What the heck is this place?

Do you have an idea for a blog post or a freelance article, or even a finished draft? Are you looking for some direction or general feedback? Then this is the place for you!

The goal of this workshop is to create a supportive environment where we can:

  1. Develop our writing technique and style, focusing not just on what to write, but also how to write it.
  2. Critique our writing in a transparent, constructive manner.
  3. Share our experiences and knowledge with each other.

The group consists mostly of internet writers, but feel free to ask for feedback on any other writing endeavors you may have. And if you know someone who might be interested in joining, please send them our way!

I think everything on here is pretty straightforward. If you have something you’d like feedback on, post it! At this point, the only requisite to post and comment is that you have a WordPress.com account. If you need to register, you can do so here.

Once you’ve registered and logged in, please comment on this post, and I can add you as a member of the workshop.

For now, I’m keeping the workshop open to the public (but hidden from search engines), so people can check it out and decide if they want to join. In the near future, I’ll be making it private, so that you’ll have to be a member of the workshop to access it.


Please subscribe to this site!

The point of a writer’s workshop is to create a collaborative environment. When someone posts an idea or draft, it would be awesome if a bunch of people commented on it. Everyone’s opinion counts here!

Well, in order to comment on something, you have to know when something gets posted in the first place. As such, please subscribe to this site. You can see the button to do so on the right, under Keep in Touch!

When you subscribe, you’ll get an email anytime someone posts something on here. And the best part is, you can leave a comment by replying directly to the email. You don’t even have to log into the workshop.

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For instance, you can set it so that you only receive at most one email a day, or even a week. It’s all up to you.

Let me know if you have any questions about the subscription or commenting system!


Running Shoes under a wedding gown

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Running away from fear, it’s a natural response to stimuli. When an animal senses danger, they tend to run far away from it. Simple survival tactic. What makes human different is that our species keep the courage to face the fear. Face the danger. Take risks. Come up with solutions. Running away might be the last option.

But it is so amusing to see, we- brave hearts – overpower death yet fear life, when life brings us to a hairpin turn called marriage.

What is scary? Why is it a big deal? May be we just realized we are trailing on a terrain? Maybe the process of finding a life partner, how she/he would turn out to be, or even how I would share a life with another person? When you come to think of it, it’s not just an adjustment like sharing a room –it’s a life time commitment to “sharing”. I happen to once read ‘life partner is going to be your parenting partner, someone who influences your children, your eating companion for about 20000 meals, your travel companion, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career and emotional therapist’. That is a lot in one. And that thought crowds my mind. But again isn’t sharing the foundation of happiness? Like a cherry on cake these contradictions had managed to mess my mind, unable to process what I really want. Giving it a little thought, Of course nowadays there are several platforms to discover your life partner,various stages of interaction set up to analyse if she/he fits the match and then reach an optimal solution. Such saviours and life guard apps. Yet to find love in marriage is dream come true for many. The atrocities we hear helps to fuels up the momentum and gets life rolling in the negative direction, because fear is a negative emotion.

As age climbs the number of steps to enlightenment, out there are additional pressures from family, friends, Mom’s friends, Mother of the daughter-in-law of our family friend, the fat sweet lady in the bakery down the street. Ha this list would not end. So the alarm buzzing in my head tells me to RUN. According to the author of Marriage, A History -Stephanie Coontz, for earlier generations the idea of marriage was to achieve security-financially, socially and personally making it possible to survive and reproduce. This idea exists in many orthodox societies around the world even today.

But my primary idea to get hitched would be to find love and happiness. Of course I wouldn’t call the practical weddings as love less, but the expectations largely differ from mine or shall I say “ours”?

This difference in idea is ‘The Fear’, and I run, run like Bolt in the opposite direction away from what I see as ‘Danger’.

And then there are these well wishers on the way standing like speed breakers – our parents, friends and all those closely attached to us, trying to help us slow down, letting us know that every person goes through this emotional roller coaster and storms of confusion. And yes, they all surpassed it.  But knowing that everybody else have been on the same boat as the one I am expected to board does not help my fear of sinking. Either I am listening to people who state practical terms like they are pitching a sales proposal or people who got really lucky with their life like they stepped out of a hallmark movie.

So my response to the current stimuli is to shoo them away. Because I am too scared to step on the boat at the first place. Consciously or sub consciously I manage to keep them away. And when I say that, I mean to hurt my well wisher’s feelings, so they would not drag me to my Titanic. Like I said earlier, life is on a roll in the negative direction, so all the empathy is temporarily shut down. I can only think of being selfish and protect myself. Let’s just say, the ability to think was out the window.

It is excruciatingly hard to turn back and walk to the maturity our age claims to be. But when we do, let me tell you, it is a beautiful sight. It often makes me wonder why did I want to run away from where I was.

I would not say, take the leap and jump into a marital life for our dear ones or succumb to any kind of pressures – that includes one’s depressing feeling of not having what others have. Take the leap only if it is your decision from heart. It might be beautiful, sometimes not. But it does not have to make us regret. It’s up to us to make a warm bright heaven in our little world or make a barren land of dessert with dunes of fears and expectations. Unexpected is adventurous. Shouldn’t we embrace it?! This beautiful world has much more to offer than gossip mongers. I believe that a life partner is a person who can help the other change for good, bring out the best in each other, make them a better person. If one such person does not come in to my life, there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. It is not mandatory for one such person to be in my life. It is certainly not a void. At the same time, neither is it a matter of worry that someone would come in and challenge me. I have my better sense to analyse and our species’ courage to take decisions.

I once read in a novel – Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez,”Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.”

When I try to run away and take shelter at the harbour of negative sea because of few gossip mongers, who have suddenly developed such great interest in my life, I realise I miss out so much on the beauty of life. When I tangle their thoughts and my fears, I suffocate and miss out to breathe in the love that surrounds me. When I push people away, I miss out to respect those who genuinely care and love me. I unknowingly bring the worst out of me, and that- without the help of the person I am scared will come in and do the same. So now, who actually brings the best and worst out of oneself?

Life is ours, decision is ours, experiences are ours and lessons to be learnt are ours. People around us only help us through. It is up to us to extract the best and leave the rest. And of course believe in Hope.

Yes, it’s not easy like Nicholas Sparks says in The Notebook-

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. You and me… everyday.”


It’s All in the Profile

By Kelli C. Trinoskey
My 20-year old daughter just joined Tinder and showed me a few of her swipes last night. Man, are those boys good looking. She told me she was coached by a guy friend that she had to be decisive when gauging her interest on who to swipe right. I am 47 and I recently joined Zoosk. At my age, you have to rely on more than staged and photoshopped photos to know whom to wink at, answer yes, no or maybe to wanting to meet (which means nothing) or send or answer messages. I may be in the minority, but I actually read profile names and actual profiles (after looking at the corresponding picture) to gauge word choice and tone. After all, word play is foreplay for a writer. If someone messages me, I feel I owe a response. Here are a few of the responses I thought up but didn’t send:

Dear Totally Lonely,
You quite obviously did not run your profile name by any of your gal pals, am I right? Don’t you have any female coworkers? Sisters? No?! An aunt?
You have to vet this shit or you are never going to hook up.
Even though I am sure there are many lovely ladies out there looking to take on another project, I am not one of them. I am so not into that shit anymore. I do not want to have to even contemplate having to change someone even a little bit. Not even a simple thing – like being the one to break it to a guy that mullets are not okay and the middle part is NOT back – let alone tackle black belt codependency.
Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially me.
Nevertheless, thanks for the message. It is nice to feel appreciated. Best of luck to you in finding that special gal.

Dear Looking for #1,
Sadly, you are going to have to keep looking. I do not know if you noticed that not only are we from totally different cities, we are from two different regions of the US. That would mean a lot of miles to cover for a first date, don’t you think? I drive a hybrid but still.
I did want to thank you for the Teddy Bear gift. I haven’t figured out to do any of the bells and whistles yet but hope to find five extra seconds between my full time job and my three kids to really spruce up my profile and wink at a few of you fine men.
Best of luck to you in finding someone closer to home. (Unless you are a trucker or something and you don’t care how far you have to drive for a date.)

Dear Nerdy One,
You had me at nerd. You even have the nerd glasses going on. I think most girls are secretly turned on by nerds. One thing though, in your message you asked me about my picture. I know, I was lazy and I didn’t crop out my three beautiful girls, totally my bad. But, if you were a true nerd, would you have missed a typo in your question to me – “witch one are you?” And can you really not discern which one is the mom?
I am guessing you are not the kind of guy to play scrabble for hours by a fire in the winter? Or cuddle on the couch reading The New York Times on Sundays? Or watch Jeopardy? (See, I am a nerd too)
So sorry, but you and I would never work, trust me on this.
I hope you find a gal who is not a stickler for spelling or proper use of homonyms.
​ ​

Dear “A Few Extra Pounds”,
After you sent me a wink, I looked at your profile pictures. You saying that you have a ‘few extra pounds’ is a bit of a stretch. Do not get me wrong, I am all for honesty. I appreciate that in a guy. However, you are in some serious denial. You might want to get off your computer and your couch and walk that dog that is licking your face in your profile picture. Looks like he/she could use some exercise as well. Just saying.
I hope you find that special girl who likes you for you. I have to go to yoga to tackle my ass cellulite so I can contemplate getting naked with someone I meet on this dating site

After over a month, I’ve moved to texting with two guys which seems to be the online dating next step. It’s actually a nice and natural step because then you don’t have to be on the actual dating site which leads to more winks, views, and general stalking because others know when you are there and there is an inevitable flood of chat requests and messages from guys hoping for a response in real time. I have gone on six dates (all with the same guy). Things have cooled a bit so it is back to the proverbial drawing board. What I have learned? It’s all in the profile. Words written in black and white that can be read, re-read, analyzed and over analyzed (things I do really well) hold clues to a person’s priorities and self image. How attributes are listed and i
​n​ what order, says a lot. What is written and what is left out speaks volumes.
I have decided to commit to a profile name other than Zoosk member 00747 (not my real
​id as ​I want to deter millions of messages). I also rewrote my profile with descriptors culled from the many great profiles I have read:

I am the total package; brains, beauty and buoyancy. I love three girls, my job and my life which means I work really hard to get up every day, kick ass and then repeat. I do yoga and work out to stay sane. I am legit no drama and make time for the important things. I like to laugh, a lot and will generally try anything once. (Please keep all thoughts right now PG, while I may not be a princess, I am a ladyJ)

How to Lose Your Verbal…

How to Lose Your Verbal Filter (and Be the Best Version of Yourself)

by L


Results cannot be guaranteed. I am not to be blamed, sued or held liable for your actions, as well as results not meeting the reader’s expectations. Not all non-filters are the same. This guide is not the one-pill-solution for your problems.

My Story.

I’ve struggled communicating my thoughts and feelings since I was a kid — and I still do. It might have had to do with the way my parents raised me (and the way their parents raised them). It took time but I eventually removed my verbal filter, which was preventing me from communicating my thoughts and feelings. Why bother doing that?

I was getting awful headaches, because I would think too much. I also a unhappy kid; I thought everyone was out to get me and I had a chip on my shoulder. Luckily, my older brother helped me lose my verbal filter; he helped me realize that I needed to communicate these thoughts and ideas, because people can’t read minds and they might not be cognizant of their actions. The process of losing my filter was a long and arduous one.

Once I lost it, I realized how this skill can be used in various situations. Here’s one story that comes to mind:

I was walking home with a friend, Lawrence, when I saw this gentleman attempting to pick up/hit on a woman from across the street (if you’re going to do it, do it right; cross the street and be respectful); he yelled, asking her for different means of communication, from her phone number to every type of social media you can think of. She denied his request for her phone number. Then she denied the first social media account he asked for, but then silently ignored the requests that followed, continuing to walk to her destination. As he went down the list of social media accounts, I said (loudly), “she’s not interested!” The woman laughed.

While that might not have been the safest thing to do, I felt liberated saying something. Why? Because I’ve also loathed that type of treatment towards women and I wanted to do something about it.

This guide is written to encourage inner dialogue and ask yourself questions that you normally wouldn’t answer, because 1) it pains you to think about them 2) you “don’t have time” to think about them 3) you get an unsettling feeling of discomfort when you think about them or other people ask you about them.

With that said, it is my hope that this guide will give you the answers to the questions you have within. As a result of awakening your inner dialogue, it is my hope that your communication improves and learn from my mistakes.

Question (and reflection).

Don’t stop asking them. Ask lots of questions. Learning is a never ending process. There will be times where you’ll get answer to questions you wished you never asked in the first place, but tough shit. That’s life. This curiosity will help you lose your filter.

Ask yourself the following questions and reflect on your answers:

Why do we fear what we want most?
Why do some individuals have the courage to walk up to strangers and ask them whether they’ve weird sex positions?
What do you think are some behavioral characteristics that are holding you back from achieving your goals?
How do you speak to people when you are upset?
What’s your biggest fear?
What do you want?

Let these questions bake in your oven (especially the ones that either made you giggle or think I’m a complete pervert). You should always be striving to improve. Think the crap-out-of the last question. Dig real deep.

Nice people don’t finish last — Passive people do.

I believe the “nice people finish last” saying came to be, because people who are too nice also happen to be passive, which is why they finish last. This led to people pointing their finger at the nice trait as the culprit for finishing last, when in fact it was because they were passive.

If you’re passive, now is time to change. It will be a difficult habit/trait to change, especially if you’re not aware of this trait. You’ll need to devote conscious thought to your how you interact with others. If you’re been fortunate enough to have people point out this behavior, it might be something to to work on. Ask yourself: why and where is this passive behavior comes from? Accepting this is the first of many actions you’ll need to take. Give yourself the change you deserve. If continue to stay passive, you’ll never get what you want and you might end up with one of these:

Example of being passive: not saying something that bothers you to a partner or sibling.

I’m a Tumor, I’m a tumor, I’m a Tumor, I’m a Tumor… I’m a Tumor: Those Negative Voices in Your Head (Do not skip over this section, even if you don’t get these).

The more you resist your feelings, the more they persist. Unfortunately, there will be times when you have to hold keep your mouth shut. Being mentally tough and not letting little things bother you is important. While I agree that mental strength is everything, it should not be confused with brushing things under the rug. This is not a sign of mental toughness. 

Stay focused and limiting distractions is great; it helps you achieve your goals. It hard to find the fine line of letting your mind wander too much and ignoring problems over prolong periods. After all, ignoring things that bother you only leads to tumors.

With that said, you should not avoid your feelings — ever. It’s perfectly natural to feel sad and a myriad of other emotions; and it’s perfectly okay to let yourself feel and accept said emotions. 

Keep Striving to Improve.

One should always be aiming to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes we fall off track; we might say we’re putting in the work, but we’re not actually putting in the work. It’s okay, we all fall off track sometimes. But at a certain point you need to get off your ass and just do the work.

This is the difficult, but most important thing. Don’t dwell on lost time, because you can’t get it back; it’s gone. Just keep plugging away at whatever you’re trying to improve; whether that’s your mind, body or even spiritually. Try working on something that you’ve been putting off. Striving to be the best version of you is imperative when trying to lose your verbal filter. This is paramount because we improve our persistence and perseverance muscles, which we build through the achieving our personal goals.

Throughout the journey to losing your filter (and even after), you’ll have unfortunate slipups; you’ll stutter, word things the wrong way, say ridiculous things that are out of character and would never actually do. You might even say something so ridiculous that the person you’re speak with will probably hold your words against your for the rest of your life. You’ll be fine, as long as you get back up and keep at it.

Lose that motherf*$@ing filter: Wording, The Five Second Rule, “The Technique” and Staying Humble.

You can’t walk around saying whatever you want to whoever you want. You’ll just come off as a jackass. Trust me… I know. With that said, mindfulness is key. Here’s why:

The comprehension of ideas and thoughts depends on 1) how they are worded and 2) how these words and ideas are comprehended by the person hearing them.

This process is comparable to doing something that terrifies you. Ultimately, you’ll have to make the plunge, even if the steps you take are small ones. Each of the steps you take should make you feel uncomfortable. At any given point, you might try to talk yourself out of what you were thinking of doing or saying, with more excuses than a kid trying to get out of doing homework; if that sounds familiar, you’re on the right track.

If you’re in this position, think about the following: why would you stop yourself from doing something you want to do, especially if it’s something you wanted to do for a while now? Secondly, don’t cheat yourself out of living your life to the fullest. I happened to stumbled upon this video months after I started writing the guide, but it explains the aforementioned concept exceptionally well.

How to say it

Before you verbalize your thoughts, you need to learn how to say it. You’re obviously going to mess up in the beginning and have a few bad interactions to realize (although my brother pointed it out to me hundreds of times) that you need to remove all emotion from what you are saying. You must also be empathetic when it’s called for and be cognizant of context; meaning, who you’re speaking with and where you are. For the most part, this should be an effective way to debunk communication issues and insulting people.

In theory, removing emotion prevents conversations from turning hostile; it also allows the recipient(s) of your words to hear your words and not your emotions, which makes what you’re trying to communicate easier to comprehend as it can be difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time — your words when you’re yelling (or passive aggressive tone). Don’t believe me?

Try listening to two people talking to you at the same time. You probably won’t be able to will not understand both of them, probably will not remember a bulk of what they said and, more importantly, it can be extremely frustrating.

The 5 second rule

For the indecisive person in us all — we have the 5 second rule. (I’ve used this technique for years’, without giving it a name. I didn’t know it is a widely-known concept until I started writing this guide). Write down those thoughts or ideas down. This is a way to “marry” your actions, and will help you take action. Don’t try to suppress them.

There’s a 50/50 shot that things will work out the way they want them to. For example, you like someone and you want to ask them out. You’re scared, though. The person you ask out will either say, “yes” or “no.” Relation it to your situation you have nothing to lose (provided you not gambling or putting yourself in a life situation).

Maybe you have a reasonable fear that’s holding you back. If it might get you in trouble, I would advise against acting on. How do you decide whether to act on your thoughts if you only have 5 seconds to marry it?

“Fuck Yes” or “Fuck No”.

The Fuck Yes or No concept was created by Mark Manson. I do not own it. After messing up numerous times and teaching a friend or two how to lose their filters, I implemented his concept as it seemed to be the most logical way to teach someone how to make decisions in relation to the 5 second rule. Leave this concept out and you’ll find yourself in trouble; I know I’ve have and sometimes still do.

Asking yourself “Fuck Yes,” or “Fuck No” before doing something you might regret, is a good way to decide on whether to say what you want to say (and in some cases act on your thoughts). You don’t want to get fired from your job, because you want to flip off your boss employer; it might come back to bite you later in your professional career. Use common sense.

That being said, people need mouth time — just like a motorcyclists and drivers need road time — you need time to experiment talking without your verbal filter. You’re obviously going to need to learn from your mistakes.

Always ask yourself (within five seconds), before you open your mouth or act on something: will I get in trouble, smacked, fired, or will any bodily harm (that you think of) happen if I say or do this? If the answer is “fuck yes,” then I would keep your pants (or skirt) on and/or your mouth shut; if it’s “fuck no,” do and say as you please.

Stay Humble.

Losing your verbal filter doesn’t give you the right to act like a douchebag. Douchebags don’t reflect and they don’t think about what they say or do; they just say and do as they please. If you say something wrong, own up to it and apologize and try to see the other person’s perspective. I would even go as far as watching how they react to what you say, because some people might have difficulty confronting you.

Keep in mind that there are people out there who will not be able to handle your frankness (remember it’s all in your delivery), which is completely understandable. They might have to do with the way they were raised or past experiences they’ve had. But I digress, douchebags don’t know how to apologize and they think they’re always right. The world doesn’t need anymore douchebags. There’s plenty of them — they can be bought in stores.

Some food for thought: Don’t forget how small you are in comparison to the size of the world, our galaxy and the universe — and things which inhabit them.

Mental Health.

Holding in your thoughts and feelings can be detrimental to your health, both mentally and in some cases, physically; some people experience headaches when they overthink scenarios and situations. Holding in your feelings can also affect your personal relationships. This is why losing your verbal might be able to relieve some of these pains.

For those who are bullied, or if you have the occasional rude comment thrown at you, don’t be afraid to use your voice. Make people aware that are making you feel uncomfortable or taking advantage of you; whether that be sexually (Please look for a clear description of what that a sexual crime is and use good judgement. If someone has committed a crime against you, report it to officials, etc), financially or otherwise.

Of course, things are always easier said than done. Remember that not all situations are permanent. If you are reading this and experiencing shattered confidence, because of a traumatic experience or you just don't feel like like yourself anymore, recall every difficult situation you’ve overcome in the past. Looking back, it probably wasn’t too hard; or if it was, reflect on how it made you into a stronger individual. You’re not the only person experiencing a roadblock and you can move past it. Hopefully, accepting all the feelings you’re currently feeling and losing your verbal filter, will help you get on your path to being the best version of you. 

Now What?

Losing your filter is learning when to keep your mouth shut and when it open it. Everyone has their reasons to lose their verbal filter. The question I’d like you to ask yourself is: what will I do once I removed it?

What happens once you accomplish everything you set out to achieve? Think about giving back. Give back to those around you; they need our help. Think about those who are afraid to speak up at college campuses, bars, those who ride public transportation and walk the streets — they might not speak up when they are verbally harassed or are being physically or mentally abused. Speak up for them. Make eye contact with them. Make their presence know. Use your filter for those who have not lost theirs… yet.


Thanks again for letting me…

Thanks again for letting me join the fun! 🙂
This is a piece I wrote last year after being accosted by a family member with opinions. Readers liked it (they’re used to my mild snark), but I want to change the tone a bit. It’s a little too “finger-pointy,” I think. *When I copied it here, the numbers changed and for some reason I can’t see them to correct in edit mode.

Scientists HATE this Shocking New Trick to Lose 30 Pounds (and to Keep Adoptive Friends)

I heard a story about a guy who grew up to be a scientist because his mom encouraged him to ask good questions.

Any adoptive parent can tell you: people ask awful questions. They don’t intend to be hurtful, rude or insensitive. We watch eyes widen in horror as someone realizes, “I should not have said…”

I’d like to share a few “shocking tricks” to keeping your adoptive friends; things NOT to say or ask.

We’ll also address weight loss.

  1. “Do you know where their real family is?”
    We ARE their real family. We get up in the middle of the night to ameliorate the terror of nightmares. We clean up the puke. We take them to school. We bandage the boo-boos. We hold them tight while they try to understand what the hell happened to all the people they used to know.

We take them to appointments for the counselor, doctor, play therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist and every other type of -ist you can imagine.

We comfort them every time we leave a birthday party, a play date, a family weekend, a camping trip. They freak out with every departure because, in their experience, separation means you might never see someone again.

We stay up all night with them as they scream in the throes of PTSD.

You want to know the whereabouts of the sperm and egg donors who caused these children to end up in the foster care system. I want to know: who gives a Rattus norvegicus’ derriere?

  1. “Does she look like her birth parents?”
    Even if I have this information, how is it relevant—and for that matter, why do you need to know? Adoptive parents generally don’t even want to think about those people, much less consider how their genes may have transferred.
  2. “Why did you/didn’t you change his name?”
    Because adoptive parents are allowed to choose.

However, in the spirit of friendly informing, I’ll add this as follow-up: We gave ours a new name to provide them with a way to identify as part of the new family.

In most of my adoptive friends (and our) cases, we gave the children a name in addition to the name they acquired at birth. We happened to put the new name in the middle, which, in our case, was unfortunate. Both of our children prefer the adoptive name we’ve given them, and get annoyed when people use their legal name (doctors, substitute teachers reading roll call from the “official” list, etc.) instead of their middle.

Our son is adamant that he now wants the middle name as a first name and wants to take Hubby’s middle name as his own. He’s stuck by this for almost two years, so that’s what we call him, but we’re not allowing him to change it legally until he’s 13. By then, he may change his mind.

  1. “Why did you/didn’t you adopt a child who looks like you?”
    Children are children. Children who need homes…need homes. Why should we care whether the children look like us or not? Yes, transracial adoption comes with its own set of issues, but same-race adoption can be just as difficult. Sometimes cultural differences are huge, even within the same ethnic community.

Based on the demographics of where we lived the first ten years of our marriage, Hubby and I fully expected to have a brown rainbow in our house once we started adopting. At the outset, I was pulling for a total of five boys of all different ethnic backgrounds. I thought it would be an amazing way to expand their horizons (and ours), learning about all the different cultures and proving that yes, we really CAN all get along (ah, the sweet innocence of inexperience). I spent four years braiding hair for my African-American neighbor’s daughter in case we ended up with a girl or two (fun fact: my “volumizing” conditioner was NOT interchangeable for her smoothing hair product).

God laughed at all my planning and dropped mini-me and mini-Hubby in our laps. They look so much like us that I have been stopped THREE TIMES by strangers asking if I cloned my daughter. If only they knew.

We all look alike, but sometimes I do wonder…can’t we all just get along?

  1. “Didn’t you want a child of your own?” and “Did you try everything else already? I hear they’re making great strides with IVF.”
    Seriously? These children ARE our own. I don’t understand why giving birth becomes such an important factor. This only applies to “your” children. Did you give birth to your cousins? I don’t think so (unless you live somewhere that doesn’t frown on such things). And yet, no one asks, “Are those YOUR OWN cousins?”

For us, no, we did not “try everything else,” because we had our sights set on adoption long before my Lupus became an issue. Some of my friends were desperate to carry a child; that’s never been a big deal to me. Luckily, Hubby didn’t care one way or the other, either. God matched us up just right and we couldn’t be happier with the way things are.

Except when we run out of ice cream. When we’re out of butter pecan ice cream, I could be happier with the way things are. But lack of ice cream is rare, so…

Several of my friends pursued fertility treatments. Some were successful. A number failed in a miserable mess. So, let me ask you: if you’ve had a heartbreaking defeat, do you want to discuss it? Didn’t think so.

People don’t say, “Hey, I hear your interviews were awful and you didn’t get any of the jobs. Did you try proofreading your resume?” or “I heard you’re trying to build a house but didn’t qualify for the loan. That’s a bummer. Have you tried selling your current home first?” We don’t stick our noses into those situations, because (unless we’re a professional in the field), we can’t help. Why in the world is it okay to give advice about adoption and trying to make babies?

The exception would be if you’re a fertility doctor, IVF professional or are willing to provide an egg / sperm sample.

And even so—be very sure they want the offer of assistance before you start digging that hole.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for—how to lose 30 lbs:

  1. If you find yourself asking too many questions and you see your adoptive friend’s eye beginning to twitch, get a roll of duct tape.
    Cover your mouth securely with the tape. Three or four layers should suffice. Carefully use a pen or Xacto knife to poke a small hole in the tape. Insert straw. Blend up a smoothie. Sip away. Ask your friend to let you know the optimal time for removal of duct tape. Likely, he will suggest a four-to-six week span of silence, followed by a probationary period.

Follow the duct-tape-smoothie diet and you’ll lose up to 30 pounds in six weeks. You’re welcome.

Here’s the thing.

We all know you mean well and don’t intend to cause pain. If you have sincere questions, we’re truly happy to answer them. (But for the love of all that’s holy, don’t ask in front of the kids—or for that matter, if they’re within a football-field distance. Kids have ears like bats, especially if the topic is them.)

I recommend letting your friend know you have questions, then asking if it’s okay to email or call him. Also, ask her if she’s comfortable receiving questions right now. Sometimes, when the kids are crazy hyenas, we just don’t have enough brain capacity left.

  1. The question that is ALWAYS okay to ask: “How can I help you today? I’m not leaving until you give me something to do.”
    Especially if you see your friend’s left eye twitching, she will welcome this question. When you have a zillion questions, first channel that inquisitive energy into doing something helpful. Taking the time for a two minute conversation with the four year old, coloring with the seven year old, helping the ten year old clean up the mess in her room that accurately represents the pre-pubescent-hormonal-angst-disaster in her head…all these things can make a world of difference to a frazzled adoptive parent.

One last thing: take time to ask good questions.*

*Good questions will not result in weight loss but may prevent mild to moderate friend loss. Also, you might become a scientist.

My female supervisor sexually harassed…

Draft #4
My female supervisor sexually harassed me — and I’m a man.

I’ve heard trouble can be sensed from a mile away. In regards to sensing whether a person is trouble, maybe it’s the person’s demeanor, how they treat others, their aura, or the look in their eyes. When my ex-supervisor first lay eyes on yours truly, a very unsettling feeling came over me. Little did I know I she’d sexually harass me.

It began with lite flirting and complements throughout the workday and during lunch breaks, which I initially went along with as I was flattered — thinking it was harmless. But as the inappropriate IM’s started pouring in, I realized how wrong I was.

At first, the flirting was innocent and subtle:

[Her]: “We have a lot in common. Isn’t strange and unfortunate how people meet.”
[Me]: “Yeah, we do.”
[Her]: “If I only knew you 10 years ago. “
[Me]: “I would’ve been 16. That’s wrong.”
[Her]: “Ha ha. That is!”

As time went on, her dresses were more colorful and revealing, showing more cleavage. As her breast emerged from her dress, so did the sexual undertones in her messages. At one point, she indirectly suggested that we fulfill each other’s physical needs by probing for my sexual desires:

[Her]: “God, I wish I could leave! Today’s been too stressful.”
[Me]: “Why’s that? In theory, you can walk out whenever you want. Yeah, I’m kind of stress out, too.”
[Her]: “Work. Home. The usual.”
[Me]: “I see. Want to talk about it?”
[Her]: “Hmm. Maybe we could relieve each other’s stress?”
[Me]: “I’m not following.”
[Her]: “Tell me what you want.”

I did my best to brush off her comment by pretending to be clueless and replied:
“I don’t know what you’re referring to. What do you want?” But she didn’t reply.
A few weeks later, I was eating lunch in her office as I did most days. Amid conversation, my ex-supervisor leaned toward me — who was now practically on the edge of her seat — said, “we should have sex.” When those words hit my ears, I crumbled as a plethora of feelings rushed through my body; I was speechless, felt lightheaded and dirty, taken aback and extremely uncomfortable. My first thought was, “how do I tell this woman that I don’t want to sleep with her?”

I rambled on how it would be inappropriate since she was married with kids. This reason — as valid as it was — wasn’t the solution. But I was taken aback by the situation; as a man, I never imagined being sexually harassed by a woman, which left me unsure how to respond. After all, isn’t it the men who do the sexual harassing? Sure. I want sex, but not with her.
But she was adamant; weeks later, she was at it again. What did I say when my ex-supervisor told me what she’s into sexually?

Laugh uncomfortably and say, “too much information.”

How about when she indirectly offered to reward me with sex in the back seat of her car after I fix her portable vacuum? Politely brush it off with, “I’m good.”

Eventually, the sexual harassment fizzled out on its own. Not long after that, I was laid off. As much as I wanted to go to HR when I was sexually harassed, I didn’t because of the repercussions I thought she would have ensued, such as complicating family matters with her husband and children, and the possibility of her being fired. Another reason why I didn’t file a report with HR was because I no confidence department; they skimmed on performing their departmental duties, so how could I trust they do a good job with something serious as this? Additionally, HR did a poor job in investigating a sexual harassment case within the company years’ back — so my ex-supervisor said, before she sexually harassed me. The irony.

Looking back, I should have been more firm with my harasser as I didn’t realize how much power I had; I had evidence — inappropriate messages from her insinuating sexual advances. I should have reported her to HR with a screenshot of them and requested a transfer to another office. I should have also filed suit with the company, as this has happened to other people who’ve worked there.

All in all, I’m still learning to cope with the idea of having been sexually harassed. Moreover, I never realized how prevalent sexual harassment was in the workplace until I was a victim of it. I knew it always existed, but I never knew how uncomfortable it would make me feel, as a man.

Other potential titles:
A story about sexual harassment: A man’s perspective.
A story sexual harassment story: a man’s perspective.


Draft #3. Dennis, your example…

Draft #3.

Dennis, your example of building anticipation and zooming in and out was great, and I attempted to include this in the first 2-3 paragraphs of the piece. It still feels kind of short, though. Let me know what you guys think of this version. I’ve also added some other potential titles at the bottom.

My Female Supervisor Sexually Harassed Me — and I’m a Man.

It began with flirting and complements throughout the workday and during lunch breaks, which I initially went along with as I was flattered — thinking it was harmless. But as the inappropriate IM’s over AIM started pouring in, I realized how wrong I was.

During one chat, my supervisor indirectly attempted to change the conversation’s tone to sexual one, specifically trying to address that we fulfill each other’s physical needs. She wrote, “tell me what you want.” I did my best to brush this off by pretending to be clueless and replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What do you want?” which only seemed to get her friskier. As time went on, her dresses were more colorful and showed more cleavage, feeling her pheromones approaching me when she smiled as she made flirty remarks.

One day, as I sat in her office eating lunch as I did most days, my supervisor made her intent clear — she wanted to have sex with me. When those words hit my ears, it was as if I crumbled as a plethora of feelings rushed through my body; I was speechless, felt lightheaded and dirty, taken aback and extremely uncomfortable. My first thought was, “how do I tell this woman, who supervises me, that I don’t want to sleep with her?”

I rambled on how it would be inappropriate since she was married with kids. This reason — as valid as it was — wasn’t the solution. But I was taken aback by the situation; as a man, I never imagined being sexually harassed by a woman, which left me unsure how to respond. After all, isn’t it the men who do the sexual harassing? Sure. I want sex, but not with her.

So what do you say when your supervisor tells you what she’s into sexually? Laugh uncomfortably and say, “too much information.” How about when she indirectly offers to reward you with sex in the back seat of her car after you fix her portable vacuum? Just politely brush it off.

As much as I wanted to go to HR, I didn’t because of the repercussions she would have ensued such as her family knowing and the possibility of her losing he job; and another part of me felt that it was pointless, as HR wasn’t actively doing their job.

Looking back, I should have been more firm with my harasser as I didn’t realize how much power I had; I had evidence — inappropriate messages from her insinuating that clear sexual advances. I should have reported her to HR with a screenshot of them and requested a transfer to another office, as I continued to look for full-time work. I should have also filed suit with the company, as this has happened to other people who’ve worked there.

In the end, I was removed from the toxic environment and I’m happy to be out. I’m still learning to cope with the idea of having been sexually harassed. And I never realized how prevalent sexual harassment was in the workplace until I was a victim of it. I knew it always existed, but I never knew how uncomfortable it would make me feel, as a man.

Other potential titles:
A Story About Sexual Harassment: A Man’s Perspective.
A Story Sexual Harassment Story: A Man’s Perspective.


“How Would You Refer To John Wayne As A Kid?” – On Using Trans Folks Names

(a guest post from Rani Baker)

“In the once upon a time days of the First Age of Magic, the prudent sorcerer regarded his own true name as his most valued possession but also the greatest threat to his continued good health, for–the stories go–once an enemy, even a weak unskilled enemy, learned the sorcerer’s true name, then routine and widely known spells could destroy or enslave even the most powerful.” – Vernor Vinge, True Names

Show of hands, how many people know Freddy Mercury’s birth name off the top of their head?

Yeah I thought so.

What’s in a name? What does it mean? It can mean quite a bit, really. It can affect all sorts of aspects of how we navigate through life. Actors change them to further their careers, musicians and performance artists adopt monikers that bestow an air of mystery. But even regular everyday people choose names and reinvent their identities all the time, and it’s something most people get to take for granted. If someone suddenly decided to, say, go by their middle name instead of their first or preferred an informal shortening of their name, nearly everyone would take it in stride without a second thought. My boyfriend changed his name to one that sounds like a super-villain. Someone calling out their previous or full legal name would sound like an uncomfortable and needless formality at best and an unwelcome imposition at worst,

Yet, as a trans woman, I’ve seen scores of acquaintances, potential suitors, and even outright strangers asking what my birth-name was. After death, families have intervened and overridden the wishes of their deceased (and legal name change) to literally bury them under the old name. People on the internet treat digging up and publicly announcing mine and other trans folks old names like an actual game (4chan-types have taken to referring to it as a “Power-word”). In the trans community, we colloquially refer to the former name as our “deadname”.

Dennis invited me to this Writer Workshop specifically to talk about trans folks and names, specifically regarding discussion surrounding Caitlyn Jenner. Well, articles have already been written about that, and have done a really fine job. Also, I’m just really bad at doing the whole “Trans 101” song and dance. The stuff I usually write about is a bit more complicated. For this, I’m gonna toss around some anecdotes and analogies on the subject that I’ve bounced around in my head for years now at this point, and I guess we’ll see what sticks.

How many times have you seen an article that takes the time to spell out the birth names of folks like Lady Gaga, Snooki, Bono, etc? Or even folks like Che Guevara, Joseph Stalin, or Mother Theresa? Bob Hope? Jack White? Unless the name change is directly related to the premise of the article, rarely if ever. Yet this is a constant in coverage of trans folks whether they are celebrities or murder victims. The birth name remains in there as a deliberate invalidation, a rhetorical anchor to “who they really are”. And it’s transparently one-sided; Nicolas Cage can name himself after a comic book character and that’s ok, yet trans folks lived existence is considered invalid and respecting it is frivolous somehow.

This sense of entitlement to ownership of trans folks birth names is both condescending and paternalistic. Think back to a time when a parent referred to you with your full name: first, middle, and last. It implied you were in trouble, right? It implies disapproval. Like you are about to be put in your place somehow.

Not to mention that frequently the birth name carries a lot of heavy emotional weight. An alarming amount of trans folks are alienated or estranged from their families, or may have been disowned. Some of us cough were originally named after family members we’ve had decades of tension with. If someone were to change their name after a divorce, would you consciously continue to associate them with the spouse they left? I’d prefer to believe not.

Now I’m not talking about accidental mistakes by folks who knew said trans folks before transition. I’m referring to distinctive efforts to reveal or coerce out a previous name, or insistence on use of a name they no longer go by publicly. What are you really intending to say?

And this is regardless of your opinion about the variable “truth” of transgender lived experience, identity and perspective. I’ve watched in fascination as folks that famously disbelieve “born this way” narratives of inherent identity appeal to the birth name of trans folks as if the name itself contains an aspect of their true nature. Like a strangely spiritual totem of a narrative they desire to reframe them under.

What is in a name, really?