The Eel

When I was 18 and living on my own I saw a freshwater moray eel at the pet store. I immediately had my boyfriend help me set up a freshwater tank so that I could bring this strange pet home and call my own.

The eel at the time was about 12 inches long, about as thick as my pointer finger and a dark caramel color. He was the most unusual freshwater fish anyone had ever seen and I began to collect other unusual fish for my tank. I had a needle nose gar that ate mini guppies. I had painted glass fish in a variety of fluorescent colors. I had two blue fish that would meet lip to lip and push each other back and forth across the tank- it was if they were fighting with kisses.

The eel looked pretty creepy-always opening and closing his mouth just like the big eels you see at aquariums and on TV shows about the ocean. He would burrow into the colored gravel at the floor of the tank and kind of bob in and out of the decorative lava rocks. His funny eel characteristics made him seem to have much more of personality than most fish that just swim around in tanks.

He began to have other strange habits, like always swimming up to the top of the tank and climbing into the out of tank filter and hiding. I would search the tank and when I noticed he was missing I would have to open the outside filter and dump him back in to the tank. I never wanted to touch him because he was a creepy water snake with a strange tooth filled mouth. He was fun to look at, but I didn't want to touch him.

Another funny thing he did was attempt suicide. Often I would come home from work and find him on the ground, a much darker brown than he was in the water. From being out of the water so long, he would be shriveled up and wrinkled. The first time this happened, I was certain that he was dead, but put him back in the water just in case. He quickly turned the lighter color and wiggle through the water and was as good as new.

These suicide attempts became a regular course of events. When my boyfriend moved in with me I explained to him the coming home ritual. First thing when we came home we had to check to see if the eel was still in the tank. If the eel was gone, we had to check the filter and if he wasn’t there we had to search the floor. I told him no matter what the eel looked like, no matter how dead he seemed we had to put him back in the water and he would come back to life. Sometimes he would be out of the tank for hours before we put him in the water, but each time he could come back to life. Re-animated eel.

The suicidal eel carried on like this for years. I had to move into my Mom’s condo for a few months, and I brought my fish tank with me. My Mom, who didn’t like snakes wasn’t very keen on me moving a water snake into her house. I assured her that he didn’t bite. He never did bite me, but he did have those creepy teeth. I explained to her it’s suicidal ways, and asked he to please follow the eel suicide watch protocol and put him back into the tank if she found him. She said there was no way she could pick him up and put him in the water. I suggested she use rubber dish gloves, even tongs or salad forks if she had to.

For the few months I lived with my Mom she never had to pick up the eel. I only had to grab him off the floor a few times myself and was always happy that my Mom’s small dog didn’t eat him while he was on the floor.

I was leaving on a trip for a week, and assured my Mom that the eel would be on his best behavior. I left knowing the eel may be successful in his suicide attempt with me gone and my mom in charge of re-animating him. I left hoping for the best.

When I returned, the eel wasn’t in the tank. He wasn’t in the filter and he wasn’t on the floor. When my Mom came home from work I asked what happened and she told me he had made his final jump to the death. She found him on the floor the day after I left. He was dark brown and wrinkled and she decided it was pointless to put him back in the tank. She figured he was past the point of re-animation.

Not knowing if I wanted to bury him or flush him or trash him, my Mom grabbed him with a paper towel wrapped him up and put him in a zip lock bag and then put him in the freezer. He was in the freezer for several days before I got home from my trip.

I had this eel for many years and we had been through a lot together. He had taught me something about perseverance and having a strong will to live. I decided I wanted to stretch him out and seal him on a plaque. As I unzipped the bag and unrolled the paper towel, the thought occurred to me that maybe he still wanted to live. I opened the fish tank lid and let his frozen wrinkled brown paper towel lint covered body fall into the water.

He sunk to the bottom and I was sad knowing that he had his last fling. I always joked that he was trying to evolve and live on land and that one day he may just sprout legs and walk away. I was sad that I didn’t get to witness his evolution. I was sad that my Mom didn’t put him in the water when she first found him.

Just when I was about to pull him out of the tank, he moved very slowly. His next movement was a bit faster and then in a rapid jerking motion he burrowed his body completely into the gravel floor covering. A few more wiggles and he emerged from the gravel without any lint on him, and back to his beautiful dark caramel color. He slid through the water like he had never been frozen for days. He had survived another attempt.

What if we could push ourselves out of our comfort zone like the eel? What if we tried to just leave our normal world and risk all to try a different way? Perhaps the eel is a good example of striving to "live outside of the box" and surviving against all odds? Imagine if we had the ability to survive for hours or days completely out of our natural element? Most days I feel like I can’t survive a chill for more than 10 minutes without my sweater.

Or maybe he is a bad example- maybe he really was a quitter and suicidal? Maybe I prolonged his life years longer than he wanted? Imagine if every time we felt like jumping ship, someone came along and picked us up? Would we be grateful? Would we feel inspired to make something better of our life? Would we just come to expect it and throw ourselves out of the water at every chance, knowing the safety net is there?

Who knows what the lesson of the eel is. Perhaps it’s different for each of us. There probably isn't a lesson here at all. I just know that he was a survivor and a super cool and interesting pet. I have never seen another one in a pet store, or I would set up a tank just to have another one.

The eel lived for several more years. I had a new roommate who had pets of his own; cats. The eel jumped out several times and became a live plaything for the cats. I would come home and find him scraped and scarred in another room, carry him to the tank and re-animate him.

Eventually the cats won. The eel just couldn’t beat them up and eventually they did too much damage. One day I put him in the water and he just didn’t revive. He was done. I wanted to keep him around as a conversation piece. I wanted him around to bring up his story and tell people about his amazing eel life.

I tried attaching his body to a plaque and coated him with resin, but I didn’t know what I was doing so he shriveled up to just a twig compared to what he once was. I said goodbye and put him in the trash.

May 6th

I love to leave art on friend's sidewalks or driveways. I always keep chalk in my car- just in case the need arises.

Today is the anniversary of my Mother's death. I miss her a lot. When I look at my hands, I think of her, I have her hands. I have her rings. I don't have her hand to hold. My hands make chalk art for people I love, like my friend Doreen who was born on this day. So today I will celebrate my mother's life, and I will celebrate Doreen's life, and I will celebrate my own life.
Fun is Good


I chalk tagged my friend's house today.
A heart with wings heading to the stars to symbolise her late husband.
3 flowers blooming beautiful tied together with a bow symbolizing the family he left behind.

A year ago today a wonderful friend of mine died. His smile is in my mind. His family's tears are in my heart.

We miss you Doug.


When I was 21 I started working with my Mom. She had a mortgage company and I ran her escrow department. After many years of a very strained relationship, we had finally come to a place where we respected each other and depended on each other and spoke to each other every day. On the weekends I would live my normal 21 year old life- skating ramps wearing my "die yuppie scum" T-shirt. Palm Springs weekends with my friends. During the week my mom was very happy with me while I was posing as a grown up.

I would often call my Mom when I had a problem with a friend or my roommate or a boyfriend. She would listen and occasionally give advice. Around the time I was 22 or 23 years old my Mom started doing this annoying thing on the phone when I would call upset or crying about a problem. She would tell me "Put your right hand on your left shoulder" and I would say okay and not do it. "Are you doing it?" "I want you to really do it and not just say your are. " "Yeah yeah"…I would think in my head. She would say "Now put your left hand on your right shoulder and give yourself a big hug and know it’s from me." I wondered where she picked up this annoying habit. I would occasionally comply and feel totally ridiculous, other times I would lie and say I was doing it and just go along and wonder to myself when my Mom had become such a sentimental emotional person. She sounded like a hallmark card.

When I was 24 my Mom closed up her offices suddenly. I had no idea why she did but I was left to find a job and try to keep all the things I had grown to enjoy. I was once again faced with the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I went back to waiting on tables and I started to study photography. I got a darkroom set up in my bedroom and began to make a bit of money shooting pictures. I was just starting to take risks with my life and I felt like I was possibly on the right track to a happy, productive, independent life. I felt like a real grown up instead of just posing as one.  

My Mom died when I was 25. She had cancer and never told anyone about it. Not anyone. She was sick for several years and kept that sickness entirely to herself. Her death was sudden and unexpected and so traumatic and painful. It became clear why she so suddenly closed up her office. It became clear why she became this talking hallmark card. I was so thankful for the time I had with her and the deep bond that we managed to build in spite of the baggage from my teen years.

Every problem in my life was compounded because I didn’t have a Mommy anymore. When I fell while skating and got 2nd degree burns on my leg, I didn’t have a Mommy to bandage me or loan me money for the doctor or help with the rent because I missed several days of work. So then in addition to having burning pain in my infected leg, I had the problem of possible eviction from my home. I felt like a child again, an orphan lost in a dark world where I didn’t have a hand to hold. To have my safety net pulled out from under me at that age was very crippling. I didn’t have another adult to rely on.

My life continued to crumble after my Mother’s death. I remained in a relationship that was abusive, I had a steady stream of roommates that moved without warning, leaving me strapped financially. I always felt my mother’s presence around me, I would talk to her and felt like she was watching over me. It hurt to know that I would never hear her talk back.

Talking to a ghost is not as helpful as a hug from your Mom.

I remember lying on the floor during one particularly trying time and crying. I spoke out loud to my Mom; "Please give me the strength that you had, give me the wisdom, give me the answers that you would give to me if you were here. Mom I need you so badly to help me through this, I need to feel your strength instead of feeling like a lost little child".

I swear I could hear her voice so clearly, in my mind, not out loud, but still as clear as ever. She told me to put my right hand on my left shoulder and my left hand on my right shoulder. I felt stupid laying on my floor with tears streaming down my face, but this time I couldn't pretend I was doing it, like I did when she and I were on the phone. I had to actually do it because I was sure that she was watching over me. As I hugged myself I could feel her spirit move through me. I could smell her. I could feel her strength, her wisdom, her soul.

At that moment when I was hugging myself and feeling my Mom hug me I realized that all the years that she was annoying me with her "give yourself a hug routine" over the phone, she knew she was dying. She knew there would be a day when I would miss her so terribly and she wouldn’t be there for me. She was trying to find one last way to connect, and did so without ever letting on that she was suffering and dying. When I think of the sadness she must have felt. How alone she must have felt knowing she would die and leave everyone she loved and she chose to do that alone instead of burden anyone. She made sacrifices that I have never known any person be capable of making. My Mom had more strength than any person I have ever met. Ever.

It was so bittersweet to feel my Mom’s hug. I don’t know how to describe it, but I know that other people have felt this sensation. That is why there are those scenes in movies like "Ghost", or "City of Angels" because others have tried to convey this feeling, this experience and they are much better at it than I am. It is to this day, the closest I’ve ever come to a religious experience. The closest I’ve ever been to God.

I know, I know, it’s in my head, that wasn’t real. I can imagine all the things I would think to myself if I were reading this instead of writing it. But I know what I felt. It was her- my Mom’s spirit. One last hug that she managed to touch me with.

I read somewhere that Houdini and his wife had agreed on a secret word so that if or when he died if she was to seek a psychic she was not to believe that psychic was in contact with Houdini unless they could come up with this word. Of course, no psychic could ever tell Houdini’s wife this word, so she never felt like she could contact him in the afterlife. This telephone hug, this one-person hug that my Mom had given me for years was her secret Houdini word. She knew that someday I would need her and she would be able to hug me one last time.

That was last time I was able to feel my Mom’s presence around me. I think her spirit just left after that, and knew I would be okay. I no longer felt her around me in the same strong way as I once did. I miss the feeling of that spiritual safety net.

We have moved into a new home, with new sounds and new creeks and my son sometimes thinks that there are ghosts around making that noise. I tell him it’s just the noises the house makes. In my heart I wish so badly that it is a ghost and not just some structural problem that remains hidden in the ceiling- some future expense that I hope we can prepare for. I want so badly for it to be my Mom watching over him, someday giving him a hug that he will otherwise never get to feel. I want my mother’s strength and wisdom to pass through me to him. I want my ghost. I miss my ghost. Please let it be a ghost


I believe it was my brother's 14th birthday when he got a nickel in a box from my Mom. I don't know if it was something he asked her for, or if she thought it up all her own, but that nickel was very powerful in our family and defined relationships, communication and sadly; value.

Whoever thought of it, the idea was simply that once a day, every day of my brother's 14th year, my mom and he would connect. She would give him the nickel and tell him "Happy Birthday Son! I am glad you were born!" He proudly saved the nickels in stacks on his bookshelf, each week there was a pile of 7 more. 7 more confirmations of support, 7 more expressions of love.

I thought the idea was brilliant and touching and sweet. At the end of the year you would only have $18.25- which was not a lot of money back then, but you would have had 365 moments to connect with Mom. Moments when no matter what problems Mom was having in her day, or what problems had occurred in his- there was going to be that one moment where that stuff didn't matter and she would tell her son; "Happy Birthday! Thank you for being my child."

My brother's birthday is in April, so when my birthday came in July I asked my Mom if I could have a nickel too. I was told no. It would be unfair to my brother. It was explained to me that the sentiment between she and him would somehow be diluted by my getting a nickel too. I was told that he was good at saving money and I was not and therefore I'd never be able to stack all 365 nickels on the shelf without spending them. Well, it was their thing, I told myself, and not mine. I needed to think hard to somehow create a special ritual with my Mom.

The following year for my brother's birthday, my Mom and he went shopping together and spent the $18.00 on a gift of my brother's choosing. Later that night while we had cake and ice cream as a family, he received another small box- this one containing a dime. My brother was happily surprised at this gift, because he was certain that the previous nickel was a one-year deal- and now this next year, he would end up with twice as much, and almost $40.00 wasn't too bad for a 15-year-old kid in the 1980's.

When my birthday rolled around in July, I asked again if I could have a nickel. I figured he was now getting twice as much, so my nickel couldn't possibly affect the arrangement between them. I explained to my Mom I was older, and much more capable of saving money and that we could make a deal that at the end of the year, if I spend even .05cents of the money, she could have it all back. It would be a lesson in saving as well as a chance for us to connect every day too. I was told no.

That year my resentment grew at the rate of one dime a day. Each pile that was stacked on his bookshelf was like a monument to their love and their relationship that seemed so strong and so different than the relationship I had with my Mom. I began to feel like I wasn't actually worth a dime a day, or even a nickel, and in some ways I suppose I wasn't. I'm sure my Mom didn't consciously try to create that feeling of inferiority or worthlessness. But when I looked at the facts- he was worth 10 times more than I was every day.

During that year, their closeness became a wedge between my Mom and me. I felt I couldn't get in. The dimes were everywhere as a reminder that I had no value in my family. Mom stacked her dimes in the kitchen cupboard, he stacked his on the most prominent shelf in his room. Every day they would hug and giggle and say "Happy Birthday" and "Thank you for being my family" and I felt excluded. More and more excluded until I no longer felt a part of that family at all. Of course our family had tons of other problems, the dime thing was just something visible I could focus on.

The following birthday he got a quarter! Now he was going to have more than double of what he had the year before. I knew enough that I didn't ask for any special daily ritual. I knew enough to just hide, stay invisible or stay angry. I did a lot of that.
I see this type of situation happening all around me- parents who seem so intelligent and loving but will say out loud; "If I knew how hard this one was going to be, I would have stopped with one." or "My son is so cute or talented or more socially adept than his sister". I don't understand why they can't see how damaging it can be to the child who isn't the easy one. Don't they understand that just by saying those things to children they can make them true? If so-and-so always hears they are the "difficult" child, will they ever believe they can be anything else? I grew up thinking I wasn't worth a nickel and believe me, by the time I was a teenager I was making sure everyone else knew that too.
You can’t call a child a slob over and over and then expect them to clean their room.

I am a Mom now, so I understand a lot more about why my parents did the things they did. I understand many of the choices they made and although I don't agree with them, or I think I would have found another way, I still understand why they felt they had no other choice.

My parents did the best they could, and coming from how they were raised, they have done 100% better. Isn't that all we can really hope for as parents? To improve upon what we had. Take the good and bring it along and revise the bad or make it go away.
Even with all that justification, I just can’t figure out why I couldn't have a nickel. Why would anyone have two children and consistently give one child some things they would never consider giving the other? Again, I am not talking about just the nickels, but other things as well. The nickels were just a symbol for the effort my Mom put into maintaining a loving relationship with her son.

So, when your Mom is dead and you can't ask her as an adult "Hey, what was the real reason you couldn't give me a nickel?" What do you do? How do you make sense of this? How do you heal yourself and make the world a better place for your own child?
I start by telling my son only the great stories about his Grandmother he's never met. I tell him about how smart and strong she was and how much she would have loved to have held him.

On my son's 10th birthday, I gave him a nickel.
Each night before my son goes to sleep I kiss him and tell him Happy Birthday! Thank you for being born to me and letting me be your Mom. He thanks me for making him and being his Mom. I kiss him and put the coin in the empty peanut butter jar and screw the lid back on. Every night the child inside me is healed. Every night my son knows I love him and no matter what my mood or his, we stop and say I Love You!

My son just turned 11 and he used his 10 year birthday nickels to combine with the rest of his ipod fund. That birthday night, before he went to bed, I went in his room and gave him a kiss and handed him a dime. We are looking forward to another 365 days of Happy Birthday wishes and kisses.

Art Saves Lives so do Friends

This is Chalk art that I made about 15 years ago. It says "Art SAves Lives" which is a phrase I have tattooed on my body.

I often stamp my dollar bills with rubber stamps that I've had made- One of the stamps says "Art Saves Lives". For a while I misplaced the stamp and would search for it from time to time, when I found it I sent my friend a text message that said "I found my Art Saves Lives stamp." He saw this text on his phone when he pulled it out to take a photo of something he saw while driving in Oxnard. This is the photo:

Yep, that's right, it says Art Saves Lives right on the wall!

So then he sent the photo to my phone and continued to drive to the Dr.s office and when he pulled into the parking lot he saw this:

Guess I was on his mind a lot that day- or the world was telling him I should be on his mind or to contact me?

Funny how sometimes we have friendships that glow and grow and then fade and flicker while others are always just there- constant, comforting, continuous and dependable.

I've needed my dependable friends a lot lately. I am thankful for them. During times of trouble it's nice to have friends. I think this week these close friends have probably saved my life.
Friends Save Lives.
Thank You


I have watched many friends die from drugs or alcohol. I miss them all. I mourn for their families.
At what point is the line crossed from support to enabling to letting people drag you down? This is what I am struggling with this week, which leaves very little time for self indulgent essays, although I do love to do that. I have a cool story about an eel I am working on.
So- if anyone has advice- where do you draw the line in the sand? I wonder if I should go back to al-anon meetings? How much time do I commit to someone else's life anyway?
So many of my friends who have died, I sat at their funeral wondering why I didn't try one more time to talk to them, to get them help, to do anything possible to keep them on this earth.

Do you help people as long as they say they want to help themselves?
Do you help people till they are no longer helping themselves?
Do you help until their lifestyle is putting yours in jeopardy?
If my friend was drowning, I would jump in even though I am a poor swimmer. I would try to save them.
Isn't that the same as helping someone even though you may not be able to help or they don't want help and will likely pull you down with them?
And just in case you are concerned- Duke and Chris are just fine-
It's the extended "family" I may need to "cut my losses" with. Other people I love who are falling fast.

Every night I pray-
Please God- don't let anyone I love die tonight or sink so deep into a bottle that they can't see out.
I can't stand the thought of burying another one of my friends this year...

See the following:
Another friend gone
May 6 2009

Peer pressure

My parents moved from Manhattan Beach to Wilmington when I was 5 years old. They had decided it was better to live like kings in a big 5-bedroom house in Wilmington than live like paupers in a 2-bedroom house in Manhattan Beach.

We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac and I attended a very diverse private school. I took piano lessons and went to the nursery with my Mom to buy flowers for the yard. We had a 2-room playhouse in the backyard - so my brother and I didn't have to share... and a tire swing in front yard that we shared with all the neighborhood kids. Every Christmas the kids from the neighborhood would get Big Wheels and we would ride for hours in the street- there were rarely any cars and the parents would keep their eyes on the kids.

Every night before 4th grade I would sit on the floor in front of my Mom as she would carefully wrap my super straight, thin hair into pin-curls. I would sleep with my head covered in hair clips so that it looked like I had a metal colander on my head. In the morning I would brush it out and style it into two "Cindy Brady-esque" pigtails before school. I really wished I was a Brady- from a big family where I would have options on what sibling I would hang out with. At that time my life did seem to resemble a television sit-com, we had popcorn on Friday nights while we watched "the Rockford files" and we toasted marshmallows in our fireplace. Even more nostalgic to me now was that there seemed to be easy solutions and prompt and final resolutions of problems.

My parents pinched their pennies and saved their money and we never took family vacations and we never had the newest and best things but we always had enough and we always seemed to have more than anyone else in our neighborhood. That was as close to a Brady existence that I would ever get.

By the end of 4th grade my parents announced that we would be selling our home at the end of the cul-de-sac in Wilmington and moving to a tiny home at the top of a hill in Torrance. I remember the night we drove by the property in Torrance and I couldn't imagine how I was going to get anywhere living at the top of a hill. It was obvious to me that my Big Wheel days were over.

We moved during the summer and I didn't meet any kids I was going to attend school with the coming year. I showed up for my first day of 5th grade wearing my red gauchos and curly pig tails. I was met with scrutiny and criticism. I was questioned by girls "What kind of pants are those!" and I replied "Gauchos" not understanding the question. They wanted to know what BRAND they were, not what style. I had entered into a world I knew nothing about. When the girls said Dittos- they were not referring to copies of a paper from a teacher, When they said Vans they were not talking about an automobile.

From the moment I walked onto the campus I was an obvious outcast. These girls were so much more sophisticated than I was. They had feathered hair and Dittos and high-heeled Cherokees and I had gauchos and sandals and Cindy Brady hair. The girls in this more affluent neighborhood didn't necessarily purchase happiness, but they certainly sold their childhood. They were little women at 10 and 11 and I needed to grow up fast.

I remember walking home from school crying. I was 10 and couldn't verbalize the problem or imagine a solution. As an adult I understand I was feeling betrayed by my parents- how could they not know what they were doing to me? Why didn't they give me the tools I needed to succeed in that world? All I could do then is cry, and when my Mom asked me why, I didn't have any answers.

My brother was a bit more astute and able to quantify his needs. Within the week he had his O.P. shorts, Hang ten shirt and Vans on his feet. I would lock myself in my room and put a Barry Manilow or Olivia Newton John album on my record player and cry. I didn't understand why I couldn't fit in. I do remember asking my Mom for Dittos and being told that they were far too expensive and form fitting for a girl my age- and as a Mother of an 11-year-old, I agree. The child inside of me longs for those tools of acceptance. Please Please Please buy me some friends!

I remember there was a boy that many kids made fun of; his name was Bobby and he suffered a minor physical deformity that was the subject of conversation and harassment. This was 1978 and back then bullying wasn't yet a prosecutable crime. Bobby and I had in common that fact that we were both Polish and he was nice to me despite my offensive clothing. I imagine now that Bobby is a very successful man, having survived the cocoon of school he probably emerged a victorious butterfly. I know that's such a typical analogy, but when I think of the people who's apex of the greatest moments of their life ended at High school graduation.... well, you get my drift.

I did eventually make some friends like Stacey and Tracey. They were nice girls who were neighbors and had the advantage of having older sisters who had already navigated training bras, curling irons and leg shaving. To this day these girls are nice- they had more going on personality wise and could therefore risk, at the tender age of 10- being friends with an outcast.

With the help of their friendship, I did eventually, temporarily, superficially fit in. I quit having my Mom pin curl my hair and got a curling iron. I ditched my gauchos and eventually scored some dittos. I got the short Cherokees because my Mom would not allow me to have the tall versions, my short ones were stamped with the correct brand name and I was on my way to social acceptance.

I remember the day Tracey showed me that her legs were shaved and I began to do the same. Shaving at 10 was one of the first secrets I had to keep from my Mom- that paved the way to many more. I have scars on my legs from my attempts without an adult's help. The cuts were like a right of passage I guess, and when I sat on the grass hill and my legs stuck out from under my pants, I was no longer humiliated by the unsightly peach fuzz on my 10 year old legs.

My inability to read social situations and social cues has always caused problems. When I asked for something all the other kids really did have, I remember my Dad telling me "Why do you have to be like everyone else? Why can't you be an individual?" But a few years later, when my parents no longer had the money to buy me the tools necessary for public school acceptance I found my individuality in thrift shops. It is easier to look like you don't care- and fit in with the punk rockers than it is to ask for another $30.00 pair of jeans. And then as I begun to act out because my Brady Bunch word fell apart. I was able to misbehave under the banner of Punk Rock and still be accepted into some social group. Then my Dad would tell me "Why can't you be like everyone else?" By then I had already resented everyone. By then I didn't identify with everyone else. By the time I was a "punk rocker" I hated everyone else.

Now I am a Mom, and my son goes to a school where the kids have brand name clothes. I think all neighborhoods have those status symbols now to some extent. I do make sure he has similar clothing as the rest of his peers. Part of me feels like a sell out. I don't really want to have to buy his friends or acceptance. I wonder if I am making life too easy, not allowing him to learn that clothing does not actually matter. Maybe I am enabling him to be one of those 30-year-olds who thinks the best time of their life was High School. I need him to know there is more to life than that, but I don't know if sending him to 5th grade in out of fashion clothing is the answer.

I want him to be friends with the jocks and the punks and the cheerleaders- or whatever the groups are called these days. I want to invest on his insides, more than what goes on the outside. There was something magical about aspiring to be a Brady- wanting a certain feeling in my life, rather than a certain look.