My Fourth Book Cover Is Here, and It’s Giving Me Feelings

I consider myself to be a generally flat person. I don’t mean that I am one of those robot people with no feelings. I just mean that I usually have one mode, unless I’m at home and no one is looking at me: laughing at everything.

Maybe flat isn’t what I mean to say. Inappropriate?

I laugh at really inappropriate times. “Oh yeah it was like the most dysfunctional family dinner ever, I cried for a week – HAHAHAHAHAHAH!” Times like that. I think it’s likely because I’m either awkward or an idiot. Or both. (Probably both.)

So I promised a release of the book cover for my fourth book, and here it is. Now it’s giving me feelings I can’t quite qualify, because of that whole flat-one-mode-laugh-inappropriately-even-when-laughing-isn’t-appropriate thing. I’ll just leave it at “feelings,” because the cover is a picture of the house I grew up in.

Which will give you all an idea of the content.

Also, the back matter makes me feel like a real horse’s ass (do you see what I did there with the horse and the title of my book…), because people have said nice things about my writing and – where are my manners? – I’ve sent no ‘thank you cards.’

So here’s the cover, and if you keep scrolling, you get the other thing I promised… a small excerpt.

Emphasis on small, I don’t want to show my whole hand just yet.

One more thing before the cover, though: another promise and an invite… join me on Thursday, June 1st at 6:00 pm PST (that’s 8:00 pm in the Central Zone, and 9:00 ET) for a Twitter Party Book Trailer release. You can RSVP on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/211182979374387/ or just check in that night using the hashtag #datblindhorsetho …make sure to Tweet your responses to it that night too!

Classy And Sassy

Okay, so here’s the cover and the excerpt…enjoy!

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And now the excerpt:

…I come from a very long line of emotional eaters. On the surface, you wouldn’t know it. Obesity isn’t necessarily rampant in my family lineage. Some people are heavier than others, sure – but that’s more a statement of their general love of Prime Time TV than anything else. 

Nonetheless, I was raised on the premise that food solves everything.

I like to think that my family was the original source of the foodie movement. From the very beginning of my earliest childhood memories to now, all life revolved around what we were going to eat, who we were going to eat it with, and when we were going to get it in our mouths. Every food was coupled with a nauseatingly detailed description. The gastro pubs in Santa Monica today that describe a burger and fries with no less than twenty adjectives of ingredients and notes of infused flavor have got nothing on how my mother used to be able to describe her most basic chicken and rice dish. Daily life was filling, and if it wasn’t everyone was depressed or angry. Or both.

That isn’t to say that the food has always, or ever, been particularly noteworthy. In fact most of the time it was either mediocre or something akin to roadkill. 

There was always plenty of it. Way too much, actually; so much so that to think of all the animals sacrificed for the sake of all of those friend and family gatherings of years past makes me feel so terrible sometimes I think I should go vegan for the rest of my life just to make up for it.

When we lived in the suburbs of Chicago, we would occasionally visit this family that I never quite understood our connection to. Either they were distant family, like cousins, or friends of the family so close they may as well be family. Nonetheless, it was more than a want, but rather a social obligation, that we visit them frequently. 

Because a lot of people would come to their gatherings, and they lived in a relatively small place, they’d always serve the food in the basement. By the dim, fluorescent lights, flickering on the verge of burning out, we’d line up in front of the table and fill our Dollar Store paper plates to the brim with the same nine dishes. Every time, each of these nine dishes were essential to the meal:

1. Something that looked like a turkey casserole and I’m fairly certain had peas in it. Not sure it really had any meat in it at all, but it tasted like turkey;

2. Baked ziti. I know this sounds wonderful – because really, who doesn’t love baked ziti? Well if you ever tried this baked ziti you’d know that it is possible to dislike the dish, and it’s simply because it was made with jars of Ragu;

3. Bologna sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise and American cheese spread;

4. Fruit slush. I never really understood this one. Supposedly a fruit salad, this was canned fruit mashed and mixed with ginger ale, then frozen and slightly defrosted. A jar of Maraschino cherries was added to the mix and this is what we ate for the fruit and vegetable portion of the meal;

5. Pistachio Jell-o salad. Because at this point, the meal just felt entirely incomplete without it;

6. Baked beans, always – and without fail – served in a crockpot. Special attention was paid each time to making sure the crockpot could remain plugged in after it had been transferred from the kitchen to the basement. Baked beans just ain’t right if not pipin’ hot;

7. Tortilla chips with dip. The dip was an 8 ounce block of regular Philadelphia cream cheese with a jar of Pace Picante sauce poured over the top of it;

8. Store brand sandwich cookies;

9. None of you will believe this, because it just seems so cliche, but the final and perhaps most important part of the meal was a mixed piece bucket of KFC original recipe chicken. 

By contrast, I recently was in the unfortunate position of having to attend my sister in law’s baby shower and the food was only a side note. I was totally – and completely – out of my element. Not that I cared much, I don’t usually eat much at these types of gatherings anyway. Maybe it was the years of crockpots full of baked beans and fruit slush that did me in, I just learned to pick at the offerings sparingly and eat a salad once I got home.

But at this baby shower, where typically I would have seen an entire spread of foods from deviled eggs to more deviled eggs, to some other types of eggs that appeared deviled but also looked sort of green; plus the other array of foods like the ones listed above – instead there was a small plate of sandwiches and another small plate with carrots. That was it. All in all there were about fifty people in attendance, with maybe ten sandwiches on the plate.

At that baby shower, people were hungry. Here they had sacrificed their Sundays to come, pay homage to the to-be mother; spent a minimum of fifty dollars per person on a gift, and all they got was a goddamned carrot. Maybe. Maybe only a sandwich – if they were lucky. Some people got a piece of cake, but that was insufficient in size as well. (And oh man what people would have said if they knew that they almost weren’t going to have a cake.)

For myself, I sucked back the Cooks champagne and patted myself on the back for having eaten beforehand, assuming it would be the usual assortment of KFC mixed buckets and baked beans by the crockpot.

I had never seen anything like it, and apparently no one else there had either.

Attitudes started to turn within the first hour, and it was again made clear to me that people eat away all their frustrations and social anxieties at these things. Maybe beyond that, into their daily lives. It keeps people happy. It calms down the dramatics. Helps you forgive people for excluding you from a wedding, or for not keeping in contact all the years. 

It was that day that I finally accepted that ultimate truth into my heart, once and for all: eating really does solve everything.

 

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If This Is America, It Is No Longer My Country; Or, Trump: the Anti-American President

If you are like me, you are overwhelmed by the news and events of the last 48 hours. America, in all its glory, elected a racist, homophobic, sexist, bigot to the White House. A man accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women. A man whose very campaign premises were based in the most anti-American tenants ever run on a major ticket in the history of the United States. Who was described by major economic and global organizations as one of the greatest threats to national and global security, on par with ISIS. Whose campaign promises actually and literally spit in the face of the Constitution of this once great country – the very Constitution that gave him the ability to rise to power to begin with.

America: you had one job.

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Just under half of Americans that voted said that those policies and beliefs were OK. Either because they aligned themselves with those anti-American tenants, or because they could tolerate all of that in exchange for something else Trump offered.

To say I am in shock is an understatement.

Now, the aftermath has begun to unfold and – so it seems – we are in turmoil. Our president has asked for a peaceful transfer of power, and in response people are taking to the streets and beating and attacking people under this new mantra that to make America great again we need to get out anyone that isn’t just like us. Trump’s win was validation of the deeply seeded racism and sexism that has plagued our country since the days of Jim Crow, and before. Less than 100 years since women earned the right to vote, and “grab her pussy” is more socially acceptable of a phrase than “she deserves to be treated equally.”

To say I am sickened is also an understatement. A gross understatement.

And through all of this, I have learned a lot.

I have learned that very few people actually have an understanding of the Constitution of the United States. They have a general idea of the things they like about it, like the 2nd Amendment and its whole thing about gun ownership; but they seem to have cherry picked those bits and pieces that are convenient for them, overlooking the other parts equally as important and valid and right and what it is to be American.

I am assuming, based on his campaign rhetoric and behavior during the election; in addition to his unprecedented silence now in the face of the violent election aftermath, our president-elect is one of those people completely unaware of what abilities and protections the Constitution Articles hold within them.

Like the ability to worship whatever the fuck God you want without having to worry about being beaten at your local 7-11 over those beliefs.

Or the ability to live your life without hate crimes and discrimination being enacted against you, especially if you are in kindergarten and just want to get your goddamned lunch without having the taunting of “build a wall, build a wall” shouted in your face because you happen to have brown skin.

The list is seemingly endless of people and classes that Donald Trump doesn’t understand are protected under the Constitution. Not only people of all religions and race, but those with disabilities. Women. People of varied sexual orientation… All of those people are protected under the Constitution and our incoming president doesn’t understand that.

There’s also the whole thing about freedom to protest and freedom of speech, which I get is why all the Trump supporters felt they had a right to enact their hate crimes over the past several months of his campaign. But then to turn around and say that the people protesting the bigoted policies of the most anti-American president elect is “wimpy,” “shameful,” “pointless,” or “wrong,” completely misses the very definition of what it means to be an American.

I was raised to believe, and have degrees in political science and philosophy to back those beliefs up with facts and rational discourse, that America is the place where you can come and be whomever you are and, to put it bluntly, not have to take shit for it.

If you are gay, you get to be gay. If you are a woman, you get to be a woman. If you are black or Hispanic, you get to be a black or Hispanic.

You do not have to be subjected to discrimination or hate crimes. The Constitution guarantees that you are free from those things for just being you.

The Constitution also ensures that you get to voice your opinion, which I understand goes both ways. You get to voice your opinion, for example in a public speech, in a Facebook post, or in a peaceful protest, regardless of whether or not anyone sees it valid or worthy.

You do not get to beat your beliefs into someone until they are so bloodied and bruised that they have to take a trip to the emergency room.

With great sadness, it seems that with the Trump presidency, that all seems to be out the window.

Where this leaves me is with the understanding and acceptance that at least half of America, and America’s next president, is actually not American.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes that freedom from discrimination and racism and sexism, and that freedom of religion, is not a thing.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes it has the right to beat you if you look different or you love someone of the same gender.

At least half of America, and America’s next president, believes it can tell you what to do with your body just because you are a woman.

If this is America, it is no longer my country.

People keep crying out on Facebook – “get over it!” “This is democracy!” “The Republicans felt like this when Obama was elected!” and “He won, we have to deal with it!”

Actually no. No, we don’t.

And this isn’t an issue of Democrat versus Republican, but rather right and wrong.

That’s the beauty of being an actual American. You get to not accept things that you know are actually, factually, wrong. You get to say “this is not the principle of our country” and you get to call for an action that is both Constitutional and fair.

You get to say that a man who runs to be an anti-American president cannot take office, if this is going to continue to be the Constitutionally abiding America we once prided ourselves on being.

Otherwise, it is no longer America.

No president in history has ever been as anti-American as Donald Trump. Up until 48 hours ago, I would have never considered saying the words “he is not my president,” or “this is not my country.” But it isn’t, and he will never be.

 

 

 

The Best Way To Support Your Adult Kids That Are Parents, Is To Keep Your Mouth Shut

Over the years, I have learned one thing that I hope I remember when I am older and my kids are older and have kids of their own: to keep my mouth shut. Don’t foist my opinion on them about how or what they are doing as a parent. Don’t make comments under my breath in regards to their mom’ing or dad’ing decisions.

Just. Keep. It. Shut.

Even if I don’t agree with something they are doing, or feel it’s hurt me or attacked my own decisions when I was a parent…the reason why is because their choices as parents are theirs to reap and sow. And as a mother-turned-grandmother (God, I shudder at the thought) I am not on the inside of all the aspects of parenting THEIR kids during THEIR time (times change, Mom).

Now it’s one thing if they come to me and ask for an opinion or advice. But if they don’t, unsolicited advice or comments or, as they most often come across, criticisms, should be considered better left unsaid.

My father, who lives with us, is the worst with the under-the-breath comments. I am constantly having to tell him to stop, which he doesn’t. It’s insensitive and hurtful, but never a direct confrontation. So I’ll give him that.

It usually goes something like this:

Me: “Ava, today your chores say put away the dishes.”

Ava: [whines]

Dad: “I’ll help you baby…I’ll be right there, you just put away the silverware.”

Me: “Dad please don’t help her, you’re just making it more difficult for me to get her to do her chores.”

Dad: “I’ll help her if I want.”

Me: “Dad, please let me be the mother.”

Dad: [Slams something down on the counter and starts walking away] “Yeah, a real great mother.”

It’s pleasant.

The thing about *my* dad, though, is that I have enough years and not-give-a-shit enough with him to be able to just let that roll off my back. I mean it stings at first, and I’m sure a psychiatrist is somewhere out there just rubbing his hands together, waiting for me to crack and spend years in his office at $300 a pop, but for now we’ll stick with…I get over it.

But this highlights an issue I’ve noticed more in public, among other parent-friends, and with my husband’s family, to a greater degree than with my dad:

Sometimes, the biggest Mom Shamers (or, if you will, Parent Shamers) are our parents.

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Many of you read my social media shit show saga just yesterday. If you missed it, you surely missed out. In any event, as a follow up my husband called his mother yesterday morning, much to his dismay because she had no interest in 1) letting him talk 2) actually listening to what he had to say 3) doing anything other than screaming over and over again that she is a victim and 4)…

To. Shame. Us. As. Parents.

The backstory is as follows: a couple weeks ago, we secured a new home. A better home. A bigger home. A home with a yard.

We had previously been living in and caring for a family-owned condo, and we knew that there was a high probability that said family would be upset we were moving out. Not only because they wouldn’t have us taking care of the lemon of a place anymore, but because then they’d have to find someone else to get in there to pay the mortgage. Now we could have been wrong, but there’s always that risk with them…so we had to play it safe for our own mental health and decision-making ability.

We wanted to be able to make our decision about the new home without the the opinions of others. Yes, sometimes asking for advice is the best thing to do; but on this one, we wanted to do it ourselves. It’s hard to make the right choices for your family enough as is without the opinions of every Tom, Dick, and Susie squawking in your ear like pigeons.

So we didn’t say anything at first to them, until we had made our own choices.

What complicated the issue was that someone saw online that we had been looking at places, and my husband’s mom heard about it (because what kind of a family doesn’t gossip and talk shit about every. fucking. thing they come across?) and she flat out asked us if we were moving out of state. This is a sensitive issue for her because her other son, my husband’s brother, along with his wife and toddler just moved … out of state.

“No of course we aren’t moving out of state” was our resounding response. Because we weren’t. My husband works in film, that’s actually a stupid question to begin with. Unless he were to move on to work at Girls Gone Wild in New Orleans (um, he actually did apply there years back – they pay well I guess)…we are LA area for life. It’s just the way it is.

But we didn’t continue the conversation beyond that. We changed the subject, because we weren’t ready to talk about it. We hadn’t made our final-final decision on anything yet. And, honestly, the way she responds to any kind of change in other people’s lives is not usually the most positive.

Even just us making a decision for ourselves like “I’m having surgery that day, would you mind giving me one day to recover before coming to visit” turns into a hurtful barrage of comments and attitude, and …opinions and shaming.

As a side note: the kids were there when this whole moving-out-of-state-freak-out happened, and we had talked to them and told them we didn’t want them to lie to Grandma, but it’s really important that they let Dad talk to Grandpa about it privately once we’ve made our decision for sure. Because of the sensitivity of it.

You see, I believe that it’s really important to, yes, teach my kids honesty; but at the same time to teach them that there is a time and a place for everything. And, more importantly, that it’s important to set their own boundaries on what they do and do not share with people; and even more importantly than that to set boundaries on the influence others have on their own happiness.

THOSE are the life lessons that I think are important, especially in light of our daughter already being worried that Grandma and Grandpa would be mad we were moving out of the family-owned home. She didn’t want to move into the new house at first because of that. To me, as a parent, I have failed if my kids believe they should make their life’s decisions based on other people’s bullshit.

Flash forward to yesterday, my husband had this conversation with his mom about the social media shit show, and her main focus was to actually talk about how that conversation about not moving out of state (just being clear: we aren’t, we are moving 2 miles down the road) was an example of how she doesn’t agree with our parenting. She doesn’t think we should be teaching the kids to lie to her and keep secrets. That she should be able to extract whatever information she wants from them, and that by teaching them to have boundaries on how much they share and how much they let others have say in their lives and happiness is bad parenting. Bad parents raising liars and sneaky, sly people that do things behind people’s backs.

What was my initial reaction? To feel shame.

But then I felt the opposite of shame: pride. I felt pride because in her negative reaction, I realized that our decision in this with the kids was actually the right one. That she validated our decisions as parents with her behavior; and more importantly that we actually sometimes make good choices for our kids. I’m not teaching them to be liars. In fact, we are very emphatic with our kids about honesty. Rather, we are teaching them about healthy boundaries – something so few people have, and everyone needs.

Now before all of you are like “oh damn, I can’t believe she’s putting all this on blast on the Internet,” I just have to say: very few people in my husband’s life – from the beginning of it to the end – give a shit enough about me and what I have to say to read my blog. Let’s say none of them do. And, remember from yesterday, I lost (deleted and blocked) 31 friends on social media.

But really… I shouldn’t have to hide what’s right. If you don’t like people finding out about your bullshit, you should probably not pull the bullshit.

And, I’m a writer. The old adage is you shouldn’t ever say or do anything around a writer that you don’t want out in the open. I’m fairly certain that the only reason my husband actually loves me is because I call out all the shit he is too afraid to call out.

Moreover, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking about what is going on in your life that is categorically, without a doubt wrong. It ain’t up for debate. What kind of people have we become that feel we have to hide everything about our lives and not speak up about what is right and wrong?

People that are ashamed, that’s what kind of people.

In the end: isn’t that where this whole parent shaming thing got going anyway? We aren’t only just shamed for doing whatever we do, we’re shamed for talking about it too. We’re shamed for talking about our decisions, we’re shamed for talking about how we came to our ideas as parents, and we’re shamed for feeling ashamed.

Lord help us.

The Worst/Best Part Of Having a Panic Disorder Is You Can’t Hide It Forever

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.

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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.

  1. I have a panic disorder and that is nothing to be ashamed of;
  2. I cannot hide my panic disorder forever;
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. It’s OK to say “NO” to people if it’s a situation I don’t feel safe in; and,
  6. 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.

It’s Been Over Two Months Since I Wrote a Blog. You Can Thank All My Thankless Volunteer Work For That.

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.

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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.

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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.”

THANK. YOU.

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.

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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.

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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)…

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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.

 

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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.

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Please Stop Telling 30-Somethings What To Do (An Open Letter to Kallie Provencher at RantChic)

Today I read an article posted by a friend on Facebook. The article (and I use the term loosely, it was really more of a slideshow with a couple of fragmented mandates beneath each photo) was actually from late last year. I knew I had seen it before.

It was titled 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30. It reminded me of another article I had seen posted on Facebook recently: 10 TV Shows Women Over 30 Need To Stop Watching.

Both made me equally nauseated, only worsened when I started looking into these  glad-handed slide shows to see they were both thrown together by the same person.

Kallie Provencher at RantChic.

24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30 was the one that really got to me. In it, she says we should all stop wearing graphic t-shirts, and trade old sneakers for upscale tennis clogs. In fact, she even goes on to say that if we can’t afford nicer things, we should all be evaluating our lives as 30 year olds.

Tell us more about this magical world where money grows on trees and everyone stops having a personality of their own, Kallie.

It doesn’t stop there. This leading authority on what women over 30 should be doing and, in most cases, not doing, has also recently written:

20 Pictures Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting

15 Status Updates Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting On Social Media

10 Games Women Over 30 Need To Stop Playing

There may be more, but I couldn’t stand to go past there.

Because I decided to write her a letter.

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Dear Kallie Provencher at RantChic,

You’ve garnered quite a bit of viral-ability lately. In recent months, perhaps because my peers and I are for the most part in our 30s, I’ve seen your posts on RantChic shared again and again. And again. Except when it’s shared, it’s typically with a comment like “this article makes me so mad!”

It’s a shame that your popularity is growing because people despise what you say so much.

I’m writing today to open a dialogue with you. That dialogue is about how you seem to think you are the authority on how people over 30 should behave.

I don’t know much about you. I don’t even know if you’re over 30 (wouldn’t that be ironic). And while I could make several assumptions based on the articles you’ve written, I’ll stick to just one: you seem to hate women in their 30s.

Let me see if I can break down that assumption for you vis-à-vis the Kallie Provencher School of Blog Writing…

3 Signs That Kallie Provencher At RantChic Hates Women In Their 30s

Living life to its fullest, relishing in the things you enjoy, and sharing with those you love are things Kallie Provencher at RantChic hates. Therefore, women in their 30s should stop doing all of that and just die already.

#3 Kallie Provencher Wants You To Be More Mature

So much so that every article Kallie writes about things women in their 30s should stop doing already start with a few sentences about maturity. Bask in her sage wisdom. Women should be eating at more mature places, shopping at more mature stores, and acting more mature in their relationships.

Move over Forever 21, graphic t-shirts, and old tennis shoes, Kallie Provencher insists we all shop at Dress Barn and Lane Bryant, and wear nothing but nice, floral, below-the-knee pinafores until the day we die.

#2 Kallie Provencher Wants You To Stop Enjoying Life

Stop watching television shows you enjoy, like Dancing With the Stars and Days Of Our Lives. Days Of Our Lives may be a soap opera, and soap operas are usually reserved for older women; but it’s immature to take pleasure in gossipy kind of stuff like that.

And we all know how Kallie Provencher feels about immaturity.

If you must go on living after you turn 30, for the love of God – don’t enjoy it and share it with others. DO NOT share vacation photos, and NEVER talk about how proud you are of your clean house or your pregnant belly.

Kallie Provencher doesn’t care. About any of it.

#1 Kallie Provencher Wants You To Come To Terms With The Fact That 30 Is The End

A lot of people have a more positive outlook on life. Like people that enjoy their lives well into their 80s and 90s; people that hold onto their youth as long as possible; and pretty much the general population regardless of their age or gender.

Except, of course, for Kallie Provencher.

Kallie understands that you used to play games, but you’d better cut that shit out now. You’re getting older. Holding out for the right man, or setting your standards high and playing a little hard to get is something 20 year olds do. Better to settle and start being easy in hopes it will land you a man before you become a crazy cat lady. It’s time to act desperate here, ladies.

At this stage in the game, Kallie doesn’t want to hear about your new milestones. She doesn’t want to see photographs of your new tattoos. She has no interest in your glitter make up tutorials. She does not want to know the size of your unborn fetus. And the only vacation she actually wants to hear about is your final one, to the funeral home. Which will surely be soon, because life is over. You’re 30 now.

If you’ve done any of this stuff – shared a photo of a delicious meal you are proud to have made, talked about heading out for a much-needed pedicure, or God-forbid, have worn overalls, it’s time to reevaluate your entire life. The only thing you should be focusing on is doing nothing, sharing nothing, and destroying all evidence of your existence prior to this point.

Especially those comfy pajamas you bought at the Victoria’s Secret Pink store on your 29th birthday.

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Sounds terrible when you throw all of it into one place like that, doesn’t it?

I suppose we all shouldn’t be too surprised by the content of your articles and slideshows. Each one is titled negatively. What women in their 30s should stop doing, stop wearing, stop posting. Stop, stop, stop. That seems to be all you want to do, Kallie Provencher: to tell people to stop living.

Well I have a request of something I would like you to stop doing. If you are in your 30s, it’ll fit well – since you seem to believe that at 30 life ceases and some un-effusive robot with no personality or joy for anything takes your place.

Please stop telling 30-somethings what to do. Please stop judging 30-somethings for the way they are.

That’s what kids do.

Your ageist judgments, and grandiose assumptions of what life is supposed to be like as you grow older mean absolutely nothing to anyone but you. If you don’t want to wear glitter make up, short skirts, or old Converse; and you have no interest in catching The Bachelor every night it’s on – then don’t. That’s your choice, just as it’s your choice to post on your social media anything you’d like to post, or to (in your case) not post.

But telling others what to do, and suggesting they are making poor value judgments because they chose to live a certain way at a particular age doesn’t do anything but make you an asshole. In fact, since I’ve turned 30, that’s the most important thing I’ve learned.