November 20, 2012

There is no finish line

I love receiving notes of encouragement from my readers.

This piece of genius came to me today:

I'm grateful that we're never finished. That we get to keep writing, breathing, singing, dancing, working, helping, giving, sharing, loving. We're lucky to be on this journey, bumpy roads and all.

Keep writing. It saves lives.

November 18, 2012

The time of times

Not writing a farewell to Grandma would be a cardinal sin. Grandma was an inspiration, a trail blazer, a phenomenal woman who gave so much to her community of Flemington, West Virginia.

I could fill the page listing the work, historical milestones, books, articles and stories she contributed to life, but she'd humbly say, "Oh, sweetie, I just did what I did."

She passed at 91 years old, peacefully with two of her daughters holding each hand. As she was dying, she clenched my mother's hand tightly, holding on for dear life, but then a wave of peace washed over her and she slowly released her tight grip, letting go. Letting go. . . Letting go. . . She was with my mother when my mother came into the world, and my mother was with her when she left.

Letting go of your legacy must be one of the toughest forms of surrender, especially when you have so much to leave behind. She was ready to go. She's free now. And one more cycle of life is closed.

Life is a beautiful and precious journey. The victory isn't in what we get out of it, but what we leave behind.

Thank you, Grandma, for leaving me with that most important lesson.

May your next journey be filled with love and light.

Keep writing. It saves lives. 

April 5, 2012

Pre Taboo Tales Prep

I performed at Macha Theatre for my favorite cringe-inducing show in LA, Taboo Tales. It ain't easy getting into this show, so being selected makes my heart sing.

I don't want to post the story because you need to see it in person. Also, I have to clear a few things with Dad.

I will tell you a short story about what it takes to get ready for a performance when you're Simone DeBlasio...

Pre-Show panic attack hit around noon (due to self-sabotaging tactics because I'm insecure as fuck):

I went outside, took some deep breaths and gazed at my all-time favorite flower, the calla lilly - because it looks like a giant heart:

In case you didn't know this, I'm Italian, so I had to do some annoying shit like bleach the man hair on my face (peter missed this part):

I put on TWO face masks because one of anything is never enough:

Next up - the eye patches to remove any inkling that I'm in my 40s:

The dress I squeezed into (thanks, spanx). Winnie was super excited:

My half made-up face, which eye is missing mascara? (i can't tell either because i have the worst fucking eyelashes):

Me adjusting my hair piece (I wear wigs, you would too if you had this hair):


For those who missed the night, my condolences, it was spectacular and I'm humbled to have shared the stage with such brilliant writers, in front of such an amazing audience.

Here's a taste of what you missed:

"I realized I was a little different from other people around the age of ten. It took me a while to figure out because I fit in perfectly with my family."

Keep writing. It saves lives.

March 21, 2012

Pizza and fries are quite continental

I read this story last night. I didn't change the names to protect the innocent because let's face it - nobody was innocent. Some of this may or may not be hyperbole (though doubtful), luckily I've got a photographic memory.

“Are you sure this is what you want?” skinny Erika held up two 4-packs of strawberry-flavored wine coolers and looked at my 13-year old sister, Adrienne with a slight glint of disgust.

Erika was my best friend for many reasons - her fake ID was just a bonus. Some other fun facts about Erika: She was pants pissing hilarious and loved to act out scenes, she made the best mix tapes in town, both her parents worked – giving us a safe house for after school cigarette and pot smoking. Also, her mom loved vodka, so there was always a full supply of bottles stocked on the shelf under the microwave. But what sealed the deal was her father’s erratic dieting. When he fell off the wagon, which was every day, he stocked up on Nacho Dorittos, Oreos and Mountain Dew. Erika’s house was a teenager’s utopia, at least until 5pm when she pushed out the back door before her mom got home.

“Yes, one for me and one for Meredith,” Adrienne chomped on a colossal wad of Bubblicious looking more like an eighteen year old than little Erika.

“Wine coolers give me a headache.” I grabbed a 6-pack of Milwaukee’s Best from the shelf. The piss watery Milwaukee’s Best would give me the runs the next day, but this was way better than a wine cooler headache.

“Should we get a case?” Erika asked.

“A case - for just me and you?”

I was convinced Erika had a tapeworm, or a metabolism that moved at the velocity of a rocket ship. I could never figure out where she put the gallons of booze and mounds of junk food she consumed. Calories evaporated in her mouth. I often wondered if my thighs made up the difference.

“It’s cheaper,” she heaved the case into the shopping cart.

“That’s a lot of beer for two people,” Meredith who was in my sister’s class said - as if that would change Erika’s mind. Meredith’s beauty was so striking that boys would perform John Cusack feats to get her attention; serenades, begging on knees, gold necklaces, song dedications to name a few. But Erika and I refused her wiles.

“Wellll, it is my 15th birthday. Plus, the guys might come over later,” I smiled out of spite.

“You invited boys over?” Panic shot across Adrienne’s chubby face.

“Mom and Dad are in Atlantic City all weekend. We’ll be fine,” I assured her.

Back in the car the three of us watched Erika purchase the shopping cart full of booze. The cashier was either clueless, or just didn’t give a shit about selling alcohol to under-aged girls. This was the 80s. Erika exited the grocery store and we piled the booze into her mom’s green Celica coupe and hurtled through the streets of Kensington back home.

At the house we got the party started with Dougie Fresh’s “Six Minutes” blasting through the speakers. Erika and I had a beer chugging contest hoping to procure a buzz just in case the boys showed up and polished off our supply. We danced around the family room while Meredith and Adrienne sat on the kitchen floor filling tiny shot glasses with pink wine cooler. One shot after another. Their innocence was charming, like two baby deer in the woods not knowing guns were aimed right at their heads.

“A toast to you, my best friend,” Meredith held up the tiny shot glass.

“May we always be the best of friends,” Adrienne tossed back the pale pink liquid. I had sworn off wine coolers 10 months earlier, having the vague recollection of barfing into a Hefty bag in a quarantined room at some girl’s house I can’t remember.

There was a knock at the door.

Standing on the front porch wearing a white izod and white shorts was innocent Chris; her long blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders like angel sent from heaven. Why such a pristine creature wanted to hang out with riff-raff like me I’ll never know. I hesitated opening the door knowing that if she entered she would leave corrupted. Behind her I spotted Stefanie marching up the sidewalk with determination, her giant eyes blazed like two green suns ready to scorch the town to ashes. She had a few chips on her shoulder, and this I knew… once alcohol touched her lips she was about as subtle as a runaway train colliding into a glass building. Any chance innocent Chris had of fleeing unscathed evaporated.

“Happy Birthday, Simoney!” Stefanie roared shoving Chris out of the way.

“Come on in! Folks are in Atlantic City!” I welcomed them into the den of iniquity.

“Frantic City. Frantic City.” Adrienne sang out from the kitchen already wasted at the hour of 7pm. I counted eight empty wine coolers lined up in a neat row on the kitchen floor.

“Hey y’all, come in here, I have a surprise” I motioned for the girls to gather around dining room table and held up a dime bag of pot.

“That’s my girl!” Stefanie bellowed from across the table.

“I’ll roll.” Erika pushed up her sleeves and took out a packet of zig-zags. Her nimble fingers could roll the most perfect joints.

“Chris, is this a problem?” I asked - not really giving a shit.

“No way. I’m cool. Remember that one time you got me high and I liked it,” she smiled and the last drop of innocence vanished from her pretty blue eyes.

We passed two fat joints around and around. Smoke billowed and snaked between our bodies and hung in the air like a thick cloud. We burned down those joints so low we had to use a roach clip to suck up the last embers of weed. The table of hazy faces nodded in approval. Erika jumped up and hustled into the family room to kick off a session of white girl Soul Train.

“Six minutes. Six minutes. Six minutes, Dougie Fresh you’re on. On, on, on, on, on, on…” she sang and tipped back a can of beer, not coming up for air until it was empty.

“Because these shoes always hurt my corns…” I sang back, and followed suit chugging down the rancid beer.

We formed two lines facing each other and took turns dance-laughing down the middle.

“My turn. My turn,” Adrienne barreled her way in middle. Her plumpish body swayed as she revved up for some spectacular move. We waited not sure what she had planned. We waited some more.

“Get to it!” someone yelled.

Adrienne fell to her knees.

“What the fuck’s she doing?”

On all fours, her round body started contracting into dry heaves. We watched in utter stoned amazement waiting for the inevitable… Up came all four wine coolers, some beer, and an entire Continental’s pizza.

The room emptied while Dougie Fresh droned on in the background.

Erika and I ran to the kitchen and leaned over the sink gagging into the empty glasses and beer cans. The stench of beer mixed with wine cooler made my gut heave, but nothing came up except saliva and tears.

Someone was cackling like wild banshee in the family room. I stumbled back to the crime scene to find Chris doubled over pointing to the pile of yuck Adrienne had dispersed onto the floor. All of us gathered around to closer observe the mound, puzzled at the strange object perched on top of the heap.

“What IS that?!”

“The fuck?”


“That’s so fucking sick, man.”

“I’m gonna puke!”

“It’s a french fry! It’s a fucking french fry,” Chris howled holding her crotch to stop from pissing her white shorts. I was happy to see she was enjoying herself.

For the next twenty minutes I scooped up the mess with paper plates. The pungent smell of wine coolers mixed with bile had me back in the kitchen dry heaving over the sink. Adrienne slogged her wayward body upstairs to take a shower.

“Was that really a french fry?” I marveled as I doused the Oriental rug with an entire bottle of Resolve, praying it would dry before my parents returned from Atlantic City.

After I finished cleaning up, I noticed the girls were stuffing their faces with slices of my chocolate birthday cake. I couldn’t remember if they sang to me or not. I didn’t care.

“It looks like ANTS! Ants! Ahhhhahahah, cake! I’ve got cake in my throat,” Stefanie laughed over and over.

I left the asylum of stoners to check on Adrienne. She stood under the shower nozzle letting the warm water run over her body. She was still wearing her new Benetton sweater vest.

“You okay, A?”

She looked like a wet poodle in a sweater one size too small.

“I’m okay,” she mumbled.

“Why don’t you take off your vest? You might ruin it,” I felt a slight pang of guilt that I might be the worst role model in the history of time.

“I’m okay. Just go back to your party,” she smiled under the spray of water.

“No, I’m waiting until you’re finished. I don’t want you to fall or something.”

“Thanks, sis.”

“Oh, just so you know, A, you’ll never live down the french fry,” I handed her a towel. (It’s true – 27 years later and we still bring it up)

“It wasn’t a french fry, it was my gum,” she grumbled drying off her sopping wet sweater vest.

“You really shouldn’t swallow that shit, it’ll mess up your intestines.”

The next day we took precautions and hid out at Meredith’s house so we wouldn’t be home when my parents arrived. During the middle of a heated scene in Dirty Dancing the phone rang. Meredith picked it up, hung up and walked over to us, her face a pale greenish hue.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“Umm, Simone and Adrienne, that was your mom. She found two roaches and a roach clip. You have to go home.”

Keep writing. It saves lives.

February 1, 2012

Suicidal Tendenices (not the band)

This is the story I told last night.

Suicide is no laughing matter. Unless you’re a buffoon like me, and you can’t seem to get it right. Then it’s a joke.

I was a toddling two-year old the first time I showed an inclination to harm myself. Jealous of my new baby sister who spent most days cuddled in my mother’s arms, hogging all the attention, I decided to hold my breath to scare my mother into loving me again. Determined to make a point, I held my breath until my chubby cheeks darkened to a shade of purple. That’s when my mom called the doctor. He told her not to worry - eventually I’d take a breath. He was a brilliant man, that 90-year old, Parliament-smoking Dr. Connely.

I didn’t come with the proper problem-solving genes, or the ability to “discuss things, like a rational person”, instead I just smashed hair brushes against mirrors when I couldn’t tame my fuzzy hair, or screamed out, “Fuck you and fuck everything” if something wasn’t going my way. My destructive behaviors reached a boiling point when I threatened to burn down the house with me and my younger sister and brother in it because my parent’s had admonished me to a month-long restriction, meaning I’d miss the freshman homecoming dance. I didn’t burn down the house. I did, however, get another few weeks of restriction. Why my parents didn’t use the word “grounded” like normal parents made any length of imprisonment suck worse.

My next flirtation with suicidal tendencies (not the band) occurred before my sixteenth birthday when my asshole parents forbid me to date Robert because he was older, from a sketchy neighborhood and not white. They didn’t say the not white part, but I’m pretty sure that was a factor. My father dreamed of me marrying a nice Italian boy like the hot-headed Sonny Corleone from The Godfather…

Instead of having a rational conversation with my parents, my solution to was to run away. I grabbed my younger sister and we packed two suitcases and ran to our best friend’s house a few blocks down the street. My parents loved telling their friends the contents of our suitcases: pajamas, Vogue magazines, my sister’s giant roll brush and hairdryer so she could keep her bangs plastered straight. When our plan failed and our parents drove us back home, I locked myself in my bedroom and plotted an elaborate plan to kill myself.

A few days later I invited my girlfriends over for a final goodbye, offering to buy them dinner at a fancy restaurant downtown with my babysitting money. The plan: death by suffocation with my feather pillow. The plastic bag I had tried out was too tight and left me gasping for air… On the way to the restaurant I pondered the thought of spending my entire savings and suggested we go to McDonald’s instead. While standing in line at the fast food joint, I had a change of heart.

“Hey, um, guys, I decided not to kill myself. So you all can pay for your own Chicken McNuggets and fries. Okay?”

They busted out laughing, having known I’d never go through with my theatrical plan to off myself. I was not only a melodramatic sap, but above all a cheap bastard.

Nobody took my suicide threats seriously. Can you blame them? My plots were half-baked at best. People chalked up my mood swings to being half-Italian and hormonal. Meanwhile the voices in my head continued to repeat on a loop, “you should just kill yourself... you should just kill yourself". I used a bevy of cheap beer and pot to blur the voices, but when the guy I was forbidden to date introduced me to a wonderful substance called Love Boat I found the perfect medicine. In most circles “Love Boat” is known as a cheesy TV show that aired before Fantasy Island on Friday nights, but in other circles it’s also known as PCP.

From the first hit, my negative thinking subsided, in fact ALL thinking ceased. Gazing into space with drool streaming from my mouth, I had found my utopia. The problem with Love Boat (besides it being marijuana dipped in formaldehyde) is its addictive qualities. But for a short while it worked.

In college, I stepped off the Love Boat and rejoined the booze cruise. I drank like there was no bottom. Literally. I’d fall on my ass every time I drank. One evening driving home from a party, I passed out at the wheel and smashed my car into a tree. I spent the night in the hospital wailing about how sorry I was to the emergency room doctor while he stitched me up. My mother made me leave the busted up car parked in front of the house for a week to show the other kids in the neighborhood what happens when you’re an idiot.

I became the family member everyone whispers about and smiles at with caution - eyebrows raised, head cocked to one side. One year, I flew to Seattle to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and sister, and while all twenty guests were eating apple pie in the living room, I locked myself in the bathroom, threatening to swallow a Costco-sized bottle of Advil. I sobbed in front of the mirror, releasing the most rancid farts known to human. The stench was so lethal, my sister banged on the door, screaming, “Is that toxic gas, or are you giving yourself a perm?!”. At a loss, my sister and brother's very confused girlfriend flipped through the Yellow Pages for the number to the suicide hotline.

After the theatrics I pulled in Seattle, I decided to visit my gynecologist for some assistance. She had a degree in vaginas and since those are far more complicated than brains, I trusted her when she prescribed Zoloft. I popped those happy pills, hoping for the best and ignoring the warning label that read in all caps: DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION.

Needless to say, Southern Comfort and Zoloft don’t mix. “It’s the damn pills, they don’t work,” I proclaimed, kicking back a shot of Jagermeister. Then I reached a point when no substance, legal or illegal, could calm the spinning tornado in my head. My husband left me four months after our wedding, saying he couldn’t take anymore of my verbal abuse. Luckily his girlfriend offered her house as shelter from my storm.

My last suicide attempt was no joke. Curled up on the bathroom floor with a bottle of red wine and a razor blade, I writhed in pain. I didn’t want to die; I just wanted to kill the inexplicable despair. I held the rusty razor blade against my pale wrist, imploring God for the courage to cut myself. That night God must have been busy, dealing with other things - like which nominee would win the Oscar for best picture. I finally crawled out of the bathroom and called the suicide hotline, “for a friend”. For the record, Crash beat out the even more depressing Broke Back Mountain, that year.

I got help and life got better. Turns out there are legal substances that work when you know what’s wrong. I’m far from normal, but the good news is most of the time I feel like what I think most normal people must feel like. Getting out of bed is easier, and so is showing up for life. Something I won’t attempt to take from myself, unless I go off my meds or my parents forbid me to date someone...

So, the moral of the story is - if you want to kill yourself – don’t call the suicide hotline.

No, no... The real lesson: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Keep writing. It saves lives.