When I was a freshman in college, I had two English professors. The first of which I had my first semester. She was very into grammatically correct sentences, following rules, and ripping all of her first year students a new asshole at their very first meeting with her (I remember leaving her office for the first time, in tears after such an ass-ripping).

The second of which English professors, whom I had the pleasure of meeting my second semester of college, taught Creative Writing, and felt that rules should be learned well so you knew when to break them correctly. He was pleasant and eccentric and open-minded. I remember leaving his office the very first time after a one-on-one meeting feeling elated, overjoyed… maybe even hopeful that I had a future as a writer, someday. I even remember the paper I was writing that we had been discussing. He had asked the class to write and analyze a short story or narrative that was personal to us. Because I’m a pain in the ass, I had asked if I could use a song instead of a story. To my surprise, he said, “Yes. As long as there is a beginning and end that can be interpreted as a short story.”

I chose LA Song, by Beth Hart. I remember hearing the song on the radio in high school, and it grabbed me like a feral magnet. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I bought the album and devoured every song on it. I memorized each lyric, each chord progression, each emotion. Every song felt like a personal glimpse into Hart’s life: a chance to look at a dissected soul that had yet to pass onto another world. It felt as if she were daring each of us to look at the shameful parts of ourselves–and laughing at our cowardice when we flinched.

Her LA Song chronicles the life of a woman who is depressed and feeling as if everyone around her is the problem, til she leaves and realizes… nope. She’s been her own problem the entire time.

She’s got a gun, she’s got a gun
She got a gun she calls the lucky one
She left a note right by the phone
Don’t leave a message ’cause this ain’t no home
And she cried and she cried, and she cried and she cried
She cried so long her tears ran dry
Then she laughed and she laughed, she laughed and she laughed
Cause she knew she was never comin’ back

-Beth Hart, LA Song

Long story short, Professor 2 was way more enthusiastic about my writing than Professor 1. He loved my creativity in using a song instead of like, an Edgar Allen Poe poem or a short story. He loved hearing about a new songwriter he hadn’t heard of before. He loved how I didn’t really care for convention or rules, and instead just relied on my own ear and intuition. I was encouraged after leaving his classroom. I felt as if I had left a parallel dimension and entered into the real world over Christmas break. A world where only professors like Semester 2 guy were in charge and none of Semester 1 ladies were in charge.

Imagine my surprise when I found out from older students, that Semester 1 and Semester 2 English Professor were married. Not only were they MARRIED, but they were married TO EACH OTHER.

I can’t describe this to you, friend. I imagine it would be like finding out two beloved people who were married, suddenly divorced. That is maybe the only thing I can liken this to: finding out one beloved person and one terrible monster person were united in holy matrimony. My head was reeling. I couldn’t imagine how two people who had the same interest (writing) but were at opposite ends of the spectrum, ended up together. It made my brain vomit. Nothing made sense. I couldn’t understand how two people who had such vastly different interpretations of my writing (Semester 1 Professor was one of only 2 B grades I received my entire college career) could live harmoniously under the same roof.

Years later, I still think about that, obviously. How two people who seem so different, could make it work. How two people who clearly see the world in such different lights, could ever find themselves in each other…

But then, I went to a Beth Hart concert. The one who started all of this. The songwriter who fueled the fire for Semester 2 Creative Writing in Freshmen English.

And you know what? She didn’t even play the LA Song. In fact, she didn’t play one song I knew. And I know a lot of Beth Hart songs. More than most people. She talked a lot about the people who knew her when she wrote LA Song… but she didn’t play it. She was onto new things. She was the New Beth Hart, but with the same old support system she always had.

Just singing different songs.


If you walked into my house two weeks ago, you would have been met with a shining, spotless floor. One that was freshly scrubbed, polished, and pristine. You maybe would have even thought, “Wow, Bec has really gotten her shit together and she even mops her floors now!”

You would have been comfortable eating a piece of food you accidentally dropped. In fact, you would have felt it insulting to me if you dropped anything at all on these floors without immediately scooping it up and shoveling it directly into your mouth while imagining me flitting around my tiny spotless house wielding a mop. This is the frame of reference you have. This is the scene you imagine. These are the images a tidy house conjures.

Things outside the frame are usually very, very good indicators of absolutely nothing going on within the frame.

What actually happened that one day my floor was spotless, was this:

I was working from home and had a morning full of meetings.

In between meetings, my ADHD ass was trying to clean my house because my kids (AKA: MINI CYCLONES OF DESTRUCTION) had left the day before, leaving a loving trail of reminders of their presence.

I had successfully started a load of laundry and a load of dishes in the dishwasher, but… some of my dishes weren’t dishwasher safe. Also, my kids had dumped an obscene number of non-sink-safe substances directly into my sink. So, I had turned on the hot water, plugged the sink, and squeezed some Dawn into it to start the disinfecting of Gross Sink and Dumb Dishes.

Then, my manager called me out of the blue to discuss something. So I went into my room/home office and began a conversation whilst forgetting I had turned on the sink.

I then proceeded to work and go right into an interview.

My boyfriend (who also has ADHD and thought I was just like, declogging my sink with Drain-O) came in mid-interview and said, “Hey”

I shushed him because INTERVIEW.

He left. Came back a few minutes later, mouthing: Your sink was overflowing.

At this point, the entire FRAME came into view: Oh yeah… I started a hot soapy sink! Oh yeah, I then started to go other shit! Oh, yeah. I am a freaking MESS OF A PERSON WHY DO PEOPLE PUT UP WITH ME?!?

I wish I had a picture of the kitchen when I first jumped up and went to take a look, but I don’t. Bubbles. Bubbles everywhere. Hot water, soapy floors, counters…

But no one cares about that. They only care about the end result. They only care about the Frame. The Scene. The Things They Can See. And that is why so many of us keep the real parts of our lives out of focus, off to the side.

The obvious problem, is that the frame is fake. It isn’t real. It isn’t our life. It contains the leftovers and by-products of all the real life stuff happening just off-camera. If you look happy in-frame it’s because of or in spite of whatever is going on behind the scenes.

And, well… I’m tired of living off-screen.


“I’m not a failure, I swear. I wish you could see me from over there.”

-Rilo Kiley-

It’s very easy to judge a picture when you only have one angle. In this picture (above) it looks very much like I am terrible at parking. It looks like my car is ripe to be keyed or dented by the car next to me, angrily shoving its door into mine in a show of protest for my poor parking skills. If I saw someone parked like this, I would most certainly have a few choice words to say. I would make fun of them. I would shake my head and bemoan the state of the world. I would be up on my high horse about this idiot’s parking job.

But, sometimes there is more to the story. Maybe before you pulled up next to this idiot, parked so cavalierly crooked, there had been another car parked in a way that made this park job the only possible choice. And then that car left before you arrived.

Maybe a gang of kids had been playing in the next parking spot over and this driver was trying not to murder any of them but still needed to park and get wine for a party tomorrow and she was going to be back out in 3 minutes before she inconvenienced anyone else.

Maybe whomever painted the freaking lines on this particular parking lot did so in such a way that made it absolutely impossible for the person who ended up parking in this spot to look good from all angles if they parked there. That driver would have to just settle for looking good to only 50% of the people driving by. She had to take her chances, and hope that the right people saw she really tried to park correctly. She really did try to line everything up, be out of everyone else’s way, and park as accurately as she could.

But it didn’t matter. Because of how the lines were already drawn, long before she got there, she was always going to look like a selfish, bad-parking, idiot to a lot of people.

Luckily, there would still be some other drivers, other people, who only saw her from the better angle, and thought she was okay. She was always going to be okay in their eyes, despite what was going on with the lines drawn from the other side.

Still, others would see the entire picture and shrug. Say she did the best she could between the lines she was given. Give her the benefit of the doubt despite seeing her failures and successes all at once.


“And if I had an audience
I’d ask them to leave.
How can I give them what I can’t receive?
How can I pray, when I just don’t believe?”
~Slow by The Fratellis

The audience is probably the main character of your story and you don’t even know it. They are the catalyst to every action, the skewed mirror reflecting every move you make. They create the continuous feedback loop informing your every move or stall.

Maybe your audience is your family. Maybe your friends and co-workers. Maybe you have an actual audience, sitting in seats or dancing in aisles while they listen to you sing, read, speak, preach, or pray. Maybe your audience consists of the people who parade through your home judging your photo galleries on the all, or your reading collection on the book shelves.

Maybe you aren’t even sure who your audience consists of, maybe it has taken on a mind of its own–become an anonymous blob of judgment and fear rendering you paralyzed because you can’t tell who is there for support and who is there to spy on, exploit, or enrage you.

I think I wrote more authentically when I knew only three or four people were actually reading what I wrote. I think I sang more earnestly when I was only singing in church. For some of us, the audience we attract by being “ourselves” turns us against “ourselves.” We don’t know what to do with it. Even on a small scale.

I mean, look. I am not famous, by any means. I only have 1400+ followers and for the last year and a half, I didn’t know what to do with that. It’s easy to write for an audience when they’re anonymous. It’s a lot harder to write honestly when you know you may run into Suzie Q. (your mom’s former best friend’s niece’s, dog-walker’s Godmother) at the grocery store and now she knows things about you that you absolutely NEVER would have told her in passing or even over a bottle of wine. Because you falsely believed there was a wall between Writers and Audience that would keep you safe from in-person confrontation or judgment. Or, because you believed you weren’t on anyone’s radar to begin with, and that your Main Character (The Audience) would never actually appear for a table read.

Then, they do.

And the anonymous readers, when you look into it, are really fine. Because they probably aren’t even really reading your writing, and even if they are, they are doing it for reasons that have absolutely fuck-all to do with you as a writer or a person. So you can let those go, you can move on without worrying about the anonymous followers/readers.

BUT. But… the thing “they” don’t tell you, is that… the bigger number of anonymous followers you have, the bigger number of NON-anonymous followers as well.

It’s easy to write for an audience when your life is going well, or hilariously wrong.

It’s a lot harder to write freely when your life isn’t funny. When your life is full of doubts and karmic retribution and chaos. When you know your aunt who doesn’t believe in divorce might be reading your blog entry about how amazing it is to be single after 20 years of marriage. Or when you know that people who were rooting for you to be the beacon of truth and grace and perfection, find out you are really just human after all.

It’s hard to get to know your audience and then, subsequently, write what they want to read. But you have to do it.

The audience is the main character, after all.



One of my least favorite memories of my mom is when she’d get angry and say, “Life sucks and then you die.”

We weren’t even allowed to say the word suck as children growing up, so when she said it, you knew she meant it. I think, even as a child, it made me sad on some deep level to know my mom broke her own language rule to describe LIFE.

I know most people only write pleasant memories about those who have passed on and I understand why. I applaud that why. I do not disparage that why at all and, if you have read any of my previous writing, you know I have done a fair amount of that as well in the past.

But, you will also know by now that I do not do what most other people do.

I loved my mother. I can still feel her absence when I descend the basement stairs into the choir loft at the church where I grew up, to this day. I can hear her laugh in a large auditorium before seeing her; I can admire the way she took control of any group that needed controlling: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Youth Group, PTA, Choir, the local school board… you get the picture.

But my mom (same as any other human being living in the real world) had another side. She lost her shit every once in a while. She rung her hands and cussed and clenched her fists at the heavens. She got frustrated and angry and sad. She said things she didn’t mean. She fought and scolded and cried when things didn’t go her way.

It isn’t a mark against her character. It’s just human.

We’re all human.

I regret that I couldn’t recognize the humanness in her when she was still alive, but I was still too young. Life hadn’t kicked my ass hard enough, yet. I couldn’t relate.

When she died, I hadn’t yet realized that parents are just normal people still trying to figure out their own shit while raising little tiny people who didn’t even know they had shit to figure out, yet.

Looking back, I can see the signs. I can see the moments where, if I were her close friend instead of her adolescent daughter, I would have made her take a pause, made her step back and calm down. I can see where my fury and anger and irrational outbursts sometimes mirror hers. I can see how infuriating life can be. I can relate to this feeling that life doesn’t do anything but suck, and then as soon as it doesn’t suck, you die.

I am terrified that you can manifest it – your own death. You can say it so much that you form your own tumors and malignancies and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of life sucking then you immediately dying. It’s inadvertent, unintended. But the universe doesn’t realize you don’t actually mean the words coming out of your mouth. They think that is what you want: for life to suck and then for you to die.

My mom was only 46-years old when she died. I have friends older than that, now. When she died that seemed an unfathomable milestone: to have close friends as old as she was when she died.

And the closer I get to her, the age she was when she died, the more certain I am that I do not want to feel like all life has to offer is to suck and then kill you.

I want to feel like life is wondrous. I want to feel like life is a miracle. Like it’s giving me all it has, and has left no room for negativity. And that any negativity handed over to me was an accident, a by-product of some other fantastic miracle yet seen. The ugly but necessary waste after refining more pleasant end results.

I don’t want to stop and think that all there is, is sucking and dying. I want to run outside with the giddiness of a child and wonder at the sunset. I want to say whatever insane, goofy, backwards thought comes into my head and not feel judged. I want my kids to know what it means to be human but also know it doesn’t have to be negative; to know that, sometimes, yes, life does suck, but that’s not all.

Life can also be happy and chaotic and wondrous and free. It can be confusing and heartbreaking and sullen and empty. It can be exciting and shocking. Unfair and hard. Perfect and puzzling.

It can be all these things before you die. The important part is to pay attention to all of it, call each stage out, give them all their due.

Don’t wait until life sucks the absolute most, to remember all the parts about life you love. Don’t wait til life is running out to get really honest about how much life has actually given you. Don’t wait until you’re about to die, to realize how much life doesn’t really suck at all.


My son was six years old when this song by Brandi Carlile came out. I am a huge Carlile fan, and was singing it at home one day, to my little adorable audience of one. I got to the lyric, “You can dance in a hurricane, but only if you’re standing in the eye.” My son looked at me, very seriously (as he usually is) and said, “Mommy. That would still be really dangerous.”

He wasn’t wrong. I mean, sure. If you have to be in close proximity to a hurricane, the eye is the safest place to be (though I doubt you’d feel like dancing). But if you had a choice, you’re probably going to choose a location as far away from the eye of a hurricane as you possibly can.

So, I looked at him and said, “You’re right. It still would be dangerous. It’s just a song, though.”

It isn’t just a song, though. It’s truth that a six-year old can’t grasp. The truth that sometimes you can’t even fathom the destruction around you because you are in the most optimal position to be aware but not affected by it. Because some destruction can spare you while you look on, and you are able to deny its power until the storm passes and you no longer have a boundary. There’s no more eye–just destruction around the little tiny island of safety where you once stood. And now you can see it. You can see all of it. And you wonder how you could have been so blind to it.

If he had been older, I would have explained it to my six-year old. But he wasn’t. He wouldn’t understand the end of the song, the last lyrics:

I am a sturdy soul
And there ain’t no shame
In lying down in the bed you made
Can you fight the urge to run for another day?

You might make it further if you learn to stay

Life is hard. There are storms everywhere, eyes in which to stand, and winds in which to lose yourself. There are momentary respites from the storms and plenty of opportunities for relief and rebuilding. But sometimes, in that eye, before the coming sorrow, it’s okay to dance. Just for a few seconds, before you assess the damage.


Some days I find twenty dollar bills in the laundry.

Some days, I find plastic tubes relieved of their chapstick.

Some days, I find lint and dog hair and besogged receipts left over from lunches long forgotten.

Some days I find love letters and shiny change and missing guitar picks.

Some days, I’m the hero. Some days I’m the villain. Some days, I’m grateful for the treasures hidden in the laundry. Some days I curse the inside-out-socks, the forgotten pocket mementos, the unending cycle of dirty/clean, dirty/clean, dirty/clean.

Some days I find humor in the trap. Some days I find pity.

Some days there’s poetry in the detritus.

Some days, there’s just debris.

Some day I’ll miss all this.

Some day, I’ll wish.

I’ll wish for lint and change; dirty socks and broken toys; receipts and notes; ruined lip gloss and rogue guitar picks.

Some day.


“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

–John A. Shedd, 1928

Ships in harbor aren’t necessarily safe. I know, I know. It’s a metaphor. ANd it’s just a saying. And it makes a really good point. Despite my disagreement with it’s main premise, it’s one of my favorite quotes. In fact, it’s because it’s not completely and unequivocally true that I like it.

The first thought brought to mind when hearing or reading Shedd’s poignant words, is a cozy port wherein a sturdy ship is snuggled close to shore away from the elements, away from war or saboteurs. Rocking gently in lazy waves and bumping melodically against a dock. Its passengers carefree, its cargo safely stowed away.

It’s a nice image even if you know that’s not what ships are built for. After all, ships can’t be out all the time. There is a time and place to moore oneself to a stationary spot. But, as with all things in life, nothing is guaranteed. Which brings me back to my original point: ships aren’t necessarily safe just because they’re harbored.

In 1915 a passenger ship rolled over and sunk while tied to the dock on the Chicago River, killing 844 people. Just this past week, a ship in port was damaged by Hurricane Sally. And, lest we never forget, the ships damaged or destroyed while moored at Pearl Harbor. There are dangers great and small, man-made and of natural origin, that can bring a boat down no matter where it is. There is a weird, morbid brand of comfort from this information. Knowing that there are no guarantees. That you have no control and things might just happen whenever they’re supposed to happen no matter what you do or where you go. Whether you take to the seas or stay in one place.

Still, I understand the appeal of staying in one place. Not risking anything. It’s nice, the feeling of being tethered to a dock. It gives you a sense of security, a sense of grounding that makes you feel like, “Ah okay. We made it.” It can also be fun and anticipatory to be there, waiting to head out into a new adventure. That prelude to excitement you can only get right before you embark on your journey that is, sometimes, more adrenaline-inducing than the journey itself. You are still safe and free to wonder at what could be. You could still decide to stay put. You have options before you set off.

To stay or go.

But staying doesn’t mean you’re going to be safe, so if you’re already aboard the ship, you might as well go. After all, that’s what ships are built for.



It’s not a particularly happy song, but it has one of my favorite lyrics hidden towards the end of it. You get through the angst and sorrow of Flyleaf’s song I’m Sorry and there is the line, “This story ends so good.”

It’s not a clever lyric. It isn’t deep or existential. It isn’t even grammatically correct. But fifteen years after the first time hearing it, it sticks out in my mind.

This. Story. Ends. So. Good.

It’s important to understand, if you aren’t familiar with the song I’m talking about, that no other parts of this song lead the listener to believe that anything about this story could be good, let alone the ending. And aren’t we programmed to believe that bad and broken things will always be that way these days? Aren’t we prepared to hear that a story which starts out with lines like, “I’m not ashamed, Of that long December, Your hands coming down again, I close my eyes and brace myself…” ends tragically?

Have we forgotten that stories can end so good?

Or do we just write the end and forget it before we get to the good part? Maybe we’re too impatient. Maybe we stop the tape before we let it play all the way through.

My daughter will be fifteen tomorrow. I remember her birth as if it were yesterday, I remember not being able to see her because she wouldn’t cry, I remember her cord being in a knot, I remember a crash cart and yelling nurses and frantic people everywhere. I remember me asking everyone to stop stop stop, for someone to let me see my baby. I remember finally seeing her and feeling nothing but exhaustion and shame and pain. No euphoria, none of that New Mom Glow.

Just, nothing.

I remember people telling me how lucky I was. I remember people being more excited about my new baby than I was. I remember not sleeping. The crying. The colick that only Daddy could quell. Thoughts of throwing her off the roof. Thoughts of, “There is no way I can freaking do this, no wonder single moms or poor moms or moms with no support system drive their vans into rivers. I can’t even do this with a husband and other family members nearby. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?!?”

I remember when she was a toddler, screaming for no reason I could discern, while I sat on the front porch and cried. I remember hearing about all these other new moms feeling so fulfilled and light and wonderful after giving birth. I remember thinking they must be lying. I remember hating myself for thinking that. I remember wondering what was wrong with me, if I was missing some integral part of my brain and I should be studied for science.

But, this story ends so good.

And I know it’s not really the end of this story, but it IS the end of the torment and the shame and the worrying about if I should have ever become a mother in the first place. Because my daughter will be fifteen tomorrow. And she is the coolest person I know. She speaks up even when her voice shakes. She likes Rage Against the Machine and Taylor Swift. She crawls into bed with me when she’s had a bad day, and she tells me all about her hopes and dreams for the future. Every day she is finding herself, and every day she lets me watch. She challenges me at every turn and still makes me cry sometimes, but I no longer wonder if I should have been a mother. I never wonder if I was wrong. I don’t worry about those first few minutes together and how they didn’t go the way we wanted them to, the way we expected them to. I try to tell other mothers who feel like they’re broken those first few days or weeks or even months and years… Just wait. This story ends so good.


About once a month, I eat my lunch in the cemetery.

It’s not planned. I don’t have it written on a planner (okay yeah, I don’t even have a planner…): “Lunch at Cemetery, August 24th @ 11.45am.”

But there are days when I can’t think of what to eat. Days I can’t fill an hour. And I find myself driving through some fast-food abomination of a restaurant, and my car, as if on auto-pilot, ends up in front of my mother’s tombstone.

I don’t get out of the car. I just sit there, parked next to the little, rolling, shadowy hill, looking up at the tombstone, the little crooked angel statue leaning, almost sympathetically, against it. I sit there and eat and think and cry and wonder when it will stop hurting and simultaneously hope the answer is never.