I know you’re having a hard time with the reaction to your recent Today Show performance. People said some things, Corey, and they made you cry, which is awful. Screw those people. Get out of bed. I’m not going to be one of them. I thought they were mean, and I sincerely don’t want to hurt your feelings. You come off as a person who’s probably had his feelings hurt enough already. I know your story, and you’ve been through some shit, man. Let me just stop to take a second and validate that.

However, Corey Feldman, we need to talk. Just you and me. This is going to go sort of Intervention style, and I might say some things that are tough to hear, but you need to listen to me.

What you did on the Today Show wasn’t working for a lot of us. I don’t know what it was about it, but I found myself, like many others, strangely fascinated by it. I could tell you were trying. I could see you remembering your choreography. I give you props there because I can’t dance at all. Not even a little bit, so I know this was tough. I could see you trying hard to channel Michael and I think maybe Kurt, and also a little Trent, plus, yeah, Kylo Ren. This is where you went wrong.

I could see how much passion you put into that performance, but it still went terribly wrong in the eyes of the public. I kept thinking: Dude. Come. On. You need to be yourself. Yourself now. Not yourself in 1987 and for that matter not anyone else from the late 80s either. That was a long damn time ago. We have moved on. We will love you for you.

The last thing anyone on the planet should ever try to do is be Michael Jackson. There was only one Michael Jackson, and the thing is, his window of actual coolness was very tiny and closed very quickly before he turned into a total wack job freak show. You do not want to be associated with that level of trainwreck. Seriously. Michael Jackson? He might have been a nice person to you, but he was the very essence of dysfunction and disaster and he looked ridiculous and was such a mess that he died from being a mess, and I tend to believe the stories that he was a pedophile, which I feel is so tragic.

You are better than that, Corey Feldman.

Michael Jackson as an aesthetic, not as an actual human being, is cheesy and lame. The only person who has even been able to come close to successfully emulating MJ is The Weekend or however the hell he spells his name, and he looks NOTHING like Michael. He just legit sings like him, except arguably better, and The Weekend is cool as shit. Why? Because he is original. There is no one else like him. IDGAF oozes off of him, and he doesn’t need to resort to a whole lot of schtick because he has real talent.

You have talent too. Also, you seem like the nicest person ever. I want you to stop with the dark evil look and be nice and inspiring. You got that in you, man. Do I have to get Tony Robbins on you?

If your songs are good, they’ll stand on their own, and you know what? As a proud ironic hipster, the more I heard your song, the more I liked it and that’s not easy for me to admit. But all the other stuff distracted me from it. What I’m saying is, if your music is real, you don’t need the drama, or the angels.

Can we talk about those angels? Fuck those angels. Not literally. I hate those angels. I’m sure they’re lovely girls, but I fucking can’t stand the image of sexy women dressed up in the Slutty Angel Halloween costume from Party City. How can I take this even a little seriously as art? I cannot. Neither can anyone else. It’s stupid. Stop making those girls dress like that. They will never ever be the Teen Spirit goth cheerleaders, nor can they ever compare to the Victoria’s Secret angels. Objectifying women into a pitiful cliché will never make you edgy. Just let them wear normal clothes. I feel like just getting rid of the angel costumes would change a lot.

No more cheeseball BS. You are better than that, Corey. Don’t forget it. I’m going to say it over and over ‘til it sinks in. I really want to send you to Stacey London for a makeover because I firmly believe that you could be transformed into a much classier, hipper version of hotness that would surprise a lot of people. I think with the right stylist you could be in that People issue about sexy men. Not even kidding.

Someone has mislead or mismanaged you and I’m sure there’s a long, upsetting, unfair story behind how this happened. Maybe you too made some bad choices.

But I am sick of listening to people make fun of you for it, and I want you to listen to me. I will not lead you wrong. We can show all of those haters.

You are a brilliant actor. I am offering up one of my deepest darkest secrets as proof. I even liked Blown Away. You are so good that you made Blown Away entertaining. It was a guilty pleasure. I had it on VHS tape. I really liked Dream a Little Dream too. Like, a lot. I don’t know why it wasn’t more successful. I thought it was great. At least in 1989 I did. I might think otherwise today, but back then I loved it and I wanted to be Meredith Salenger bad.

I don’t think talent like that goes away. Which means that you could be great again. Greater even.

Corey Feldman, you need to find your Tarantino.

Do you have a clue how awesome you would be in a movie that was actually well-written and well-directed? You would kill it in something Pulp-Fiction-esque. You need a genius director to take that chance on you like Tarantino did for Travolta. I could see you going full on Coen Brothers. You would be the greatest Coen Brothers villain since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. You need Paul Thomas Anderson. You need roles like Joaquin Phoenix gets. You can be that good.

You need an Oscar, Corey. We’ve got to get you a comeback. I’m even willing to start a petition to Hollywood to bring you back in something that isn’t straight to Netflix or a TV show that no one has ever heard of or is on VH1 (does that even still exist?) I’m talking real movies here. Sundance. Cannes. Toronto. Movies that are real art. Shy away from comedy and action, at least for now, because they can slide over into the lame-o category too easily.

I promise you, if I can ever get my shit together enough to write a screenplay, I will write you a part. But there are already people in Hollywood who are better writers than me, so I think you’re good there.

Make me one promise. Okay a few promises:

No more angels. Those girls are pretty in normal clothes.

Lose the schlock schtick. Let your art stand on its own.

Be yourself proudly. No one else is like you. We want the real you.

DON’T DO ANYTHING TO YOUR FACE. Age naturally. Don’t get plastic surgery or Botox or fillers or any of that garbage, ok? If you look like a freakshow you won’t get good parts and everyone will know you had work and everyone will make fun of you, and you will waste money jacking up your face so some asshole doctor can drive a red Maserati. So don’t. You look fine the way you are. If you disregard everything else I’ve said, listen to this. I really think that if MJ has left his face alone and looked like God made him that his life would’ve been significantly less tragic.

Start acting in quality stuff again. An amazing TV series (they need to find you a part on Westworld), great movies, fabulous writers and brilliant directors. You are hereby banned from doing anything cheesy even if you need to pay the bills. Work at Whole Foods before you take on a bad role in something awful. Maintain your dignity.

Because you are better than that, Corey Feldman.

I have faith in you. Lots of us do. You got this. We have your back, but you have to listen to me. We are praying for your comeback. We are #teamcoreyfeldman

And don’t be sad because a bunch of jackhole fools on the Internet said a bunch of bad stuff about you. Pick yourself up and prove them all wrong. Like actually prove them wrong, by not doing anything cheesy ever again.

I’m expecting good things from you. Don’t let me down.

If all else fails, take comfort in the fact that Brad and Angelina are getting a divorce and that news is so big that no one will even remember your performance because they’ll be too busy flipping out over Brad Pitt allegedly smoking too much weed or whatever they’re saying about him.

Wishing you all the best,

Victoria Fedden


If 70s Moms Had Blogs...

If 70s Moms Had Blogs

This morning I got up and Jennifer and Kimberly were eating Pop Rocks in front of the TV set watching Captain Kangaroo while Matt was already out in the back yard with a glass of Tang. I sat down and had a cigarette. I really wanted to watch my programs but I didn't want to have to get up and change the channel or mess with the antenna to get it to come in clear, so I let the girls continue until I was done my cigarette. I made sure to tell them not to drink any Pepsi for a couple hours so the Pop Rocks wouldn't explode in their stomachs. That happened to some kid on TV, you know.

Then I went into the kitchen and poured them all bowls of Apple Jacks while I had my coffee with sweet n low and another cigarette. Halfway through my smoke, I went and got the baby, changed its Pamper and made it a bottle of formula. Then I put it in the walker so I could vacuum in peace while the other three kids went outside.

About an hour later Matt came back crying that Mrs. Johnson had spanked him because he was throwing rocks at cars.

"Good," I told him, "I hope you learned your lesson. If I hear of you doing that again I'm going to bust your ass too, so you got lucky this time that you only got one whipping."

Then I sent him back outside while I continued to clean.

Little while later, here come the girls saying they're hot because it's 80 degrees and sunny. I gave them some more red Kool-Aid and told them if they were hot to stay in the shade and stop whining about it. 

That gave me the idea to lay out, so I covered myself in baby oil and positioned my plastic chaise lounge right in direct sunlight. I put the baby in the playpen with some blocks while I cracked open a Tab and listened to some Neil Sedaka and Captain and Tenille on my portable radio. Don't worry, I put a bonnet on the baby since she doesn't have hair yet.

Matt had been down at the lake fishing with all the other four year olds and he came back yelling that he had a fishhook caught in his lip so I had to get the pliers and cut it out for him. I gave him some ice, told him to stop crying and sent him back to the lake to fish some more.

Around noon the kids all came back from wherever they were and I made them fried baloney sandwiches on Wonder Bread with some tasty-kakes for dessert. After that we had to go grocery shopping so I put the three older ones in the back of the station wagon and set the baby on the front seat and off we went.

I decided I needed another cigarette when we were in the car, so I lit one up and I've discovered that if you only crack the window instead of rolling it down that the smoke ventilates much better, so I have no idea why the kids were coughing and fussing for me to roll the window all the way down. They were just being dramatic, I swear. Naturally I didn't listen to them.

Bill's going to be so mad at me. I spent an entire $27.00 at the grocery store this week. Prices are so high these days. It's just ridiculous. I don't know how the A&P is going to stay in business. I bet Gerald Ford has something to do with this. Or the Russians.

I sent the kids back outside again. This time I made the girls take the baby with them, which was fine because they were just going into the woods to play. Gave me some time to watch The Edge of Night in peace.

I'm planning a big night out with Bill this weekend for our anniversary. I thought maybe we'd go have fondue, drink some Harvey Wallbangers and go to a disco. I called the eleven year old down the street and told her we'd pay her three whole dollars to babysit all night and not to worry if the baby woke up and cried. I told her if you ignore it, the baby will eventually stop crying and go back to sleep, so just turn the record player up louder or something and that if the other three want to stay up late and watch television, it's okay but make them go to bed after Carol Burnett goes off and if they want some Jiffy Pop, that's fine too. They know how to make it themselves.

Hilda called while I was making dinner (cube steaks and crinkle fries) and we got to talking about playing cards and then she said she liked Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore better than The Godfather II and I had to agree with her. I told her they ought to make a TV show after Alice. She said it would never work. I told her I had to get off the phone because I needed to mix up my Brandy Alexander and the phone cord didn't reach all the way to the liquor cabinet.

Fed the kids and Bill dinner. Then Bill went off to Bob's for poker night and the girls all came over here to play Gin Rummy with me. We had some Chex Mix and Linda brought over her famous pineapple upside down cake, which we had with Sanka. We all talked about what we were going to do for the bicentennial and then Debbie started going on and on about how she likes this Jimmy Carter guy from Georgia for President and she and Doris got into an argument because Doris is a Republican. The kids tried to peek out of their rooms, where I'd put them for the evening, but I yelled at them and told them it was grown-up time and to keep playing Candyland and Lincoln Logs until they fell asleep. I asked Debbie what color she thought I ought to redo the kitchen in - harvest gold or avocado green and she said she thought rust or Colonial blue would be even prettier. Good lord. Too many choices!

After the girls left I had to clean up the kitchen. Thank God for Corelle ware because I keep dropping coffee cups in the sink. This stuff just will not break, I tell you! It's a miracle. I mixed up another pitcher of Tang for breakfast, went and filed my nails into long, pointy ovals and then painted them a new shade called "Shimmering Ecru." When they dried I put on a polyester negligee, touched up my blue eyeshadow and sprayed my hair. Then I added a spritz of Charlie. I feel like celebrating our anniversary a little early! I have an IUD now after all. I'm not really worried about hemorrhaging or getting an infection from it. It's just a bunch of hype like that whole thalidomide scare. I knew lots of women ten years ago who took that and only one of their kids was born with a weird hand. She's not very crippled from it though. The kids in school tease her but middle schoolers are like that and it will build character.

Anyway, I think I'll have a cigarette and read some of Waiting for Mr. Goodbar. Maybe I'll put on a Streisand record until Bill gets home.

Good night!

Please Pre-order my memoir THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE,  out June 7th, by clicking on any of the links below!