New Sensation

I think this post will work best if I just go ahead and confess to you what inspired it; I spied on my teenage daughter. Relax, there’s no tracking device on her cell phone or a camera in her bedroom. I’m not that insane, but she’s seventeen, doesn’t like to talk to me or her mom about much, and in a few months she’s leaving for college. So, I check out her Twitter, put an ear to her bedroom door when I go put away towels or say goodnight to her two younger sisters, and I pay attention when she talk to her friends when they come over. Here’s the intelligence I’ve been able to gather; she wants to grow up as soon as possible and it scares her, a lot.

I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to forget my teen years. They weren’t great. As a writer, I’ve shared a letter to my eighteen-year-old self , waxed nostalgic about my 25th high school reunion , and came to a grand understanding with my mixed bag of a past. But having a seventeen-year-old girl in my life makes me think about that time when I was finishing my senior year of high school, applying to colleges, getting acceptance letters, and twitching with bittersweet excitement about my future.

Occasionally I have talks with my daughter. I run my mouth about whatever deal is going on in our lives, she smirks while watching television over my shoulder, lets me hug her and have an “I love you too” back as I leave her room, and I always feel better about us. I’m sure she texts one of her friends about being unavailable for a few minutes while her dork dad was talking to her. If I’d had a smart phone in December 1987, it’s what I would’ve done.

One of the things my daughter and I have in common is a freakish love of music. We listen to different stuff. Right now, she “has Drake on repeat tonight” and I’m blaring The Descendants epic 1982 punk album Milo Goes To College. But we both appreciate music as an important component of our existence. I always knock on her door before I go in for our talks. The main reason is the last two times I forgot to knock I walked in on her dancing and singing to her favorite songs. I hated when my parents busted me playing air guitar like Slash or moving like Jagger. I think this is why she doesn’t sigh, roll her eyes and death stare me when I ask for another one-sided in depth discussion about her future or whatever is on our minds. She knows I’m respecting her right to tune up, tune out, and tune in.

Later this week, my daughter, her mom, and I are visiting another college. It happens to be the first school that sent her an acceptance letter, offer a significant scholarship, and it’s only twenty minutes  away from where we live, now. This is probably a huge con for her and places it down the list but maybe after our visit she’ll find a cool dorm room that she can dance to Drake in and start the next four years of her life.

After my talk earlier with my daughter, I started thinking about the first of December, 1987. I’d been seventeen for three months. My first couple of college acceptance letters fluttered on a small wooden nightstand next to my twin beds. Cassettes of Guns N Roses Appetite For Destruction, Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and INXS Kick  splayed on my floor while I tried to snake dance like Axl Rose, air guitar like Dave Gilmour, or wish I was half as good-looking as Michael Hutchence. My dad knocked on my door, came in and talked with me about how serious I was about going to college at big school in or out-of-state. I pretended to listen and while watching pro wrestling on WTBS behind his shoulder on a tiny television (cable and MTV was on the TV in the living room, only).  After he left, I did the version of 1987 Twitter and scrawled in one of my notebooks, “I just want to get out of here”. I’m sure I’ll see that on my daughter’s Twitter timeline one day and it will make me smile more than get angry. I’ll understand her, completely.

Here’s Hutchence and INXS. The lyrics mean something totally different to me, today. My daughter’s life is a New Sensation, all the time, these days.

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Are you looking for something interesting and music driven to read? I have two for you. My books, The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on for your kindles, and in paperback from


There She Goes

The start of a new school year is hard enough with tweaks in daily family routines and checks written. But when you’re forced by nature to watch your youngest child grow up and make her way into a new day, it’s soul crushing.

When I met my wife, blending our family of three daughters I listened to a lot of advice from friends, family, and foes. I was bringing a then 4-year-old little girl into a situation that would contain a then 12-year-old girl, and a then 3-year-old girl. Everyone, including the internets told me that it would be the oldest one that would sail or sink the whole deal. Wrong. My oldest, in this blog known as Tay, was the easiest. We were friends. We got along so well, it shocked people. It was Tay that first asked her mom, after only three months of dating, “so, are ya’ll going to get married?” Tay’s now 16 and the relationship’s changed. She looks at me with the same disgust she used to reserve for mom. I’m her dad and she treats me that way.

The middle one, now about three weeks from turning 9 and known in these parts as Bug, was easy too. She loved my wife from the start but she’s a little bad ass. She doesn’t lovey dovey anyone. But like her older sister and father, she’s a people pleaser at heart. So, there wasn’t anything complicated with her. The youngest girl, known here as The Goose, was a different story.

Bobina was fresh off a divorce. Goose was still very attached to the other dad. She’s also a mama’s girl so her affections were almost exclusive to Bobina. I thought my winning personality (sarcasm) would win her over the way it did with her older sisters, but no. Goose, like any great diva, made me work.

Goose is amazing. She’s the most unique little girl I’ve ever met. She runs our house. She calls herself a Princess, because a Princess becomes a Queen. She can run in heels, has better fashion sense than a Milan runway, and doesn’t take no for an answer. We clashed for a while, and it was all my fault.

This morning I saw our father-daughter dynamic turn the corner. She’s not a morning person, In fact, she expects the morning to wait on her to be ready not the other way around. Goose also loves being 7-year-old. She’s exactly a month away from turning 8, but she stills call herself 7 and loves the perks that comes with being the baby. She hangs on mommy, takes kisses from whoever offers, expects her hair to be perfect, and for you to acknowledge her eminent power as a future Her Highness.

Yesterday, the first day of school, Bobina took the day off and got Goose ready. They were all over each other. All I had to do was follow behind them and carry the trains of their dresses, metaphorically. Bobina went to work early this morning and left me in charge. I woke Goose, made her some cereal, then she did the rest. Her hair was coiffed, her outfit was assembled, and her book bag had everything she desired. She allowed me to hold her hand until we got to the bustop, then let go when she saw people. As the big yellow taxi hit its hydraulic brakes, she looked up, grinned, and leaned in for an air kiss. I knew what to do. I may have curtsied afterwards. She let me in and we fell for each other all over, again. She really made me dad today. Of course, I got in a shot for myself. I intentionally knotted her shoelaces so she’d be forced to ask for my help. I think that’s why she insisted I tie them on her feet.

Touche’, Princess.

read to be read at

Dude Write

Today’s song plays in my head sometimes when Goose is holding court. This morning it took on new meaning. Here’s There She Goes by The La’s

19th Nervous Breakdown

“Daddy, what’s puberty?”

The perfect ending to a terrible week. Her gorgeous eight-year-old blue eyes caught my fearful surprise and I stopped playing with my phone mid-tweet. Over my right shoulder was a brochure that read “Puberty for Girls, How To Have The Conversation”. You know, what, American Medical Association? How about, not putting that pamphlet in a doctor’s exam room where you wipe noses and check fevers!

You’ve read about our deceased kitten, Jerri, on Monday  That started a domino fall of crap that included work stress, financial strife, the worst anxiety attack I’ve had in over two years, writing angst with both the Robots novel and my beloved Helene story then finally, a sick middle child asking about boobies and periods.

I don’t lie to my children. I also don’t hide things or distract them from pertinent information. I have a blended family of multiple parents, baggage that Delta could make a fortune off of, and so many screwed up issues that would keep self-help authors busy for decades. In my house, we talk, a lot.

“Lyla, honey, do you really want to know?”

Nursing a sour stomach due to a viral infection, I thought she may be too dehydrated and tired. No. She wanted the skinny on female development. She smirked, then smiled and let me have the hard time.

“Daddy, just tell me. You’re supposed to tell me everything.”

I referenced her 16-year-old sister. There was discussion of bras, the body cleaning itself, and becoming a woman. My stomach grew sick. I think my heart stopped beating once or twice. The doctor bolted into the room like an NFL defensive end busting up a play action pass. I felt safe.

After we were done. My daughter and I walked across the lobby and saw the same brochure. I was screwed.

“Okay, daddy, so when I’m sixteen like Tay Tay (her older sister Taylor) that means I’ll be a woman with boobies and periods?”

I just wanted to be drunk or away or not in the moment. I put my hands over my face and audibly sighed.

“Sweetie, you will always be my little girl. Your sister isn’t a woman but her body is preparing her to be one. Promise me you’ll ask you mom about this next time?”

She laughed. An actual guffaw. Not a giggle. Not even a chuckle. It was an obvious, malice aforethoughted laugh. I still love her, but at that moment I wanted to lock her in a room with no windows.

“Thanks, daddy. I like it when you talk to me.”

Parenting is hard. Really, friggin hard. I have 3 daughters.

Excuse me while I get back to my 19th nervous breakdown….