I know him.

I have heard his voice.
I have seen his face contorted in anger.
I have watched the public react to his church-boy persona while I fear his secret rage.
I have watched him joke and play with his buddies, like an all-American dude-bro, like a good ol’ boy, while secretly calculating how much he can take, how far he can push. What he can get.
I have watched him assess how drunk a woman is. How much drunker she needs to be.
I have watched him grow bigger when he sees fear in someone’s eyes.
I know him.

I’m not alone. Most women know him. We know the petulant-yet-violent anger of pure entitlement, when someone DARES stand between him and something he wants and deserves, because goddammit do you know who he is?

I have watched the facade of thoughtful, reasonable consideration crack.
I have seen the raw, seething pit of SELFISH WANT and RAGE beneath.

I have witnessed the calculation. How much can he take and still maintain his self-image–that he is a good person? that it is justified? that he matters more? that he is a victim? that it was a prank or a misunderstanding or a lie? A lie.

How long will he have to lie to himself before he believes the lie completely?

I believe in peace.
I believe in nonviolence.
I believe in the slow and steady upswing of human history and equity and growth.
I believe in human goodness and love.

But now I understand the depth of rage and despair that drives riots.
I want to take to the streets and smash things.
I want to scream until my throat is bloody, until I AM HEARD.
I want to be heard, even if I bleed.


SMASH: The Origin Story

SMASH: Tearing Down Gender Rules was born when a radioactive spider–Wait.

One day, SMASH was exposed to gamma rays–Hold on.

SMASH grew up on the planet Krypton–No.

Although SMASH used to be a Russian secret agent and assassin–Um, that’s not it.

SMASH left the island of Themyscria to fight–


Picture of LEGO Avengers. Yes, I know Wonder Woman is DC, not Marvel.

You know what? The origin story of SMASH isn’t nearly that exciting. But maybe you’d like to hear it anyway?

Late last spring I heard through a writing group that Irene Goodman–THE Irene Goodman, founder of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, did you hear me? Irene Goodman!–was looking for someone to write an approachable, snarky-yet-grounded book about the history of misogyny.

Hey! I write things. And I’ve taught gender studies for 18 years. And I know some things about misogyny. And I’m approachable. And, well, definitely snarky. Kind of funny. McSweeney’s published me, so I must be kinda funny.


A picture of Lin Manuel Miranda in a blue suit in front of a portrait of Hamilton, looking happy & proud & awesome as usual.


“I am not throwing away my shot!”

I took some deep breaths and emailed her. She emailed right back! We talked on the phone and connected well–she liked my vision and wanted to know more, even though she’d originally been looking for someone more, well, famous–a big name already.

I’m not a big name. YET. But she was intrigued by my ideas, so I wrote some sample pages and sent them to her.

Then came the real shocker. She emailed, told me she loved the pages, AND THEN asked if I’d ever considered writing middle-grade non-fiction.


No, actually…I hadn’t ever considered it.

But the more we talked, the more I saw it. And the more I wrote, the more the words poured out of me, the more the project took shape in my mind, the more I realized OF COURSE this was a middle-grade book.

SMASH shows middle-graders how to decipher culture’s messages culture about gender. We can’t fight what we don’t even name. We can’t think critically about things we assume are just “natural” and “normal.” Once we see that gender is CONSTRUCTED, then? Then we have the chance to decide which messages we believe, which we question, and which we resist. Then we have the chance to figure out how to be our best, most authentic selves.

Knowledge is empowerment.



I love this book so very much.

As I’ve been writing SMASH, I feel like I’m talking to my own kids. I’m talking to YOUR kids. I’m talking to ALL kids about things I wish I knew when I was their age. I’m talking to all kids about things they need to know–the earlier, the better.

I never want to talk down to kids–they’re capable of understanding SO MUCH MORE than adults often give them credit for. Instead, I break down complex concepts and explain them in simple terms, with clear examples.

Irene’s talking about SMASH with editors now. We’ve sent out a proposal including the first four chapters.

Next blog post? I’m gonna talk about how SMASH got its name.

Unless its name changes before then.

Which could happen, because we’ve had about seven million and three title iterations at this point.

So stay tuned!



True Facts about Parenting

You know those Ze Frank videos?

(If you don’t, what is wrong with you? Go click now. Then come back here when you’re done in the rabbit hole.)

Please imagine this blog post read in Ze Frank’s voice.

Here are true facts about Parenting.

Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a teeny tiny bebeh from infancy to grown ass adulthood.*

This means parents are basically responsible for absolutely every aspect of another human being for at least 18 years and probably more like 25 years, because we now know that’s the age when people’s brains mature enough to stop doing idiotic things every other bloody minute. And even though we know people don’t stop doing idiotic things until the age of 25, we are still convinced all those things they do before then are somehow the fault of their parents. Maybe because of what parents do, maybe because of what parents don’t do. It’s really a crap shoot.

Parenting takes all the stress and anxiety about your daily life–paying your bills, going to your job every single day (yes, every day), cleaning your house, occasionally scheduling a dentist appointment or changing your oil–and adds to it all the stress and anxiety of someone else’s life, a wee person who relies on you for literally everything.

Because of this, parenting is the highest paid profession in our world.

Just kidding, people are crazy enough to do this for free.

You see, one of the dirty parenting tricks is to convince the next generation–those teeny tiny bebehs–their life will have no meaning unless they, too, someday become parents.

Parents do this as payback for the 18 to 25 years of stress, responsibility, and agony they endured as they watched their child grow, especially during middle school and high school. Parents gather in secret support groups and plot how to get back at their children by ensuring they, too, become parents.

Intensive parenting for 18 to 25 years is a human construct, which makes you wonder which species is really the most intelligent on the planet. The cuckoo bird tricks other birds into raising her bebehs by sneaking her eggs into other nests. Mother hamsters often eat their own offspring. The Hooded Grebe takes care of the first chick to hatch, but leaves the others behind. Perhaps multiples are too much trouble.

If you ask a human parent what they like about their all-consuming, anxiety-provoking, completely-unpaid job, they are likely to spew some words about unconditional love and fulfillment.

But next time someone goes on and on about the intangible rewards of parenting and how they pity people without bebehs, remember: parenting is not for the weak. Although it might be for suckers. And masochists.









Frustrating Things

  1. When someone makes specific plans with specific dates that are agreed upon in writing, and then claims that it was a different plan with different dates and gets really annoyed with you and acts like you’re the mistaken one, as you sit there with a written text record. I’m gonna call these people Plan Gaslighters.
  2. When someone who is a grown ass adult and should be able to control themselves instead drinks most nights and decides to send nasty texts.
  3. When you have to deal with Kindness Sharks. You know them. They’re like loan sharks, but with kindness and/or gifts. They do something nice for you. They give you something. You say, “Thank you!” and then they act like you owe them immense paybacks and try to guilt you into doing everything they want. A gift’s not a gift when it comes with strings! Don’t act like you think you’re so generous, you Kind Shark! You just want people to feel obligated to you!
  4. When you randomly start to feel bad for demeaning actual sharks in a list of frustrating things. Like, poor sharks. They’re just being themselves, just being authentic sharks swimming in the ocean and eating stuff and why do we have to be terrified of them and then use them to label jerky people?
  5. When you have to sit and be socially pleasant and cordial to someone that grates on your every last nerve. At a doctor’s office or in a work environment. Somewhere you can’t be rude and Every Nerve is screaming with irritation. Like…how could this person ever have been someone you chose to spend time with?
  6. When you drop a coin and it rolls waaaaaaay back under the vending machine and you can’t reach it and therefore can’t get the drink you really wanted to settle an irritated stomach. A stomach that is probably irritated from all of the above.
  7. When your Outlook mail intermittently doesn’t work correctly, but it’s always working when IT looks, and then it breaks for good and won’t even open and you’re waiting on IT. And waiting. And waiting.
  8. When you’re so aggravated you can’t focus on your Really Exciting Writing Project, because of all of the above. And then you wonder: why am I bothering with Exciting Project, when it’s about all sorts of liberal things like gender equity and apparently no one in this country gives a shit?
  9. When your country seems headed for complete fascism and all the work you’ve done in your life to increase social justice seems to be meaningless and without purpose, because awful people possess too much political and judicial power.

Helpful Things:

  1. Writing a list of frustrating things. Thanks for putting up with my public therapy.

(hahahahaha, I mis-typed that at first and wrote “pubic therapy,” which actually made me laugh and feel somewhat less frustrated.)

PTSD is a Sneaky Bastard

Content warning: fire, PTSD, anxiety, trauma


I almost died in an apartment fire in July 1997. The building burned overnight, the night between July 7th and July 8th. Most likely, teenagers caused the fire (accidentally) by setting off fireworks in the illegally-placed dumpster–the dumpster sitting under the apartment buildings, next to parked cars. The dumpster caught fire and then the spray-foam insulation on the ceiling–the foam that was also against fire code and acted as an accelerant–caught fire. Then the gas tanks of nearby parked cars exploded.

My apartment was right above the parking area, right above where the gas tanks exploded, right above the dumpster.

It was a four alarm fire. Firefighters from four stations rushed to the scene. When the first firefighters arrived, they estimated the fire was burning at a temperature of 2700° and spreading at a rate of 10 feet per second.

I woke up when my windows exploded from the heat to find my apartment surrounded by fire, front and back.

I don’t need to go minute-by-minute through the rest of it. I was trapped. I was convinced in every atom of my being that I was about to die. I didn’t die. I managed to get out. Firefighters are fucking heroes, man, and if it weren’t for their quick response to the scene, I would not be here.

I have PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I was diagnosed six to eight months after the fire by a thoughtful, humane, person-centered doctor of internal medicine who realized my physical symptoms of stomach upset, heartburn, and throat constriction were the somatic symptoms of PTSD. If she hadn’t asked all the right questions–not just questions about my body, but questions about if I felt safe in my life, how I was sleeping, if I was experiencing anger or threats–if she hadn’t probed, I don’t know how much longer it would have taken me to get help. I am thankful for her.

have gotten help. Over the past 21 years, I’ve seen several therapists and done intense work around the fire. I’ve done EMDR therapy which was, for me, very beneficial. I’ve healed and grown tremendously.

But you know what? PTSD doesn’t ever actually disappear. I can usually manage my PTSD very well–I’m seldom triggered. I no longer think about the fire every minute, every hour, every day, every week, or maybe not even every month. That’s a huge change from the years immediately post-fire. I can light candles! I now cook on a gas stove! Our new house has a fire pit and we made a fire the other day and I didn’t freak out! I watched fireworks over Memorial Day without tears streaming down my face, without my body shaking! (I even enjoyed them!) I recognize, notice, and label my PTSD when it pops its head out of the depths of my psyche.

And yet.

This is the time of year, folks. These last two weeks of June, when my animal brain recognizes the scents on the breeze, the slant of the sun, the feel of the air.

Something’s wrong, my amygdala whispers. Danger is coming.

Danger is coming, my body echoes.

I feel jittery all the time, like I’ve had a whole pot of coffee. I feel restless and I struggle to focus. I’m hypervigilant. I can’t relax. My muscles tense. My stomach clenches. I feel sick, but also hungry, but also sick. I feel like a constant lump is stuck in my throat. I feel like the other shoe will fall. Will another shoe fall? Am I okay? Is everyone I love okay? Who’s not okay? What’s not okay? Something is not okay.

Breathe, Sarah. Breathe.

It’s okay to feel like it’s not okay, I remind myself. This is PTSD. This is your old friend, your old enemy, your old familiar haunting sneaking back into the forefront to recognize this anniversary.

But what if I always feel this bad? What if this time is different? What if I’m losing my mind? I ask myself, hating the frantic tone in my voice.

Today is June 15th, I answer. Every year. Every year you feel this way. Every end of June is hard. Every Fourth of July is significantly awful, as the fireworks explode everywhere. And every year it goes away again. Every year it recedes after you move through it. Every year it clears again as you survive.

Twenty-one years, this July.

Thank all the gods I’ve been alive these last twenty-one years. Thanks to the firefighters. Thanks to the doctor who first said, “PTSD.” Thanks to the four therapists who’ve given me strategies to cope. Thanks to the friends and family who empathize, who listen, who seek to understand, who stay calm and remind me that my calm will return.

And it will. I will be okay.

But these next few weeks are hard for me, folks. They are hard. I will treat myself with care. I will remind myself to breathe. If you see me in the next weeks, please be extra gentle with me.

Sparrow on human hands



Lessons from the Weary Mover

We recently moved. Just across town, so you’d THINK that would be easier than some of the cross-country moves I’ve made in the past.

You’d be wrong.

Here are some of the Hard Won Lessons I’ve learned in the last month. I’m passing them on to you in case you’re thinking about moving, too.

1. Don’t. cd4


But really, most of us move for really good reasons. Maybe you got a new job. Maybe you have a growing family and need more room. Maybe you have Nazis as neighbors. Maybe you’re tired of the basement portal to R’lyeh that keeps leaking non-Euclidean geometry into your house.

If you’re moving for a good reason like that, carry on.

If you’re moving for some absurd reason, though. Maybe…just don’t. Cuz this shit’s exhausting.

2. You own MUCH MORE STUFF than you think you do.

You own approximately 5.12 tons of stuff. Yes, you. You, right over there.

Wait, you have kids? I take it back. You now own 5.12 tons of stuff plus 13.7 tons of stuff per child. No joke. That’s an actual, scientifically-calculated number.

3. Most of all of that stuff is nothing you need.

If you move without it, you’ll literally never miss it. Give it away now. Or trash it, if it’s something no one would ever want.

If you haven’t used it in the last year, GET RID OF IT.

4. YMMV on this one, but I find the hardest things to sort through are books and things your kids used to love/play with/wear when they were little.


At one point while sorting through our basement, I literally sat and cried over the plastic food my kids used to play with. I remember when they handed me that hot dog and I pretended to eat it! HOW CAN I GET RID OF THIS?

I’m not even talking about the nice, wooden, chop-this-velcroed-fruit fake food. I’m talking about the cheapest, flimsiest bunch of junk food.

Actual tears.

Don’t get me started on the books. Trixie Beldon, man! Yeah, yeah…no one in my house will probably ever read them again. Yeah, you’re right, my kids refused to read them when they were the appropriate ages. No, um, I’m probably not going to read them. But. But. But. But…I LOVED THEM. They had lasting and deep significance in my life! I…I…I………

Okay. Take pictures of those things. Keep the stuff someone might actually play with again or actually read again. If not? Then just keep the picture.


5. At some point, you’ll look around, pat yourself on the back, and feel like you’ve made great headway packing up your whole house! BUT DON’T FALL INTO THAT TRAP.

The final 10% of the crap that you own takes 90% of the time to pack. And you’re going to keep discovering more and more and more and more stuff hidden in random places. Plus, you’re going to end up with a bunch of boxes at the end labeled “Misc,” “Odds & Ends,” and “What Even Is This, No One Knows.”



6. Unpacking might be worse than packing. It will take approximately 1,268 days for you to actually settle into the new house without stumbling across yet another box or something that needs to be organized. I haven’t hit that point yet. I’ll let you know when I do.


Um. So good luck with your move.

What Fresh Hell is This?

One of my friends at work subscribes to Snack Crate, which sends a monthly box of snacks from around the world. She hates licorice and I love it, so she handed me a bag of Djungelvral, from Sweden.

Here’s a reenactment of my thoughts during this traumatic event:


Don’t they look adorable? Aw, they’re little monkeys. Little licorice monkeys. Covered in some sort of…powder. Hmm. Let’s take a closer look.



Oh, yes, they are ADORABLE!

And I love licorice! And, hey, monkeys.

And I am very adventurous in my eating and I LOVE eating treats from other cultures!

Oh, wow, this is going to be awesome.

:Pops monkey in my mouth:

OMG FOISNK&4*#&GKJS:LHE*&^(*&G:LJSDF*&^(*^*&*&$&^%#$LJLHGL??!!!!!!!

Folks? I literally jumped in my seat and grimaced and did a mouth-centered double-take and head shake and shudder.


Apparently, the Swedes enjoy coating their licorice in ammonium chloride, which tastes kind of like and also totally unlike sodium chloride (the salt we are used to). The candy has this crazy ammonia/salt zap which makes your mouth react ALMOST as if you popped in a super sour Toxic Waste candy COMBINED with that choking/cloying/nostril-burning feeling you get when you’re swimming in the ocean and accidentally gulp down a ton of water. And it makes your eyes water.

The licorice inside all that Fresh Hell was kind of good, but it took my mouth like ten minutes to recover.

Tasting this candy and realizing that it is POPULAR in Sweden? Makes me wonder:

  • Are the Swedes generally crazy?
  • What other insane combinations of foods do they eat?
  • Is it possible that Swedes HATE this stuff and pretend to like it and therefore export it with secret glee at the torment they impose on the rest of us?

Part of me wants to try another one, just to see if it is really as bad as it seemed the first time.

Part of me wants to hand one to an unsuspecting fellow licorice-lover just to watch them eat it.

Most of me wants to throw it all away.

But…if any of you are in Evansville and want to try one, let me know!

Have any of you actually tried Djungelvral and enjoyed it?


Who Says Feminists Aren’t Funny?

I’m intense. I hold strong opinions. I have a hard time “enjoying” media without critiquing the hell out of its problematic messages. I am amused by nothing that contains sexism/racism/classism/able-ism/homophobia/any-other-isms. I care about “too many” social issues (for other people’s comfort). I may even be “too much” for some people.


But I’m funny.


McSweeney’s Internet Tendency just accepted a piece I wrote.

And if McSweeney’s isn’t funny, NOTHING is funny. Like. Because McSweeney’s IS funny, get it? Most of the pieces on McSweeney’s are absolutely hilarious and amusing and MY PIECE WILL LIVE WITH THEM.

I’m not claiming I’m up to par with “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers” or “FAQ: The ‘Snake Fight’ Portion of Your Thesis Defense” or “An Update on the Problem of Maria.” 

My piece might be the sad, neglected neighbor-child to those pieces. BUT WE WILL BE NEIGHBORS!


(And, yes, I will absolutely, definitely, without-a-doubt post the link here when it’s published, which should be in the next few weeks.)

The Ten Stages of Getting Critique on Your Novel Draft

Well, lookee here! I’ve written a novel! I have an entire draft. Now it’s time to share it with my beta slideshow_1readers and get some critique.

  1. All right, this is awesome. I’m going to send this novel to a few people and I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. They’re going to love it as much as I do.
  2. OMG. What have I done? What. Have. I. Done? This novel’s not ready to be read. Did I already send it? Can I retract it?  Should I tell them to delete it? What was I possibly thinking? Maybe I should change my email address. And unfriend the beta readers on all social media. And dodge them in real life. I never have to speak to them again.
  3. Deep breaths. This will be okay. I do want their feedback. They’re going to have useful things to say. I need to calm down.
  4. OMG. Why is it taking so long for them to give me their feedback? Have they started reading it yet? Don’t they know I AM WAITING? :refresh: :refresh: :refresh:
  5. My first feedback! I can’t wait to read it.
  6. What the fuck do they know? Fucking beta readers. Do they even know how to read? Are they too stupid to understand my novel? What gives them the right to criticize me? Jerks. I hate them. Fucking beta readers.
  7. The beta readers are right. I’m hopeless. My writing is hopeless. Why did I think anyone would like this? There’s nothing worth saving. It’s all trash. This is the worst possible thing anyone could ever have written. I should delete it and never write again.
  8. Deep breaths. Okay, wait. The betas said they liked some things. And, well, maybe they have a point about that thing. And this thing. And maybe that other thing could be improved. Maybe they had some valuable comments. Maybe this writing is worth saving. Huh. And maybe I can make it even better.
  9. I did it! I’ve done revisions. I listened to other people’s comments and made changes without freaking out. This novel is stronger now than it was. I will send out the new version and see what the betas think.
  10. OMG. What have I done? What. Have. I. Done? This novel’s not ready to be read. Did I already send it? Can I retract it? Should I tell them to delete it? What was I possibly thinking?



image: pain-in-rainbows.jpg    https://monochromejunkie.com/tag/collage/