B.A.G. Writes Another WSJ Piece, Under the Guise of Susan Gregory Thomas

Read it and don’t be a hater (please :):

Are Dads the New Moms?

Though losing ground as husbands and providers, men are finding a new role—as rock-solid fathers

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Philly Report, #1: Broke-Ass Finally Crawls Out from Boxes to Give You a Big, Fat Kiss

Baby. Dolls. Babydolls, babydolls, babydolls. There are just no excuses for the way Broke-Ass has behaved. What has it been–three solid months, and nary a freaking peep? More? Probably more. Broke-Ass is such a rotten friend and such a damnable asshole, she can’t even stand the sight of herself in the mirror. That would be the mirror in her powder room.

You heard right. Powder room.

Once upon a time, the day the terms “Broke-Ass” and “powder room” might be found in proximity to each other in a continuous sentence would have marked the End of Days. Lovelies, Broke-Ass is saying it here, and, Lord of the Universe, she is saying it now: Can I get a witness?

Broke-Ass has landed in Philly and is now residing at what can only be termed La Petite Maison De Broke-Ass. La Petite Maison is a shade shy of 1,800 square feet, making it pitiful by real estate standards outside of the Greater New York Area. But to Broke-Ass and her merry band of schmushkies, it’s fucking heaven. A room for Baby Poodle! A room for Little Mousie! A room for Two Lumps of Sugar! Cabinets in the goddamn kitchen! A laundry room, ample enough to accomodate a bench under which shoes can be deposited! A powder room. 

Frankly, it has taken Broke-Ass several months to digest the splendor of La Petite Maison, to the extent that until now, she has been unable to pen a single thought about it. Even now, all she can drum up are bullet points:

  • The first night of decampment at La Petite Maison, Broke-Ass stayed up all night unpacking the kitchen so as to be able to feed people on morning number one. Lo about four AM, she heard a weird sound. Her first thought was: “Fucking shit–rats.” It turned out to be the freezer’s automatic ice cube maker. She collapsed on the floor in a pool of tears and bourgeois relief. An automatic ice cube maker.
  • The first afternoon, Broke-Ass took Baby Poodle and Little Mousie to the King of Prussia Mall (where Broke-Ass herself lived out a healthy percentage of her adolescence, but that’s another story, which you can read about in In Spite of Everything: A Memoir). The object was to buy her sparkly-minded daughters new curtains and sheets for their new rooms, as well as a new outfit just for fun–and because for the past five years, Broke-Ass has been unable to afford to buy them any clothes at all. Arriving at the sale rack of the Children’s Place, Baby Poodle asked hesitantly, “Can we get socks, too?” Yes, of course we could get socks, too! Then, she looked down and said, “No, don’t waste your money on socks, Mommy.” Searing shame and sadness whipped up Broke-Ass spinal column. That comment, she made clear to Baby Poodle, encapsulated all the reasons for moving out of Brooklyn to a more affordable city, like Philadelphia. Broke-Ass never wants to hear her adored children ever say that she shouldn’t waste her money on socks again. Ever.
  • There is a place for everything.
  • The older two schmushkies can walk around the block themselves. They have never, ever been able to do something like this. Having said that, the minute they turn the corner, Broke-Ass follows them anyway.
  • The second day, Baby Poodle, Little Mousie, and Broke-Ass drove in their new, used car–that’s right, a new used Toyota Sienna which does not sound like someone’s piercing its pancreas every time it pants up the street–to the nearby Whole Foods, where they bought whatever the fuck they wanted. Chocolate dipped cocoanut shrapnel? Go right ahead. Frozen Amy’s pizza? Stick it in the cart. Two bottles of organic pomegranate juice? Done and done. Little Mousie said: “It’s like we’re at Disneyland!” Though we have never been to Disneyland.
  • By the second week, Big Daddy had ripped up the front lawn patch and planted a vegetable garden. We kept six chickens, and they’re in the coop out back. Next step: Big Daddy and Broke-Ass dig trough for catfish farm.
  • Old habits die hard. Really freaking hard.

Okay, Broke-Ass is tired now, even there is much, much, much more to tell. Broke-Ass just wanted to say “yo!” from Philly for now. But rest assured, she’s back. There will be more. A whole lot more. Because Broke-Ass loves you.

As always.

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We’ll Always Have the Rancho: Broke-Ass Says So-Long to New York

Babydolls, Broke-Ass is so damned tired she feels as if she might puke at any moment. But that circumstance, as we know, is nothing new. Why, Broke-Ass has vomited three times alone in the past week. Why? Who knows. Why is the past never really dead, but not even past? Twenty-three thousand dollars worth of gastrointestinal medical bills, and the madness of art, and here we all are. 

And here she, particularly, is: on the eve of her last night as a resident of New York City, where she has resided since 1989–in Brooklyn, in particular, since 1993. The Rancho is, essentially, vacant, but for a few last boxes, dust bunnies, and the 10 odd chickens in the back coop that the lovely, soon-to-be owners have requested be left. The keyboard tapping echoes.

Broke-Ass: first visited New York, in August, as an eight-year-old Berkeley kid in her flip-flops home-made tie-dye and without irony declared outside Maxwell’s Plum to her mother that “This is where I’m living when I grow up”; fought her late Darth Vader-like father in court to attend Columbia (and won :); worked like fucking hell; started her career at the late PC Magazine, continued at Time, US News & World Report; continued to work like fucking hell, fondly observing the fruits of her infernal labor flourish via the net take at various and sundry sample sales; drank; quit drinking; got married to her dearest friend of eight years; smoked; quit smoking; worked like hell; worked like hell; gave birth to two sparkly-minded daughters, Baby Poodle and Little Mousie, and experienced her heart gloriously parting for the first time; worked; bought a little gem of an apartment in Park Slope; wrote a book; held her head to the chest of her dying father; sold the apartment and bought a brownstone; found herself in the middle of a bone-crushing, heart-seizing divorce; moved to the Rancho; lay on the floor, amid the wreckage; got up, took care of adorable schmushkies; worked like fucking hell, observing the fruits of her infernal labor come to nothing; got hitched to Big Daddy; gave birth to Two Lumps of Sugar; worked like fucking hell, still nothing; resumed smoking; raised her own produce and hens; dealt with a whole lot of serious bullshit and poverty; and then remembered Philadelphia.

Broke-Ass and New York: A Life. Pretty much inseparable.

But, as mentioned, Broke-Ass is tired.

So, Philadelphia.

What the fuck is going to happen, babydolls? The past isn’t dead. It’s not even past.

 

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Broke-Ass Encounters Public Enemy Number 19: The Middle-Aged, Angry Hipster

Babydolls, Broke-Ass knows how long it has been since she was checked in with you–and it breaks her timorous little heart to have to weigh in now with an invective. But she has just undergone exposure to such a loathsome situation that she is compelled to deposit it here. Who else understands better than you?

So, it was getting on in the evening the other day, and Broke-Ass and Baby Poodle were on their way home from the city, where Baby Poodle rocks it as a gymnast–who ranks 15th in the whole fucking country, thank her very much!–at the gym for which Great Dad and sundry grandparents shell out the green for the tremendous experience she has there, when they turned onto Columbia Street in Red Hook, uptown. It was a dark and drizzly night, and Broke-Ass, in her 1998 used Toyota Sienna, was suddenly edged over by a giant city bus, and scraped against a Honda, causing her side-view mirror to flap back with a thunderous clap. Broke-Ass, of course, immediately pulled over to a safe spot, consoled the concerned Baby Poodle, was just stepping outside of the broke-back wagon she calls her car to check damage to it and the other car, when who should appear but a short, angry, aging hipster prick, his two dogs, and his iPhone.

And he began yelling expletives at the top of his stout little lungs. Expletives such as: “What are you going to fucking do–just leave the scene of the crime?!!”; “All you fucking yuppies just use this back way because you think it’s a short cut–you have no respect for anyone who LIVES here!”; “Fucking asshole yuppie!”; and so on. Initially, Broke-Ass explained, with composure, that she had her child in the car, would he kindly contain his seething monologue, was stopping to check her car before going to check the other car and to leave a note. The short, angry, middle-aged hipster accused her of intending to do no such thing, and that he was going to write down her license plate, which he began to do on his $400 iPhone, and announcing as he did, that Broke-Ass was driving a Volkswagon.

A Volkswagon. And this is where Broke-Ass utterly lost her cool.

“This, motherfucker, is a 14-year-old used Toyota minivan! Only one door works on it, and I can’t afford to replace the muffler! And WE LIVE HERE! We live around the corner from the PROJECTS! Where the fuck do you live? Carroll Gardens West? How DARE you accuse me of malfeasance, with your fucking iPhone, beagle, and bloodhound, and expensive, intentionally ruined-looking jacket? I support a family of five ALONE! And not very successfully!”

Did Public Enemy Number 19 stalk off in shame? More or less. But he continued to rave as he skulked down the street, manically pecking at his device that exploits workers in China, and mumbling about what a shitty mother Broke-Ass was. Broke-Ass had to concede that he had a point here, since she had just utterly lost her cool in front of Baby Poodle.

At this point, Broke-Ass peeked into the car and apologized to Baby Poodle, who said: “That guy didn’t even give us a chance to leave a note for the car! He was so mean!” Broke-Ass agreed that this was true, but that she was ashamed of herself for having lapsed into scatology. Baby Poodle was unfazed. “Let’s go and find that guy and yell at him, Mom!” Good Lord, what has become of us?

At any rate, Broke-Ass and Baby Poodle left a polite, apologetic, and thorough note for the unfazed Honda, and made their way home to the Rancho. There, the rest of the family–Big Daddy, Little Mousie, and Two Lumps of Sugar–commiserated with them. We all ate popcorn and felt better.

But the incident happily forced Broke-Ass to reflect on the incalculable number of times she herself has made unfounded presumptions about people. The beautifully turned-out supermom with perfect children who, as it turned out, was suffering in poverty and extreme emotional duress at the hand of her vicious, relentless ex-husband; the snotty, contemptuous, rich dad who, as it turned out, was in the process of getting laid off; a couple who was the picture of outrageously well-educated taste who, as it turned out, included the man part of the couple’s addiction to the most bizarre forms of pornography.

As Little Mousie pointed out: “Maybe that guy has a really hard life, Mommy–we don’t know.” Little Mousie was, as she often is, exactly right. And it made Broke-Ass wish she had been a little kinder. But it also made Broke-Ass remember that there is little better than being proven wrong, when the net yield is compassion.

Sorry, angry, middle-aged hipster. Shake on it.

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Broke-Ass Requests Your Thoughts: Would You Buy a Fucking Cookbook?

Babydolls, many of you lovelies have asked Broke-Ass to create a cookbook. Indeed, so many of you truly charming and marvelous friends have made this request that Broke-Ass is actually considering devising a DIY Broke-Ass cookbook on blurb.com and distributing to all those interested, at cost.

But there is no way on God’s gorgeous green earth that BAG is going to rally if you don’t give a crap. Because, really: Who has the time for crap? Be honest. Broke-Ass loves you, no matter what you say. Because you’re wonderful.

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Killer: Broke-Ass Loves This

I Knocked My Head Against the Wall

By Anna Swir

As a child
I put my finger in the fire
to become
a saint.

 

As a teenager
every day I would knock my head against the wall.

 

As a young girl
I went out through a window of a garret
to the roof
in order to jump.

 

As a woman
I had lice all over my body.
They cracked when I was ironing my sweater.

 

I waited sixty minutes
to be executed.
I was hungry for six years.

 

Then I bore a child,
they were carving me
without putting me to sleep.

 

Then a thunderbolt killed me
three times and I had to rise from the dead three times
without anyone’s help.

 

Now I am resting
after three resurrections.
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Fuck Beans: Let’s Talk Pretty

Broke-Ass was all ready to make good on her promise to talk about beans and how to convert their soaked selves into week-long meals, when she stopped and had a think. The result of which was: Fuck beans.

Broke-Ass is well fucking nigh sick of talking and thinking about beans, particularly as they invariably evoke comparisons involving hills and her life. Plus, she is about to turn 43 next Wednesday, so the combination of that impending anniversary and fucking chickpeas brought her to the mirror to have a look. And what she saw was: old. And tired. And balls-out haggard.

You mightn’t think that a person such as Broke-Ass would give a tinker’s damn about her appearance. You would be wrong. So wrong. Indeed, Broke-Ass devotes inordinate blocks of time considering clothes and cosmetics, how she can get her hands on some, and how depressingly fruitless such meditations are. But she’ll be damned if she’s not going to get her hands on some hyaluronic acid facial serum.

Hyaluronic acid, for those who don’t know or give a shit, is the juicy substance one’s own human body manufactures to keep the joints and skin all lubed up. As one ages, and one certainly fucking does, native stores of hyaluronic acid are mercilessly depleted and you get saggy and wrinkles–and it doesn’t help if you’re stressed and you smoke, but who can help that? If, however, you inject it into your face, as people are wont to do via the wonders of fillers such as Restalyne and Juvederm, those wrinkles flat-out disappear for about 6-8 months. And then you have to pay another 800 bucks to do the whole thing over again.

To say that such a routine is of out of the question for Broke-Ass is to say Two Lumps of Sugar will hurl a block at his sisters’ heads and think it’s a pretty funny thing to have thought of doing. In full disclosure, Broke-Ass did, several times, barter for such injections. But that’s a whole other fucking story, one that now seems like a distant, golden memory of childhood. It was worth it. Broke-Ass stands fully behind the Buddha when he said that sometimes the smile is the cause, not the result, of happiness. Moreover, while she despises that fucking Nazi Coco Chanel in every other respect, Broke-Ass does heed her recommendation never to walk out of the house without a nice lipstick on. Shit, when life is bleak, a little pretty on the outside goes a long way to staving off stress-puking. Just ask Broke-Ass’s friend, the Fantabulous Nat, who wears body glitter, like all the time. WORD.

Back to hyalauronic acid. It turns out that, when mixed into a facial serum and applied to old areas, this soul-buoying substance will push out wrinkles for the duration of the time that it remains affixed to the skin. It also turns out that facial serums involving hyalauronic acid cost as much as a weeks’ grocery bill. Again: Two Lumps, blocks, & etc. So, the question alighted: How does one make this serum?

Funny you should ask. Lo and behold, it appears that hyalauronic acid comes in capsules you can buy in the hippie section of supermarkets, or far, far cheaper yet, in bulk powder form online. People take it to relieve bursitis or whatever. Why not take it make mama look good?, Broke-Ass wondered aloud. Why, indeed, the fuck not?

Moreover, one sees such white slavery-priced serums with ingredients such as “green tea extract,” “soy peptides,” and “olive oil.” So, Broke-Ass boiled up a tea cup’s worth of green tea, steeped it, waited for it to cool down, emptied a small amount of said powder into the tea, and whisked it until it formed a gel-like consistency. Then she whisked in some soy lecithin (which she also buys in bulk for under five bucks to ease her addled brain function, such as it is) and a droplet or two of olive oil, and voila: hyalauronic facial serum.

Note any egregious wrinkling?

Now, loves, Broke-Ass’ brew should be made in small batches, and because it doesn’t contain anything that will give a body cancer, it’s best refrigerated. But it works like a freaking charm–no creasey wrinkles! smooth skin!–and costs bubkes to make. And if that ain’t talking pretty, babydolls, Broke-Ass will just hang up her fucking hand-knit hat right this second. Be beautiful: Broke-Ass loves you.

(And pretty, pretty please, pick up a copy!: In Spite of Everything: A Memoir by Susan Gregory Thomas)

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