Posts Filed Under I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING HERE.

What six years of blogging has taught me about handling trolls

by renegademama

A writer recently asked me how I handle assholes on the internet.

And I’m really glad she asked, because after six (nearly seven!) years of blogging, I have finally perfected the craft of polite, professional maturity in the face of trolls who don’t read the post then call me “fat and ugly” just to be safe.

Or, do read the post and call me a “sad specimen of goat feces” who they hope “gets eaten by vultures.” Vultures don’t even eat feces, you fucking moron.

Sorry. Lost my maturity there for a second. This rarely happens.

Anyway, generally when I come across a comment that sends my blood rushing to the top of my head, where it swirls in incredulous shock and malaise, I click off of it and tell myself I shall ignore it like a mature professional adult.

I remind myself of all the other bloggers on the internet who get eaten alive by comments and don’t respond at all and I tell myself “You can be like them, too, Janelle!” You can do it! You’re a real grown-up now.

Then I click back over to the comment and reply, “I hope you die in a fire.”

After that, I may delete it but I don’t edit it because I don’t want the commenter to know how much their comment bothers me. If it’s been more than five minutes, I don’t delete it because then the commenter will know I wrote something then deleted it, which means I don’t stand by my word and am weak and afraid. Or maybe they’ll call me out on deleted comments, which means they got the better of me.

Then I remind myself that the commenter HAS ALREADY IN FACT GOTTEN THE FUCKING BETTER OF ME BECAUSE I AM SITTING HERE OBSESSING OVER HOW TO RESPOND TO A COMMENT THAT SAYS, “I’m glad California is burning because of all the gays and I hope they learns and than stop blocking Trump from MAGA!!!!!!”

If I leave the comment, I swear I won’t return because now I have re-doubled my maturity efforts and I’m sure they’ll work this time.

I take a screenshot and send it to 2-17 friends.

Then I go about my life until a few hours later, when I see a notification from Captain MAGA. I think No don’t look.

Then I look.

At that point, I either:

  1. Ignore it (this happens twice a year);
  2. Respond with a GIF which satisfies a little bit of my desire to have the last word while also allowing me to bow out of the conversation; or
  3. Actually attempt words, then regret it immediately.

Sometimes, when I’m really feeling on top of my game, I unfriend and block the person then tell myself “I really should be more mature about thing,” and remind myself that someday I’m going to be 90 years old (hopefully), and I will most likely look back at the whole days irate at some stranger in Idaho as something along the lines of “a waste of time.”

Not that I spend whole days irate.

I definitely do that.

But I’ve come super far, guys. When I first started blogging, I used to spend 13 hours carefully crafting the perfect rebuttal to trolls, and I’d keep riding that train for hours or days, way beyond the point at which it became clear this person and I were FOR SURE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE EVER.

No worries. I would not be deterred. I was a motherfucking keyboard warrior.

It would end when I blocked them because I’d be like “This is my blog and YOU LOSE!”

Then I’d go back to wishing I were a real adult.

I was so ridiculous about it, I even had older, more seasoned writers EMAIL ME OUT OF THE BLUE to let me know that instead of responding to 37 randoms on the internet who hate me, perhaps I should just move on to my next writing project.

You know, for funsies.

I literally had a “talking to” by writers I know. GO TEAM.

After that, I only spent one hour shit-slinging with trolls I’ll never meet.

And now, I’m down to like fifteen minutes, and sometimes even respond to asshole comments with a semblance of patience and tolerance.

That also happens twice a year.

You know what we call that, people? Motherfucking progress.

Baby steps to maturity.

Also known as, who fucking cares. 

Speaking of maturity, I just spent 45 minutes making an infographic.

Have a nice day.

Super Scientific Maturity Data Analysis

P.S. Fine. What I’ve actually learned after all these years is that the only thing that matters is that we keep going. With our words, our work, our art. And that, I fucking mean. 

***

Check out sponsor Meg Worden. She says cannabis is the new kale.

Perhaps that would help my maturity.

25 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | November 16, 2017

Do you ever wonder why the hell we trust people?

by renegademama

Just sometimes, ya know? Like when somebody you absolutely knew was trustworthy – somebody you considered family, somebody you invited into all areas of your life, somebody you would have sworn felt the same about you – turns out to be a goddamn liar without any particular capacity for, oh, you know, integrity?

It’s impossible to write this post without being annoyingly vague, but that is the burden we must bear, for this isn’t a story I can detail. I can, however, tell you this: A person my entire family loved like a fucking brother – a non-blood relative each of my kids called “uncle” – betrayed the shit out of us, lied about it, kept lying about it, lied some more about just in case there were some lies left untold, and then, just when we were about to open conversation with him in the hope of some reconciliation, re-engaged unapologetically in the same shit that ended our friendship in the first place.

But the details are unimportant.

The point is, and the thing Mac and I have been asking ourselves since this happened a couple of months ago, after all the tears and rage and confusion – is how difficult it is to not simply shut down the entire friend division of life.

After a loss and betrayal like this, the feeling of “How could I be so wrong about a person?” is overwhelming, and I question my ability to assess character, morality, integrity.

And in the pain and confusion, there’s a side of Mac and me that never wants to open up to anybody again, never wants a new friend, never wants to let anyone come over on motherfucking Christmas.

As in, friendship closed for business until further notice.

 

Because truly, how can you love somebody so much and have them throw ya away for nothing?

For real, how can we be so goddamn wrong about people? 

That’s the thing, you know? That feeling of having been hoodwinked, played, taken for the ultimate heart ride. But this time, we included our children. This motherfucker caused serious emotional pain for our children.

And I had to navigate that, answer their questions about why he doesn’t come around anymore, and how much they miss him, and I had to come up with something to say beyond: “Some people are fucking assholes.”

Because that wouldn’t have been entirely true anyway, though I wanted to say it in the heat of my sadness. I wanted to rail and scream and tell them we were simply wrong about this person and fuck him and the boat he rode in on.

But that ain’t true, and I know it. And they need to know it.

Instead, I told them, “Well, he made some decisions that make it impossible for us to be friends, but we loved him, and he loved us, and we had some great times together, but sometimes love isn’t enough.”

Sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes it isn’t enough to counteract the brokenness and imperfections of a person, their inability to show honesty or decency or maturity, and you have to let both parts stand. Sometimes you have to accept a person is just too fucked up to trust.

Even though you want to.

I know, I know. “We don’t harm people we love.”

And to that I say, Lolllllllllll. That’s a good one. Either we do harm people we love, or no human on the planet knows how to love, because come the fuck on. Seems to me we harm the people we love often.

I’ve been harmed by AND harmed every single person I love most on this earth.

Seems to me we have love and we have all this other shit inside of us too, parts that do harm, and the people around us feel both.

But with most people, the people we keep in our lives, the support and love and devotion and service is way bigger than the harm, so we can tolerate a person’s humanity, their brokenness.

There’s a difference between imperfect and FUCKING TOXIC AS FUCK.

We gotta let the toxic ones go.

 

But then we’re left with all the love we shared and nowhere to put it. We’re left with memories of the pain and the friendship, and the confusion of where the fuck it all went wrong.

Part of me wants to shut off, shut down, shove everyone away. Mac and I took turns saying, “I’m never trusting anyone again.” We were joking, sort of. We were being dramatic, sort of. And yet, I see people who do exactly that. I see people hurt by the inevitable betrayal of humans, by the imperfections of those around them, and turning themselves into impenetrable fortresses.

I get it. We have to survive somehow. And honestly, in moments, it’s rather appealing.

But this isn’t a threat to my continued survival, and as such, it’s something that simply hurts, a lot, and makes me question what I thought I knew of people. Makes me wonder what I could have learned, and should learn, and will learn. I look for my part in all this: Where were the signs? What could I have done better? It’s all we can do, I guess. Try to gain some wisdom while also recognizing that sometimes there is nothing we can do, nothing to foresee, and people are just goddamn WEIRD.

I know in my heart that “never loving a new person again” is not the solution. I know that openness to deep friendship is not the solution. But goddamnit, I would have staked my life on this fool.

Bah.

I suppose I find myself making the ultimate choice again, to let the fucked up nature of humans exist alongside their exquisite beauty, and holding so damn close the friends who’ve stuck around, the family by my side—to remind me not only of the fleeting nature of connection, but the sacredness of the threads that remain.

I have never felt more grateful for the friends in my life who exist like rocks, have withstood the test of years. If nothing else, I see that, and it’s blinding in its brilliance.

So here’s to more ridiculous loving.

Mac gave me this card a few months ago, and it feels so right.

***

Join me in January

for the first workshop in my series, and then write with me ALL YEAR. 

Write Anyway” is for the person who:

  • has a nagging question or persistent feeling of “You should write this,” but isn’t;
  • can’t decide what to write about;
  • constantly hears the “you suck why are you even trying?” voice when she sits down to write;
  • is too afraid to write what they’re really feeling/thinking/experiencing;
  • is agonizing over what people will think;
  • is obsessing over perfection; and/or
  • getting bent out of shape for 3 days over assholes on the internet criticizing in ways that hurt (and somehow they always hit where it hurts). Insulting intelligence. Name-calling. Making fun. Crafting Reddit threads against you.

So the kids are back in school

by renegademama

I really want to write a coherent and spellbinding blog post on some sort of topic – you know, how I usually do (ha.ha.ha) – but I’m finding myself somewhat without a brain.

It happens occasionally. It’s like my brain detaches from my body for a bit and I find myself going through the motions of my life with a bit of numbness. Kind of a lack of opinions, if you can imagine such a thing.

Also, perhaps the dumpster fire of our country is playing a tiny role in my apathy. It’s like I spend so much of my day wondering HOW THE FUCK people can say things like “Trump isn’t racist and supporting him is a step toward equality for all.”

I think my brain has had to detach from my body to avoid exploding. Like it’s all get me the hell outta here until things improve.

So then I try to not read the Twitter and Facebook but that goes terribly because I’m addicted.

What.

Anyway, my oldest kid started high school. This feels so profoundly wrong on so many levels. First of all, where the fuck did the last 15 years go, and why did nobody tell me it goes this fast?

OH RIGHT THEY’VE BEEN TELLING ME THAT FOREVER and it annoyed me.

Three years. I get three more years until she moves out. We’re trying to bribe her to stay. We told her we’d buy her a car if she stays at home and goes to community college. Any day now I’m going to figure out how to afford to buy her a car.

When I was pregnant with her at 22, I used to imagine the day she graduated from high school. I used to imagine her as a teenager, and I’d think it was so far off it probably wasn’t real. It felt so distant it was irrelevant.  

And now here we are.

And Rocket is in his last year of grammar school. Next year he starts middle school. Then he’s going to be a teenager too, and you know what? I have some opinions on that (OH THERE I AM): Hormones highjack our kids and turn them into intermittently intolerable nutjobs.

And that hurts. A lot. I watch it happening. I know it’s right and healthy and good.

Also, are hormones my excuse? As far as the intermittently intolerable nutjob thing goes?

But seriously, there’s a heaviness that comes, an adult-ness, and it creeps in and takes over and I know it’s about detachment and growing, and I know text-bantering with my teenager and relating to her on a more “friend” level is actually FUN, and watching her become herself is downright miraculous, but also, it fucking hurts watching them go.

You know?

And Rocket is almost there. I feel it. I see it. I want to scream “Nooooooo” until maturity changes its mind and I get to keep my little boy. Bah.

George started second grade, which was one of my favorite years in school, and I can handle that.

Arlo is three. He’s either the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life or a naked tyrant screaming on the kitchen floor because his frivolous wants are not being met.

Come to think of it, the three-year-old and teenagers have a lot in common.

Maybe I’m just feeling the weight of time moving on, as we head into a new school year, but also I think I’m pretty fucking tired of driving kids around in circles all damn day. Like “school year” means a lot of mundane routine, back IN IT, the SHIT. I’m always about half interested in these tasks, the way life becomes so FAST and BUSY and INTENSE. I suppose if I were a better, more devoted mother I would get really excited about sitting in “car line” and remembering folders and lunches and other such complexity.

Plus, the talking. The talking in the car. The car talking. The four kids car talking.

This morning I told my friend “I spend a good portion of my life pretending to give a shit what my kids are saying.” I DON’T MEAN THAT. Okay I kind of mean that.

Because by hour two of endless kid chatter, my detached brain is like PERHAPS THERE WAS GOING TO BE MORE THAN THIS ALSO WHY CAN’T YOU TAKE THE BUS AND HOW LOUD DO I HAVE TO TURN UP THIS MUSIC BEFORE YOU GIVE UP SPEAKING?

I don’t do that. Of course I sit in riveted fascination, hanging on their every word, because it all goes so quickly, you know?

 I’ll just let you decide what’s happening.

Anyway, they’re cute though, and I’m glad they’re here, and I’m here, and you’re here.

Much love to all of you affected by the floods in Texas. Thinking of you. Tell me how you are.

And happy fucking school year guys! We’re so good at this!

Arlo thought he was going to school too. Hence the lunchbox. I didn’t break it to him that he was in pajamas.

20 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | August 30, 2017

15 Ways I’ve Fought for Personal Space While Sleeping Next to a Toddler, and Lost.

by renegademama

My youngest child will be three in June. He still sleeps in our bed. If you think my parental rights should be revoked or are going to comment about all the ways you successfully got YOUR sweet gem out of the bed, please send me an email and tell me everything in great detail, but be sure to do so with a tone of pretentious disdain for the likes of me. I swear I’ll read it.

I’ll read it with all my heart.

You can be very sure I will not delete it.

For the rest of us, the “co-sleepers” by choice or necessity or simply because we are losers, I’d like to share with you fifteen ways I’ve tried to get some personal space at night, because I think there are some really good ideas here.

  1. We tried “deciding” not to have a fourth kid, but then we did, because newborn breath is intoxicating and we forgot they become toddlers.
  2. Then we tried “sleep training,” but the sound of his crying was sad at the level of Goose dying in Top Gun, so we gave that shit up before any real effort.
  3. We tried putting him in a bed near our bed but the child can walk, so he walks to the nightstand, scales it, and crawls between us, which he calls his “pot,” or, for the non-toddler world: “spot.”
  4. About 10 times a night, I shove him as far as possible to the other side, against my husband, because then the toddler gets the physical closeness he craves while I get the NOBODY FUCKING TOUCHING ME which I crave, but as soon as I move him, he spins his legs out and sticks them on my chest, using my husband’s head as a pillow and my boobs as a footrest.
  5. I’ve tried trying to convince the toddler to go sleep with his siblings in some other room, but he just looks at me and says, “No thanks, mama. I stay here with you.” And then I stare at him slack-jawed, because how could anything so adorable be so annoying?
  6. I’ve tried creating the classic Wall of Pillows, but the toddler simply launches himself over the pillow wall back into his “pot,” which is zero centimeters from my body.
  7. Sometimes I put a pillow over my head, thinking if I turn the room black and drown out the sound, I’ll forget there is a 30-pound sweating, snoring machine wedged against my shoulder blades, but the toddler seems to think this is a “hide and seek” game, so as soon as he sees this, he lifts one corner of the pillow, victoriously shouting BOO in my ear. And then he gets back into his pot.
  8. I’ve tried sleeping in the other kids’ room but their beds are covered in stuffed animals and I’m 90% sure the sheets haven’t been changed in three years, since that is the exact amount of time it’s been since an actual kid has slept in those beds. (They prefer to sleep together in the living room or on our bedroom floor because apparently “co-sleeping” is a family disease.)
  9. Since the actual pillow wall doesn’t work, I’ve created a psychological boundary made of wishful thinking and broken dreams. In short, I simply will him with all my might to get the hell on the other side of the bed. This does not work at all.
  10. Whispering “holy fuck somebody help me” repeatedly. Nobody hears it, and nobody cares.
  11. Announcing to my husband, “I am so glad we aren’t having any more kids.” This would be a lot more believable if I weren’t crying four hours later over a newborn onesie I found in the back of a dresser.
  12. Declaring with great fervor and a very serious face: “For sure we are going to Ikea this weekend to let Arlo pick out some bedding for HIS bed, which will be on the floor no matter what by Sunday and he’ll never be in this bed again!” But then I forget Saturday morning or on Sunday evening he has a bath and is wearing flannel pajamas with purple dinosaurs on them and I think, “Oh my god you’re my last baby. I SHALL NEVER KICK YOU OUT.”
  13. I’ve tried Zen-like full radical acceptance of the present moment.
  14. But I can’t because the present moment sucks. A toddler just kicked me in my butt crack.
  15. Pretending my co-sleeping is actually some sort of deep overarching parental philosophy when actually it’s just that I like my babies there more than I hate them there but also sometimes I hate them there with all my soul but am too lazy to change it and those sweaty little cuddly heads complicate the shit out of the whole thing.

In other words, I have no idea what I’m doing here.

If anyone needs more helpful parenting idea lists, just let me know. I’m here to serve.

Maybe next week I’ll do potty training. I have endless ideas that don’t work on that one either.

the sweaty toddler head in question

**

Four spots left in this year’s last “Write Anyway” workshop.

Snag one, or email me with questions.

I’d love to write with you.

.

Even in this dumpster fire, we’ve got power, and it may or may not be on Facebook.

by renegademama

Remember when we used to go on Facebook to see pictures of people’s kids, read amusing Buzzfeed listicles – did I just say “listicles” because if so I hate myself – and see what drunk Phyllis posted last night?

That was so fun.

Remember when we used to go on Facebook to read meaningless shit instead of discover new developments in the systematic dismantling of what was left of American democracy?

I loved that.

Now, people who don’t post about the proto-fascist authoritarian dicks in office stick out like devious outliers while I sit there scream-thinking: “I don’t give a fuck about your cat. BETSY DEVOS THINKS GUNS SHOULD BE IN SCHOOLS BECAUSE GRIZZLY BEARS.”

On the other hand, if we didn’t have an occasional cat thrown in – or, my personal favorite: frolicking river otters – this shit would be unbearable, and it’s already unbearable.

Endless streams of bad news, of people referencing “alternative facts” as if that’s a thing other than, um, falsehoods. Our President tweeting about TV show ratings and slamming our judicial system, the very balance created to save our country from the likes of him. Not to mention the whole Putin situation. Ummmmmmmm. FUCK.

I pick up my phone, scroll, feel flames rise through my body, a sense of panic and rage and sadness and hopelessness, then throw my phone. Pick it back up, Google: “Does Spain take Americans?,” “Is Trump going to nuke the world,” and “What does anxiety disorder feel like and do I have it?”

Swear I’m getting off social media for good. Realize it’s only been THREE GODDAMN WEEKS, feel a sense of hopelessness, wonder how the hell we’ll get through. Commit to no more news.

Ten minutes later, get back on my phone thinking fuck these assholes I’m not going down without a fight.

“Fake news” everywhere. Real news conveyed as “fake news” because it hurts Trump’s baby feelings. A top presidential adviser plugging Ivanka Trump’s products as if our government is some new branch of QVC. The White House getting filled with Wall Street executives even though Trump campaigned against exactly that, but now suddenly his supporters don’t seem to mind. HOW WHY WHAT FUCK AGAIN.

Where are we?

It’s a dizzying dystopian fiction. It’s a constant sense of “is anybody else seeing this? SOMEBODY SAVE US.”

As if I can’t find reality. As if what I’m seeing before my eyes is not real, and yet it is real, and yet if it’s real, how the fuck are we expected to simply go on about our lives? WHY IS EVERYONE JUST SITTING HERE?

On the other hand, do we have a choice? Do we engage for knowledge or disengage for sanity? I go back and forth all day.

My go-to coping mechanism lately has been irate Facebook status updates. I guess it makes me think I’m doing something, while lying in bed naked at 2am.

I write some super brilliant (!) shit, then I reread it and add and subtract this and that, and then I hit “post” and wait…OMG will they like me!? A few likes come in, a couple comments. A share! Wheeee!

I am making fun of myself, but this is all real and true. True facts. Not alt-ones.

I’m a bit of child when it comes to this stuff and have no shame in admitting it. Welllll I have a little shame.

 

But what I’ve learned about social media is this: If not used thoughtfully, it engages my baser self. It engages the part of me that wants instant gratification, approval, and attention. It engages the part of me that wants to be RIGHT. It brings me fear and by the end of the day, I’m spinning in circles and essentially useless, mentally.

You know what? I’m tired of that shit. Now is not the time for me to run around trying to be right. Now is the time for me to run around trying to be helpful, trying to share what we know in a way that can be consumed, digested, and relatively useful for others. Now is the time that I ask myself how I’m using my time, voices, and commitment to resistance.

Look. You know me. You know my anger rants are like air to me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop writing inappropriate, poorly thought out Facebook posts that strike me as amusing at the time but later seem irrational and somewhat unhinged.

I’m committed now. I’m all in.

I’m not writing some manifesto on social media behavior. I don’t care how people use it, and it takes all kinds of voices.

I simply just realized in a very real way that social media has to a large extent turned into a sort of self-congratulatory echo chamber for me: I throw out ideas and people who already agree with me respond with support, which makes me happy, and sometimes new people respond with dissent, which makes me mad.

WHEN DID I BECOME FIFTEEN AGAIN?

As the months (years? SHUT UP.) have passed– I realized I was completely swept away in anger and fear, and neither of those are particularly helpful to the world. Anger is an amazing fuel for action, but as an end in itself, it’s something of a dud. Also, it’s miserable. Like if I get mad only to get madder, I’m simply discontented. And useless.

The truth is I am a bit lost. A good portion of what I knew to be true about my personal life has crumbled in the past few months, and everything I knew to be true about my country and the people in it and the direction we’re capable of heading has also crumbled, and I feel a sense in me that I need to take a serious look at what I’m contributing to the world. You know? As a human being. As a writer. As a mother.

I’m questioning ALL OF IT.

 

I believe something fully though, and I believe it more every day: We already have what we need to make a real, clear, and vital difference in the community around us. We have what we need to survive, to get through this together as a fucking people. We have what we need to lift our voices and be drivers of change and hope rather than festering powerlessness and fear.

We make art. We write and we sing. We show up to school board meetings. We donate to the mission. We talk to our neighbors. We volunteer in schools. We rally. We march. We raise kids that love. We give money to the motherfucking ACLU.

And totally we post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, duh. And our blogs. Yeah dude, I get it. I get the hypocrisy.

I just wanted to remind you that she persisted, because I had to remind myself. I got a little lost in apathy and rage and generalized confusion. It’s easy to forget where you stand, who you are, and what you’re capable of.

This is a weird world right now, and it’s easy to get so overwhelmed we find ourselves recklessly spinning, forgetting perhaps that we will persist, even through this. Plus, if he nukes us we won’t be here to know the difference. Goddamnit I was trying to be positive.

For real: I see you. Your fucking talents and voice. And I hope you use them. And I hope you use them loud.

Because the world may be crumbling, rearranging, and exploding around us, but we are never powerless. They want us to believe that, they want us to get lost in restless anxiety and fear, but we persist by returning to the strength and creativity and fertile resistance we’ve got inside, and letting that run this fucking rodeo.

Also river otters. And each other.

Mac made me flowers out of scrap sheet metal. This is what I’m talking about. We gotta make flowers out of metal for no reason other than love.

***

I promise this post was not written for this moment, but I need to let you know I’m teaching the last two live sessions of my ONLINE “Write Anyway” workshop this April and June. April is the only evening workshop I’ll teach this year.

If writing is your thing and you’re not doing it, I hope you’ll join us. We work through and deconstruct the fears blocking us, and I know there are many. I have them all.

We fucking need you. 

Please email me with any questions: info@renegademothering.com.

I found this a year after I named my workshop “write anyway,” which basically means I am Junot Diaz.

13 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | February 15, 2017