Distractions Soothe the Doom: A 2021 Summer Story

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My summer of escapism is just what the hippy dippy doctor, who resides in my cluttered mind, demanded I take. What wonders New York City, Los Angeles, and constant talking can do for one’s weary soul. Why think about the deep stuff when you’ve got pretty dresses to wear and fruity drinks to gulp. Why ponder when you can wander through the muck?

All zombie apocalypse, I dreamed of NYC and now NYC will forever be remembered as the place my daughter Arabella and I met Lorde. Lorde, my actual savior now that I’ve ditched Catholicism like my mind ditches reality.

Traipsing through SOHO on our annual NYC trip, I sniffed Lorde out on day one. Her cheekbones gave her away immediately; they gleamed with sharper edges than the skyscrapers. She was briskly sauntering in the opposite direction and it took one second for me to recognize her, grab my daughter — a true Lorde devotee, and say, “THAT’S EFFING LORDE AND I’M NOT KIDDING,” in the sternest voice I’ve ever used.

God praise Lorde. Lorde and Arabella

Arabella turned quicker than the world on Meghan Markle, and ran after Lorde softly saying, “Ella, Ella.” Only a true fan would know to use her real name and Lorde turned and had a small conversation with Arabella, then me. We stammered our shared adoration, how many times we’ve seen her play live (two together, four for Arabella). I complimented her on her sublime Colbert performance and it was off with a picture!

Lorde could not have been more gracious. I like to think of her as the Fiona Apple of this generation and meeting her only cemented her place as the coolest pop star right now. The rest of our trip to New York City was magical but nothing can top meeting Lorde.

Trigger warning: Demi Levato’s a phony.

Los Angeles and a Plane Trip from Heaven

Before the plane took off, I met someone I will never forget. My seatmate was a seasoned 30-year old L.A. woman who’d been in the family biz for years, with roles on Silicon Valley’s “Bear is sticky with honey” episode, Chicago Fire, and a slew of commercials and theater. Lucky for me, her handsome boyfriend — a fellow actor with a robust resume — was across the aisle. His distance left his lovely lady all to me and she regaled me with Hollywood stories for five hours.

She was mesmerizing, enchanting, beautiful and yes, I am obsessed with her. The object of my fascination shall remain nameless but will forever be cemented in my mind. She looked at my L.A. itinerary and finessed it into a tour de force of coolness. Thank you, fine friend and let me know when you issue that restraining order.

Where was Harry Styles? Laurel Canyon Country Store

Triggering Demi Levato

Within one hour of landing, my husband and I arrived at the scene of Demi Levato’s crime against low-fat humanity: The Bigg Chill. I boldly entered this famed L.A. ice cream shop and ordered a low fat concoction that would drive poor Demi into the eight nervous breakdown. The ice cream was fine but the cackling laughter erupting from my mouth was much more divine.

Feeling Lana Del Rey’s hypnotic pull, Laurel Canyon was next on my itinerary. A playground for rock stars, actors and eccentrics since the 40s, Laurel Canyon was staggeringly lovely. We stumbled upon the Laurel Canyon Country Store, fictionalized in The Door’s song “Love Street” as a place “where the creatures meet” and I had the best lavender latte I’ve ever tasted. I gazed at the beautiful people noshing on deli sandwiches surrounded by a desert cornucopia of understated coolness.

If Anything Happens to Me, Call Tom Cruise

What’s weirder: Catholicism or Scientology

Then it was off to the Church of Scientology to investigate the creepiest religion since, well, my 45 years of Catholicism.

We pounced on the large campus, miming for the many cameras everywhere. While filming, a fit and uniformed man biked over and politely asked how we were and what we were doing. I shared that we were interested in Scientology and he directed us to the entrance for a …TOUR!

At the entrance we were greeted by two pretty women and a uniformed man, given gloves and signed over our life to aliens for admission. The paperwork requested personal information and what we were looking for in regards to our visit. It was multiple choice and I answered “help with stress.”

Our tour guide was a beautiful, tall, blond woman named Krista. She was knowledgeable and intelligent – and a little robotic. She never stopped smiling but her eyes reflected a twinkle of regret. I never lied to Krista and was genuinely interested in her stories. I shared that we had recently left Catholicism, that I’m interested in Scientology, and that I knew a lot about the religion from the news and pop culture. She directed us to interactive screens where we watched dated videos about Ron Hubbard.

Covert photo opportunity. I did it all for Beck.

Then we walked by an E-Meter, a “religious artifact that helps the auditor and preclear locate areas of spiritual distress or travail.” Yup, that’s the Scientology explanation and it’s bat shite crazy.

Krista offered us a turn on the ol’ E-Meter and of course I obliged. I took off my rings and plastic gloves, and grasped the metal for it to do its voodoo magic. That E-Meter went higher than my blood pressure every time my doctor tells me the signs of a stroke. I have no idea what was happening but do know that E-Meters are a part of auditing and ultimately the information gleamed is used as collateral against “suppressors.” Krista asked about my obvious anxiety and after telling her that I take anti-anxiety meds, Krista’s calm façade showed twitches. As Brooke Shields knows, Scientology’s biggest enemy is psychiatry!

We left shortly after. As we walked back to our car, the Church of Scientology’s foundation seemed shakier. An old man using a walker looked confused and a middle aged woman waved excitedly to us as we passed by. Both looked lonely.

New York City and Los Angeles were so much fun, we saw friends who we haven’t seen in 20 years and the vacations reminded me how vital human connections are. I hiked to Griffith Observatory, went to Bravo’s TomTom Club and went on a booze cruise in NYC, but don’t you know it’s the people I met that I remember the most. For such a curmudgeon , perhaps I am really a people person.

Places I loved

I hope this isn’t too travel bloggy but here’s a list of hot spots I visited and dug.

Laurel Canyon Country Store– 2108 Laurel Canyon Blvd., L.A. The ghost of beautiful people are in the lavender.

El Candor, 3701 Sunset Blvd. L.A. Fine drinks and Mexican fare.

House of Galbi, 15927 Ventura Blvd. Encino. So. Much. Deliciousness

The Comedy Store, Hollywood. You can feel the history.

Trove, 2008 Westwood Boulevard. A vintage clothing store with authentic vintage!

Citi Bike NYC. I’ve never felt better than riding a bike through NYC.

Eszett. 3510 West Sunset Blvd. L.A. Mouth wateringly delicious food.

Boy Scout Trail to Griffith Observatory. The Boy Scouts nailed this beautiful hike.

My splurge (vintage hat). Purchased at Trove.

Uncle Chuck’s Passing and the Death of Class

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My lovely Uncle Chuck recently died during this rotgut of a time and my thoughts echo with only the finest memories of New England’s classiest man. In a world of forgettable uncles, mine pulsed to a lo-fi beat of his own. For a young girl without much of a relationship with her own father, my uncle showed me how kind men can be.

Christmas Eves at Uncle’s Chuck’s Uxbridge home meant jazz whispering in the background while I nibbled on gourmet cheese, only to inevitably and secretly spit it out because it certainly wasn’t cheddar or American. Chuck’s five older and smarter-than-me children, my cousins, would regale me with tales from NYC and Africa. Before smoking cigarettes was officially deemed repugnant, we’d all smoke butts in the one room that Chuck begrudgingly allowed and I choked on the inside knowledge that I was in on something to remember, something cool. My mother always let me open one present before we left for Chuck’s home and I chose carefully—eager to show off an enormous Swatch watch or Esprit button-down shirt to everyone. Christmas Eve at Chuck’s wasn’t about food or presents, in fact I don’t remember either, it was about soaking it all in.

Chuck’s best friend was Rich Lupo of Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel fame and Rich would make holiday appearances and sprinkle stories of rock ‘n’ roll into conversations while I just wanted to know if he’d met Madonna. Years later, Chuck would marry his gorgeous and younger wife Judy and Lupo held the after party while I wondered how my suburban life could get any better. I would soon become a constant feature at Lupo’s and went to see so many bands play there, Hole’s 1994 show being my all-time highlight. I’d always brush Chuck up on my latest indie-rock obsession and we’d share our fondness for Lucinda Williams’s “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.”

My uncle’s couch was as smooth as his vibe.

My uncle was a pharmacist, just like my grandfather who died way before I was born. As I grew up, a trip to “the drugstore,” Chuck’s hybrid pharmacy-package store, was a highlight of my unruly Massachusetts life. My store purchases transcended from Swedish fish to a pack of Camels, to vodka and rum. My first store memory is being rewarded with a slice of American cheese and my last memory is showing off my new baby.

In 1985, I was a 10-year-old wise enough to use a trip to the drugstore as a way to sneak a peak at Madonna’s Playboy spread. While my uncle and cousin were busy talking to my mom, I used my gymnastics background and grabbed the magazine from the top row. I quickly gobbled everything I could see until innocently moving onto the penny candy. The realization that women could grow hair underneath their arms excited and confused me while I chewed my candy.

My cousin Sharon and I discuss NYC and my new Esprit shirt on Christmas Eve.

At 16, I found a new connection to Chuck through an infatuation with a teenager named Jeremy who worked at Chuck’s store in Douglas, MA. Making my new find even stranger, Jeremy was my mom’s former student, mysterious, a little older, and totally not interested in me. He was perfect.

My girlfriends and I would rush to the store to make Jeremy blush and be humiliated by my uncle. “What’s going on here, Kathy? You’ve never visited with friends before but now you all show up dressed like you’re going to Studio 54?” Chuck would tease. “Oh Jeremy, I think this one’s for you.” It was a pleasure sensation. No, I never got the boy but that was never really the point and I did thoroughly enjoy the chase.

Chuck admired my rebelliousness and remarked on my increasing face piercings with a wince and a wink. Years later as I had quickly domesticated and had a kid, after my facial piercings and rainbow-colored hair were gone, he observed, “I suppose it’s not about how long you have the look, but how strong it was when you had it.” Sure, I like that thought.

My bro Matt, Aunt Margie, sister Deirdre, and Uncle Chuck.

Sadly, my childhood wasn’t all pleasant Christmas Eves and idyllic trips to Chuck’s store. I was juggling the shame and embarrassment of having an alcoholic father and living through my folks’ nasty divorce. This was the 80s, way before my realization that alcoholism is a disease and that alcoholics are sick people. I didn’t know that yet, but I knew my father drank a lot and that his heavy drinking would manifest in blacked out, angry phone calls to my mother’s family, mostly Uncle Chuck. I knew this was happening although I never heard it myself. I’d hear about it in hushed, dirty whispers and I’d feel hushed and dirty.

My father sadly died way before he should have. My siblings and I did the best we could to remember my father and in the obituary we requested donations to the Alzheimer’s Foundation. My Uncle Chuck made an impressive donation, in my father’s memory, and I just couldn’t believe it; that stayed with me. Chuck donated in memory of someone who tormented him because he was that kind of man. He honored me and my siblings by honoring my father. My uncle attended every event we ever invited him to, but the kind gesture he made when my father died is something that will stay with me forever. That’s a man.

Rest in peace Chuck. Your children, beautiful wife and family members will remember you for life and your obituary was almost as beautiful as you were.

The Embracement of Being a Hermit

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How long has it been since we’ve all been dwelling here? My bed and office chair have formed an outline of my flat and flabby derriere. I’ve been caged for so long that standard errands feel like a commitment; the thought of applying eyeliner, a chore. I don’t want to be a bummer but I’m a bum with a numb bum. The more I sit, the harder it is to move.

This pseudo solitary confinement unleashes strange thoughts to roam freely in my scary cerebellum of anxiety and angst. Free time is filled with make-believe conversations from the past and silly thoughts about celebrity culture. As much as I’m obsessing over what Armie Hammer’s parents think—or if the Free Britney movement is about us or Britney— I’m thinking of a past love who wronged me or why I was so cruel to a nice girl in high school. There’s very little in-between. As the kids declare, I’ve got no chill.

I wanted to use this time to be more creative, but does it count if the creativity is in my head? Or is that just mental illness?

Insomnia is my special time to beat myself up for things said and unsaid and I don’t dig loneliness creeping into my day. I don’t even take long car rides by myself because I don’t like all that time to brood.

Perhaps we’ve all been busying ourselves with social media, carpools, manicures, dinners out and useless conferences just to mute our thoughts. I’ve been frantic for so long over not making as much money as peers that now I’m home and realize that there’s no need for all the junk I wanted so badly. Yet I still buy more; it’s all that I know.

Living inside my head does wonders for my complexion.

I Miss Gossip the Most

Ben Affleck’s sadness can’t quench my desire for scandal. Picture Backgrid.

I yearn for a good ol’ scandal. A juicy divorce or shotgun wedding will do. I’m pleading with someone to do something. Armie Hammer’s sadism, Ben Affleck’s sadness and “Southern Charm’s” thirst for fame can’t carry the world. When the most salacious conversation I can initiate revolves around Rhode Island’s mediocre vaccine rollout, life is as boring as “Mank.” I’m so starved for content, I actually read and absorbed words describing Meghan Markle’s pregnancy and I can’t get any lower than that.

Nobody’s going out so there are no fights, few affairs, or cheap party etiquette about which to dish. Feistiness and pugnacity shut right down when the bars did. What I would give to be repulsed by a bunch of bohunks getting into a bar fight right now, how I long for a goateed man wearing work boots to check me out and quickly dismiss me at a club. I am dying to run into an ex at the local mall and get off on life’s awkwardness.

Astute Observations on Nothing

  • Loving Lana Del Rey is never easy, but I’ll never quit. And she needs a new publicist.
  • JLo’s lasting fame will never make sense and at least we can look forward to her and A-Rod’s contentious split, coming soon to a tabloid near you.
  • Courtney Love succinctly ties up everything as profoundly as Joan Didion.
  • Marilyn Manson is, and always was a joke. Sure I went to his concert in a cloud of narcotics and walked over all the strung-out kids nodding off on a filthy floor, but underneath all the pancake makeup, he was a joke without ever being funny.
  • Marilyn Manson, Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp need new publicists
  • Phoebe Bridgers is the coolest indie rocker in ages. She bleeds beauty and magic wrapped up in a perfectly pretty sad pop song. Bridgers’ guitar destruction on SNL was the most alive thing I’ve seen in 10 effing months.
  • The pandemic really works for some people, when they want it to.
  • Meghan Markle is insufferable, from her monochromatic wardrobe to her fake nose scrunch. Can we somehow send her back to England?
  • I would rather watch this terrible season of “Housewives of Orange County” on a continuous loop than ever watch any of the Netflix series Meghan Markle is developing.

Losing My Religion and Birthing a Cult

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Now that I’ve formally left my religion—if formally means in a blaze of passive aggressive email glory—I’m creating a cult. A new religion of sorts that is light on the spirituality but heavy with crime and punishment.

My codependent hook-up with Catholicism has ended after decades of rockiness, make-up sex, and dalliances. I’ve tried, but I’m either going to go to jail for harassing Bishop Tobin, Lil’ Rhody’s villain Bishop, or I’m going to stop drinking the blood Kool-Aid and open myself up as a free agent on the spiritual highway.

Now that I’m free, or excommunicated, I’m welcome to enlightenment. I dug a lot about Catholicism, so you won’t hear me bashing it too much. There’s nothing that irked me more than when I would tell people I was a Catholic and they’d badmouth it right in front of me. I don’t need to do that because I’ve gone and created my own religion named Bonkers and my followers are called Bonkos.

Join me if you can follow these strict doctrines.

Self-Analysis is a Must

Followers must constantly analyze themselves internally and with psychological help; this is a requirement. And I’m not talking about support groups, I am referring to in-depth psychoanalysis conducted by acclaimed therapists. Bonkos must dig deep to get to the bottom of their problems and it is mandatory to talk about their therapy in most conversations, in fact one’s neuroses is disclosed upon introduction.

Sound tricky? Don’t fret, here goes: “Hi, I am Kathleen. I have narcissistic tendencies, delusions of grandeur, and a real chip on my soldier. On a positive note, I’m five feet tall, my hair’s going white and I suffer from a wretchedly itchy scalp yet I’m still the most confident maniac I know. Nice to meet you.”

Polite Conversations are Forbidden

At church functions, of which there will be many, small chat will be limited to two minutes and 22 seconds. Once the talking parties hit that time threshold, they must talk about something interesting or cease talking and move on to sit in a corner for two minutes until they have something noteworthy to say.

And talking about home improvements is a sin punishable by wearing an “I’m a boring arse” banner all day.

Children Have No Rules

Unless regarding physical safety, children have no rules and no chores. Children are the superior spirit and must be treated with dignity and be granted free range of doing almost whatever they want. Parents and caregivers must be light on punishments and fresh behavior is not only tolerated, but also encouraged.

Children may be scolded for the following infractions and ONLY the following:

  • Bullying
  • Tattle tailing
  • Watching “The Kardashians”
  • Speaking to people while glued to one’s phone.

Corporate Jobs Start at 9:30 a.m.

I like to work as much as a GenXr slacker can and encourage every Bonko to work. However, it is strictly forbidden for Bonkos to begin the workday before 9:30 a.m. Precious morning hours must be savored with coffee, screaming at the news, perfecting one’s outfit, and making plans for the weekend.

Light Drinking is Mandatory

This is a controversial commandment and alas this religion is not for everyone: Two glasses of a light alcoholic beverage are mandatory at all church gatherings. No more and absolutely no less. The scientific reason behind this is so followers can remove the stick lodged up their behind while at church—thus making conversations livelier and people more likely to give money to the church. Drink up, baby.

What Would Holden and Courtney Do?

When churchgoers find themselves in a spiritual dilemma they must wonder what Courtney Love or Holden Caulfield would do in the same situation and follow their leads. In fact we follow the Book of Holden and Courtney that contains the following edicts:

  • “That’s something that annoys the hell out of me- I mean if somebody says the coffee’s all ready and it isn’t.” Holden Caulfield
  • “Lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most.” Holden Caulfield
  • “I like to behave in an extremely normal, wholesome manner for the most part in my daily life. Even if mentally I’m consumed with sick visions of violence, terror, sex and death.” Courtney Love
  • “Only dumb people are happy.” Courtney Love

Everyone Must Dance

Dancing is a Bonkers church commandment and each church session will be followed by an hour of dancing to pop music. This will cleanse your spirit and teach humility and foster flexibility. Megan Thee Stallion is mandatory listening material and each dance will start with a Megan Thee Stallion song.

Botox Euphoria and Things Worse than the Plague

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I scheduled my first Botox appointment in the midst of this bloody apocalypse. It seems my sunny disposition and smiling mug have rendered me more wrinkled than a fat furless cat. After a lifetime of fainting at the sight of blood and the thought of a needle, I bravely welcomed these injections—right into the corner of my beady eyes— without a blink. Thank you, sir, may I have another?

It was such sweet relief; the results were automatic, and I felt a few years younger. Unfortunately, I don’t have many people to show my motionless face to right now. I’m not Housewives of NYC paralyzed but I am refreshed. What’s next? A colonic? Might I order my first salad?

What’s less bearable in plague times: being away from people or actually speaking to them? It’s tougher than figuring out who’s more annoying: Kelly Clarkson or Justin Bieber. (For the record, Kelly wins.) Every strained exchange ends with, “We’re all in the same boat.” Well so was everyone on the Titanic and young, hot Leo still ended up dead and bloated when there was a perfectly suitable flotation device for him. If we are all in the same boat, I hope mines being filmed for “Bravo” and that my new eyelids look AMAZING!

It’s filthy fun, this level of pandemic judgment we all have going on. The people in the bunkers are scoffing at peeps like me who occasionally get out, while I feign outrage over people hopping on planes. At this point, I prefer fewer actual conversations and more living in my own head. It is comfy and crowded in there and Courtney Love makes occasional appearances.

There are people or places worse than the pandemic. I’d rather be stuck in my unorganized home smelling my dog’s gas than experience any of the following atrocities again:

More Unpleasant than Quarantine

Jennifer Lopez’s Desperation– Jennifer Lopez is old, way past middle age, and her inner thirst clock strikes her brain senseless. Yes, she looks amazing naked, but we’ve seen it all before when Ben Affleck sold his soul to apply lotion to her derriere. In the world of faded pop stars, why is JLO the last woman standing? She’s packaging the same crap at every award show and we’re all just AMAZED that she’s so hot. Yawn.

I’d rather live without toilet paper than listen to new Jlo music.

Jenny from the Block, you are so past your time for anything other than an ABC drama that will surely be canceled, or another divorce. Girl, it’s been a long time since you were a fly girl and it’s time to take your vitamins and settle down with Alex Rodrigues. Sell your crappy products, hawk your kids into the entertainment industry and let’s call it a career. As much as I’d love to attend an all-day music festival hopped up on whatever I can find, then show up at a local hotel in hopes of making out with the bass player, I’m old, like you, and I’ve retired that act. It hurts, I get it.

Whining about Losing- Listening to pop stars and politicians complaining is less appealing than piercing my own brain with a COVID swab. I dig The Weeknd as much as the next overweight housewife, but get over it. Add Halsey, our former president, and Lana Del Rey and everyone else who whines about losing onto my shite list.

Where can I file a complaint over never making Homecoming Queen?

Take it from this big loser, it’s okay. Every year I would find the most overdone semi-formal dress I could in the sticks of Massachusetts and tease my hair with ferocity- just to be deemed pretty enough to make Homecoming Court and it NEVER happened. I also never landed a date with Patrick Kennedy, after years of trying, but you don’t see me crying into my cheap white wine.

Zoom Meetings– No, I can’t take them anymore. Oh, the people who are obviously looking at themselves the whole time, pumping their lips and trying out different poses while also attempting to look scholarly. Or even worse, the over talkers who just forge their own path of rudeness when others are speaking. Then there’s always one older person who is miffed that he can’t figure out some technical mystery that kindergartners have mastered. Can we go back to the conference call?

COVID Dreams– There was a time when I tracked COVID time with my periods, but I’m going to be in menopause before we’re out of this. Now I’ve started tracing time with COVID dreams and nightmares. My dreams are a sacred place for me and Timothee Chalamet so this invasion of privacy is jarring.

We’re All in This Together– No, I’m not referring to the insipid saying that everyone’s spewing, I’m talking about the legendary “High School Musical” series. Put me back in high school with Troy and I can save the world and make Homecoming Queen.

xoxoxoxoxox

I Caused the Pandemic by Being Bad

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There are weeks when pandemic life gets me down, lower than America’s current character. Days when I have to remind myself that I can’t sleep all day and nights I succumb to alertness while the hours crawl by and I scratch my head and worry about how much I scratch my head.

At 3 a.m, my mind veers into absurdity, like I start to wonder if maybe I brought this pandemic on. I suspect this illogical logic stems from my Catholicism and won’t go away no matter how hard I distance myself from my religion.

See, when something bad happens, I think of what I may have done to cause it. I’m incapable of dishonestly calling out from work sick because I believe that deceit will make me sick. At church as a kid, I’d spend the whole time fantasizing about making out with cute boys and I’d shake it out of my head — sure God could hear and I’d be forever doomed. A few minutes would go by and I’d be right back to thinking about boys and Cyndi Lauper.

So, I think I caused the plague. I’m also a self-diagnosed narcissist so everything relates back to me and my formative years, but I’ve done some lousy things and perhaps my juvenile delinquency started the plague.

A Fake Teenage Elopement

I was a mildly screwed up kid. I wanted to be much more screwed up than I actually was, but I tried damn hard. All my idols were troubled, and I craved excitement and drama. But acting out in a small town becomes redundant after a while. How many times can you smoke cigarettes in the girl’s bathroom, or go to the high school dance after having a few nips? How many games of Truth or Dare can a young girl initiate? One must get creative.

Afraid that my wanna-be groupie lifestyle and poor grades just weren’t cutting it to define my bad assery, my high school love with the chiseled cheekbones and I concocted an eff you to the world: We ran away and left a letter to our caring parents stating that we were eloping.

As a lifelong lover of letter writing, I think back on that stark letter, written on a haphazardly ripped out piece of paper: “Mom, I eloped. Kathy.” That was it. Nothing fancy and right to the gut.

The zeal of such defiance was intoxicating. Or maybe we were just intoxicated. Anyway, we didn’t get married and we had never planned on doing so. We wanted to piss people off and well, it worked. My boyfriend’s parents placed a missing person’s report while he and I traversed all around South County, Rhode Island for two days.

After a few days without a shower, I calmly walked back home and yelled ,”I’m back.” I don’t recall actually getting in trouble, but my goal was met: I created excitement and messed shite up.

The Thievery

I once had an Aunt Mary whom I would visit monthly. She was old, frail and as nice as a curmudgeon could be. She lived in a small condominium and every visit came with a penmanship lesson and a little money in my stonewashed jean’s pocket.

Good ol’ Aunt Mary gave me money to take out her minimum amount of trash that only contained crushed and cleaned TV dinner boxes. I suppose she was green before her time.

Aunt Mary’s home was tidy and filled with creepy religious pictures and crosses. She’d watch Mass on the television and I got a kick out of that. One day as I snooped through her place, I saw a Jesus cross affixed to the wall that I just had to have. After looking both ways, as all good thieves do, I swiped it right off the wall. Accomplished, I fingered it in my pocket for the rest of the visit and all the way home, happy with my forbidden treasure.

Not long after arriving home, the one home phone rang and it was ol’ Aunt Mary concerned about her missing artifact. Could I have taken it? I denied it for as long as I could but eventually, I had to fess up and apologize. I had grabbed it right off the wall and left a tear where it had been.

Crab Murder

My cousins and I spent most summers hanging around Rhode Island beating each other up, comparing sunburns, getting lost at state beaches, stealing cigarettes from the adults, and crabbing. I could spend hours collecting crabs but my cousin was petrified of them and I would absolutely torment him with crabs.

One night we had a bonfire and I fed the fire a bucket of crabs. Directly into the fire, I dumped live crabs while giggling over the sounds that escaped the crabs as they were burned alive. I was young and…evil? I’m not sure but I do remember my more sensitive cousin battling insomnia for a lot of that summer and mentioning that when he closed his eyes he could still hear the squeaking sound of those dying crabs.

I think it’s entirely possible that I created the plague by being such a bad child and I’m really sorry. I will find a way to make amends and if you have any ideas, send them my way!

The Pandemic Shame Game

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The cruel comfort of being home, safe among dust balls and a creepy aesthetic, has become claustrophobic. I suffer from a failure to deliver. “I should really move that beach bag that’s been in the foyer since August,” I ruminate while my daily screen time climbs higher than Johnny Depp on trial nights. Lock away my phone and perhaps my brain will reappear. Then again, perhaps not.

There are many errors in my pandemic lifestyle. As an unabashed news junky, I won’t stop watching, listening to, or fighting over current events. This and my insomnia shapeshift me into a hatred-filled tweet machine at night. I’m currently in Twitter battles with so many conservative radio hosts that I fear a(nother) restraining order is in my future. Okay, maybe just a dramatic block.

What comes first: insomnia or my spontaneous fits of dancing and singing? Both create a landslide of embarrassment for everyone, other than me. My poor children, I never shut up. Days are narrated with an endless stream of consciousness spoken in my valley girl talk. Sometimes I find a gem of enlightenment but it’s mostly, “Should I get Botox? Like, do I look older or younger than the mom on “Rick and Morty?” Where’s my phone? What DID I do with that phone?”

The Shame Blame Game! Play along!

I posted this picture and was automatically shamed.

My pathological extrovertism is always getting me shamed. Haters, don’t fret, I’m keeping safe. Heck, I’m geography-dumb but I’m not socially stupid. Like ALL my psychiatrists assure me: we’re all doing the best we can. Can we all give each other a break?

When I escape my house with shimmer on my cheekbones and a bold lip, you bet I’m going to take a picture, obsess over a clever caption, and share. I HAVE to share it on social media because I am a narcissist. I promise you that I’m not at a rave so please stop barraging me with judgmental comments. “Are you outside?” No, I’m inside French kissing strangers and licking waiters’ eyes. Come on, I am sitting at a bonfire drowning my solitude with too many Bud Lights, not at a Trump rally becoming blood sisters with Kellyanne.

Six and a half days per week, I dwell in stained sweatshirts and my son’s socks. On Saturday nights, I free myself into a haze of something…outside and with a fire. Don’t worry, the other days I am home and miserable, just like everyone else.

This lobster had more interesting things to say than most people.

Conversations are so dull now. It seems that all the smaht people talk about is how long they’ve been in home confinement. It’s become a contest of culture. “I went to the pharmacy for the first time in eight months and saw a child picking her nose. I won’t leave for another few months.” It’s alright, folks, we’ve (mostly) all been staying inside, and it truly doesn’t need to be an honor of superior citizenship. Let’s get back to what we do best and talk poorly about one another, our family, and how weird Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara’s baby is going to be.

Thoughts:

  • Snob and slob are practically the same word and I’m both.
  • I do adore Claudia Conway. May I adopt her and get her mom’s money and lipsticks?
  • I’ve scheduled a Botox appointment and think it will cure me of my needle phobia, vanity is that strong.
  • I went to a new doctor recently and he asked me if I’ve ever gone to a therapist. That’s my funny story of the summer.

1975 – 2020: Kathleen’s Battered Soul is Buried

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It’s been a wretched year, a year that made me ponder what gouging out my own eyes would feel like. Then I thought about the poor girl who really did that while high on meth and I’ve instead opted to scratch at my scalp psoriasis all day, every day. Scratch, scratch, pick, pick until little scabs form a constellation.

I should have known something was amiss on New Year’s Eve. I voluntarily stayed home on New Year’s Eve and with that unbelievable act, my existence was soon to be spit on. A lifelong pursuit of partying, irreverent conversations, and fancy frocks would explode right into my eybrowless face. 2020 started with my 8th nervous breakdown and just kept descending lower than The Chainsmokers’ talent level.

The Chainsmokers: 2020’s Soundtrack

To think that in January my biggest source of anxiety was that I was on my hundredth new job because job switching was my rebellious protest to the world — for no reason. My eff you to, well myself, I suppose. Gosh I long for the days when I had to create problems just to keep life interesting. Sigh.

The best part of 2020. Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B.

Oh 2020, you boyfriend with the awful breath, chiseled cheekbones, and tacky mom — you will NEVER get much better. You show glimpses of humanity, like a surprise Taylor Swift album, the fun and public mocking of Kelly Ripa, the creativity of Hulu’s Palm Springs, and watching all the Chads and Karens hemorrhage over Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP video, but you will NEVER get much better.

I enjoyed everything about this movie.

But the pandemic was kind of fun for a bit, wasn’t it? It felt like dabbling with a hobby for a spell. I baked bread, gave away junk, went on HIKES, dyed my eyebrows and thought that this too shall pass. 

But I’ve now been home for too long. I don’t even know where anything is around here because I never put anything away. At home, I spend 1/4 of my time searching for what I just put down. The other 3/4 is spent in the following order:

  • Worrying.
  • Working.
  • Worrying about work.
  • Checking Facebook only to want to unfriend a slew of “friends”.
  • Scrolling through Twitter and having Twitter wars with Bishop Tobin, Dorinda Medley, and Sean Spicer.
  • Saying aloud, “I just can’t believe this is happening!”
  • Itching my scalp.
  • Staring out of my window.
  • Becoming way too excited for Housewives of NYC episodes.

Until next time, pals, Now go watch WAP and let me know what you think about it.

Life’s so rotten, let’s focus on worse times.

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The Covid zombie apocalypse has got me low.  I’m sadder than Ben Affleck before he found Ana de Amas. I live in a shaky world where fainting is a palpable possibility and slumber is a nice-to-have requirement. But all the nervousness, political anger, and family closeness makes me realize that things have been worse.

Heartbreak Erupts into Obsessive Movie Habits

In 1994 I was so heartbroken that I spent three days watching Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” on an endless loop — only stopping to drive by my ex-boyfriend’s apartment to envision all the sex he and his new teenage girlfriend were having. I was staying with my sister and she’d occasionally yell at me to refill the ice tray and throw away my molehill of smoked butts, but other than those strained interactions, it was just me basking in the pain of a 3-hour movie. I was proving a point, but I had no idea what the point was or to whom I was pointing the point.

Have you ever watched “Short Cuts?” It’s psychological torture. Watching it once messes with your head but watching it for days while chain smoking vacuum seals you right into the bell jar. I eventually aired myself out, plucked a few more eyebrows, and found another troubled boy to date. And yeah, life got better, but it was an even worse time than pandemic schpandemic.

Summer School Bullying

Then there was that unfortunate year when I failed high school science and was given the social-life death sentence of summer school in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. My mom was so angry that she plucked me out of my dazed summer party scene and forced me to endure summer school in a foreign land. I was stuck with a group of dumb kids who taunted me by calling me “Cure Girl.” As a big fan of The Cure, I was pleased with my new moniker.

A few weeks in, the teacher quietly called me up front and asked, “What are you doing here?” I responded with a well-practiced shrug. Say no more, say no less.

I’ve Been Uglier

I’ve definitely looked worse. Sure, I am currently sporting white hair on my head, eyebrows and other unmentionable areas, but I’m still prettier than I was during my elementary school love affair with the perm. I had reddish curly hair, a face full of freckles and ONLY wore clothes with rhinestones, lace and tulle. Of course I needed a perm!  

I think I know why my first kiss happened in the last few days of 7th grade during a ‘7 Minutes in Heaven’ game gone wrong. While waiting in line, having a slight panic attack, I could hear the boys discussing how bummed they’d be if they got me. Well someone did and wowza, I’d been kissed, albeit in a forced situation and years after all my girlfriends. Don’t worry though, I developed nicely that summer and made up for lost time.

Mistakenly Dating a Homeless Man

Yes, life can always be more painful. Right after college while I was hiding out in Portland, Oregon, running away from my parents needling me about getting a real job and escaping an arrogant manchild, I found a mysterious coworker to dig. He was much older, secretive, and good looking. What more does a naive girl need?

After months of waiting for Tim to ask me out, he finally did. He didn’t have a car — which now I see is a warning sign but this was Portland, Oregon and the crunchies rode bikes. So, I picked him up at a street corner.

My mind raced with all sorts of theories. Perhaps his home was so luxurious that he wanted me to know the real Tim. Could he have a secret family? The night staggered on and we drank enough alcohol to cloud all bad judgments into smart ones. There was some making out and a shared cab ride to his street corner and my apartment.

Tim didn’t show up to work the next day, or ever again while I was employed there. Seems Tim was living in a homeless shelter where sobriety was a requirement and his walk of shame landed him right into a court-mandated rehab. Who knew? Not I. But everyone else at work knew and I quickly became the girl from Massachusetts who caused Tim’s downfall.

So, it could always be worse folks. You could be married to Meghan Markle or Sean Penn. We could be members of the Cyrus family and have to listen to them all sing during Thanksgiving. Even worse, you could have a mom like me who bribes her children to tape her doing the WAP dance. It can always be so much worse.

April Showers Bring Mayday Mudslides

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Two toothpaste containers and menstrual cycles ago, I shut my door and buried myself with books, ample facial moisturizer, and “Mad Men.” Sometime in March, I put on an eternal pot of strong coffee that has somehow produced a pond of joe from which I drink all day, every day.

Other than a few trips to the Zombieland grocery store, a walk with my zany sister, and a sad meetup with my best friend where we each sat in our cars and conversed through the cracks in our windows, I’ve been here. I’m watching my children outgrow the clothes they wear, and wondering what’s next.

Nothing is funny anymore, is it? Every complaint and gossipy story must be prefaced with a “I know I’m lucky not be sick,” or “I hate to complain, but…” Can’t we be grateful to be healthy AND be disappointed in this horrifying situation – while fitting in wisecracks? Perhaps we can all give each other a chance to whine and vent without being so judgmental.

So here it is, some things that have spread a smile across my stressed face.

A Love Letter to Ben

The relief we all crave.

Ben Affleck has been popping up during COVID with his new girlfriend, star-on-the-rise Ana de Armas. They gaze at each other lovingly, like new beautiful lovers do.  As they clutch their Dunkin’ coffees, dog leashes and donuts, they’re effortlessly and casually chic.

Ben is an honest slice of Americana, a man bold enough to smoke a cigarette, in public, while wearing his mask. Ben’s deep drag on his butt is the collective relief that we’re all desperately craving. One doesn’t have to be a smoker to know that need. I feel it every time I pass my pantry and stuff chips into my mouth, looking down at the crumbs that have fallen on my kitchen floor and not really caring. I feel that release as I down my eighth cup of coffee, knowing that I just extended my bedtime to 2 a.m. and not caring.

Ben, I thank you for your loyalty. You’re steadfast in your zest for coffee, nicotine, and Boston. I thank you for your daily COVID walks, no doubt traipsed by paparazzi. I appreciate your white beard hair, fluctuating weight and honest portrayal of your battle with addiction.     

Somewhere in Malibu, Jennifer Garner is rolling her little eyes.

Notes During Quarantine

Reality TV’s Basic b&^ch.
  • When I pleaded for a celebrity scandal, I wasn’t hoping for Kristen Cavallari and Jay Cutler divorcing. Yup, I’m guilty of watching “The Hills” and “Very Cavallari,” and I can assure you that Kristen Cavallari is the most boring “celebrity” of all time, that Jay Cutler provides the only entertainment on “Very Cavallari,” and that somewhere there’s a “Bachelor” reject waiting to marry Cavallari in a soon-to-be televised reality series. YAWN.
  • I can cook approximately nine dinners and if I ever eat them again, I may never want to eat again.
  • Proving, once again, that Britney Spears is the celebrity gift that keeps giving, Queen Spears recently announced that she burned down her own gym. In her own words, “Hi guys, I’m in my gym right now. I haven’t been in here for like six months because I burnt my gym down, unfortunately.” Thank you, Britney. You are what the world needs right now.
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  • I just watched all 92 “Mad Men” episodes again. I know there are so many new programs to watch but I needed the comfort of double nostalgia. Nostalgia for a time I never lived and nostalgia for a cooler time when I watched the series. I love everything about “Mad Men” and watching it again is refreshing and sobering. Don Draper is a wretched man, Peggy Olsen is a comedic revelation of ambition and sadness, and January Jones’s Betty Draper is what nightmares and daydreams are made of.
  • It’s impossible to know if people are smiling or frowning behind their masks and it makes interactions extra scary.
  • Fiona Apple’s new album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is exactly what I hoped it would be and so much more. There could not be a more fitting soundtrack for quarantine than this poetic masterpiece.

The Art of a Car Ride, Pop Music + a Plea for a Celebrity Scandal

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Day 666 of quarantine. Reality is setting in. The days cascade through gratefulness, fear, empathy and what is that? Anger, I think. Healthcare workers, grocery store employees and to-go servers are heroes and offer me a rare glimpse of human interaction beyond my four walls.

Quarantine makes me nostalgic for my teen years when freedom arrived in the form of a car. The anticipation of getting my license was so severe that I failed my driver’s test twice. TWICE. I attribute the failures more to anxiety than poor driving skills, but I finally nailed it on my 3rd time and took to the roads with a Chevrolet something.

Much like right now, driving through the windy roads of a small town, with pop music blaring, was all there was to do. It’s what I’m doing every afternoon now and here’s what I’ve noticed.

“Hot Girl Bummer” is Perfection

After years of silly resistance, I now embrace weird rap. What I dig is the honesty, lack of pretense and its boasts of illegal and poor behavior. I’ve had enough of the phony positivity of Lizzo and Lovato and prefer to listen to fairy tales of promiscuity, excessive partying and girl fights. “This that throw up in your Birkin bag, hook up with someone random.” Smells like teen spirit to me.

Speaking of teen spirit, the song’s tone reminds me of Nirvana. It’s angry and funny, with a keen eye on youth’s beauty and ugliness. “F#$k you and you, and you. I hate your friends and they hate me too.” Thank you, Mr. Blackbear, now please cool it with the facial tattoos.

Kurt Cobain + My Numbers Problem

I’m bad at numbers. I have to REALLY think before I can answer the years my children were born. My oldest is easiest, it’s 2001. But every year around the beginning of April I remember that it’s Kurt Cobain’s death anniversary. The hint of spring jolts me with a whiff of alertness and I recall that spring feeling with news that Cobain died. I tend to live in the past, in my head, and the quarantine escalates my dwelling.

Driving around with nowhere to go while trying to figure out the meaning of life is exactly what I’m doing these days, exactly what I was doing when “Nevermind” was released, and what I was doing around the time Cobain died. As the April 5 anniversary came and went without much news, I realized how much has changed but how little we change. Like 1994, I’m savoring car rides, writing and awaiting a new Fiona Apple album.

Fiona Apple Reemerges

Sensing Gen Xers’ malaise, Fiona Apple sweeps in and will release her first album in eight years on April 17. To share that I’m excited is as immense an understatement as “Meghan Markle’s dull” or “Britney Spears is strange.” I count down the days until I can listen to her new album and I’m sure I’ll keep it in my car’s outdated CD player until her next album is released during my retirement.

No Celebrity News Isn’t Good News

Perhaps Beyonce, Jay Z and Solange can get into another elevator.

I’m watching the news throughout the day and so saddened, but I feel like something’s missing: the universe needs something frivolous to focus on.

Consider this a personal plea to the Gwyneths, Madonnas, Brads and Britneys to mess shite up with a scandal hot enough to avert our attention for a day or two. Divorce, a secret marriage or a disastrous elevator ride will do.  Heck, I’ll settle for a cheating scandal, rehab or an unplanned pregnancy.

A juicy celebrity scandal should be a part of their agent’s contract. Come on, they owe us one. Brad Pitt, the epitome of coolness, could take one for the team and have an Instagram live wedding to some unheard-of environmentalist. Or maybe he and Jennifer Aniston could pretend to get back together again ­– just to entertain us now that we’ve finished “Tiger King”, “Ozark” and the entire “Madmen” series for a 3rd time.

Hollywood, think about it and feel free to contact me for guidance. I will be sitting right here, unless I’m driving around thinking of alternative music.

xo

I was a strange kid.

Mascara, Food and H20: Quarantine Necessities

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This quarantine feels like a supernova pharmaceutical speedball of sedatives, uppers, and Midol. I’m jumpy from the lack of activities, then drowsy by how overwhelming it all is – often while battling a small headache. I waver between relishing being home and panicking that if this continues, I won’t have a home.

It’s not the solitude, I’m at home with five people, it’s the freaky germ awareness. I’m a messy person and I’m now cleaning with no real purpose or mission. I don’t know how to clean. I think cleaning is something you’re taught, and I never got around to that lesson in childhood, I was too busy writing love notes to Prince. Sure I can clean surfaces but scrubbing floors and toilets has always been for a biweekly housekeeper. Now it’s my job and I’m remarkably bad at it.

But hey, on the verge of the apocalypse, who cares how clean or dirty my house has been? This is the first time I’ve been home and not working in over a decade. It’s refreshing and foreign. It’s also given me a lot of time to obsess over a few thangs.

Out, damn spot.

Mascara is a Dear Friend

The world can take away the restaurants, libraries, and malls but I will stab someone with my L’Oreal wand before they take away my extra-black mascara. As my deodorant application becomes infrequent and my eyeliner has disappeared from my droopy eyelids, my mascara is applied with a heavy hand!

Perhaps I’m a thinker, not a doer.

All this time has given me so many ideas! Register for an online course, brush up on my Spanish, explore Scientology. But what I truly want to do is watch “Little Fires Everywhere,” every episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Mindhunter.” I’ve polished off more books than I can remember and haven’t gotten to that online course yet.

Fancy Frocks Get You Nowhere

Feel low? Buy a dress. Celebrating a milestone? Fetch a froufrou frock.

Dress adornment has gotten me through the highs and lows of life but wowza, all those dresses are of no use to me right now. My knowledge of chiffon, silk blends and how to iron linen is useless. You know what I need more of? Sweatpants! I’ve been alternating between two pairs for weeks.

Things I don’t Care about Anymore

The fight nobody cares about. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

I’m DESPERATE for a celebrity scandal but not the day-old donuts Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift reignited rift. Yawn. Who still cares what zonked-out Kanye West said in a 2016 rap song NOBODY heard?

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom are having a baby. Who cares? Their parents and that’s about it.

Remember the college admissions scandal? It feels pretty silly to whine about the wealthy getting their kids into college while we can now complain about the privileged getting coronavirus tests WAY before the peons. Disappointing? Sure, but surprising? Come on.

Gal Godot embarrassed herself and all her celebrity pals with this literally tone-deaf “Imagine” cover. I haven’t watched anything this bad since I slogged through the first four minutes of this season’s “This Is Us.” Gadot should fire her inner voice and her celebrity pals should just fire her.

When in doubt, go to Beck.