Girls in the Hood: The First Time I Shoplifted

Old School Circus21 Comments

Girls In the Hood: The First Time I Shoplifted www.bigtopfamily.com

The first time I shoplifted, I was eight years old. At that time, we were living in a huge house owned by The Community in a neighborhood of Steubenville known as Belleview, and Sister Helen was still living with us then. You would think living with a Catholic nun would exorcise the orneriness right out of most kids, but I … Read More

Girls in the Hood: The First Time I Shoplifted

The Sister Helen Effect

Old School Circus17 Comments

www.bigtopfamily.com / The Sister Helen Effect

Among the strange stories I’ve told, perhaps living with a nun for much of my childhood makes the loudest statement about just how different my childhood was. The nun’s name was Sister Helen, but her impact on my life wouldn’t just be on childhood. She would change not mine, but my whole family’s lives, forever. Most of us who were … Read More

The Sister Helen Effect

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

Old School Circus34 Comments

I had a therapist recently ask me: When you were growing up, what did money mean to you? This was in relation to a conversation about my husband and I disagreeing on how to manage our finances. The purpose of the question was so that I could see how money, or the lack thereof, affected my childhood and shaped the … Read More

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

The Trailer

Old School Circus12 Comments

Braking suddenly at the end of a dark dirt road, Mom almost slams into a cow. When the dust cloud clears, we see that not just a cow, but a whole herd of cows is surrounding our car, and ignoring this fact, Mom looks at us with a triumphant smile. “We’re here!” My sister and I peer fearfully out the … Read More

The Trailer

The Demise of Balboa

Old School Circus15 Comments

I was happily skipping down the hall after my alter-ego, Balboa, told Gina Palmeri, the beastly-basketball-playing-bully, where she could stick it. I just assumed that would be THAT, because in elementary school, all I’d had to do was mouth off to bullies to get them to leave me alone. Sadly, up in the high school big leagues, this wasn’t the … Read More

The Demise of Balboa

The Return of Balboa

Old School Circus20 Comments

When I was in elementary school, I was teased and bullied because of the car my parents drove, and because we didn’t have much money. I tried telling the teachers about it, but putting my trust in the authorities was wasted time and effort since they didn’t seem to care. And I went to a CATHOLIC school, which you’d think would … Read More

The Return of Balboa

The Night the Devil Chased My Mom

Old School Circus35 Comments

The night the Devil chased my Mom, I was six-and-a-half years old. We were living in a crumbling part of downtown Steubenville, Ohio, in a rickety two-story house with paint so peely I could pull it off in strands. The house had three bedrooms: one for my sister Alyson and I to share, one for my single mom, and one … Read More

The Night the Devil Chased My Mom

Profanity 101 Or That Time I Taught Creative Cursing

Old School Circus25 Comments

The summer after I finished third grade, when I was nine, we were living in a mansion owned by The Community. The Community entrusted it to Sister Helen as a caretaker, and we were all allowed to move in too. It was a Tudor home with seven bedrooms, two staircases, a sun porch (converted to a chapel), a huge yard … Read More

Profanity 101 Or That Time I Taught Creative Cursing

Why I Blame My Butt Issues On Boys

Old School Circus12 Comments

Today I thought I should discuss one of my deepest, darkest obsessions: my big ol’ big ol’ butt. You might think this discussion vain, but truly, this would only be an exercise in vanity if I were in love with my Gluteus Maximus, or if I thought other people loved it, or if it were WORTHY of love! I’m not, … Read More

Why I Blame My Butt Issues On Boys

Doritos and Me: A Lifelong Love Story

Old School Circus27 Comments

www.bigtopfamily.com

People who have known me a long time, short time, very well, or not so much, all know this simple fact: I love me some Doritos. But what they may not know is that like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Spencer Tracy and Kathryn Hepburn, Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal, Doritos and I have a passionate AND complicated relationship. My … Read More

Doritos and Me: A Lifelong Love Story