The Great White Male


I slapped on the visor and apron with uncertainty. Already I had worked the season opener for the local college team, now my volunteering efforts were geared towards opening day for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The USF game was its own special nightmare – scorching day, no breeze, collapsing bodies – but otherwise, sales at the Second Time Arounders Marching Band tiki bar boomed. I think it was because we were by the boat.

This time around, we were placed in a beer corner with not a lot of space to move between the six of us. Before I had finished dumping ice onto the premium beers it was go time! Customers lining up for all things frosty and salty. I did as trained – smiled as I took the order, if it involved alcohol I asked for ID, held the ID up to confirm face and date, then processed the sale with a cheerful “Enjoy the game!” to send their happy selves off.

And then, he came. A large, burly man dressed in Buccaneer regalia, beads dangling proudly from his neck. His face was cute, chubby, and pinked at the cheeks. He ordered two beers and a water. I asked for his photo ID. His chubby face became firm. He flared his arms, “Are you fucking serious?”

“Yes,” I calmly replied.

“I’m 54 years old! I could be your goddamn father!”

“I’m sorry sir,” I calmly explain, “I can’t sell you those drinks without an ID.”

I watched as he stepped backwards, almost into the couple behind him, then flare his nostrils and widen his chest. I swear he was going to rush the stand, but then he yelled, “Let’s settle this right now.”

My eyes followed his left hand waiving over someone. I’m thinking it’s his wife or somebody holding his ID. A dark blue suit with TPD on the lapel and a gun at the waist appeared instead.

Never in the history of me has a cop being waived my direction ever worked out in my favor. I’m flushed, I feel my heart start to race, and an “Oh SHIT” mantra starts looping in my head, all the while thinking, he called the cops on me, he called the cops on me…

The large man details the situation above and then tells the cop “She shouldn’t ID me.” Wow! I wish I had that kind of social authority! Being above the law, being able to tell a cop what should and should not happen to him during his good time at a privately-owned stadium.

The policeman looked at me, at him, then replied, “It’s her discretion whether she sells you alcohol or not.”

WHAAAT! He’s on MY side?

Never in the history of me has a cop agreed with me, even off-duty. I felt redeemed. And even though he was pouty after the fact, I still sold the big guy a water.

I don’t care how mouthy you are. Rule #1 in retail: get the sale.

I wasn’t worried about him, I was worried about the cop. He was worried about his beer, I was worried I was ending up in handcuffs. This is our world – a bunch of unnecessary worries. If I’m lucky in this lifetime, I shouldn’t feel threatened by the appearance of law enforcement anymore.

I’ve slept on this and still felt compelled to write, because it’s such a phenomenal experience. When you look a certain way, or hang out in a certain crowd, the labels and assumptions abound. Negative labels and assumptions unfortunately carry on with you despite social improvements. So when I describe this simple scenario, I wonder if you’re reading it as someone who’s been negatively labeled all their life, or if you’re wondering why the cop agreeing with me is such a monumental deal. It is a big deal. It signifies the necessary shift in the social wind. Not everyone who looks like me needs to be disciplined by the police. Moreover, people who look like me aren’t easily threatened by the gesticulations of the Great White Male, as was my friend’s mistake.





Playing With Shadows: Roser Park, St. Petersburg

Mountain Livin’


New River, North Carolina

View From Above



Appalachian Overlook, North Carolina

Come On You Rowdies! Home Opener

I’m no good at being a fangirl. That rabid memorization of metadata – team rosters, stats, trades, rankings – I don’t do well. What I do well is wear whatever jersey you feel I need to wear to bed, as a pseudo-sexual show of appreciation for <insert favorite sports team here>, but otherwise, could care less of the name across the breasticles, as long as the fabric stretches.

My reason for enjoying football is because it reminds me of my childhood. Growing up in the southern region of Germany within minutes of major cities, you couldn’t avoid getting caught up in the hype, the esprit de guerre, the fierce loyalty to team (and country once the World Cup came around). In my region, our team was Bayern Munich. As a teenaged girl, I cheered on their gorgeous, sculpted bodies. Tor! Tor! Tor!

Now I’m attempting a dedication to the Tampa Bay Rowdies! My friend Guy Delaney with the Rowdies got me great seats for last week’s opener, along with a magnetic decal for my truck and two t-shirts to look the part. I faux-hawked my hair, painted bright green and gold on my eyes, then whooped it up at Al Lang Stadium while cheering on gorgeous, sculpted bodies, er, I mean, a dedicated team of professional athletes who proudly call Tampa Bay home!

Cheering on the home team

Seriously, though…I love football!

Happy Anniversary, Johnny Saucedo! WE DID IT!

irenes_booksigningMy first book signing. We ran out of books.
I actually had to run out to my car for the two books I had in the backseat; luckily, leftovers from an earlier attempt at guerrilla marketing.
The last fourteen months of my life living dollar to dollar so I can get published, and now I’m holding 10s of dollars, 20s of dollars, in one hand. I didn’t think I was gonna sell any books tonight, so I didn’t think about maybe having a bank bag or lock box or something to put this money in. I’m so fuckin’ irresponsible.
I sold out my first event. Jesus Mahoney Christ, this shit’s really happening!
Wow. Just. WOW.
4/9/14 @ 11:38pm

SunLit Festival’s Lucha Libro! Luchadora, Pero No Ganadora

This is what you get for being a literary arts booster; when you put yourself down as a stand-in, you might actually have to stand in. And just that happened during last night’s Keep St Pete Lit’s Lucha Libro! Part of St Petersburg’s SunLit Festival happening through next Sunday. I ended up as one of the literary luchadores. No mask, but definitely scary hair😀

Lucha Libro works like this – writers are matched off over semi-reliable typewriters, given a word, and then five minutes to compose something around that prompt. The crowd decides of the luchadores who wins the round. Most people were probably expecting this:

But it turned out to be much milder, a wonderful array of diverse styles and interpretations, a fun folly I was glad to join in on.

First Round: GANADORA! Word: Shrouds


Second Round: GANADORA! Word: Seethed


Third Round: PERDEDORA Word: Naked


Obesity and Mental Illness Make Terrible Bedfellows

Her mother would have her strip naked, then slowly unspiral cling wrap around her daughter’s prepubescent torso and thighs. When she was done, her mother sent her out into the family backyard, in the South Texas three-digit heat, and ordered her young daughter to mow the entire lawn in that tortuous ensemble.

Listening to this while holding her trembling hands, I shook my head sympathetically.

She laughed nervously, doing a bad job of pretending the memory was funny instead of spirit-crushing.

I offered, “When I was that age, my mother made me do workout videos as soon as I got home from school. My brother and sister got to whip off their backpacks, run outside and play with their friends, while I’m kicking legs with Jane Fuckin’ Fonda! By the time I got to go outside and play, my friends were already in their homes for supper.”

In our sororal moment we agreed our mothers were horribly influenced by what society deemed to be “the right look” for a woman, with no consideration for modern genetics, anatomy, or kinesiology.

When we shared our stories, this woman was in her early twenties, invested in party hopping, binge drinking and freaking down any guy who found “big guls” attractive. She essentially subverted her desire for self-empowerment into being everyone’s favorite hoebag.

She didn’t need to turn out that way, but it was the only way she felt beautiful. I despise her mother for torturing her, I despise the men who played against her emotional vulnerability, and I despise this society for encouraging that behavior on both ends. It pisses me off this psychotic, warped image of “the perfect body” is still in full practice! Making it the norm, not a circumstance, of an increasingly visible world experience. What’s most terrifying, it’s WOMEN HATING WOMEN keeping the ignorance and torture aflame.

In my case, I was totally confused! I was one of the lead ballerinas in my ballet school, I was physically active during the day (meaning, fighting boys in the schoolyard on the regular), and I wasn’t into sweets or snacks. My mother has that thin build common for original Mesoamerican people, and, other than a pooch us three kids likely are responsible for, she was and remains a slender built woman. I inherited my father’s genes: a hardy, stout, solid body, common for direct descendants of the African Diaspora. Mom kept calling me ‘fat’ because her friends and coworkers were calling me fat. But I wasn’t fat, I didn’t even jiggle! Ignorance on her part bloomed physical insecurity on my part.

Layer this confusion on top of my genetic predisposition to depression, and you’re looking at a Molotov cocktail of deep, psychological issues. Once I entered into puberty, mania and obesity fused, causing me to be so body conscious I enrolled in cardio classes to supplement my school physical education classes! Obsession took hold, and so did paranoia. I would fall into valleys of depression when my clothes tightened despite my feverish efforts.

The thing is – which Mom and Dad and my school mates weren’t keen on – the weight wasn’t genetic. The weight gain was due to depression. This was proven into my adult years, trying to provide for my family, study college courses, work three jobs, and be affianced to an Operation Iraqi Freedom soldier, all in one stroke.

More family drama, more weight.

More depression, more weight.

More stress. More weight.

More homicidal thoughts.

More weight.

I’m like a lot of Americans: our mental condition reflects our physical condition and vice versa and, despite our best efforts, our societally-influenced inner and outer circles shame us for not fitting “just right.”


The title of my blog is no lie: I am a mad woman. Certifiably emotionally disturbed. But like with my weight control, I exert much energy to maintain mental balance, such as knowing I’m about to dip into depression because I’m lamenting too much about my physical appearance. Awareness of my triggers and a rational fitness routine are a couple of tools I use to keep Von happy and healthy.

Notice I said tools I use to keep Von happy? That’s because an aspect of emotional instability is projecting those insecurities onto your outer and inner circle, expecting someone else to be accountable for your happiness because you’re too weak to do it yourself. Like my friend above, many choose to keep bad habits going rather than embrace self-improvement, because the need for public adoration and affection trumps the need to be physically, mentally and spiritually in shape. Regardless if you’re trying to lose baby weight or reconcile your father’s lack of attention, the only way you’ll get better is if you love yourself better. No one can self-love you except you.


Every day I struggle to face the world, such is my permanent disability. To keep weight insecurity-manic depression at bay, I don’t have mirrors in the home. I rarely self photograph and I opt to stay out of group photos whenever possible. Why? I don’t want my organic matter to define my sense of self-worth. So if I scowl at you for over-complimenting my body, it’s because I’d rather you find value in who I am than how I appear.

To Conquer Obesity, Embrace The Knowledge That:

It takes time.

It requires persistence.

You have to do it for you.

Your efforts will save your life.