Amy Hartl Sherman is a freelance writer, poet and humorist. A graduate from the University of Illlinois, a retired flight attendant, improv comedian, empty-nester and overall wunderkind, Amy writes erratically as opposed to erotically, and sometimes humorously, while living with her husband, a Chihuahua, a barking parakeet who is minus one toe, and one toe-eating Dachshund. Her sons escaped without harm.All posts from Amy Sherman
So here’s the deal. I am reinventing myself once again. First, with invisalign braces. Why at 60, you ask? I clench my teeth when I sleep. I mean like a gator closes onto its prey and does a death roll, clench. Only in my case, the death roll is me trying to switch to my other side for comfort, which has become a three-step process, more akin to an overturned turtle struggling to right himself. At any reptilian rate, clenching has affected my bite and shifted my teeth. Nothing so heinous I couldn’t live with it, but my smile is everything. As my face does a glacial slide off my skull, I want my teeth to remain glorious. Hell, they last long after death, so it’s really a pretty good investment. And should anybody find my body in a ditch near some deserted farmland, those puppies will be talking to the forensic scientists in all their bleached, perfectly aligned glory.
The next big decision for me has been to stop dying my hair and go au naturel. It all started when my roots become a problem during long camping trips. This year, instead of rushing to my hairdresser with shame in my eyes and money in my pocket, I decided to wait. Then I waited a little more. Then I knew this was the time to make the change. It was a head start, if you will, that I was going to make the most of.
The teeth? They will be done in under a year. The hair? More like 18 months to two years to get it all grey and to my current length. No interest in cutting it short to hasten the process, I am going cold turkey and letting my root-flag fly. It’s exhilarating. First, the cost of having my hair done has been halved. With the help of a calculator, that means my invisalign braces will be paid off by those savings in about 7 years. Worth it!
Before this decision, hair growth was my master, and I its willing slave. There is no judgment on people who choose to color their hair right up until their last breath. Hair is such a powerful, personal statement for women. Curl up and dye to your heart’s content. This is simply my choice at this point in my ever-changing life. The nice thing about changing hair? It has absolutely nothing to do with body weight, flabby upper arms, or any other body image issues women deal with. I can still eat whatever the hell I want, and my hair will not go through any serious withdrawal symptoms as it is released from its chemical dependency. (Well, except for looking like a freak who went to prison, e.g. Jodi Arias, who no longer has access to the luxury of hair dye and shocks everyone who hasn’t been seen in a while.) Which is where the following pictures come in…
I am taking along anyone who cares to join me. You can see how ugly the process may be, but rejoice in the fact it is happening to me, and not you waking up from a long absence like Rip Van Winkle, only to scream at the mirror, “MY HAIRRRRRRR! It looks like some Neopolitan ice cream experiment gone terribly wrong!” Feel free to mock me, judge me, and opine on why this is an unacceptable choice for you. Sometimes change takes longer than feels comfortable, but I know this is the right move for me. The idea of being totally free of root-rage or worrying over what color looks best as my face slides past my glorious smile makes me giddy with anticipation. So hair’s to me and my journey to “graytness.”
Hi, I don’t use my birth name anymore so just call me “Socially Awkward” and it’ll be fine. I’m so happy to share some of my experiences here at ASMB. (Adult Survivors of Mother Bloggers) Clearly anyone who had a mother with a Mommy Blog knows the joys and pitfalls affiliated with the fad that almost broke the internet at the turn of the new century. I have returned to life outside the cave I found so comforting and am here to tell my story. Starting up this support group truly freed me to be me, and to accept my mother’s difficult choices. I am one of the lucky ones.
Mom and I have worked through most of our stuff and are rebuilding our relationship every day. She’s even allowed unsupervised visits with her grandchildren now. As long as she turns in all cell phones, cameras, pads, laptops and recording devices before passing through a metal detector. The fact that she is willing to change because of the court order is huge.
Now that I too have become a writer, I have great sympathy for how difficult it is to produce good work on a regular basis. It can be daunting. So I understand why my mother did whatever it took to be successful in her trade. She rose to fame in a field so competitive, it is a story of triumph like no other. She truly did what she had to do, to separate herself from the pack.
Some of her stories weren’t all that uncommon. Walking in on my parents having sex was somewhat traumatic, but not unusual. It was such an innocent mistake…following that trail of Reese’s Pieces to the cracked door of their bedroom with a full bag in sight just beyond my reach. I was so young I didn’t think it even had any impact until the featured movie at a friend’s sleepover was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and I ran vomiting from the room during the iconic Reese’s scene. What a disgusting movie. Who would show that to a bunch of kids? What kind of parents did they have?
While it is still unclear how my head ended up in a shit-filled toilet, or how Mom had her camera ready in that harrowing moment, I was okay when it went viral. I’d never seen Mom happier. She even took me to McDonald’s and didn’t pull out her cell phone for a picture once. As it turns out, I still love having my head shaved and prefer wearing it that way to this very day. In fact, I never feel like it is quite short enough. I love a clean-shaven head so much, sometimes I make my scalp bleed. I am a little OCD, but that’s perfectly normal. Everybody has their little quirks. So what if I use bleach instead of shampoo?
But the moment that really defined Mom’s career, was the video of me sucking on a used tampon. She was giddy with how fast that one shot around the world. You would think it would eventually fade into obscurity, but I guess a classic is a classic. I didn’t mind changing schools every other year, and I don’t really need tomato juice or tea. Life is quite sublime without either of those revolting drinks. If a person orders one in my presence, I simply excuse myself and empty the contents of my stomach in the restroom. More room for lunch, I always say!
And I really didn’t mind Mom dressing me up as Miley Cyrus for my kindergarten Halloween party. I just wish she had found a nude bodysuit for me instead of having to actually sit naked on a silver Pilate’s ball. I’m from the Midwest, and it is cold in late October. A sheepskin saddle would have helped. But apparently that really got her blog traffic up, so I can be proud. And I did get a signed picture from Jared Fogle out of that post, so it wasn’t all bad. The irony of both a wrecking ball and her being connected to my life went completely unnoticed.
I knew she was under a great deal of pressure. It wasn’t easy blogging in an overly-crowded, fiercely competitive arena. Traffic and numbers meant everything. That’s why I knew she didn’t mean to hurt my feelings when another blogger’s kid-quote ended up winning a weekly shout out to funny moms, and my mom slapped me hard across the face, screaming, “Why can’t YOU say shit like that?” Sometimes working moms crack under pressure.
Or the time I ran home to show her I had just made the honor’s club, and might be in the running for class valedictorian, she smiled and said, “That’s great, honey. Now put on that goth crap I got you, cut yourself with the razor blade, and roll your eyes for the camera. I have a deadline to meet.” I knew she was proud of me, but there is nothing worse than writer’s block. She did what she had to do, and I was her palette. Some kids never get the attention I got. I was lucky she loved me enough to put me front and center on her blog.
If there is one life lesson to be had from all this, it is that a mother’s love can never be replaced. And I will always remember her for the love she shared with the world. I’m working on forgiveness, and that’s where my book comes in. Sharing what growing up with a Mommy Blogger was like for me, has been absolutely empowering. I love being able to return the favor for all the wonderful publicity Mom gave to me. Writers know it’s all about finding your voice, and I want mine to be the voice heard ‘round the world.
Thanks for making me who I am today, Mom. I love you and look forward to hitting the talk-show circuit to share the love…just as you worked so hard to share with such unparalleled success.
I cherish flying alone. In my long-gone dream job as a flight attendant, flying alone was a treasured perk.
Once, as a working flight attendant, I was dead-heading to another flight, and a large man sitting next to me as I sat there in full navy suit, striped cuffs, silver-winged glory, asked, “So, do you fly much?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe 150,000 miles a year.”
And that was the end of that gentle, but inexperienced weirdo’s conversation with me. Perfect.
In my youth, flying alone meant traveling to see friends, family, or new horizons. I felt singularly happy, confident, and self-absorbed. But flying solo has become as rare as a three-legged unicorn to me now. Marriage, kids, elderly parents, all took their toll on independent travel.
In my middle/late years, an opportunity to fly alone takes me directly back to my single, carefree days of adventurous exploration. I become giddy with anticipation. Packing. Purchasing decadent candy snacks. Selecting a good book. Any book from my slush pile of best intentions, serves two purposes: entertainment and avoidance. Of people.
Unfortunately, there are two types of strangers I attract…harmless weirdos and reborn Christians. Weirdos just need someone to listen. RC’s insidiously draw you into conversation with non secular topics then weave their religious views/testimony into a “dialogue” that feigns an interest in your thoughts.
On a flight to attend a friend’s mother’s funeral, I was accosted by just such another God-fucker. Despite my attempts to let him know I am not religious, nor do I believe in God or the promise of an afterlife, he continued to converse with me. And I allowed myself to continue conversing with him. I am so angry at myself, it is one of those self-loathing life lessons that take days to absorb and release.
When my bladder finally spoke up because it has more balls than I do, I excused myself. I will admit to staying in the lavatory a little longer than I needed, and that’s not a place anyone other than a coke-head, masturbating weirdo wants to lounge in. Upon my return, Mr. Godfreak asked me point blank if he could share his testimony with me.
“But you shared yours.”
“No, I told you some stories. You listened.”
“No. We’re two people on a plane. I’m done.”
“Okay, I can respect that. I’ll let you get back to your book.”
You’ll let me get back to my book? You mean the book I brought on three hours ago to relish and delve into as an escape from this world and assholes like you? You don’t let me do shit. And you sure as hell don’t know me enough to love me. (Something they all offer you in their magnanimous love of all people, enemies and sinners.) I don’t want or need your pity-love. I’m pretty damned lovable. You sir, are a crashing bore who seriously has no interest in who I am or what I have to say. I mistakenly thought you would take my social cue when I told you I am not a believer in god, and I sure as fuck don’t believe I have to behave a certain way in this lifetime to insure a better one later.
“But how do you know how to be a good person?”
“Ummm…because I am a decent human being with a conscience, empathy, and the ability to understand I would like people to treat me as I would treat them.”
“But why are humans the only, yada yada yada…”
“Elephants are actually very family oriented and caring animals who take care of those who are struggling. And I’m pretty goddamn sure they aren’t doing it to get better mud puddles in some scientifically impossible afterlife.”
I don’t even want to waste time here reliving the absurdity of having any kind of philosophical discussion with a god freak. I got sucked in and am now punishing myself for letting this asshole take up my time. My ALONE time. My FAVORITE time.
At the prime old age of 60, I finally had the confidence to say no to a complete stranger and stop a fruitless conversation I never should have engaged in in the first place. WHEN. WILL. I. LEARN?
I’ll tell you when. NOW. I will never, EVER allow someone to hijack my personal space and time again for something that does not interest, entertain, or better me.
When I told this fucker, “Why don’t you tell him your testimony?” nodding towards the man peacefully resting at the window seat, he responded, “Oh, he’s listening to music.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously? You can respect his space, but because I finally tell you to get out of mine, you are surprised and accuse me of having shared mine so I owe you.
I can write an entire chapter on the number of people who have tried to convert me and who have offered their love and prayers in that arrogant, insulting, pompous form of all-knowing self-righteousness that will continue to work in my honor despite my rejection of their choice.
So hear me now all you motherfucking witnesses for God and Jesus. I am now a reborn person of power and self-confidence who will no longer sit by politely as you waste my fucking life. The life I have only one of and choose to make the most of while I have it. WASTE your own life as much as you wish. I’m sure you have no concerns since the next one will be such an improvement. Gloat from the grave, assholes. But I am happy, full of love for those people who matter, and I refuse to let you into my life along with your almighty savior. I. AM. DONE. Reborn and ready to say, “FUCK OFF AND DIE.” It’s what you’re living for anyway.
Your entry, Working Girls was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 84th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.
- I’m 60, so looking like a girl is rather impossible, in addition to being totally fucking creepy.
- Not sure what “act like a lady” even means anymore, but I’m pretty sure it’s a much “broader” interpretation than BIC means here.
- Not interested in thinking like a man either. I’m not quite as obsessed with penises as they are. (Much to their chagrin.)
- Women work like a boss every single fucking day for less money. So fuck that shit.
Come on BIC, look like a pen, act like a pen, think like a pen, and write like you are in the 21st Century.