On Traveling with a Blunt Object (Thank you.)

Over the weekend at the Mom 2.0 Summit (Thank you for an INCREDIBLE event, Laura Mayes and Carrie Pacini. You are both amazing and heroic), I won an an Iris Award for Best Writing, an award that you nominated me for, an award that I wouldn't have won if it wasn't for all of you. It truly means the world to me and I thank you all from the bottom of my everything. It as an overwhelming feeling to be recognized in such a way for the thing I have done my whole life, especially since I am very much aware that there are voices far stronger than mine in this space, louder, more eloquent, knowledgeable... writers who work just as hard, even harder than I do.

I didn't know what to say when my name was called Saturday night because what is there to say when there is everything to say? 

So I said... something. Tried to make sense of my thoughts. Did not make sense of my thoughts. Stood there like an idiot. Oh, hi. 


On the way home, I got stopped in the security line at the airport and was asked to step aside. The TSA agent narrowed his eyes before asking to search my bag.

"Yes. Sure. I figured this would happen. There's a trophy in there. It's kind of pointy."

The agent opened my bag and saw the award.

"Are you a writer?" he asked. 

"I am.”

"Me, too. I just wrote a book, actually, and recently started a blog to get my writing out there. I have so much to say, you know. I just want to be heard. I want people to read my book. That's my dream."

We high-fived and then, he asked if I had any advice.

"Oh, I don't know. Just do it?"

"Like Nike?"

"Like Nike."

And then, all at once, it suddenly occurred to me that I did, in fact, have something to say. I had an opinion. Maybe even some helpful advice. 

I thought about what it feels like to walk into a room when you don’t know anyone. I thought about traffic and how hard (and often) intimidating it is to merge when it isn't your right of way. When you live on a busy street. When every day you have to reverse into oncoming traffic. 

Some of us are better at confrontation than others. Some of us are willing to gun it, honk, cut off other cars in order to move forward.

But in my experience, the only way to guarantee someone will let you in is to roll down the window and ask. 

In short, be kind. Roll down your window. Merge. 

And that's exactly what I told him. 


I realized after publishing Friday's post that all these years later, I am still really only ever able to articulate my feelings through notes. That for the past nine years, this site is the note I've felt secure about sliding underneath the door. Even when I fuck up or say the wrong thing or write about something that you ultimately disagree with... THIS world of wires and wifi, screens and spam, TMI and typos is my safe place and there has always been love on the other side. 

Because of you. Because—and this is what I've come to realize over the last twelve years writing daily in this space—there is no such thing as a unique experience. Truth is the universal language. Nobody is ever alone. No wo/man is an island.


I always feel very out of place at events of any kind. It's a thing I can't explain besides the fact that as a writer, being alone in my head is really the only thing I have been able to master. And then I kind of had an epiphany about it and realized that feeling out of place is what puts me in my place.

"We must find the thing that makes us feel estranged from our community and live in it in order to find our story," I heard myself tell David. “The things that we believe set us apart from our friends and family, audience, and mates are actually the things that will ultimately bring us together, because, here we are, a billion different variations on the same idea. Snowflakes R Us.

Differentiation is the only way to stand out in a sea of sameness.
 I always say that if someone is telling you to do something, you should know not to listen to them. If you want advice, seek the one person in the room who isn't offering it  (which is why you might want to ignore everything I am saying right now).

If someone is telling you to write a certain thing or think a certain way, go somewhere else. Go to where you are not being told who to be and how to create. THAT is your space. THOSE are your people. That's what I tell my kids. That's what I tell myself. That's really my only advice to anyone.

Do not look for the story that sells or follow the lead of another writer or teacher or parent... Do what's in you. Listen to yourself. 

A true leader does not ask to be followed. There is a fine line between ambition and desperation. In order to be read you must write. In order to be heard you must speak. In order to be one in the traffic jam of voices and cars and stories, you must first roll down the window, make eye contact, show that you aren't just a driver behind a wheel or a "brand" to be "followed," you're a human being. (And for what it's worth, brands want to work with human beings not "other brands.") 

David from TSA and I talked for fifteen minutes. At one point, one of the other agents came over to ask D a question, saw how passionate he was telling his story, and joined us as well. And soon, everyone was listening to the story of the TSA agent who was also a writer, who had a recording deal once that fell through but never stopped rhyming and slamming and scribbling. He was vulnerable and flawed. He spoke of mistakes and missed opportunities as the assembly line of bags marched on between us... beep... beep... beep. 

We all have a story.  

And to those of you who have sought advice from me over the years (of which I have likely said nothing helpful at all because I never know quite how to give advice on anything/we're all unique in our strengths/I don't think listening to me is going to get you anywhere but I KNOW that listening to yourself ALWAYS will. That said...) here's what I've got:

The only way to attract an audience is to take the stage and start singing. Trying to pull people in from the streets is a waste of time. Let them come. And if they don't come, sing louder. Sing a different song. Find a different stage. Wear a different costume. Sing upside down. Tap the tree that hasn't been tapped. That's the syrup folks are gonna wanna slather on their waffles. Or not. But at least it's yours. At least you're the one on the stage singing.


On the airplane I watched the Diana Vreeland documentary and took ten million trillion pages of notes. (It took me the entire flight to watch the whole thing because I kept pausing it to write something down because there was SO MUCH TO WRITE DOWN.)

Anyway, adding to the previous points, Vreeland believed that what made a woman beautiful and interesting were her flaws. If you have a long nose, hold it up and make it a trademark. If you're "too" tall, be taller.

For me, it is vulnerability that attracts me most to a man, a woman, a child, stranger, friend, image, article... , and the older I get, the easier it has become for me to celebrate what I used to think made me unattractive... strange... less than. 

If you build it and it's imperfect and real and honest, they will come.

And, sure, if it's immaculate and flawlessly put together, they will also come.

But chances are, they won't stay. 

Because flaws are more fun. And perfection is boring. And unsurprising. And a myth. 

Because levity is essential and trust is everything and vulnerability is the only thing that separates humans from spambots.

It's kind of like a stage dive and how it felt to trust all of those strangers' hands. And sure, there was always that one guy who thought it was okay to feel you up or that girl who stole your watch as you were being passed around the audience, and, yeah okay, so occasionally you do get dropped on your face. 


All those hands! 

So many hands!

(Thank you, hands!)

Anyway. Before this post goes COMPLETELY off the rails—apologies if it already has—I wanted to express my gratitude to all of you for being vulnerable human beings and for allowing me to embrace that part of myself, as well. Thank you for indulging me these words and every other word I've published in this space since the beginning. Thank you for opening my notes and for sharing yours with me throughout the years. Thank you for your hands.