Posted on Sep 20, 2016 by Heather Christena Schmidt
For some reason, I open myself to a lot of criticism from the people in my life.
I’m not entirely sure how it got to that point. Maybe I overshare, as in I tell people way more information than they need. Or possibly I have let people believe that I’ll take it. (I think it’s a little of both.)
It’s always about the weirdest things too. Like who criticizes someone for bringing chips and salsa to a party? I’ve been criticized for that one twice (“Heather it is rude to bring something unless you are explicitly asked.”)
Every time I feel criticized or judged, I just stop doing the thing to try and make them happy. That doesn’t make me happy, but then neither does being criticized all the time. It’s lose-lose.
The ironic part about it though (and ironic is putting it extremely nicely), is that those people then turn around and do the exact, same thing.
The person who criticized me for bringing chips and salsa to a dinner brought a tray of dried fruit to a party we threw several years ago. She had not been explicitly asked. Unlike her, though, I didn’t give a shit.
I stopped talking about how much crime has gone up in my community, even though it factually has, because someone told me our town is great and I should be grateful and shut my mouth. Several people chimed in.
That person now – apparently – wants to move out of my town because of …wait for it… how much crime has gone up.
I stopped sending out handmade or paper birthday invitations for my kids’ things well in advance, and I just started texting everyone a week or so beforehand. Because I was told it’s a little much to expect people to remember things more than a week out. And because it makes people feel bad about themselves when I send out old fashioned paper, or homemade invites. Things I did of no consequence to others made them feel inferior.
In the last week we have received three handmade or paper invitations in the mail, all 8-10 weeks out, none of them for special occasion type things like weddings, all within this town. Two from people that used to criticize me for doing it.
It’s so not like me to do this, and yet for YEARS NOW it’s exactly what I’ve done. I started caring too much about what other people thought. And rather than blow it off and be me, I changed everything.
Only recently, I realized that the real crux of it all was when someone judged me up and down – publicly and without relief – for being a stay at home mom. And others chimed in then too. For the years that she and others openly went off on me about how stay at home moms are lazy and have it so good; after she in particular berated me for at least 15 minutes about how she could never do that and find meaning in her life (a sentiment many of the people I know, unfortunately, share), I started looking for a way to mediate that one too.
When the truth is, all these people are totally and utterly full of shit.
But this stay at home mom thing really hit me hard, and it’s taken close to six years for me to really and truly stop caring so much about all the comments and the bullshit.
I don’t know if it’s just here, in California, where everyone’s opening line at a party is “so what do you do?” Or if it’s an American culture thing. But every time someone asks me that dreaded question, and I respond that I’m “just a mom,” I get a look. A look and then a pause and then a “well…that’s OK…” and a swift change of subject.
The whole concept that someone who is just a mom is worthless and contributing nothing seems very foreign to me. Raising the future generation seems to be the single most important job on the planet. Without it, all the other jobs don’t happen quite as well. And sure, there are a lot of moms that do other things and are also moms, and they are great too.
But really now.
When I left graduate school in 2010, it’s true that I was planning to soul search and meditate and do all that hippy shit 20-somethings do when they find themselves and redefine their lives. But no matter how much I tried my hand at other things, the only thing that really seemed even remotely fulfilling to me was raising my kids.
Now, six years and a lot of criticism from the outside world later, I’m OK with that.
I have spent time and money and effort and stress and worry and a lot of heartache trying to do other things besides being a mom, though, all as a reaction to this idea that being “just a mom” is not enough. And at one point, I even tried to mom so hard just to prove that “just a mom” was OK because look at all this other shit I’m doing!
Really. Why do we have to keep justifying our existence and place in life?
I go without all the time so I can be “just a mom.” I have never been on an exotic vacation; in fact, since I decided to be just a mom we haven’t been on a vacation other than to visit family. I don’t get my nails and eyelashes and hair done as regularly as most women. I wear Gap Outlet-brand yoga pants most days of the week and carry a purse sold in the clearance section at Target.
My list of financial, emotional, and personal sacrifices is huge, much larger than the above paragraph. But do I or anyone else really have to list these things off to make things right and explain ourselves when people start criticizing?
And…if I – “just a mom” – or someone else – “a [fill in the career] AND mom” – wanted to spend to have any of those things, can we not just fucking do what we want without comment?
For years now, I have met that “just a mom” look and pause with my own self-criticism of what a mom should be. Every time someone questioned it, I responded with doing more to justify my existence. I baked more. I cooked more. One Christmas Eve, at my husband’s family’s annual Christmas party, I must have brought 10 desserts. Not one. Not two. Ten. (Okay probably five.) I handmade Christmas gifts that year too. Every. Single. Gift. Have any of you heard that joke: why buy it for $7 when you can make it for $92 in craft supplies? That year our Christmas budget was blown ten times over.
But I got criticized for it too. No one wanted my desserts. Other people wanted to bring desserts too and here I brought some and now theirs may go in the trash. Everyone thought I had done too much. It wasn’t said in a sweet, saccharin way either. It was seriously and tersely instructed: “Heather stop doing this.”
So I did. But now you guys get the conflict: if you are “just a mom,” you aren’t doing enough. If you are doing a ton of stuff, you are wrong and doing too much.
That’s when I started looking for things to volunteer in. So that when people said “what are you doing this weekend” I had a laundry list of busy activity, besides just taking my kids to tennis or making dinners and cleaning the house. And yet every time I was at one of those volunteer things, or sitting in a meeting for my volunteer work at the local art center or the neighborhood watch group, I could not stop thinking about the remorse I felt over missing one of my kids’ things. I didn’t want to miss their things or them to do this other crap. I still don’t. Yes, I want to do things for myself. Be in a book club. Get my nails done when they’ve just gone too far…
But otherwise, I really and truly want to just be a mom.
I also want to be who I am. When people ask what do I do, I want to say I’m “just a mom” and then talk about things that make me who I am other than that. And those other things are OK too…a philosophy graduate who still years after grad school reads voraciously and thinks about esoteric ideas while standing in line at the grocery store; someone worried about the crime fluctuations where I live; someone who makes birthday invitations by hand for her kids; someone who always brings a bag of chips and a bucket of salsa because a) it’s polite to bring something, and b) who doesn’t love chips and salsa? What I do does not define me necessarily, anyway. Being a mom and being unemployed by choice does not mean I lack substance.
It’s so hard to be a mom, whether you work or stay at home; and I think all the other stuff comes as an extension of that. You are held up to so much judgment and varying opinions, and suddenly everyone on the planet thinks they have the right to foist their comments and criticisms on you. Even people that aren’t moms, themselves.
Anything you can do, I can do better. Especially if I previously thought that what you were doing was wrong.
Here’s the thing: people like to judge and criticize, until they are in that position themselves. It’s like the old joke about how great of a parent you were before you had kids. In the last couple of years I have changed so much about who I am in response to people’s criticisms, and that was the wrong thing to do. Now the scores of criticizers doing those very things themselves makes that all the more clear to me.
Just the other day, I learned the most striking of news, that was like the ultimate moment of clarity which turned all of this on its tail: the person that used to criticize and judge and vehemently lambast me for being a stay at home mom …wait for it again… is becoming a stay at home mom, herself.
That was about the only wake up call I needed.
Posted on Aug 31, 2016 by Heather Christena Schmidt
I had a blow out panic attack in my doctor’s office today. He knew I had anxiety, but I don’t think to the extent that it is there. Likely because I’ve done an extremely good job of concealing it for a long time.
Or maybe he did know and was just taking it one step at a time. I don’t know, I’m not the doctor but I think it’s probably that because he walked in the office after the nurse had made me lie down, and the first thing out of his mouth was “HEATHER…WHY are you worrying so much right now?”
The thing is that very few people in my life know about just how bad my panic disorder is. In fact, very few people even know that I have one. My husband does, but even he didn’t grasp the full effect it has on me until today, when in the doctor’s office I was made to lie down on my left side until my blood pressure and heart rate went down, because both were THROUGH. THE. ROOF. as I sat in there hyperventilating, completely unaware of what was going on.
The first panic attack I can remember ever having was when I was 11 years old, visiting my grandparents at their new home near Yosemite. We were in the grocery store and suddenly I just had a terrifying feeling like I was in a dream and my heart was pounding. I had no idea what an anxiety attack or a panic disorder was at the time. And I just dealt with those types of situations over and over again, as the years went on, until I finally researched what was happening to me just 6 years ago.
So it started when I was 11, and I am now 34 and have only known what has been going on for 6 years now. I mean that I knew what was going on (that I was having a multitude of symptoms I could not explain), but I didn’t know why it was going on (that I have a panic disorder).
And since knowing why, I have done literally nothing legitimate to take care of it.
Why? Because when I started trying to figure out what to do, I was told by closer family and society in general that this should be kept “private” or that I should be ashamed of it. That. I. Should. Be. Ashamed. Of. A. Mental. Health. Issue. Completely. Beyond. My. Control.
And that I should just calm down.
Also, in a situation with family that gossip about each other’s personal and health issues TO NO END – where you can’t sneeze without everyone hearing and speculating about it – the need to keep things utterly secret so as to avoid all that unnecessary speculation was paramount. I don’t like it when people speculate about my personal life.
Incidentally, I started writing my blog roughly 6 years ago too. Coincidence? I mean come on now. 6 years ago was when I also developed the coping mechanism of making fun of everything and joking my way through my unrelenting anxiety, which was getting worse and worse by the day.
But the jokes can only go so far, and of course people that think you should be ashamed of your uncontrollable panic disorder also like to shame you for just being yourself to try and cope with it. Suddenly the speculation turned to being that about my blog and I started to wish I could *just* write for bloggers and strangers, because whenever close family or friends read it I would get text messages and emails in response, as well as “unfriended” by many online.
Then only recently, I realized that to cope with the social spectrum of my panic disorder, I had made it a habit to just drink wine. I don’t mean – like – alcoholic status drank wine, but anyone that has ever known someone with an addiction knows, it often starts as a way to cope. Which is exactly what I was doing.
And I’m not going to lie – I love my wine. But if I were to be completely honest, as delicious as wine tastes, it gives me a headache and makes me feel like crap. And yet I still drank it as a social lubricant. Often.
Until I realized what I was doing, that is.
Now, it has been months since I drank wine. I don’t tell as many jokes anymore, because I never know who is going to read them or how they are going to respond; so basically I’ve stopped being *myself* in as many venues as I needed to to feel comfortable.
And I worry endlessly about everything.
I worry about money, as I talked about in my blog post yesterday.
I worry about the health and safety of my kids, and how one little thing will set off a chain reaction of other problems, many of which amount to more money worries. This is mostly because of a couple things that have happened in the last few years that should have been as simple as a bruised knee or a minor cold, but that got blown into huge, costly, and long-term problems.
I worry about what people think of me as I write blogs/homeschool my kids/parent in front of others/basically just live my life.
And I worry about my own health.
This is a new one for me, and it’s gotten out of control. Of course it doesn’t help that everyone around me acts as though I’m suddenly some fucking invalid because I have some allergy problems and had an asthma attack a couple months ago. Regularly, I go to the doctor and come back with a clean bill of health, and yet even just this last weekend my mother, as well as several other of my and my husband’s family members, made comments like “well you aren’t in very good health you know.” Um, OK…I’m not sure where you got that one, but…I guess I’ll go ahead and let your negativity work me up (which is exactly what I do).
I could go on…in a nutshell, I spend all my waking hours worrying.
So today, as I was lying in the doctor’s office, my heart pounding, trying to catch my breath, my blood pressure up to dangerous levels (I actually have low blood pressure, normally), a few very shocking things were presented to me. They shouldn’t have been shocking, but for someone who has been coping with a debilitating panic disorder for 23 years by basically pretending nothing is wrong, they were.
- I have a panic disorder and that is nothing to be ashamed of;
- I cannot hide my panic disorder forever;
- Ignoring, rationalizing, telling jokes, and drinking wine may be short-term solutions, but when those are gone the panic is still there. In fact, it’s worse;
- If people want to be negative and toxic to me about who I am – in whatever way they want to, be it giving me a hard time about a blog I wrote or a joke I told or the way I homeschool my kids; or speculating on my general health and happiness with others – I have every right, regardless of who those people are, to cut them out of my life permanently;
- It’s OK to say “NO” to people if it’s a situation I don’t feel safe in; and,
- If the doctor says to take the fucking Xanax, just take the fucking Xanax.
Yesterday I wrote a blog about people swimming in debt but being OK as long as they just pretend everything is fine. I think this is a lot like that, in fact maybe that’s really what I was trying to write about. I am literally swimming in this mire, or more like drowning but you guys get the point.
Now I can go on and pretend that everything is fine. Or I can deal with it head-on.
The only question, though, is how? That is where I am like a fish out of water – I have no idea truly where to begin. I do know that I want to feel like myself again. To start, I think it has to be found in my #2 realization today: I cannot hide my panic disorder forever. Perhaps the best way to start dealing with it is to stop concealing it.
Posted on Aug 30, 2016 by Heather Christena Schmidt
I have known so many people with that philosophy. They don’t have very good lives in the end – they foreclose on their homes, lose their cars, die of heart attacks at 40… but in the moment that they live it, where they swim in debt while pretending everything is fine, they really are happy.
And how couldn’t you be? Exotic vacations you can’t afford. Boats. RVs. Long weekends. Hair and nail appointments every week. All the while completely oblivious to the fact that sometime, at some point, you will actually – yes, this is real – have to pay all that shit off.
I, personally, can’t live like that. I am excessively frugal, to a point of absurdity. I think I learned it from my grandmother, who was most known for going to buy Diet Coke when it was on sale in her red pick up truck. She would pull up in her driveway, and open the back of the truck for us to see an entire truck bed lined with 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke that she had bought on sale. We’d all have to help her load it into the garage, and she would be set until the next time it went on sale.
So now, taking after my grandmother, when our groceries are delivered, and we get 75 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese, or 200 cups of applesauce, my husband always thinks I’m insane.
I also find myself envious of local family and friends, who get Botox while my crow’s feet under my eyes grow deeper and deeper. Or who get their eyelashes and nails done every two weeks, while my toe nails typically look something along the lines of what you would find on an elderly gargoyle. I wear make up maybe once a week, because there’s no need to waste the money on it if I’m not going anywhere; and my hair…well…let’s not go there.
Typically, we don’t take exotic vacations either. We don’t do trips to Cozumel or Europe; and sure, we have our family weekend trips out of the area, or occasional vacations to places like the Grand Canyon or to use our Disneyland passes. But it’s always carried with a sense of frugality, including always finding places we can stay where I can cook our meals to save money on eating out.
My kids and husband get haircuts by yours truly, and absolutely every single one of my purses was purchased at Target.
I think you all are getting the point: we live on a tight budget, and we don’t go for all the extra unnecessary things. This is all done so that I can stay home with the kids, and so that my husband can work in his industry of choice (film, a volatile and sometimes poorly paid industry to work).
You can imagine, then, my frustration when we start getting socked with bills, and they just keep coming and coming and coming, and in spite of all the cuts and the tightening of the belts they just get worse. It seems wholly unfair. As if I have not sacrificed enough, suddenly our insurance doesn’t cover something they always used to cover and we have a $410 bill with a due date 10 days from now (and a hospital absolutely refusing to negotiate). I get a bladder infection, and the urgent care – who is legally required to notify us if they are sending out the “sample” does not – and they send it to a lab out of our network, and we get socked with another medical bill that is beyond reasonable, with everyone saying “tough shit, that’s life.”
Then our water softener alarm starts going off, and we find out the filters need to be changed even though we literally had no idea there were filters in the thing. Then one of our kids gets sick and – big surprise – the medicine she needs isn’t covered, and beyond that I have to spend a whole tank of gas driving all over the place looking for a pharmacy that has it. Then a short in our garage refrigerator triggers a chain reaction of all the things in the garage going out of power, which we don’t catch for over 48 hours and literally thousands of dollars of food being stored out there (between the fridge and the deep freezer – see previous notes about buying things on bulk when they are cheap) ARE RUINED.
It just never stops. You think everything is fine, you are in a good place and everything is working out and then a domino effect begins of one costly thing happening after another, until you finally get to a point where you just want to do what everyone else does and pretend like everything is fine.
Sure, we just lost thousands of dollars in food and I have no idea what we are going to do to replace it…but I’m going to go get my nails and hair did anyway.
I mean yeah, tons of medical bills are piling up and we have probably $1500 in unpaid bills that suddenly found their way to our doorstep this week, alone…but I need a vacation, so let’s go on a little weekend getaway.
My current purse just ripped a huge hole in it, one that could arguably allow money to fall out…so rather than worry about the food and the medical bills and the electricity issue in the garage…I think I’mma just go get me a Coach purse because – honestly – every time I see someone carry one, I tuck my Target variety bag under my arm in shame.
Because this is California and your handbag is about as important as your position in life will ever get [sarcastic eye roll].
No matter how much I joke, though, the reasonable me just can’t do it. Instead, I sit here hours on end worrying about where the fuck all this money is going to come from, as my husband gets sent home from work earlier and earlier every night because it’s the slow season for movie trailers (and he is hourly, so an early night means…you got it, less pay). I contemplate going back to work every three or four days, but then spend an entire day working out the expenses that would be involved in doing that (daycare for the kids, extra commuting cost for me, and so on), and THAT doesn’t make any sense, so then I go back to worrying and trying to find any fucking sale price ground beef and ham steaks I can buy in bulk and freeze just to make myself feel like our finances are getting back on track, once and for all.
This is where I’m at right now. Swimming in debt is NOT cool, but I wish it were.
Posted on Jul 18, 2016 by Heather Christena Schmidt
My husband works in film. Well, sort of.
He works for a multimedia marketing firm that makes trailers, sizzles, and other promotional materials for upcoming movies (including those dumb, digital billboards you see at the mall). He’s in the Disney division, so basically Disney movies have been forever ruined for us – not that he’s telling us anything (they are pretty crazy about their security); but Disney movies are now usually marred by how many hours of overtime the ad campaigns kept Dad away from home.
So anywho, you all can imagine that watching movies with him is therefore…trying…
There’s all the idiosyncrasies, the technical talk before and after, the “love of the game.” All of this for someone (that being me) who doesn’t give a single fuck about any of it, and moreover thinks the majority of movies made these days are piles of crap.
People tell me that this makes me super unsupportive of my husband’s chosen career. That because I don’t feign an utter love of the industry and films, in general, that this means our marriage is doomed and I’m the worst wife ever. Well beyond the simple fact that I was raised to believe that a job is just a job, and that your real life is actually defined by what you do with your family and for yourself…isn’t it just a little shitty to say that because my husband works in film, that I therefore must change my longstanding feelings and beliefs and just general preferences? That would be like a woman who hates baseball suddenly pretending to love it because her significant other likes the Dodgers.
Sorry, but that’s not how I play the game.
My husband is more than welcome to have his own enjoyments, and I of course support him, and make hearty sacrifices, for him to work in the career he chooses to work in. And in return, I expect the same for me. And whenever I intersect in this whole film thing…well, I try. I really, really try.
I always thought it would get better, or maybe easier; but alas all these years in, it hasn’t. In fact, every time we watch a movie, I go through a process. Sort of like a process of grief, I always make my way through these stages when watching movies with my husband.
Stage One: “Sure, this movie looks OK”
Even when it doesn’t look OK, I think to myself that it does because I need to go in being positive so that I’m not disappointed or angered too soon into the movie-going experience.
I should add that my husband and I watch a lot of movies, so I really try to keep upbeat about it because if I weren’t I’d be annoyed with the movie choice most days of the week.
The problem is that my husband has a very odd taste in film. Usually it’s some fucked up Lars Von Trier shit – and I absolutely cannot stand that guy. Or it’s something like a musical (in fact, we are watching Les Miserables right now, which I’ve seen before and just can’t deal with because I despise Anne Hathaway).
So I go in thinking “sure, this movie looks OK.” Even when it doesn’t. This is basically the denial stage.
Stage Two: “When can I start talking?”
I’m a movie talker. Not at the theater, no way. But at home, I like chatting it up about the movie while it’s going on. It’s just the way I am.
My husband, by contrast, is a silence-during-the-film authoritarian. If I breath too loud he gets upset. When we first started dating, we went to see The Reader in theaters and I sipped my Diet Coke (not even loudly), only to receive the dirtiest look from him I have ever received from another person.
It’s in my nature to banter through the movie, so usually pretty early on I begin to crave it. Like an itch I absolutely have to scratch, I start chomping at the bit to be able to say something – anything – about the movie that happens to be on.
Stage Three: “How did someone come up with this crap?”
To be absolutely fair…not every movie we watch is crap. And, I think I have a really high and strange standard for movies. My friend Jeremy used to make fun of me for how much I disliked basically every movie I watched.
I guess I just have really high standards. Or no patience. Or maybe I’m just not a movie person. I don’t know, but I’d say that 9 times out of 10 – unless we are talking about 80s movies – I get to a point where I wonder how someone even came up with some of these plot lines/stories/characters/whatever.
Stage Four: “Why couldn’t we just watch Uncle Buck again?”
I would be perfectly contented watching the same, ten or so 80s movies over and over again. I could just spend a whole day watching The Money Pit on repeat.
Why my husband is not willing to just do this continues to be beyond me.
Stage Five: “Fuck it, I’m going to talk.”
I’ve given up all hope, we’re usually about halfway through the movie at that point. And this is when I start to get the dirty looks, the sighs, and the attitude. I typically start off by asking how much longer the movie will last. Then my husband will pause the movie over and over and over and over and over again as I ask questions, which just escalates into me rambling or talking or making the comments I wanted to make much sooner in the film.
Finally, we get to a point where I realize that the length of the movie is only being greatly prolonged by his constant, incessant pausing of the film. So I stop, and I move on to the final stage.
Stage Six: Sleep
I just turn over, lay down on the couch, and go the fuck to sleep. Go. The. Fuck. To. Sleep.
Rarely does my husband even notice that I sleep through the remainder of the movie. In fact, the other day he started asking me if I noticed something in the movie we had watched the night before. “Uh yeah, I was asleep for the entire second half of that one, did you not notice?”
He never notices. Which is perfectly fine by me.
The next day I always wake up, refreshed from my extra sleep yet guilty that I didn’t spend that time reading, and we start the process all over again. Either that night or later in the week. Another lull in our daily lives occurs, and we decide to put on a movie. And my process begins again.
It’s Been Over Two Months Since I Wrote a Blog. You Can Thank All My Thankless Volunteer Work For That.
Posted on Jul 16, 2016 by Heather Christena Schmidt
I have always had a love-hate relationship with blogging. I was told when I became a writer that all writers had to have blogs to help sell their writing; that an agent or a publishing house won’t take you seriously if you don’t already have an audience.
Well that didn’t – exactly – pan out as planned on the ol’ book sales, wouldn’t you say?
At the same time as all that, I did like having a place to vent or just ramble. But I also think that blogging is, in some senses, vaguely…narcissistic. Like people seriously care about my life and opinions and beliefs so much that they’d check in regularly about what I have to say, or how much I had for dinner, or whatever.. Really?
Well I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe really. Not saying people care about me, but I do think they (they being the general public that peruses the Internet) likes to hear they aren’t alone. In whatever it is they feel alone about.
So out the door of this blog post, this blog post that is my first in over two months, I’m going to commit to you guys to just do it, just write. Because maybe there are one or two of you out there who do give a shit. Or maybe you are family that are just waiting for something to gossip about me over, and here I’ve been denying you that, lo these last few months. I don’t know, but I promise I’ll do better.
Mostly I’ll be able to do that, though, because my brief hiatus from writing on this blog wasn’t so much about this love-hate relationship I have with blogging so much as it has been that I have been fucking busy. Fucking busy doesn’t even begin to address it, you guys. It’s been madness. My daily life has been a track towards the next thing on an endless list of to-dos.
Beyond just the typical mom life daily shit, though; along with other stuff I’ll get into over the course of the following weeks as I get back into writing here more often and fulfilling my commitment not to disappear for such long periods of time anymore…it’s my thankless volunteer work that’s been keeping me on the move.
Lucky for you guys (if there are “you guys” out there), I’m quitting all that shit.
Well, sort of.
Over the last year or so I’ve gotten heavily involved in two things: my local center for the arts, and the neighborhood watch program for my 3,000 resident, middle class community.
My capacity at the art center is newsletter person (duh, I’m a writer) and then I volunteer to teach a class in drawing. It’s all fun and games, though, until you start helping more and learning about how much the president, vice president, and other leaders of the organization are criticized regularly by these old codgers that never come to a GOD. DAMN. THING.
Then the criticisms started coming at me. I made a suggestion – being the young, whippersnapper that I am – that we transition the newsletter from that age-old foldable thing that was being emailed out from my personal email account as an attachment once a month, to a digital, weekly, totally legit HTML email blast. I did the research. I provided statistics about how this could increase membership and involvement. The executive board of the place LOVED the idea. I, of course, was happy because this meant I no longer had to use my personal email account.
The general membership, however, did not receive it quite as well. Since the switch, I hear nothing but bitch-bitch-bitch, gripe-gripe-gripe about people not liking the new way they they receive their newsletters. Some in the form of not opting in. A select few in constant emails and comments. They don’t like the format. They want something they can print and read at their leisure. About three people have this now as their mission in life to harass me over, and they will not LET. IT. GO.
But then today I was talking to the vice president of the place, and she said it perfectly: “every time someone has a criticism, I’m planning to ask what they’ll be volunteering to do if they don’t like it.”
Dealing with some of this drama has taken far more of my time than I would have liked. I’ve spent more time responding to emails, answering phone calls, and more than anything just generally being annoyed by it than I should.
So I’m going to let it go myself. I’m not going to quit, no…I still love art and culture. I’ll still do the newsletter, help however I can…teach my classes…
But I ain’t wasting my time being upset about this anymore.
Then there’s the more complicated volunteer thing I do: the neighborhood watch. I’m the coordinator. If you know anything about neighborhood watch, I’m like the crazy lady who gets interviewed by the local news whenever some shit goes down in her neighborhood. The one who spends the majority of her time encouraging others to spy on their neighbors.
Beyond that, I get the meetings together, I raise the money for our signs – which, I will add, I chose without the creepy criminal pictured on it – and I send out all the crime alerts.
I told you guys a few months back all about PeeGate. Where I posted in our group page on Facebook about how it is absolutely and without a doubt illegal for any human being to urinate on another person’s lawn; and the moms of my community came out in FULL FUCKING FORCE to tell me why I was an asshole. For doing my job.
Things got a little dull, quieter after that. Arguably that had nothing to do with the fact that the community had gone crime-less. Quite the opposite. For a middle class neighborhood with some homes going for 1.2 and 1.6 million dollars (*snort*…definitely not ours, though), I am flabbergasted by how much petty crime and general hillbilly shit goes on in this place.
Just the neighbors got busy, or something, because they weren’t griping in my direction for a while. They let me report the crime with little backlash. Occasionally they reported it themselves, though you dare to tell someone whose car is being broken into or whose bike is stolen to call the police and you’ll get a “will consider doing that next time”…
Then I had to go and say something about Pokemon Go.
The real problem with Pokemon Go from a neighborhood standpoint is this: kids milling around in a neighborhood that has a lot of petty street crime already makes it hard to distinguish between suspicious activity and just kids playing a game. The sheriff’s department sent out a neighborhood watch coordinator email about it, and so I shared in our Facebook group some tips for parents (tell your kids to be respectful, don’t touch people’s cars or property, observe city curfews, etc.).
Nope! The moms of Facebook weren’t having that one! How dare you tell us what to do with our kids! How dare you suggest an innocent Pokemon game could have unintended consequences in our neighborhood!!! You said don’t act like PUNKS in the comments?! PUNKS!? YOU are not doing enough to control crime in our community as is! I’ll have you know there are military families in this community, how dare you refer to them as PUNKS (wait…what?!). I saw it escalating quickly, as with PeeGate, so I shut it down before it could go any further.
Then tonight – I don’t know, three days later – not another word was said online or in public about it for days, and someone bring it up again by posting a comment on a two week old security video someone shared of their bike being stolen (think about this timeline for a minute, it’s as if this guy was just looking for days for a way to bitch about my Pokemon Go safety tips)…
OH MY GOD – SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Within minutes one of the moms of Facebook had “liked” it. BECAUSE I posted some tips to stay safe, not get in trouble, and observe the law.
And that…that was the final straw for me. I always knew it would be over something really stupid, but fuck it. I do not get anything out of organizing this group of lazy complainers.
I’ll keep organizing them – for now. But just like with my local center for the arts, I ain’t taken the bullshit anymore. Don’t like it? ORGANIZE IT YOURSELF.
Here is the bottom line that I’ve learned in all of this: people who do nothing are always the most critical. They sit on their lazy fucking asses and just bitch at the people that do everything. They refuse to call the police when a robber is breaking down their door. They do nothing to organize their own street, or to keep things under control or to even know their neighbor’s names. They see their local center for the arts struggling financially and they can’t even drop a dollar in the donation box.
Volunteer organizations seem to always end up this way: with a small number of people doing everything, in the most thankless and unappreciated positions ever.
And I get it now: this is why so many people don’t ever volunteer for anything. They don’t get involved because it ain’t worth the bullshit. Just think for a moment how great this world would be – how many problems would be solved, crime would be avoided, and lives even were saved, if only people felt like volunteering their time to the greater good was ANYTHING but a fruitless endeavor. It kind of makes you feel nauseated to your absolute core to think of it that way.
If only all the bitchy, whiny complainers of the world would sit down and shut up so the people that actually want to do good can do it.
Well I’m retreating, like I said. I’ll still volunteer, but I’m not getting tied up in all the drama and bullshit anymore. If anything, I’ll just write about it on this blog.
Posted on May 11, 2016 by Heather Christena Schmidt
I actually don’t have that many life goals.
I used to, but I either 1) achieved them already, or 2) gave up on them.
The big one I gave up on was graduate school and becoming a college professor. At one time, it was my only goal; now it’s something I have absolutely zero interest in doing. Every once in a while my mother suggests I go back to school, or asks when I am going back to school. I always respond by blankly staring at her, because really how many times do I have to explain this?
Really I think my absence of life goals at this point in my life has to do with that fortune cookie I got years ago that read: those who expect nothing never find themselves disappointed.
As pathetic as that fortune cookie is, it’s so truthful it stings.
So I don’t have many goals anymore. More I have things I would like to do, because they’d be fun or whatever. But if I don’t end up doing them before my untimely demise (because whenever I kick it, it’ll surely be untimely) – oh well.
Life is too short, and I have too much to value in my life now, to be constantly chasing dreams.
(I realize that this philosophy spits in the face of every pithy inspirational quote you have ever seen.)
This week has been pretty strange, though. I’ve done a lot of things – verifiably dumb things – that were they listed among my life’s goals and dreams, I would have a considerable number of check marks added to that list.
I finally offended someone over the matter of pizza.
I say some really shitty things about pizza in California to people. I mean that I am pretty surprised that I haven’t offended anyone up to this point over the matter of pizza – really, I am surprised.
When my in-laws and I tried a new pizza place in town last year, I told them I would rather lick the inside of my husband’s ear than eat there again.
I have brought my own homemade pizzas to a pizza party where the pizza was already provided because local pizzerias make me queasy.
I’m a jerk, and over a really stupid issue. I know.
But really…is pizza a stupid issue? If you’re from Chicagoland area, like I am, no. No, pizza is not a stupid issue, and never a laughing matter.
So my mother came over for dinner the night before Mother’s Day, for an early celebration. She asked what our plans were the following day, and my kids told her that among our other things, we had special ordered some pizzas from Giordano’s – one of our favorite pizzerias in Chicago, that just happens to ship frozen pies around the country.
Then the kids told her how expensive they were and my mother’s response (and tone) showed how clearly offended she was over the matter:
“Oh, well …I had a slice of pizza the other day for $5 but I guess that isn’t good enough for people who have $60 to drop on frozen food.”
Life goal to offend someone over the matter of pizza? Achieved.
My Boob Fell Out of My Tank Top At Staples
My body has been pretty weird lately. Awkward, maybe is the right way to put it.
And as a result of this awkwardness, I’ve been especially attached to my yoga pants, hoodies, and bra tank tops lately.
So there I was, picking up my copy and print order at my local Staples office supply store, and I dropped my keys on the floor. I bent down to pick them up and WHOOP – my boob plum fell out of my top.
The offending tank top was pretty small to begin with, and I honestly hadn’t been expecting to go anywhere that day. Fortunately, the guy ringing up my copy and print order didn’t notice as I quickly tucked myself back in while I stood back up.
Or at least he didn’t let on that he had seen anything.
Life goal to give up so much that body parts arbitrarily fall out of my slovenly clothing while out in public? Achieved.
I’ve Learned To Swallow Food Whole
I don’t know if I should be proud or horrified by this, but if I had a life goal to learn how to swallow my food whole – as in no chewing or silverware involved – well, then I have mastered this one. Oh, have I mastered it.
It started Monday night. My husband worked really late, and I was awake at about three o’clock in the morning after he texted me about how late he’d be getting home. Suddenly I realized that the reason I couldn’t get back to sleep was because I was starving – I mean I was so hungry I could have eaten anything… anything…
So I got up and grabbed a couple bananas, but was so tired I just wanted the eating process to be over with. Long story short, I unintentionally engaged in some pseudo-erotic, middle-of-the-night, whole banana consumption. My appetite was immediately satisfied and I was sawing logs within five minutes.
Then tonight it was time to make supper for myself and the kids, and we were all so hungry we could barely stand it. I went to make something quick (a box of some kind of quickie angel hair pasta dish), but it needed milk and we had run out earlier in the day. Feeling uninspired to cook anything but a throw-together box meal, we ended up desperately grabbing my purse and running out the door to go to In N Out.
By the time we got to In N Out, ordered our food, sat in the characteristically never-ending line, and got our food, my stomach was starting to feel queasy from having been so empty. So I took out my grilled cheese sandwich and scarfed it in about one, large bite.
Unlike the banana situation from Monday night, I was still hungry.
So the moral of the story is that were I to set life goals for myself at this particular stage, they would have to be pretty low brow. Don’t expect too much, or anything, because I clearly have little to give.
But it makes for a good story, right?