Monday Dare: Mommy, I hope you don’t go to jail.

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. You can click on the link if you’d like to see the full list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Cut the cord. 

Sometimes, I still hold a mirror under Cal’s nose while she’s sleeping. The kid is 12.

I hear all these great things about giving your kid some space to grow, so I decided to give it a go recently by leaving Cal home alone for 47 minutes. I needed a new bottle of Goo Gone, and instead of dragging her to Target, where she gets preoccupied for long periods of time in the dollar section, I cut the cord.

When I got home, she gave me a long hug and said words that a child should probably never have to say to a parent- “Mommy, I hope you don’t go to jail.”


“Grandma called while you were gone. I bragged that you left me at home alone, and she told me that was against the law.”

This from the woman who, on a family trip to Las Vegas, gave me twenty dollars and asked me to amuse myself for the afternoon while she played nickel slots. She also thought it best not to give me a room key…in case I lost it and some deviant soul picked it up, figured out which room it opened, and robbed us. I wandered the MGM Grand, had myself a nice little tuck-in at the buffet, bought a Highlights magazine, and befriended a janitor. Good times for a 10-year-old.

If you ever need to inject a little fun into your life, try calling your 60-year-old mother and opening with the line, “Don’t get it twisted, homegirl.” See how the rest of *that* conversation unfolds. Don’t worry, she’s still talking to me, but she does have a suspicious glint in her eyes now.

I’ve left Cal home alone several times since, but it’s always nerve-wracking, and I can’t focus on what I’m doing. I always thought I’d be a cool parent, but clearly, if left to my own devices, I am anything but.

Did you have overprotective parents? Are YOU an overprotective parent?
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Monday Dare: Don’t eat cocaine. Don’t smoke cigarettes.

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. You can click on the link if you’d like to see the full list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Quit smoking.

To me, the best way to start any kind of ban is by doing an excessive amount of the supposedly Bad Thing, getting really disgusted with yourself, and then crying a little about it.

Maybe your supposedly Bad Thing is food. Before a diet, you would gorge on a lot of Bad Things like Entenmann’s powdered donuts. They always leave white stuff around your mouth and make you look like you’ve been eating cocaine.

Maybe your supposedly Bad Thing *is* cocaine. Then, you would just snort an eight-ball, and if you didn’t have a heart attack and a bloody nose, you would look at your cracked-out face in the mirror and say to yourself, “Yes, today. Today is the day I make the change from loser to winner.” Don’t forget to cry a little afterwards. I find that tears always seal the deal when you’re making a self-improvement resolution.

Or, maybe like me, your Bad Thing is cigarettes.

I’ve smoked on and off for sixteen years. When I’m smoking, I am guilt-ridden and nervous. When I quit, I really miss those little bitches.

I “quit” again last October when I was in the ICU for my mysterious illness. On my third night in the hospital, sometime around midnight, I desperately needed a cigarette.

Me: Can I go outside to smoke?

Nurse: No

Me: Why?

Nurse: Besides the fact that it’s bad for your health? You’re hooked up to an IV and five other machines. Getting you untangled would be a nightmare. Plus, the doctor’s already gone home for the night, and he’s the only one who can approve it.

Me: Then call him.

Nurse: I’m only allowed to call him for medical emergencies.


I begged. I pleaded. Eventually, I wore two nurses down, and they eventually paged the doctor, who I also wore down. They unhooked me from the machines, wheeled me out in a wheelchair, and there I sat, on the curb outside of a hospital wearing a hospital gown and smoking a cigarette on a frosty October evening. If I had a list for pathetic moments in my life, that would be at the top.

It occurred to me as I puffed away that this couldn’t continue. So I “quit” cold turkey. Three weeks ago, I picked it up again.

I feel a deep sense of shame admitting this to you. I’m open with you about so many things. My former addiction to drugs. My time on welfare. The men I’ve dated who are currently incarcerated. But the smoking- well, that’s embarrassing. Go figure.

I’ve tried to give up smoking for Lent, even though I’m not Catholic. Year after year, I’ve failed. I don’t even know when Lent is, so instead of following that doomed path again, I’m calling this week SPENT. I’m spent. I don’t want to feel guilty as I hide out on a porch, smoking, hoping not to get caught by my family. I’m spent with smelling like an ashtray and being afraid to give Cal a hug because I don’t want her to smell the cigarettes on me. I’m really, really SPENT.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of quitting something, I would be over the moon if you joined me in SPENT. Support makes a shitload of difference, yes?

Do you have a vice? Have you conquered it? Any tips?
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Monday Dare: Dragon Water

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. You can click on the link if you’d like to see the full list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Stop procrastinating.

I have never, ever told anyone what I’m about to tell you. I mean, yes, some people know portions of this story, but not the most embarrassing part. This relationship has gotten to a point where I either need to marry you or tell you a secret. I choose #2.

I have six tattoos. The first three, I got three days in a row at the age of eighteen. Since I hadn’t been paying attention in class all semester, I needed laser-like focus and a week of dedicated cramming to ace my finals. I packed up my books and a trail mix snack to stay energized and headed to the local library. Three blocks from my destination, I started having second thoughts. I really didn’t want to study, and I needed a way out. What could….what could I do?

Fortunately, I was scanning strip mall signage instead of paying attention to the road, and my eyes caught on the word “Fun.” I pulled into the shopping center, parked in front of the “Fun,” and tried peering inside the windows. The windows were heavily tinted (a sure sign that you should probably run away), so I did the next best thing: I walked into “Fun.” Turns out, it was the Funhouse Tattoo Parlor, and no, we’re not busy at all, why don’t you come look at some of our work.

This was it! Ah-ha! I could get a tattoo and then I wouldn’t have to study! Well, I wouldn’t have to study *while* I was getting the tattoo, but who thinks past one-hour intervals? Oh yes, I thought, this makes so much sense to me.

You know who doesn’t belong in my circle of trust? Me.

I chose a fairy in haste. She was delicate and cloaked in an array of vibrant colors. Sadly, I hadn’t thought the whole tattoo business through and didn’t realize it would, you know, involve needles and pain. To this day, delicate Mindy (Yes, I named her. Be quiet.) is just a sad little outline. No colors. No stars bursting from her wings. Just…just an outline.

Spurred on by my success in delaying the inevitable for a whole twenty seven minutes the day before, it seemed like the right thing to do to visit the tattoo parlor again. Instead of finishing Mindy (since the area was still too tender), I ventured to a spot right above my new friend. Just months before, on a summer trip to South Korea, an elderly woman grasped both my hands and told me that I was as strong and precious as a Dragon’s Tear. It was the best compliment I had ever received, and I was going to have it inked on my body as a reminder to push forward no matter what.

I wanted it in Chinese characters, but I didn’t know Chinese, so I asked my brother’s 13-year-old Chinese friend to write it out. Maybe I should have had someone else proofread it before getting the tattoo.

For thirteen fucking years, I’ve had Dragon Water tattooed on my lower back instead of Dragon Tears.

Lesson learned. Well, not the intended lesson way back when since I never really got around to studying for the finals and did miserably, but it’s clear to me now that I should do what needs to be done as soon as the occasion arises. Because, let’s be real, I’m running out of room on my body.

Are you a procrastinator? Has it ever gotten you into trouble?

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