The irrational circle and the ballad of Anthony Weiner

Happy Pi Day! Mr. D and I used to celebrate it in high school. He even won a constrained writing prompt once, where each word had to contain the same number of letters as the digits of pi–3.14159. The only phrase he remembers from it now is “audibly delicious,” but how could we ever forget the holiday?

It was uniquely ours, a quirk of our nerdy math-and-science school, a day to eat pies and march onto the football team to assemble into the shape of the Greek letter. We had our high school math teacher over for dinner a few nights back, and though I never took his discrete math course, he taught kids about fractals and other cool shit. I wonder if celebrating Pi Day was his idea.

Mr. B now works as a “freelance mathematician” and spends his extra income on “hobbies, drugs and alcohol.” What’s your drug of choice, I asked him. He confessed weed, and so we smoked him up shortly after the kids went to bed.  A bit loose on wine, he told us the story of our former principal, who started quite possibly the greatest public high school in a state so notorious for its education system that it’s not uncommon for families to leave. The old principal was apparently a bit of a stalker who exerted his power over a female staff member who worked there long after we graduated. The story reminded me of my all-time favorite parable, the Ballad of Anthony Weiner. (If anyone ever asked me who I would most want to have dinner with, dead or alive, it would easily be him. And he was blessed by the universe with the most perfect name! I am so grateful to live in a world where a man called Weiner sends women snapshots of his junk.)

But I digress. I texted another high school friend, Sebastian Clay, about my newfound gossip, but apparently it was already old news.

I think he might be a total Anthony Weiner,” I wrote. “Not sure if he texted dick pics, but just as a metaphor: brilliant educator/politician who also happens to be a creep with women.

Sebastian replied, “I [know] about [the principal] from before when I was in Catholic School, he was dismissed from St. M’s under similar circumstances, that’s how our school came to be, he brought half of the staff from [there] to our [high school], Mr M, Ms C, and I can’t remember the English teachers name now, and others that’s why the school was so good, they started off with a core of experienced teachers and a leader they believed in, I’m reminded of the Dave Chapelle bit where there’s a superhero who saves people but in order to save them he has to rape someone, our stellar high school experience and education was born from a charge of sexual harassment.” (emphasis added)

Chappelle’s joke was about Bill Cosby, the entitled, ego-maniacal sexual predator.

Mr. B defended our principal to the end. They were pals; still are, in fact.

Mr. B’s wife didn’t smoke with us, couldn’t smoke with us. She’s a healer witch (a nurse), and therefore can’t take the risk, but she told me stories about being an operating room nurse with urologists and the vile things they would say about women’s genitals. She spoke of times when she was groped in the OR, how her body would go stiff, how she’d hope that the hands wouldn’t move further. #Metoo didn’t exist in those days.

About a year back, Mr. B posted this on Facebook, and yes, I judged him for it:


Cosby wasn’t pure evil, despite his many atrocities against women. He was nuanced, as we all are. That’s what makes Game of Thrones so good. The bad guys (with the exceptions of the Boltons) are complicated. They push little boys out of castle windows, and we somehow still come to care for them. They “rape but they save,” in the metaphoric, Dave Chappelle sense.

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Thoughts on football

I’m not a woman who watches football for fun. I mostly just watch when I’m high, and then start thinking of other things—of gods and men and war, how games are like modern-day battles, with athleticism, grit, fervor and pain all on glorious display, like Grecian epics (or tragedies, like in the case of last night’s Buccaneer’s kicker, who couldn’t make the field goals that would have altered the entire trajectory of the game).

In my slightly stoned state, I began comparing the rampant concussions in the NFL to ancient fighting pits, pitting warrior against warrior in front of crowds of blood-thirsty fans, hungry for victory but hungrier still for their enemy’s defeat. It’s such a guy thing, I thought. War. Sports. I can only seem to get into the game when I imagine it to be something else, when I ascribe some meaning that may or may not exist. But then again, how could there not be meaning to such a large and lucrative pastime? It means something when its players take a stand against injustice, when they use their time in the spotlight to illuminate issues that are bigger, that go beyond.

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Happy Wedding Day, R + B

The problem with love at first sight is that it’s too easy. Too outwardly simple. It leaves no room for the imperfect, unfiltered journey through which love often weaves. And yet it exists, this indecipherable, beautiful, almost magical phenomenon of how we love, whom we love, and when. As if the choice is made beyond our control. Something we fall into.

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What’s in a name?

I wasn’t dreading the bachelorette party. It’s just… drinking isn’t really my thing, and I didn’t know the majority of the other ladies, despite the fact that I’m in the wedding, and I’m really only in the wedding because I’m one-fourth of The Dinner Club, and two of the other Dinner Club members weren’t going to be there, and… I just don’t know. I love the bride-to-be. She’s sweet and fun and eternally charming, but she’s also part of a larger group of friends whose massive social circle often resembles Game of Thrones, where the relationships are deep and complex and almost impossible to comprehend at first glance.

I realized I didn’t belong when I forgot the name of the Bride’s aunt during dinner. “Aunt B,” she told me when I asked, and I—a woman who has defecated myself, twice, as an adult, and can relate that anecdote now, with zero shame—felt mortified that I thought she was Aunt J. That’s how out of the circle I am.

But the night was fine. It was better than that, actually. It was fantastic.

The Bride was like a beautiful, brunette Malibu Barbie. She danced and drank and relished in her much-deserved weekend of celebration. Her maid of honor, four months pregnant, showed me that some women are just destined to be great mothers, and that the life growing inside her has been blessed by this great universe to belong to someone so kind and selfless.

I ran into a dear friend from the short-lived “party days” of my 20s. Her presence reminded me of the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies from Insomnia. The first time I bit into one at the store’s Center City Philadelphia location, I asked the lady at the counter if the exotic flavor in my mouth was coconut. She nodded, and I gleefully devoured the remaining bites. “Oh Mr. Coconut,” I exclaimed with joy. “You’re like finding an unexpected friend at a party! Such a delightful surprise.” That’s how I felt about my long-lost bar friend, who I hadn’t seen since our wild Thursday nights in 2008. Ms. Coconut didn’t drink much either, but she danced and partied, and somewhere around 1am, she drove three hours home to spend some precious Time with her seven-month-old daughter before heading to work the following morning.

All of the girls were fabulous, and I felt silly for my earlier anxiety. It turned into a great night. Especially after I smoked up.

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Sober thoughts on St. Patrick’s Day

I’ve always viewed alcohol as the drug of the insecure. A way to shed inhibition and become a looser version of yourself. You, but askew. The You you want to be, but can’t quite get to on your own.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m all for a glass of wine. It’s just not my drug of choice.

I much prefer the introspection of marijuana. Of creeping into the weird and winding corners of my brain. Finding comfort there, along with other dear friends. Humor. Peace. Gratitude. Time. Always, Time. Where marijuana slows it down, alcohol speeds it up. Nights lost in darkness.

I’ve reached those blackout points myself on a handful of occasions, and they’ve always left me shaken. Horrified of the could-have beens. I could have been the victim of something awful. I could have driven home and killed someone. The possibilities are endless.

I say all this not to judge the drinkers. I get it. I’ve done it. I do it still.

I’d just prefer to spend my St. Patrick’s Day smoking green instead of wearing it at the bar.

The Lotus Eaters

I loved him before the drugs.

Sitting in the corner of Mr. Pierogie’s 9th grade, Honors English, we’d pass each other notes, handfuls of which I still have saved in a frayed, decades-old Victoria’s Secret box. There are the snarky one-liners about the class know-it-all; the fear we harbored for the wobbly barstool upon which our sweet, fat teacher would sit; the exchanges that said nothing and everything about life at 13.

When I try to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with D, I return to that classroom. We had finished the first half of The Odyssey, and from his precarious perch, Mr. Pierogie asked us which of Odysseus’ challenges had been the most dangerous. “The Lotus Eaters,” D whispered to me. It seemed an odd choice, only a few small pages about a flower that forever trapped its willful victims, certainly less exotic or action-packed than some of the other stories in the epic, and my face must have reflected my bemusement. He smirked and added, “It’s the only one I actually read.”

When the know-it-all raised his hand to make the same argument—something about hopelessness, loss of willpower, how those who ate from the flower abandoned desire for all else—I fell madly in love with D’s smile, the free-of-arrogance, I-told-you-so expression that said, “So what if I got lucky? I’m right.”

Shortly after our initial drunken kiss some 11 years later, after we went from being friends to being more, I asked Mr. D if he, too, knew the moment he loved me. “We were in the cafeteria,” he said, going into explicit detail of watching me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, as I devoured what must have been a very delicious popsicle. “That’s the girl I’m going to marry,” he joked, and we both cracked up.

We didn’t share another class until senior English, and our casual connection continued through college. We’d hit the bowl in his dorm, exhaling pot smoke into an empty water bottle filled with dryer sheets to mask the smell. Once, I accompanied him and his girlfriend on a blunt ride behind campus, grabbing the closest available beverage to soothe my throat, only to gag as the gin-laced juice seared its way to my stomach.

We went to parties in the seedier parts of the city. He taught me how to hock loogies and download songs off illegal websites. We took statistics sophomore year, our first shared class since high school, though he’d eventually fail the course and drop out altogether. After that, it was years before we saw each other again.

When we did, it was at my wedding. Newly single, D came alone and caught the bouquet. At 22, I had married a former pothead who smoked with me on our first date but never touched marijuana again. The sex was mediocre. When a friend once asked what it was that I saw in him, I apparently replied, “He has D’s sense of humor.” She’d remind me of that after the divorce, after D and I became “more,” after my corny remark of always loving him and after the chorus of duhs from our mutual friends.

We were potheads that first year, but D was more, and I didn’t realize just how debilitating more could be. D knew. He had called it eleven years before, in freshman English.

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Is this marriage?

Mr. D says I have a tendency to project my stress onto our relationship, and he may be right. Sometimes when we smoke at night, I find myself unable to get comfortable in his arms, or on the couch, or in the bed. I just sit there, on edge, anxious and tense, wondering why I can’t relax, and it compounds the already growing feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that mar my Groundhog’s Day existence, where every day is the same, and I never feel good enough at home or at work, and I wonder if I’m arrogant for wanting more for our life, or ambitious for dreaming big.

I told Mr. D that I was sorry if I take my woes out on him, and he said it’s okay, that at least I don’t express it on the kids, or at my job, or with my parents. And then I wondered, is that marriage? Is that what we do for the ones we love? Absorb some of their stress while they get their shit together?

If so, I’m grateful for it. If not, I’m tipsy (I hate alcohol), and these are all thoughts for an essay on another day.


Angelina Jolie once said it was her son Maddox who adopted her, and not the other way around. That his three-month-old smile gave her a confidence she had never known.

“I held him for the longest time, and finally he woke up and stared at me, and we stared at each other, and I was crying and he smiled and I felt… my discomfort with children is because I assume I can’t make them happy, because I’ve been accused of being dark I wasn’t sure I’d be a great, loving, perfect mom even though I wanted to be so bad. Could I make someone comfortable and happy? But he smiled and we hung out for a few hours, and I could make him happy, and we felt like a family.”

That was from a 2005 Vanity Fair interview to promote Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I thought of it a year later, at the Humane Association, when a scruffy mutt nuzzled its way onto my lap with such boundless affection I felt confident in my ability to be his mom. “I want him,” I told my husband.

I was 22 and married to a man who I disliked far more than I loved. We bought a house the week before our wedding and adopted Grizzly the month after.

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How do Buzzfeed Quizzes so profoundly nail the story of my life?

How do they know my zodiac sign from my favorite sex position; or that I love to eat and am also a bit of a lush because of Peter Griffin; or that this is the year I’ll quit my job based off the Australian snacks I happened to choose at random?

Seriously, this is what it said: “You’ve been sitting at the same desk, staring at the same screen blankly for far too long, and this is the year you’ll finally take action! Out with the old, in with the new.”

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Subversive park rangers, national heroes

Rogue National Park Accounts Emerge on Twitter Amid Social Media Gag Orders.

The headline, alone, gives me hope.

The First Amendment is the cornerstone of what makes America great, and it’s beautiful to see these freedoms being upheld. In fact, maybe Trump–with his ironic platform and backwards ideals and misguided crusade against the very founding principles that distinguish our United States from the wider world–will, in fact, serve to unite us.

Maybe we needed to be grabbed by the pussy, these cold and chilling threats to our democracy the unexpected glue that will band us together in ways that transcend politics and bond us in the indestructible beauty of our nation’s moral fiber.

Maybe that’s the audacity of hope. That we are great because we are good. That our destiny will be written by us, not for us.