I guess I’m going camping.

We’re spending a week with my family in Minnesota so I thought, hey! We should totally extend that to two weeks and camp ourselves silly on the way there and back.

How hard could it be to take the girls on a road trip by myself?

Sure, I’ve never hiked in the four years we’ve lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but those trails are tricky to find. But I do I have kickass hiking shoes. The right one got tons of use this summer when I needed it to balance out the Velcro boot on my broken left foot.

I think the first word most people would use to describe me is “hale.” Sure, there was that bout with mono last fall. And yes, I spent part of our Disney vacation in the Celebration, Florida hospital after Harry Potter tried to kill me, but doesn’t everyone have a funny story like that?

I’ve never towed a trailer, but my dad pulled one behind our station wagon for years so that probably rubbed off on me. I don’t think I’ve ever successfully put up a tent either, but I’m kind of counting on Astrid to handle that.

I wanted to rent this super-cool pop-up camper called the Aliner. You can set that sucker up in like 60 seconds. But I kept not calling the place and not calling the place so when I finally called today, two weeks before our trip, can you believe that it wasn’t available?

Aliner with drop shadow

Sick pop-up trailer. Aliner should totally pay me for mentioning it on my blog or else sponsor our trip.

So I rented a tiny teardrop trailer instead. It’s pretty much a queen bed on wheels. You can’t stand up in it or anything, but it has this place in the trunkish area where you can pop a Coleman stove or just set your Happy Meals out in a line. I’ve never lit a propane stove but my grandma had this old oven you lit with a match and only one time did it sort of explode and melt my sister’s argyle socks.

little guy

Spacious travel trailer for three.

We can’t all fit in the queen bed, but luckily the trailer comes with this tentish thing called the Side Mount Screen Room™ that you suction onto the door. I’m not sure if it has actual sides or if it’s see-through but who cares? I’m comfortable with my aging body.

Tent that may or may not be translucent.

Tent that may or may not be translucent.

I’ll need a hitch and it appears welding might be involved, which is no problem because my dad ran a welding supply company. I practically grew up with a blow torch in my hand. I mean, he never actually let me touch one, but sometimes he would let us suck helium out of a cylinder and make funny voices.

Come to think of it, I’m not completely sure I actually rented that trailer. I talked to the lady and she said to fill in the online form but when I filled it out I realized that my car insurance card expires on July 28, which is two days before I would need the camper. Matt wasn’t home and I tried to get into the USAA site so many times to see why my card was expired even though they keep auto-taking my money that I locked us out of the account. So I just put the expired date down.

I hope she’s not a hardass about current insurance.

Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Self Improvement | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Reedster writing course for bloggers
What’s up, you ask? Oh, no biggie. It’s just that this fall I’m teaching a writing class for bloggers so awesome, I’m calling it an “experience.”

It’ll be just like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, except with fewer guitars.

Well, no guitars, actually. It will be guitar-free. (Unless you bring a guitar. Then we’ll talk.)

But it will still kick ass. Because I am the Jimi Hendrix of writing teachers practically .

Storytelling for Bloggers

An Online Writing Experience


Registration Opens August 20 | Classes Begin September 15

In 60 days, I’ll teach you how to:

  • Turn your blah ideas into kickass stories
  • Stick with one core concept per post
  • Stop when enough is enough already
  • Ruthlessly edit your work to 400-600 words
  • Hone your authentic voice so you don’t sound like a big phony

Why nonfiction storytelling? Why not just teach you how to write good shit? Because storytelling is the most effective way to engage your audience. EVEN SCIENCE SAYS SO. Master the art of nonfiction storytelling and your readers will linger, share your stuff, and come back for more.


Hang with me this fall and together we’ll unleash your inner storyteller. Who the hell am to teach you? Well, I’ve won some awards for my work here at The Reedster Speaks and I’m a certified master online teacher. That’s right. I’m a MASTER TEACHER, MOTHERFUCKERS.

So kick it up a notch already. Create fans who will love you and want to marry you.

I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but if you don’t ENTER YOUR EMAIL BELOW you MIGHT MISS IT and RUIN EVERYTHING.

(Don’t ruin everything. That would suck for you.)

Enter Your Email Below.

Posted on by Cindy Reed | Leave a comment

Smiling Lessons.


subway 18th

In the fall of 1998, a ginger-bearded doctor taught me how to smile.

Dr. Zammit, he of the inconveniently located Morningside Heights office, was turning things around in the Cindy-is-a-crazy-drunk department, starting with correcting my diagnosis from depression to bipolar. Maybe he noticed that sometimes I spoke like an auctioneer and thought I was going to be The Ultimate World Peacemaker in the next month, and then other times I forgot to wash my hair all week and talked like my old boyfriend’s father, a Kentuckian who could stretch the word “pie” into four syllables.

Dr. Z was the perfect therapist for me. He never harped on the past, like my memory of having a bloody nose in my crib and my sisters shushing me until they skittered back to their beds, leaving me with a smeared face and rusty handprints on the wall. Dr. Zammit was never all “What does it mean, the bloody nose? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?”

Instead, he introduced me to cognitive behavioral therapy. We started with my crippling social anxiety, the leftover ruins of removing the scotch from my hand. The plan was to immerse me slowly in social situations until I felt comfortable, like they do with elevator-phobics who just have to look at the closed elevator, then look at the open elevator, then stand on the elevator when it’s not moving, until one day they CANNOT STOP RIDING ELEVATORS BECAUSE THEY LOVE ELEVATORS SO MUCH NOW.

My “just look at the goddamned elevator” task was literally to smile at one new person within seven days. I asked if I could wear sunglasses and Dr. Z said yes. Friendliness without sunglasses was apparently an AP class in smiling, for later.

I put it off, of course. There was no stranger-smiling for me on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday. On Saturday I didn’t leave my apartment because sometimes that happens when talking to people is scary. Sunday is, of course, a day of rest, so I had to keep the no-smiling Sabbath. On Monday and Tuesday I was just too busy for this smiling nonsense.

So Wednesday arrived and I HAD TO FUCKING SMILE AT SOMEONE before 3:00. As I sprinted from my office on Union Square to the 1/9 station on Sixth Avenue, I practiced a fake story about how I smiled at someone and new worlds opened up and I was all better now probably.

The weather changed from droplets to sheets of rain. I had to stand for the approximately 400 stops between 18th and 116th Streets, as a fellow New Yorker’s soaking umbrella dripped on my shoe. The rain was now at last scene in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” level, except that I noticed as I raced from Broadway to St. Luke’s on Amsterdam. My body rained all over the waiting room carpet.

I was late. I had failed my first week’s assignment and I never failed assignments. I might be an alcoholic and a manic depressive but I always got A’s, damn it. I felt an ugly cry coming on from behind my sunglasses, which I was surprised to find I was still wearing.

The receptionist looked at me with pity. She was kind and concerned and had paper towels – real ones and not just the scratchy brown kind from the bathroom. She handed me the whole roll.

I looked up at her with more gratitude than I’d felt for at least a season.

I smiled.

Posted in Self Improvement, These posts are not funny. | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

My doctor refuses to prescribe fancy Cokes for my broken foot.

I broke my foot a few weeks back in a rock climbing accident. I’m X-TREME like that.

Or else I smacked it on the tub faucet. Who can remember when one is participating in so many X-TREME things?

I was ROCKING that bath, OWNING the perfect hot/cold water mash-up, and DOMINATING those bubbles. Then I whipped my leg over the tub edge so I could NAIL that landing onto the bath mat.

The thing is, there’s a faucet in the middle of that shit.


But I am so HARD CORE that I just ignored the pain because NO PAIN NO GAIN, amiright? I packed a 50-pound suitcase and headed to New Jersey for work. I ignored that pain as I raced down Park Avenue in cowboy boots to a meeting. I ignored that pain as I stood in heels for four hours at a graduation. I ignored that pain on the trek home, schlepping the backpack carrying my 300-pound proto-laptop.

It’s basically an ultrabook.

It’s basically an ultrabook.

By the time I got to Atlanta for my layover, I could barely tug my shoe over my swollen foot. I wept openly, as suited men and women with MacBook Airs that weighed less than butterflies averted their eyes and continued to rule the world.

Finally, ten days later, I limped to the doctor.

The orthopedist looked like Tim from the British version of “The Office,” if Tim had never aged and then later played Arthur Dent and Bilbo Baggins. Dr. Tim-From-The-Office prescribed six-to-eight weeks in a black Velcro boot that would instantly be covered in Saint Bernard hair. It didn’t sound X-TREME at all.

“Can you write a note to my family that I have to stay in bed?” I asked.

“You don’t need to stay in bed. You don’t want the nerves to tighten up.”

“Can you say that they have to bring me Coke-Limes from Firehouse Subs? That it’s medically necessary?”

“Coke-Lime?” Dr. Tim-From-The-Office looked puzzled.

I was sad then, that he didn’t know about Coke-Lime. Coke-Lime is like Pepsi Light from the 80s, only with lime instead of lemon. And high fructose corn syrup instead of “light.” And also Coke. At the same time, I was a little bit excited for him too, like you would be if someone hadn’t read the Harry Potter books yet, because he still had ahead of him that moment when one discovers the awesomeness that is the Freestyle Coke machine at Firehouse Subs. You can get all kinds of crazy Cokes – raspberry, orange, cherry vanilla —

“Well, I sure hope they bring that to you.” Dr. Tim-from-The-Office smiled.

“You’re not going to write me a note, are you?”


“I mean, it’s not like it would be malpractice or anything.”

“No.” He glanced at his notes. “You’ll need to take it easy.”

“Yeah, about that? I have to chaperone a fifth grade camping trip next week.”

“You’re going to have to say no to that. What I say when the school stuff gets crazy is ‘I’m sorry, that’s not going to work for me.’ Say that.”


“No, say it back to me.”

I repeated in my HAL voice: “I’m-sorry-but-that’s-not-going-to-work-for-me.”

“And those sneakers? Those are really more like slippers. You’ll need something sturdier. Do you have any hiking shoes?”

Fuck all, man. Because YES, I have fucking hiking shoes and they are the bane of my existence.

Because now? Now is when Hiking Girl gets to use those goddamned shoes?

Well, at least the right shoe.


I’m basically Drake.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

I Can’t Imagine the Ocean.

My anxiety lately has reached danger to society levels. To stop the agitation, I decided to try guided imagery.

I’m a skeptic who wrestles with racing thoughts. My brain is a constant thrum of past, future, and present; a needle skipping across the hard drive of my life. I am, in short, the worst candidate to calm myself using the power of my stilled mind.

The therapist began. “When you experience anxiety, where do you hold it in your body?”

“It would be easier to describe where I don’t. Right now? In my gut, my shoulders, my throat.”

“Let’s start with your gut. Think of yourself as a compassionate observer of your body. Describe, without judgment, the physical sensations you’re experiencing.”

“Well, it’s like little men are walking on a bed of nails. Except the nails are turned inward, so when the little men walk they poke the nails further into my intestines. But they aren’t hurting their own feet at all, which doesn’t really seem fair.”

She continued. “Think of a place where you feel calm, without anxiety.”

This was so hard it merited uptalk. “Um, the beach?”

“What is it about the beach that calms you?”

“The waves are so loud they drown out my brain. The water goes on forever. It’s like a gateway between real life and make-believe. You have options.”

“Would you like to go to that beach right now?”

“My family doesn’t like the beach. Also I can’t. I have to drive for a field trip and bring the dog to the groomer. And I was trying to cut a tag out of a sweater that cost $70 and I never spend $70 on sweaters and I cut a little hole in it and I have to sew that up before it gets huge and –” I started to cry, anxious about the fate of the not-yet-ruined Urban Outfitters sweater.

“We’re going to imagine your beach, so you have a place to go when you get anxious. A coping tool.” She turned on a sound machine. The room filled with crashing waves and squawking seagulls.

“What does your beach look like?”

“I mean, I can see an ocean, but I know it’s not real.”

“Use all your senses. Taste the salty sea breeze. Squish your feet into the wet sand. Are you on that beach?”

“Um, not really. I like the ocean sounds though. But I know they’re just over there. You could unplug them.”

I started to cry again, anxious because I couldn’t put myself on my beach. She abandoned the imagining. “Let’s just concentrate on the sounds then.”

After an hour, she said she thought we had made some progress and that next week we’d try tapping. I’m good at tapping. I tap my foot on the floor all day long. It’s my cardio.

I packed up my larval stage coping mechanism and headed for home. One daughter was melting down about dividing fractions; the other losing her shit because we didn’t praise her art in the exact same way we praised her sister’s.

I tried to conjure up my beach. Nothing. Not one goddamned crashing wave. I wanted to scream: “EVERYBODY SHUT THE FUCK UP! I AM TRYING TO IMAGINE MY PEACEFUL BEACH HERE PEOPLE!”

But fractions required reducing and artwork needed sufficient admiration and the little men continued to pound their abdominal nails and the only ocean I could imagine was the one I was drowning in.

ocean shore stock xchnge


Posted in First World Problems, I am the weakest link. Goodbye. | 48 Comments