Yo, Privileged Guy At The Tennis Courts

This is for you.

The other day I was sitting at the tennis courts where my kids were attending a group clinic.

I was sitting in the chairs that border the courts. You know, seating for human beings.

There were two other mothers there. We were – like – just sitting. Chatting, really quietly. (And I mean really quietly, because I know how dickwads like you give the coaches everywhere around town such a hard time.)

We were pretty much minding our business.

Then you told us to shut the fuck up. Like animals.

To be clear, you interrupted the mother I was speaking to, mid-sentence, and yelled: “hey ladies, could you take your conversation over to the parent’s area?”

Um.

The other mother said “Oh, sorry, are we being too loud?” And you yelled “just go on down to the parent’s viewing area over there.”

Parent’s area? I didn’t know such a thing existed. I didn’t realize that parents were being segregated from the rest of the more civilized folk. Maybe we are and I just don’t know, but what you were referring to, which you then clarified: the parents area was a group of chairs five courts down, in the dirt.

Hey ladies, could you shut the fuck up and go sit in the dirt?

You very obviously had a hard on for misogynistic undertones, because I also heard you refer to my 15 year old daughter as “blondie.” If I were less classy of a person, I would have told you to shut the fuck up too. But being polite and not wanting to embarrass my kids or the coaches (who deal with enough shit from assbags like you on a daily basis), I returned to my book, and listened to you.

You bitched about children in tennis.

You bitched about not having courts when you want them because of children.

You bitched about children’s sports on the whole. You said children shouldn’t be allowed to play sports until they are in college.

You said the coaches shouldn’t be allowed to support children’s sports.

You griped about how a “council” should be formed to eliminate youth sports altogether from the community, because it bothers you every time you are there playing tennis, or even at the park walking your dog.

Every time a child at the group clinic even uttered the slightest noise – and I mean slightest – you stopped what you were doing (serving, playing out a point, whatever), looked over, and said “REALLY?!”

But I digress. You know what you did.

After you finished your friendly match with a guy who seemed much more decent of a human being than you (though not – clearly – decent enough to call out that “blondie” comment), you guys went in to the clubhouse and ordered beers. Sitting outside, still on the chairs for humans versus the spots in the dirt for the parents, I heard you loudly yelling at the guy serving you that you couldn’t believe he did not know your account number. That of all the people that frequent the place, he couldn’t remember yours.

Yeah, so.

What is so disturbing about this is your sense of privilege. It isn’t that you are more privileged than others – with more wealth or better health, greater opportunities, or whatever. It’s that you believe – like actually believe – that the world is all for you.

That it is actually OK to refer to a child as “blondie.” Ever, in any situation.

That people should be segregated based on their “status” or usefulness? I don’t know, what exactly is it segregating by to separate parents from non-parents?

I read a meme the other day that said “privilege is thinking something is not a problem because it has never personally affected you.”

That’s true. But I think in your case, I would take that a little further.

Privilege is thinking that the whole world is set up specifically for you, and that in your case the rules do not apply. That you can actually say and behave in the way you did that day and get away with it.

Why? I guess because for now you do.

For myself, I’m going to start putting my kids in situations where people like that don’t rule the world. It may be hard to find. Or maybe I will just start speaking up, and speaking out. How else will I teach my kids to stand up to that shit and make a change, instead of quietly turning back to their books and do what the privileged motherfuckers like you demand, just to avoid conflict?

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An Open Letter To Single Mothers, Everywhere

Suck it up.

Yep, I said it. Suck it up.

I mean this with the utmost understanding of the struggles you are experiencing.

Suck. It. Up.

That’s what I read over and over and over again in the comments section of an article this morning on Scary Mommy, although it was the single mothers, everywhere, that were screeching it in what I can only imagine the shrillest of tones.

Nobody has it as bad as you, right?

UGH.

Suck it up.

So I woke up this morning, and as I always do, checked all the notifications on my phone. Then, after clearing them, scrolled through my Facebook feed and ran across this:

Single mothers everywhere, came to this post in particular, just to tell a woman (women, because others had empathized in the comments and were being directly addressed as well) to suck it up.

To the writer of this article: I identify. Big time.

My husband doesn’t travel for work, but he is never around either. He works the nightshift, extra hours, and takes extra jobs on weekends as side projects to further his career. When he is home, he is sleeping or sitting on his phone or answering emails from work.

He is not and he has never been an extra set of hands.

I am the lone ranger of our home. I do all the cooking. All the cleaning. All the driving. The baths, the bedtimes, the runny noses and endless doctor’s appointments – you guys get it, I do it all. There is no me time, no self care. No “I do the cooking, you do the dishes.” I do all of it, and then I make my husband a plate of food to eat the next day and many times he just throws it in the trash because “work catered this morning.”

Most days it’s all I can do to keep my head above water. And all for the income of barely above a livable wage, because not only does my husband sacrifice his time for his career, he sacrifices good wages. I cut my own hair, I cook every meal at home, and I go without basic necessities time after time after time to give my kids opportunity and my husband the chance to achieve his dreams.

This isn’t about my struggles, though; or my husband’s clear lack of participation in our family dynamic. Let me be clear: IT IS NOT. I’m just attempting to clarify why I am qualifying my own right to say to single moms, everywhere:

You. Need. To. Stop.

If I or someone else, like the writer of “This Is What Parenting Feels Like When Your Spouse Travels For Work,” ever dares to open our mouths and lament a particularly difficult aspect of our own situation – which certainly a lot of people can identify with, and benefit from hearing about – the army of single mothers, everywhere, come in on their high horses, spewing hate and venom about how no situation can ever be as bad as theirs.

Give me a break.

The defining comment on that article this morning was one of the first I read. It had over 600 reactions, and over 100 replies in unison:

“So, like single parenting but with an extra income? Asking for 13.7 million people.”

You can feel the ire radiating from the screen.

Comment after comment from there agreed and told the writer to suck it up. To “man up” and deal with her situation.

“At least you have that extra income.”

“Suck it up, at least you have an extra pair of hands when he’s in town.”

The ballsiest:

“No one’s situation will ever be as hard as mine.”

OH. MY. GOD.

We get it. Your life sucks too. The operative word there is “too.” Shockingly, misery in adulthood is not mutually exclusive. A lot of people experience it, in a lot of different ways.

You had a failed marriage. You told a man you were pregnant and he fled town. You don’t get child support. You do get child support, but it’s insufficient. You never get a break. You get a break, but you have to fight incessantly as coparents. Your kids will never know what it’s like to have two parents in one home. Your kids will and remember, but they will always have the trauma of a home, broken. You have to work two jobs to survive. You have to work one job, but long hours.

None of that is sufficient to invalidate the experiences of others.

There are a lot of people in the world that have it much worse than all of us. There are refugees. People on the street. People in abusive situations that feel they can’t get out. People with terminal illness. I could go on.

The point is that a lot of people in this world, dare I say most people, are struggling in one way or another. Other people are allowed to have a hard time with their situation while you have a hard time with yours. Moreover, it doesn’t make your experience any less valid to validate that of others.

I’m sorry, it doesn’t.

It sucks to have your struggles shit on. To the single moms, everywhere: just stop.

The point is: we get it. I get it. I hear you. Now it’s your turn to hear me.

Suck it up.

Not suck it up to your situation; rather, suck it up to the fact that you are not alone and you do not have it particularly worse than any given person.

Something magical happens when we stop shitting on each other and start working together: things get easier. I am much more inclined to carpool with a single mother that recognizes my own struggles, than to carpool with one who responds to everything I say with “at least you don’t…” In exchange, I am a listener, and will listen to you as long as you need me to.

It isn’t a pissing contest. We can both be miserable, and in acknowledging that, we can also both get some happiness, together.

An Open Letter To Martha Stewart, From A Blogger (Not An Expert)

Last Sunday, I – like many – spent the majority of my day relaxing and perusing around the Internet. For the most part, I was just minding my own business. I giggled at memes of Grumpy Cat. I issued the obligatory Facebook ‘happy birthday’s and ‘congratulations on your umpteenth pregnancy’s. I pinned a bagillion-and-one Halloween projects to Pinterest. Like I said: pretty much minding my own goddamned business.

Eventually, I did as I always do: gave in to the temptation of the Google News Aggregate. I have a love-hate relationship with the news. For the most part, I believe it to be biased, uninformed, lacking facts, and discouraging. All over the world people are dying of famine, terrorism, disease; and the top stories are generally about Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. It (sort of) leaves a sour taste in my mouth; but then I say “sort of” because I also like to be informed about what is going on in the world. So I checked, before turning off my computer and moving on to some other form of weekend laziness.

That is where it hit me: an opinion article responding to an interview with Martha Stewart on Bloomberg television; which only took a few more clicks to view first-hand. In it, Martha said unfathomable words. I mean, they are fathomable; but at the same time so gauche for her to say. “Who are these bloggers? They’re not editors at Vogue magazine.”  She said. “I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create kind of a popularity, but they are not the experts.”

Puke.

I forgot about this major Martha faux pas for a few days until I headed today to Michael’s to buy some craft paint for pumpkins. As I walked down the aisle, I was then confronted with the Martha Stewart line of overpriced satin, pearl, and heavy-glitter colors. Satin, pearl, and heavy-glitter colors that none of the other brands offered, and which made me feel shame for wanting them, in spite of Martha’s crude and unfair comments on Bloomberg. Standing there, in the aisle, I felt light-headed and vomit-y over this clear conflict of my interests, and so I knew what I had to do.

I had to write Martha a letter.

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Dear Martha –

Every recipe I have ever made from your website tastes like total shit. And to top it off, they’re always way less healthy, and way more expensive, than the comparable version that I – a blogger (not an expert) – end up putting together on my own.

Sometimes I wonder if you know of any recipes that do not include heavy cream or $100 worth of supplies.

Occasionally I think you are more concerned about the presentation of your dishes than the actual taste and healthfulness of them. By “occasionally,” I mean all the time, because it is a case-in-point fact that all the sprigs of rosemary and garnishes of parsley will not make something overcooked, heavily creamed, and under-seasoned edible.

I’m talking about your dishes, Martha. Your dishes are overcooked. Your dishes are heavily creamed. Your dishes are under-seasoned. Your dishes, Martha – your dishes are inedible.

If I had a dollar for every slideshow I got sucked into when looking for a D.I.Y. homemade gift project that turned out to be something available for purchase on your website, I may actually have enough money to buy your overpriced non-D.I.Y. homemade gifts.

And if I had another dollar for every actual D.I.Y. homemade gift tutorial I was able to find that was just a cheap piece of garbage, I would be able to fund my own popular, lifestyle website. Where I’d actually share quality tutorials. Quality tutorials that people can do and that don’t end up being total crap.

I mean, come on: felted slippers? I know a ton of people that would love to get those one-time wearers.

A few weeks ago I was at Staples looking for a calendar book. You know: one of those little booklets you can keep in your purse or in the kitchen drawer. You write all of your appointments in it for a few months, then lose it or forget that it exists, or remember that your phone has iCal. I saw one in your new “Home Office” line of products, which had no dates printed. No dates. A calendar book. With no fucking dates. Right. It was twice as expensive as the Staples brand calendar book, which had the dates.

Now I’m just a blogger (not an expert), but it seems to me that if a calendar book has no calendar dates printed in it, then it should probably be less expensive that the one that actually took the time and effort to print the fucking numbers in the book. That’s just me. I’m no expert.

I’d like to thank you for getting this whole decoupage thing going. Not really, I’m not really thanking you. I’m being sarcastic. Bloggers (not experts) do that a lot. In any event, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Vases, furniture, cabinets, plates, linens – not a one of them was nice or acceptable until it was decorated with tiny paper cut outs. Tiny paper cut outs of leaves, trees, birds, and victorian designs, to be precise. Now I spend my days looking around my house for places in which I can add a hint of gold leaf so that my home is as nice as everyone else’s. Fucking thanks a whole lot for that.

And let’s not even go into how many of your supposedly-unique home decor projects are really just putting flowers in a vase. No, Martha. Let’s just not go into that.

That’s the thing about us bloggers. We are not experts. We are not editors at Vogue magazine. We are not the inventors of this whole lifestyle thing. We are just people. People that have opinions and ideas and lives and experiences.

I think that those experiences – of trying recipes and finding them to be too much on the heavy cream; of making our own decorations for the season; of gifting on a budget – I think that it’s those experiences that make us sort of like experts. Experts of our own tastes and interests and likes and dislikes. My recipes and my crafts and my homemade gifts and my lifestyle ideas may not be tested by anyone but my family and friends, but I think they are good, healthy, affordable, and fun. What’s great about being an inelegant blogger, rather than an editor at Vogue or an ex-felon with a manly voice and a daytime TV show is that I have a place where other non-experts feel comfortable enough to come and share with me in our untested, unedited mediocrity.

In the end, that’s really all that matters. And anyway, does it really take expertise to put flowers in a vase, or to know that curry needs curry powder? I don’t think so, Martha. No, I just really don’t think so…

An Open Letter To Facebook From a Blogger

Dearest Facebook –

On behalf of the blogging community, I have to say: we are all feeling a little put out by you lately.

When you first came on the scene, we all jumped ship from Myspace and came over to you. It was fickle and – for many of us – a little hasty, yes; but you were so new and clean and fresh.

I’ll be the first to admit that you impressed us. You won us over with your charm.

You gave us the opportunity to have Fanpages, which was an awesome way to market our websites and blogs. It wasn’t quite advertising, but it really helped. You said there was a Fanpages community. You said it was free to join. “It’s free and always will be.” We jumped on board. We did the timeline thing when you asked us to. We worried about how many fans we had. We started pinning highlighted posts to the top of our Fanpages like you told us we should. We even made cute, little posts when we reached a certain amount of fans.

We looked into making more professional designs like the big guns did. When State Farm started listing its Facebook Fanpage on its commercial, we really took you guys seriously. We talked about our Fanpages to our friends. We tried to get more fans in our blog posts. We shared each other’s pages in hopes it would grow our Facebook community.

Because we considered you to be a community – an online community where people could come together.

But recently it’s seemed as though you aren’t really a community. Recently it’s seemed more as though you are an enterprise. A dirty, greedy, extortionist-run, capitalistic enterprise.

You see, a community may have ads and billboards and opportunity for financial incentives and growth within it. But it also has some sense of participation that you get just for being there. Just for existing. People can’t be limited to only exist to say 10 or 15% of their community if they are there. If I am in a park, enjoying the sun and the falling leaves and the flowers still in bloom and the autumn breeze that is blowing through my hair, the whole park usually sees me. It isn’t limited to the number of people that I have paid to be able to see my hair as the wind blows it a little bit too out of control.

In fact, I would never, in a million years, expect to have to pay just to exist in the community in which I live. Which begs the question of just why Fanpages now are being expected to pay if they wish their posts to exist to their fans?

I understand, you are running a business. But that’s what the ads were for. That’s why when we go to log in, we have to be bothered by videos automatically playing on your homepage. That’s why in our personal Facebook pages, we are foisted upon with ads for companies we have never even heard of being suggested throughout our Newsfeed. Not just on the sidebar anymore, but between the friend’s baby photos and the cousin’s engagement announcement. That’s why we usually let go of the whole privacy concerns you raise. We move along with all the changes you make. We embrace your so-called innovations that are usually just setbacks.

There are all kinds of Fanpages out there. There are pages for professional companies. There are pages for products, like Tide and Snuggle. There are pages for activities, like turning the pillow over to the cold side when you are hot. There are pages for athletes and actresses, and even the prostitute down the street from our old apartment had her own Fanpage.

And then there are Fanpages for bloggers.

Don’t underestimate the presence of bloggers in your community, Facebook. Think about how many bloggers are out there. There are millions of blogs posted a day, by millions of bloggers. There are big bloggers that write for newspapers and magazines, like Time and CNN. There are little bloggers such as myself. There are people that blog for companies like you. At some point, enough of us will be upset enough by your blatant greed to jump ship from you too. And while some may be able to pay your ridiculous promotion fees, more will not on the principle of just how greedy you have become.

Eventually you will fall like every greedy empire does when it tries to extort money out of people, or just sits by and allows anyone that cannot compete fiscally to be squashed. There is still hope for you, though, Facebook. You could start letting more fans regularly see the posts that Fanpages make. You could make yourself viable again.

When I was in third grade, I read a fable once about greed that I will never forget. It was about a crow that found a piece of meat on the ground.  He picked it up and flew to the top of a tree.  While sitting there eating his meat, a small bird passed by carrying a dead rat. The crow called to her and asked “where did you get that dead rat?”  But the small bird did not answer: she flew on her way.   The crow saw that she paid no attention to him, and he became very angry; and called out, “stop and give me a piece of that rat, or I will follow you and take the whole thing for myself!” Still the small bird paid no attention to him.   At last, full of greed and rage, the crow was determined to have the rat by any means.   He left the meat he was eating, and flew after the small creature.   Although she was only a little bird, she could fly faster than the crow; so he could not catch her.

While the crow was chasing her, though, a hawk happened to pass by the tree where the crow had left his meat.   The hawk saw the meat, and at once seized it in his claws and flew away.

The crow was left with nothing. He had the meat and he gave it up for nothing.

You could make us love you once more, Facebook. But it isn’t going to happen if you expect us to pay just to exist in the community that we built for you. You’ve got the meat, but you’re going to lose it all to your avarice over a dead rat.

A Few Open Letters From My Day…

Yeesh, what a day! This may be Hump Day, but for me it was “Fuck Heather’s Brain Until It Bleeds”-Day. I have a few open letters to write from my day. Shall we begin?

An Open Letter to the lady at Natural Cafe

FUCK YOU.

I heard you standing in line behind me, having a pithy little conversation with your friend about how you don’t dress down and “lower” (your word) yourselves to wear Team Shirts outside of the house, or at the very most sporting events. I heard as I stood in line in front of you wearing my White Sox shirt. I heard your bitchy comments after you noticeably sized me up, right before I turned my back on your oversized, posh ass.

I wore my team shirt today, you might know, because I am overwhelmingly homesick at the present time. I hate California because of assholes like you and thought a good way to deal without making everyone around me miserable would be to wear my White Sox shirt. Sue me. And kindly shut the fuck up.

An Open Letter to the guy that commented on my blog

FUCK YOU.

I really and truly enjoyed receiving your comment this morning on my post about the Pubic Parking sign outside a local elementary school. Sadly, I cannot approve it because you are a dick. I don’t know who you are, and your vague pseudonym “CaliGuy” leads me to believe you are too much of a pussy to reveal your true identity. I will, however respond to your three sentences here:

“You clearly have no compassion for simple mistakes.”

Sir, I kindly invite you to fuck off. I do have compassion for simple mistakes. I do not have compassion for mistakes that leave my kid to ask me what “pubic” means, or that are a direct result of laziness. In a public school, simple proofreading should be taught and shown by example. Period, end of sentence.

“I have read other posts of yours. If you hate California so much, why don’t you leave, and while you’re at it stop sucking up our tax dollars?”

Short answer or long answer, oh douchly one? The short answer is that I would gladly leave if I could. The long answer is that my husband works in the film industry, so just up and leaving California because I am unhappy is not as simple as you suggest.

And in regards to my sucking up the tax dollars, the only way in which I reap the benefits of the taxes I contribute to is in the extra-curriculars I take advantage of run by the city. I still pay fees for those, though. I homeschool and am not on welfare. I rarely use any public services whatsoever. This means that I pay taxes and reap very little actual benefit at all. I pay taxes for that public school to put up the “pubic parking” sign, and further to educate other kids while I pay for my own educational materials.

Now, I again kindly invite you to fuck off.

“You really are a bitch.”

Yes, sir. I am. Proud of it.

An Open Letter to the lady at swimming that accosted me today.

FUCK YOU.

Oh, woman that accosted me at swimming today, told me my kid crying during the class was ruining it for everyone, and proceeded to yell at me that you wanted to know how long we would be there so you could return after we are gone: kiss my grits. Seriously. The swimming staff and instructors informed me that my kid crying is a normal part of swimming and water confidence, and if you have a problem with that you should take it up with them. I will be bringing my kid back on Monday and if you so much as look at me the wrong way, I won’t be as nice as I was today.

You see, today I stood firm to my belief that it is an extremely bad example to set for children to act like such a pompous, overbearing, self-righteous asshole. I don’t believe it is OK to tell other parents at extra-curriculars that they are “bad parents” or “rude” because they will not indulge in petty arguments. I do not believe in getting into huge, loud, verbal confrontations over something that is unambiguously wrong on your part, so I kindly said “none of your business” and we left. If you continue harassing me, though, I may not continue to be so nice.

You are a bitch. As with all the other people I encountered today, I invite you to kindly fuck off.

This was a bad day, full of assholes. It is true that I hate California, but I think I really just hate people.