adding ginger to your sass

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On this date two years ago, my friend Lauren killed herself. She was a confident young woman who acted as a role model for many. For me in particular, while we weren’t particularly close until the last weeks of her life, we were growing closer as she acted as my un-official mentor in my grad school program. She was– and is– one of the reasons I always strive to be a role model for my students, regardless if I’m out at school or not. Lauren taught me a lot about having the confidence to be yourself no matter what the circumstances, and it was incredibly shocking when she took her life, as she always seemed to be the person people would go to when they were in need of guidance. I thought about Lauren a lot last week, as it was National Suicide Prevention Week and the school I work at had an announcement every day about signs of suicide and how to help those in need.

The thing is, sometimes, despite knowing how much help someone may need, or not knowing how much help someone may need, in the blink of the eye they can be gone, leaving you with a myriad of questions and very few, if any, answers.

So, join me and the rest of Team Lauren on Sunday September 29th at Buccleuch Park in New Brunswick, New Jersey for the Central New Jersey American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk, or make a contribution to Team Lauren to show your support. I’ll be there honoring Lauren’s memory, as well as thinking of all those who have left this world too soon because they felt they didn’t have any other choice.

Today was hard for me.

I’ve never really put into words how much Whitney Houston meant to me, and it seems unnatural to not discuss the one year anniversary of her death today.

I’m currently watching The Bodyguard and crying. I watched the Whitney documentary from CBS earlier and bawled as well.

When Whitney’s death was announced last year, I can remember every last detail about it. It was a Sunday evening, and I was sitting at my computer desk in my dorm room, dangerously rocking on my rickety desk chair. E! was on, and I was attempting to do homework, although I wasn’t doing a very good job of getting anything accomplished. I was actually working on a poem for my poetry course, trying to base something on Denise Levertov’s “A Time Past.”  I had nothing– nothing— until E! broke the news that Whitney had been found unconscious in her hotel bathroom, and then that she was dead. I remember calling my mom in disbelief, and being unreasonably close to tears. I couldn’t turn the television off, and I just watched the news unfold. Like the end of Whitney’s life, it was like watching a train wreck unfold.

When I was a little girl, it was hard for me to fall asleep at night. I don’t remember the exact details, but I do remember that my mom’s Whitney cassette tape somehow glued itself to the tape player in my bedroom. Whitney’s voice would often lull me to sleep, and even now, as a 23 year old woman, when I cannot sleep I listen to her melodious voice to drift away to a calmer state. Whitney was a large part of my childhood. Her music was the first cassette I ever owned, if you call jacking my mom’s cassette owning it, and I will always associate Whitney with my childhood.

Finding out Whitney was dead was heart-breaking to me. Although I had been coming to terms with the fact that my childhood was dead and I would soon be graduating college and approaching “the real world,” Whitney’s death almost seemed to be tangible evidence of this right of passage. I was numb with grief, and it really shook me that someone I didn’t even know, yet felt so connected to through her music, was dead. I felt a bit embarrassed about how much Whitney’s death left me grieving. As I watched the television glow with repetitive reports of her death, The Grammy’s, and the shock of her death felt around the world late into the night and then into the early morning hours, my tears turned to determination, and my heart felt compelled to write a poem about Whitney’s death.

I’ve always felt a bit of disdain, even disgust, towards poems written for a celebrity. I’ve felt they’re creepy and sort of unrealistic. It’s not like the celebrity you’re writing about is going to read your work. Yet, with Whitney’s death, it felt necessary to write about her. I didn’t want my poem to mention her name, but I wanted it to be her, subtly. Whitney’s story connected with me as a Jersey girl who knew the roads she had driven on, knew the need to start over, knew the desire to start fresh and surpass what you had once been. To me, that’s what Whitney was starting to do at the time of her death. Unfortunately for her, and the world, sometimes the demons from your past find their way back into your life.

Thank you for being such a large part of my childhood and life, Whitney. This one’s for you.


The wooden chair creaked beneath my bottom
where I was sitting as the television glowed in the background.
Somewhere, three thousand miles away, a few hours earlier,
your honey skin slipped down below the suds
as I hummed the melody to your voice
in the solace of my car
driving down the road you had driven so many times before
in your years of youth,
which is when your voice first discovered
that it had the potential of leaving the place you called home.

Those days are gone, and you’ve left again,
this time more permanently beneath the suds of a porcelain tub
hidden in the ornately decorated hotel room
where you laid down to rest
and cleanse your soul
and eradicate the demons
that everyone was waiting to return
as you timidly tried to rejuvenate your glory days
and melodic words
that had become a constant ritual
during my younger years.
Now, all that is left
are the memories:
your soulful melodies with lingering tears.

2012: A Year in Review

Tonight is the last Friday night of 2012, exactly one week after the world was supposed to end. A lot has happened in 2012, and I decided to highlight everything significant that happened to me this year, month by month.


It’s been one heck of a year at GingerSass.


Not much happened in January. I turned 22, which was actually a better birthday than my 21st. My friend convinced the bartender at a local bar that I should be given a free bottle of champagne because my 21st coincided with a blizzard and I didn’t get to celebrate. I received a stuffed unicorn and zebra print seat covers from my parents. I, once again, pleaded to Ellen as to why we should celebrate our birthday together and she ignored me. Ya know, the usual.


I made it onto PostSecret for the first time. Whitney Houston died and I was devastated so I wrote a poem. Ryan Murphy pissed me off so I wrote him an angry tumblr post turned into a letter, which he never responded to.


March was a very important month for me– I STARTED GINGERSASS! (All of the posts posted before March 25th were transferred from my tumblr site.) Fun fact– GingerSass was started because I was pretending to be an investigative reporter at the Sex, Love, and Dating Conference. Also, Adrienne Rich died, which devastated me. A lot.


April freaking rocked. Highlights of the month include:

volunteering with NOH8 and later being featured on their website
meeting Frank Warren at my first PostSecret event
saw an opera and a concert in one week
my Poefy (poetry-wifey) was fantabulous in The Vagina Monologues and I wrote about it


May was a good month for me. Obama came out in support of gay marriage. I won an award. I graduated college. Life was pretty awesome to me in May.


June was an interesting month. I started it out writing about suicide after finding out that the partner of my friend who had committed suicide also committed suicide. I wrote a bunch of 10 Minute Musings for a grad class and reconnected with myself. I came out to my family as a blogger, with the support of Cady McClain, aka Dixie from All My Children. I even inspired her alter-ego, Suzy F*cking Homemaker, to create an internet meme. Suzy also encouraged me to write a post on why I want to be a celesbian…so I did. I also  booked and performed my first paid poetry gig, which was pretty darn awesome.


July started off with a roadtrip to Massachusetts with Poefy to the wedding of Taylor and Mike. I basked in the glory of cheeseball goodness. (This post is still one of my most-visited posts, btw.) I fell in love with my job over the summer. I also figured out What Obama Taught Me. I indulged in Restaurant Week. Then I got serious about my blog, invested in an actually site host, got free magnets, and was overwhelmed by the idea of going to BlogHer. I also posted about teacher dress codes, which is also one of my most-visited posts of all time.


August started off with me going to BlogHer’12 and MY LIFE CHANGING FOREVER. I made so many blogging friends through BlogHer, and I’m going to (eventually) categorize them on her so you can so who I’m reading. I also won a happy hour party in August and celebrated with wings and food at a local bar with my friends. Woohoo! To top August off, I started my new job, got an apartment to go along with it, and ruminated on why Res Life will always be a part of me.


September was an emotional, crazy month. I had an awesome first week of September. I was a national runner up to be the next Verizon Ultimate Insider, mentioned on AfterEllen, and yogurt was on sale. I made it through the one year deathaversary of my friend’s suicide, and I participated in yet another walk for dead people. September was emotional, tough, and trying, but I got through it.


October started off with me reflecting on how much I love my car. I also met Jack Hanna, which was a childhood dream come true. I had a kickass lesson on bullying on National Coming Out Day and fell even more in love with teaching. I went to the Dodge Poetry Festival for the first time as an educator, and I helped my students fall in love with poetry. I met Geena Davis and she told me, “You’re changing the world to be a place I want to be in. Keep up the good work.” I saw Melissa Etheridge in concert. I survived Hurricane Sandy, was really upset that Sandy canceled Halloween, and was upset by the whole Sandy experience.


November feels like such a long time ago. I participated in NaBloPoMo for the first time and wrote about how I’m a Jersey girl, how Sandy domesticated me, and what Obama’s win meant to me. I also talked about bacon, ghosts, and just how important it was that I found my voice again by going to poetry open mics. I cut my hair, took silly webcam pics, and thought about my future. I ended my first NaBloPoMo experience by being grateful for stickers, and really having peace in knowing that I’m on the right track for what I want to do with my life.


December flew by. I think the biggest thing that happened to me this month, right before my student teaching internship ended, was that I realized why I want to teach. I arranged for an assembly for my Creative Writing students, and  it really changed my relationship with them forever. It taught one student to not be afraid to be who she is, and this, in return, encouraged me to come out to her. She then wrote me a note and made me cry. Then the Newtown, Connecticut shooting happened and it hit really close to home, as it was the first school shooting that has happened since I began student teaching. My students asked me if I would take a bullet for them, and I was able to respond honestly and say yes. Student teaching ended, and I managed to make it to the parking lot after school before crying. I got creeped out by the whole Elf on a Shelf phenomenon, but secretly loved my creepy little elf.

2012 was a year of growth. I rediscovered my writing identity, and GingerSass became a very large part of who I am. I’m grateful for the opportunities blogging has given me this past year, and I cannot wait to see what 2013 holds.

Happy New Year, folks! What are you looking forward to in 2013?

PS I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend or not, but if you’ll be at home this NYE, consider joining in on #Tweetin13. There are prizes, fun people, and it’s hosted by two of my favorite ladies. Get on it!