To the White Male Co-worker Who Thinks He’s Gotten Away with Harassing Me…

31 Aug

First off, I am not your victim, but I am your target. And trust me when I point out there is a big difference.  This is why the woman, the one who touts how she supports and works so diligently to sustain women’s rights at our workplace, let your sorry ass off the hook without even a reprimand to be placed in your file.

I was supposed to act the part of the victim, to sit in a chair before her and cry and weep and beg her to take some sort of action. Apparently, she was not expecting me to show outrage, to show white hot anger at the perverse line you posted about my new psychological thriller INSIDE V on the campus listserv that reaches hundreds of our fellow colleagues. Another female colleague dared to publicly celebrate me and my new novel, sharing the high turnout at my reading at Barnes & Noble and my interview I did with The Huffington Post. You couldn’t stand for one woman celebrating another’s success. You couldn’t stand for that female professor to let all of our colleagues know that her family member found my book “spellbinding.”

You couldn’t stand for it because you’re a sexual harasser of women.

So you had to ruin it by writing, “V is hard and wet. Thanks, Paula” and posting it for everyone to see.

I got her you must’ve thought to yourself.  I reduced both her AND her book to nothing but a female sexual body part.  But the way you think is base and boring.  Because a woman has a vagina she should never be respected for her creative mind.

Please let me reduce you to what you are.  You are no man.  You are just another lowly number in the increasingly high statistic of men who prey upon women because they’re jealous of their success, their physical appearance, the fact these women far outshine them in the workplace.  1 in 3 women has been sexually harassed at work, according to an article in The Huffington Post.  And in The Guardian it has been reported that more than half the claims of  sexual harassment in the workplace in the United States result in no charge and/or no formal action taken against the perpetrator.

So know this…I know my long list of publications trickle and burn through your insides like acid and all you’ve done by posting your vile comments and defying the order against you by showing up at my office door, printing out my reviews from Amazon like the disturbed creep you are, is make me want to publish even more.




Advance Praise for Inside V

07 Jan

“Turn off your phone, curl up on your couch and cancel all appointments. I couldn’t put Paula Priamos’ new novel, INSIDE V, down. Gritty, dark and well written, INSIDE V is an intimate portrayal of lust, love and the ever present possibility of betrayal. Enjoy the ride!”

-Suzanne Greenberg, author of Lesson Plans and Speed-walk and Other Stories

“Paula Priamos has written a stunner of a novel. INSIDE V is a fascinating look into the dark corners of a marriage, slowly and intimately revealed in a page-turning mystery. V, herself, is a heroine readers will not soon forget. A Greek bad-ass with demons of her own. INSIDE V is a powerful psychological story of the explosive combination of violence and love. And through it all, Priamos writes a glaring and bright Los Angeles in all its beautiful/ugly glory, a vivid valentine to a city that may be the beginning and end of a marriage shrouded in sex and betrayal.”

-Dana Johnson, author of In the Not Quite Dark and Elsewhere, California

“One of those rare and provocative books that is so well written you’ll be telling everyone you know to read it. INSIDE V contains a raw yet beautiful power and fearless honesty that will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page. Priamos has given us a fast paced thriller that explores a frightening and infrequently talked about truth that, under the surface, the most intimate things between a man and woman are never quite as they seem.”

-Rob Roberge, author of Liar: A Memoir and More Than They Could Chew


A Woman Who Claimed She Could Read My Mind and Celebrity Stalkers on Social Media…

01 Oct

So it was shortly after my memoir The Shyster’s Daughter came out and I was excited by some of the attention it was receiving.  A woman read an article about me and my book and proceeded to send me several messages a day about how she looked deep into my eyes (from a picture that had been printed in a magazine) and that she knew  I needed a friend.  Most importantly, I needed her.   “You look sad,” she’d write in an email or “I know what you’re thinking…” she’d start and proceed to come up with a page-long delusional rant that made no sense.

Needless to say, I was a little freaked out.  I wondered if she lived nearby.  I wondered if she knew where I lived.  Would she try and do me harm or was she essentially harmless?  Would she show up where I taught my creative writing classes?  Or appear next to my shopping cart in the produce aisle in the grocery store?  Ignoring her and deleting her multitude of emails eventually did the trick and she went away.  But for many far bigger public figures, they are not nearly as fortunate.

Perhaps one of the scariest stories about a deranged fan is from the eighties when John Hinkley, Jr. who, in his twisted mind, tried to get actress Jodie Foster’s attention by gunning down President Reagan.  Luckily President Reagan survived, though a man from his cabinet got a bullet to the brain and he was permanently in a wheelchair and mentally impaired.  His death, even though it occurred decades later, was officially ruled a homicide.  That man’s killer was recently set free from a mental institution.  Actress Rebecca Schaefer was shot and killed on her front doorstep by a man who’d been stalking her for three years.  He’d hired a private investigator who tracked down her home address from the DMV.  Tennis great Monica Seles was stabbed in the back during a tennis match by a deranged fan of one of her rivals who sprung up out of the stadium seating and attacked her with a knife.

And while these are extreme cases of fan obsession that turned violent, there are others that are disturbing in their own strange ways.  A used water bottle of Justin Bieber’s was bought online by a fan for over six hundred dollars.  At a recent concert I personally saw a woman who had covered her arms in tattoos of the faces of the band members in Duran Duran.  A woman has reportedly legally changed her name to Mrs. Kanye West.

Social media has become ground central for the obsessed fan.  Actress Ashley Tisdale received over 18,000 messages from a man who believed the two of them were in a romantic relationship.  In particular I firsthand came across the troubling public posts of a young woman who thinks she is in a romantic relationship with the lead singer of a popular British band.  Her Tweets are relentless.  They spin a fiction that she has created, that she clearly believes in her own mind to be true.  Some of this singer’s fans have tried calling her out on her posts, but this only seems to fuel her irrational interest in him.  For she is no fan.  She is his stalker.




The “F” word and other quotes on Feminism and Sexism…

16 Jun

“You don’t need the same amount of teaching assignments because your husband financially takes care of you.” ~ My former boss

“Nothing changes the gender equation more significantly than women’s economic freedom.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“Iron my shirt!” ~ Audience member at a Hillary Clinton campaign event

“Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.” ~ Dominic Raab, Tory MP

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her – whatever.” ~ Donald Trump about journalist Megyn Kelly

“Women are graduating from film schools, law schools and medical schools in equal numbers as men but they are shut out when they get to the leadership positions.  We have to think about why this is.” ~ Meryl Streep

“Like you know what you’re talking about, bitch.” ~ Overheard a man say this to the woman he was walking with at LAX airport

“Don’t compromise yourself.  You’ve all you’ve got.” ~ Janis Joplin

“If you were a guy I’d offer you a handshake and a goodbye, but for you I’ll offer to buy you a glass of wine.” ~ A former male colleague to me when I said I was waiting out the traffic instead of heading straight home from work.

“You’d be taken more seriously if you cut your hair shorter and grew your ass.” ~ Another former male colleague

“In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: either she’s a feminist or a masochist.” ~ Gloria Steinem



Homely or Handsome, Why I Prefer Male Servers Over Their Female Counterparts at Restaurants…

09 Apr

A few weeks back my friend and I went to our favorite Italian restaurant which I shall not name as I’d like to go back to it.  It was three in the afternoon, the silent lull between lunch and dinner, and the place was absolutely empty.  It was so early the senior citizens weren’t even out yet nor any drunks taking up stools at the circular bar for happy hour.  Shortly after being seated, our female server testily came by twice in less than five minutes to ask if my friend and I were ready to order.

We weren’t.

There was no brief introduction, no bad joke that a male server will oftentimes say to break the ice between server and the one being served.  “If you order that appetizer you’re basically ordering an empty plate you don’t even get to keep,” one waiter once said to me at an expensive restaurant in Palm Springs.  At another place with a glittery view of Hollywood, a middle aged waiter spoke up when I was debating about a plate of sushi, something I’d never tried before, and a roasted chicken dish.  “Definitely the cooked bird,” he said under his breath so that the nearby table wouldn’t hear.  “You don’t look the type that would like raw fish.”  Maybe men are used to being forward with their opinions, especially if a customer asks for it.  He was, in fact, correct, as it was not my idea to go to the sushi restaurant.

The female server at the Italian restaurant that day with my friend was relentlessly rude.  At first when she asked if I was ready to order I politely said, “No, not yet, I’m still looking.”  And yes, I am one of those types that may frequent the same restaurant and look upon the menu with renewed thought and consideration each time because occasionally I will try something new or go back to my old standard and order my same favorite meal.  I realize I’m a little high maintenance and I do tip well.

The second time she breezed by, she was not-so-nice.  I still had my menu up, but from the corner of my eye, I could see her swinging dark ponytail coming closer.  She did not take the hint of my menu being held up to my face as a sign that I needed just a little more time.  She just stood there glaring down at us with her frosty lipstick and heavy mascara and asked my friend, “So what’ll it be?”  My friend wasn’t entirely certain what she wanted to order either but caved due to the intense pressure of the ponytail waitress.  After taking our orders, she dropped off our drinks, Diet Cokes for both of us.  Throughout our entire meal, she did not refill our drinks, not even once.  She was even pushy about us hurrying up to pay our check.

“What the hell,” my friend said.  “I don’t get it.  The place is empty.”

This isn’t to say that I’ve been treated badly by all female servers, but there is a tendency for females to be, at the very least, brusque with fellow females.  Rarely has a female server given me her opinion on a dish I’m debating ordering.  “I’ve never tried that,” most of them will always say.  Maybe women are too honest.  They haven’t learned to lie as easily as men.  Some may claim that male servers flirt with all female customers from the young to the elderly, and oftentimes they do.  But that’s not why I prefer them.  When it comes to having an enjoyable time dining out,  I think most men have learned how to read women better than other women can and that part, however sexist it may sound, puts this female customer in a male server’s section.




A Creative Writing Professor Who Unashamedly Puts a Price on Her Art…

17 Feb

Years ago when I was a creative writing student earning my MFA at CSU, Long Beach, what I wanted above all else was to see my work get published.  I remember the man who would later become my mentor coming to class and showing us a copy of something he’d recently published “as proof he was the real thing.”  He wanted us to see that we were about to be taught by a publishing writer, active in his field.  He wanted us to listen to what he had to offer and, above all, he wanted to ensure us that we could trust his word. 

And I did.  I took note of everything he wrote in the margins of my stories.  More than just his wise advice rubbed off on me.  As a creative writing professor, I’ve taken on his habit of writing in erasable pencil throughout the drafts my students submit to workshop.  A while after graduation when I received the news that my first essay would be published in The Los Angeles Times Magazine he was one of the first people I called.  Later he came up with a well-crafted quote for my first book, a memoir, and shortly after it was published, he invited me out to campus to read.  He and my other former creative writing instructors made sure it was to a packed house.  For all of that I am very grateful.

So it is with this past experience in mind, where I made the successful transition from student writer to professional writer, that I now find myself absolutely baffled by talk among some academics that creative writing students should not strive to publish their work.  Apparently sharing one’s vision with the world somehow demeans it?  Strobe lights, music blaring in the background during a reading, political paraphernalia and other forms of media distractions are okay, just so long as “the art” doesn’t last in the form of a book that God forbid actually reaches more than a handful of readers.


In the end, a published book becomes a collaborative effort.  A publisher does his or her best to come up with an artful, startling and/or beautiful cover.  An editor and a copy editor make certain that the words and sentences are aligned and make sense on the page.  And, yes, a price tag is placed on the back cover.

But that is what is called a book.  A manuscript is an unpublished book whose only service is to sit in a desk drawer.  A book is something that reaches the masses.  So when you’re walking your dog one sunny afternoon, a man in his sixties suddenly comes out of his front door and says, “Hey, Ms. Priamos, I saw you in the paper and I ordered your book.  I can’t wait to read it!”  Or a young woman whom you’ve never met shows up to your reading at a bookstore with tears in her eyes and says, “Your story is my story.”

If that is commodifying one’s art, I am proud to do it over and over and over again…


Martin Luther King, Jr., Political Correctness and my Bittersweet Birthdays

17 Jan

I’ve taught Martin Luther King, Jr.’s essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail” more times than I can count.  I love his strength, his resilience in his fatal fight against white oppression and bigotry. He was assassinated on my birthday and every time right before I celebrate, I always first think of him before I blow out the candles, how he took a bullet for his beliefs.

But I think if he were alive today he’d be ashamed of how divided our society has become.  He’d be ashamed that much of his work has, in many ways, been undone in the face of political correctness that sterilizes our language, blunts our thoughts before they can even form into spoken words and punishes those who speak out or God forbid accidentally say the wrong thing.  MLK used to stress people needed to have a “dialogue vs. a monologue.”  Sure, we talk today.  We talk in a code so generic and careful that nothing ever truly gets discussed.  Racists remain racist and the self-righteous keep on pointing out the flaws in everybody else but themselves.

For years I’ve gotten used to checking the White, Non-Hispanic box when asked about my heritage, my ethnicity.  I am classified as white, period.  I am to keep to myself who I am.  My European ancestors, the dirt-poor ones who came here from the islands of Greece, who took in other people’s ironing or sold fruit out of the back of a pick-up truck just to put food on the table for their children, their hard-earned identities, they simply don’t count, not to the United States Census Bureau.  I am Native American too, on my mother’s side.  But exactly what percentage?  Is it enough to constitute shading in another box?

No.  To the eyes of the US Census Bureau and all other institutions that call for me to answer who I am, I must remember this – I am what I am not.

Years ago I published a piece in the New York Times Magazine titled “Prejudice and Pride.”  It sparked a lot of conversation and it has and continues to be taught in universities across the country.  I hoped that by now we’d be beyond intentionally drawing distinctions from one another, our race or our sexual orientation and maybe, just maybe, we might try and connect with one another by some of our similarities.  We have plenty of them.  Love.  Loss.  Grief.  They’re universal feelings experienced by all of humanity.  But sadly enough, in a society where walls are favored to be constructed between our country and another, I couldn’t be more wrong.




My Mother and I Vs A Would Be Mugger in Vegas

01 Jan

I should’ve seen it as an omen that morning at 7 a.m. in the casino lobby of Planet Hollywood when a well-dressed man wearing a sweater/blazer combo and a black fedora began to serenade me with the seventies hit “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”   As a writer, I am an early riser.  It cannot be helped and, most of the time, I prefer it this way.  Except at that moment as I was being sung to by some European guy still drunk from the night before, I was alone, my family members I came to Vegas with still asleep.  I sat there stunned on a stool in front of a Britney Spears slot machine with my Venti black coffee.  A younger man quickly interrupted and hit the older man with his shoulder, apologizing profusely, and I thought that maybe this would be as strange as my day in Vegas would get.

I was wrong.

I hadn’t seen my mother in nearly five years.  She lives thousands of miles away and she doesn’t travel much after a car crash left her with a fractured vertebrae that never fully healed.  It was hard to see her slightly hunched over, her gait slower, somewhat frail, but still feisty as ever.  We had plans that crisp, sunny afternoon to cross the street and check out the elaborate Christmas decorations at Bellagio.  I held my mother’s arm while she carefully made her way down the concrete steps to the crosswalk, and that’s when I heard it.

“I’m your baby, I’m your baby, I’m your baby,” a young woman in a red sweatshirt and tan pants yelled as she charged down the steps towards my poor unsuspecting mother.

Instantly I turned, placed my left hand on my mother’s back to brace her, and I faced the woman who was now one step away from knocking my mother to the ground.  I’ve always hoped in times of crisis that I would react the right way, that I would not be one of those people who dumbly stand by and watch a criminal act occur.

I did not yell back at the woman screaming at the top of her lungs at my mother.  Nor did I think she was all that crazy as she was attempting to act.  I sensed that what she really wanted from my mother was her small canvas purse that hung off her shoulder, filled with hundreds of dollars in cash.

Instinctively, I stepped in between this woman and my mother.  She would have to get through me before she ever got to her.

For several seconds this woman and I stared at eachother, neither of us saying a word, both of us sizing the other up.  I’d watched enough boxing matches with my favorite boxer Gennady Golovkin to know what I’d have to do next if she tried to strike me.  Suddenly, it surfaced in her eyes, the stark reality that this would be no easy mugging, that a daughter’s love for her mother was a force she was no longer wanting to mess with.  She cursed at me, then ran off into the crowd on the Strip.

My mother and I continued to make our way to Bellagio.  We weren’t going to let some random stranger ruin our time.  We took a couple pictures of the famous fountains out front, but later I took my mother’s suggestion and we sat at the bar inside with a pianist playing nearby and each had ourselves a calming glass of good red wine.





Why I Flipped Off Santa Claus…

21 Nov

Whenever the man in the red and white furry suit and long cap is out in public he’s supposed to laugh, pat his big belly and let out a hearty ho ho for whomever crosses his path.  He’s supposed to wish those who smile at him, whether it be an adult or a small child, a very Merry Christmas.  We are to come away from our brief interaction with him feeling better than before we’d run into him,  maybe even sucking on a candy cane he was generous enough to hand to us as a token of his goodwill.  He is, after all, dressed as Santa Claus.  Confuse him with either being a symbol or archetype of all things Christmas if you must.  But doesn’t the person behind the fake white beard owe this perfectly cliched Christmas behavior to all of us who still believe in the tradition?

At an early age my parents encouraged my older sister and I to believe in the big red and white lie and we did.  They even went so far as to tell my sister and I that the Santas we saw on the street corner or seated in a fake sleigh at the center of the mall were just stand-ins, local So Cal helpers to that old guy thousands of miles away up at the North Pole who was an expert packer – how does one fit a world’s worth of children’s toys in one sleigh?  No, my mom and dad continuously repeated, the one they took us to see on Christmas Eve was the real Santa Claus.  Not many people were aware that before his all night trip ’round the globe in his sleigh he temporarily parked it in a plastic igloo in front of Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

If I grew suspicious why I couldn’t hear Prancer and Dancer and the rest pawing the ground nearby, my father would just bend down to me and whisper,  “His reindeer are on the other side of the igloo, Paula Girl.  They’re filling their bellies, eating big pails of turkey and stuffing, getting ready for their busy night ahead.”  Of course this made sense.  And because I didn’t want to leave Santa out, right before bed I would set out a glass of milk and a plate full of sugar cookies I’d baked as a thank you for the unwrapped gifts he would leave me come Christmas morning.  I’m grateful to my parents for having deceived me about Old Saint Nick.  My childhood is all the better for it.

Yesterday, all these years later, when I got out of my car at the post office and noticed a man dressed as Santa Claus, things did not go as expected.  He definitely looked the part.  Instead of a sleigh he had an old antique car decorated with Christmas lights.  Coming out of the black speakers on either side of the car (there were no doors) played “Jingle Bells.”

“Would it be okay if I took your picture?”  I asked the Santa who I saw as I got closer had bloodshot eyes.  I had plans of being festive by posting it on Facebook.

“Sure,” he replied, holding out a white gloved hand,  “for five bucks.”

Maybe it was the kid in me that has yet to grow up that made me literally take a step back.  Yes, one typically pays to see Santa.  But what is the proper protocol if you come across him in a parking lot next to a Walgreen’s drug store?

“Nevermind,” I muttered and got back into my car.

But this is where the story takes a dark and very not-so-merry turn.  This bad Santa was not taking my monetary refusal so well.  As I started my car and pulled away from the parking spot, I watched as he pulled down his fake beard and mustache combo.  An ugly five letter expletive geared towards women could easily be read from his now fully visible lips.  Normally I would’ve just driven away, taking the high road.  But at that moment I remembered what the idea of Santa stood for and it certainly wasn’t this bitter old man who thought he could get away with cursing at a woman who didn’t give him five dollars.  So as immature as it may sound and without a second thought, through the side window of my car, I looked that Santa impostor straight in the eyes and I gave him the middle finger.


Newness, Nostalgia and a Lead Singer in White Denim

02 Oct

The eighties are known for big hair, bright questionable clothing styles…and Duran Duran. Lead singer Simon Le Bon serenading the camera in a safari hat seated in an exotic bar for the “Hungry Like the Wolf” video or the well-coiffed Nick Rhodes and John Taylor lifting boxes on a cobble-stone road in “New Moon on Monday.”  At the peak of their fame, when Simon Le Bon most recently joked with a reporter that he and the band were aiming “for world domination,”  Duran Duran was considered to be a twenty something version of a boy band.  Not enough music critics took them very seriously.  People like me were mostly to blame.  I was one of those teenage girls screaming her voice hoarse at their concerts, every inch of my bedroom walls papered with their posters.

But even though I was an avid raving teenage Duran Duran fan, I really did enjoy their music.  I knew every lyric of their popular songs as well as many of their obscure ones.  “Friends of Mine” and “Careless Memories” have been playing on my iPod for years while I work out on my elliptical at home.

I recently attended the concert of a well known singer, popular in the eighties.  After playing his biggest hits, he spent the duration of the concert covering songs by The Beatles and Katy Perry.  It not only sounded a little musically schizophrenic.  He also sounded really outdated.

This is not the case with Duran Duran.  Last night when I attended their sold out concert at The Hollywood Bowl, Duran Duran had the hard part of choosing which of their biggest hits to play along with new music from their CD Paper Gods.  Arguably, they’re that rare band that has too many hit songs.  They began with the signature title song of their new CD and later performed my favorite “Dancephobia” with Le Bon and their female singers dancing along a border of the stage that extended into the crowd.  They also covered the slow sensual “Come Undone” and the upbeat “Notorious.”  The majority of the audience remained on their feet throughout the night, some even putting away their smart phones long enough to enjoy the music without documenting every last second of it.

While it is good to see four of the band members together again, it doesn’t feel quite the same as it once did at fifteen seeing them in concert.  It is better.  Naturally, as an adult, I no longer scream my lungs out.  Instead I sing along to the music.  They are a different band in a necessary way.  They are decades away from that twenty something boy band.  They are a band with a brand new CD on the top Billboard chart here in the US and in other countries as well.  Le Bon, especially, has a renewed energy.  He worked the crowd into a frenzy with his self-effacing sexuality, at one point jokingly turning away from the crowd and shaking his hips.  And while they may no longer be a twenty something boy band, they may not be out of the woods just yet from being objectified by their many ardent female fans.   On the ride to the concert, while I was stopped in traffic, my older sister called my cell.  “Tell me how he looks,” she said.  “Which one?” I asked.  “Nick,” she replied.  “I saw him on TV the other day.  He’s sooo well-preserved.”