In every morning of my life in your house, I awoke to the sound of your steps. You drummed down the stairs, deactivated the alarm, unlocked our front door, and then I’d hear your weight in the gravel driveway as you claimed the morning paper. I didn’t see you but knew you were in your sweats with the brown boat shoes you never wore on boats.

And in the evenings, I’d know your return with the sound of the garage booming open like a mechanic heavy mouth, swallowing your car whole. I’d hear the door to the garage, and then your yellow voice would charge up the stairs and fill the blue kitchen. “Hello, anybody home?” And when I was young, you’d ask, “And how was school today Miss Johnson?”

“The same.”

And I’d follow you to your room, clawing my way up the carpeted stairs. And I’d watch you slip off your tie and horn-buckled belt, then your heavy dark shoes. Soon you’d be in your undershirt and sweatpants with dark socks. You’d peel them off and toss them in the wicker hamper, then turn on a ball game. 

When I was home sick, bored, sometimes I’d slide open your closet door and finger your ties, smelling your warm brown closet of leather. And when I’m sad, sometimes I wish I could regress and climb into that closet, or lie on the floor near your bed with a pillow and a blanket listening to sports as I fall asleep. But, I’m no mini-adult. I’ve had to learn to comfort myself, and with that comes a sense of proportion… and incredible strength.  And a quiet heartfelt thank you for giving me something only I am capable of giving myself: self-love and forgiveness.

Thank you for teaching me that, even while you’ve been gone.




  1. Way to go, shutting down comments to the weirdo story. I've been in the same situation, myself, with a girl making fun of me for going down on her. The next day it seems kind of surreal. That being said, since I don't have a blog, and I'm feeling just about as depressed as I've felt in a LONG time, and it's 2 in the morning, AND I may be the first reply to this, let me throw something out. I was nearly fired today because a new girl took offense at my attempt to help her when she'd never bartended at night (as you can probably guess, I'm in the restaurant business), and complained to the manager that I was trying to "control" her. My opinion of females has dropped to a new low. I hate myself,her, and everyone else. I have a gun.

  2. I've felt horrible in my life. The kind of horrible that doesn't come off in the shower. Sometimes it has been my being hard on myself, hating myself for my mistakes. Other times, I've felt cheated, betrayed, and spent. I'd look at a subway train as it approached and thought, "it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if someone were to push me right now." I never wanted to end my life, but if someone were to do it for me, in that state of dispair, I doubt I'd fight very hard.

    Anonymous comments from co-workers, ex-lovers, and complete strangers… can't light a candle to the pain I just described. None of them have that power. I've learned to have a sense of humor and proportion. It's a blog. It doesn't breathe or have a heart.

    If you say it to my face, that's another story.

    The Rats post has upset too many people in my life, so it has been removed. I'd left all the asshole remarks up all this time because of my sense of proportion. I take it back… the bit about anonymous inconsideration. I don't have tolerance for it when it comes at me in such abundance. I've been apt to leave nasty comments up because it's part of the gig. It's why there are 31 flavors. It comes with the territory, and despite the expensive dabs of sea cream, I've got thick skin. However, I don't need to be reminded about it in every second email from the same nasty people posting on this site over and over…

  3. Indeed. Amazing life with much activity you have. Have you found contentment?

  4. SK, like you said, part of the ballgame. But, it IS your prerogative to take stuff down, too.

    Wait until you publish and have the critics circling–part of the ballgame. Worse yet, critics trash you, and sales down the toilet. Ugh! It's a tough biz.

  5. I was disgusted to see the level some people felt it appropriate to stoop to when responding to that post. That wasn't a ball game, it was a literary gang-rape.

  6. I didn't read the mentioned post and I know most people (well, at least I) have the tendency to put more weight into the criticism I receive than the compliments, but I think you're amazing. Not only is your writing engaging and heartfelt, it's funny, sad and really damn interesting. On top of it all, you seem really strong to take the good with the bad and keep on revealing more about yourself. I'm glad I found your site and I bet for every mean comment, there are three people reading who think you're pretty magnificent, warts and all.

  7. Stephanie, you have an amazing gift. To be able to stir up such emotion in people (both positive and negative) through words is a unique talent. I enjoy your writing because it's human, raw and real. You're out there, sharing BOTH your good and bad sides, and anyone who knows good writing knows that a one-dimensional character isn't very interesting and doesn't evoke much emotion from people. Unfortunately, opening yourself up like that is bound to draw some bitterness and jealousy from others, and the Internet has made it easy for cowards to hide behind fake e-mail addresses and cheapshots.

    Just remember, you're the one who has the courage to put yourself out there- can those people say the same about themselves?

  8. Kristi, yes…some do.
    Trish, LITERARY GANG-RAPE? Good God, a bit strong, don't you think? Have you ever published anything and had critics swoop down like a flock of vultures? It happens.
    Yes, these people here aren't "professional critics" or "working critics," but let me say this: I'd rather have an Alex Bragg blasting my writing than a John Updike.
    SK shouldn't put too much stock into criticism from those who comment on her blog–positive or negative. The blog is a source of entertainment–I actually wouldn't mind if half (or even all) of this stuff here is made up. I wouldn't feel cheated at all. It is what it is. People getting heated up goes with the territory. I hope no one got hurt too badly last evening.

  9. The ballgame didn't start 'til later. I would ask if you needed any help with your homework. Your school work was always a priority to my pleasures. And, I always told you that feeling good about one's self comes from within and the sooner you learned how to take care of your needs the happier you would be. Lastly, as we have both learned, there are no guarantees in life. The joy comes from the journey. And, you have certainly learned how to take care of yourself. You would make any father proud of what you have accomplished even if you were hiding in the closet or smelling the leather.

  10. I think your writing is great and I look forward to reading your blog. While I agree with you taking down the post due to the many rude and hateful comments, I think they're a reflection of how popular you are. Anything controversial will get a lot of comments. It's the boring stuff that no one pays attention to.

  11. What a marvelous tribute. I was wondering when someone would respond to it as I scrolled down these comments. Looks like it took your Dad to kick it off. The first post I responded to of yours was the '100 Things from Dad.' Hope I get to see what my daugher's checklist will look like someday.

  12. Can i just tell you how great you are? You know that place where you can hide in closet amongst the familiar and safe? This site has become that for me. I don't even really know why but I derive a great deal of comfort from being able to log on and just start my day with this. I appreciate honesty above anything and you offer it up without restraint. People who are negative about your writings and experiences just strike me as insecure and hateful. What harm have you done to any of them by sharing your life? We have all made some decisions that we may regret but not everyone can own up to them. I love the concept of having nothing to hide– it is liberating. Let them throw stones from the dark…being hateful is lonely. Thanks for all you do. I think you are a great writer.

  13. It's not as if these critics wrote anything meaningful and substantive. There was no literary criticism or even a pretense of it
    in anything they wrote. They simply made banal assertions about there being a banal connection between your writing and some show. They were basically attacking you illegitimately. If there were even a minute element of validity to their criticism you would be justified in being upset. There isn't, and stop imagining that there is.

    Some people envy you for not having a mask. Envy masquerades as criticism sometimes. Without a mask, some notice only your happiness and ignore the signs of having also known long seasons of pain. Those who notice only your pain don't see your strength that can will happiness; the cloudiest days are pregnant with tomorrow's wine.

    I am borrowing again what was posted on your site a few months ago when you were basking in well deserved publicity and esteem.

    Beauty Wears Not A Mask

    My incomparable Stephanie,
    not all thieves are to be cursed,
    for blessed is the one who stole your mask.

    Many a woman’s mask may be fashioned after Beauty,
    but, Beauty, wears not a mask or even a jeweled veil, my fairest flower.

    So why the tears and the curses?

    Many a vain man imagines himself as having sight
    but it’s no more than the blind instinct of a demon knight.

    Why the tears and the curses incomparable Beauty?
    Wasn’t it enough to have known one blind demon,
    a blind, demon thief with tasteless lust for a chain?

    Surely, it is better to lose many a jeweled mask,
    than to be recognized by blind chained demons.

    For now, and only to humor you,
    I’ll concede that Fate’s quill wrote a word
    or two with bitter vinegar as its ink.

    But with time, you’ll recognize that all the verses of your life
    are being written boldly, generously with the sweetest of wines.

  14. I feel partially responsible for encouraging the hateful comments of yesterday, and for that, I wish to apologize. Passion, it seems, as a fuel does not discriminate. When I’ve taken pen to paper regarding something I feel passionate about, and it gets completely torn apart by the piranhas swimming about the sea of armchair editors, it’s difficult not to take it personally. Objectivity is the first deserter in battle, especially when it concerns oneself. When I read someone’s words dripping with honesty and wrought with courage, and I see the school of comment(wh)ors begin to circle, I suppose that it hits a nerve. Call me Ishmael, but it’s a whale of a task not to shoot back.

    This reader respects our gracious host, and will continue to be blessed with reading her introspective prose.


  15. your blog has become part of my procrastination efforts. bravo.
    good move on taking down yesterdays post. dont ever advertise your skills. it will bring rats.

  16. Wow, that's a really nice story. I can picture the scene.

    If I'm missing something deeper here, I apologize. This is my first time reading your site.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.