Posts Tagged ‘ blogher ’

My Mommy Blogger Bully

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

I once joked that I wanted a stalker. It would symbolize that I really made it “big.” I made the joke during a hiatus from shooting my Food Network show, The Best Of. In the interim, a company hired me to host hundreds of syndicated TV segments about housekeeping and cooking tips. It was a boring studio job and we cranked them out like sausages. It wasn’t creative, but the crew and I really became tight over the years. My audio guy, Bob, became my pretend stalker. He’d lurk behind me on the set; sometimes even follow me to lunch, as only a good stalker should do.

But like most things I’ve done in television, the gig ended and I went back in the world of a has-been-that’s-really-never been. Until now.

I am no longer heavily immersed in the TV world. I am 80% mom, 17% wife, 3% blogger. I’m not even close to the top mommy bloggers in this world, and yet, yet, yet… I have a stalker. Either that or a desperately bored mommy blogger, whose literary gifts are questionable at best. Whatever her story and motive, she has chosen to take time–lots of it– to rip me (both as a human being and as a writer) to pieces. But this seems to be her MO:  bashing individuals. In other words, I don’t just have a stalker. I have a bully too.

What I’ve loved most about the mommy blogging world is the encouragement from other bloggers, whether or not you agree with the specifics of what they write.  At conferences like BlogHer and Mom2Summit, the big guns, like Liz Gumbinner (Mom-101) go out of their way to make us little people feel welcome, loved and supported. It’s not the competitive frenzy you would expect from a bunch of women. In fact, Mom2Summit’s message this year was about women supporting and empowering other women. The main focus from the sponsor, Dove, was on tween and teenage girls and how to make them feel less self-conscious about their looks. One of the saddest statistics presented was that 1 in 5 girls quit doing what they love because of self-esteem specifically related to beauty.

Clearly this woman wasn’t at the conference or if she was, she took the message and ran the other way with it. How do I know this? One of her main points was about my hair. She actually posted a picture of me and made fun of it. Can you imagine doing that? Seriously. Think about it: taking someone’s picture and publicly attacking it? Here is what she says:

7. Okay, but the hair. I can’t let it go. Homegirl has hella money and lives in Los Angeles. There is no reason for her to be using a Flowbee to cut her hair.

Perhaps more perplexing than her hair-bashing is that she is talking like a white suburban teenager who is trying to “be black.” An odd stylistic choice, especially because further down in her blog she accuses me of being a racist. (Don’t worry, you can read it in its entirety. I’ve cut and pasted the whole thing below.)

What’s ironic about the hair is that she is right. I do need a new picture up there. That one was taken on my first outing after having Emmett. It was a month after his birth and the first time I put on makeup. But is it that egregious? No. Her comments though are petty and mean-spirited.

She says she gets “sick schadenfreude” from my writing. In other words, she takes pleasure in my misery. Huh? What? I must have cut off her limbs in another life.

I have an adopted brother and sister. They are black. My mother was a crack addict at the end of her life. I describe them in a recent blog and refer to my family as a “motley crew.” Which we were, if there ever was one. For which she says the following:

Guys. Cornrows? Huge black afro? Are her step-siblings…black?! She was, like, clinically incapable of leaving that detail out or you know, refer to her siblings as siblings and not give the far more exotic title of ”adopted siblings.” See guys, she’s not all milquetoast. Also, let’s all take a sharp inhale for her describing her interracial family as a “motley crew.”

“…After all, I haven’t had such a wince-y read since I saw a student paper that referred to trans women as “shemales” and realized that everything this student knew about transexuals came from porn.”

I put myself out there and can expect people to poke away. But this seems almost like trolling. There’s a big difference between legitimate criticism/disagreement and personal attacks. I can take the former. The latter isn’t so fun.

She lists seven deadly sins of mine–all related to my bio. In it, she mocks my “Fearless” title. As those who read me know, I write about my life with absolute honesty. I’m not afraid to write about my anxiety, my struggle with depression, my upbringing and yes, people who attack me for no apparent reason. So how is ”Fearless” not accurate? I think homegirl needs a dictionary.

I would further argue that it is “Fearless” of me to admit how shitty her post made me feel. I felt demeaned, belittled, ugly and stupid. And I have a very thick skin. I am NOT asking for anyone’s sympathy here. At all. But for those few seconds that I felt shitty, it made me wonder how a 13-year old girl who gets made fun of for her bad haircut or for being fat feels like?  I don’t want to be melodramatic about this, but this woman illustrates perfectly the point we should teach our kids about bullies: they don’t matter. However, it is easier said than done.

Even though I want to, I’m not going to go through and defend every line and the flagrant assumptions she makes about me. I particularly refuse to defend the love of my children and when and why we had them.

I will say she is going to be an extremely disappointed stalker when she finds out I’m just a mommy blogger making less than the cost of 3 Starbucks latte’s for my posts. She assumes I have publicity people working with me and Parents to write my bio, take pictures, edit me, and publicize me. She calls me a rich, white woman. Does she know when I began my reporting career in Rapid City, SD that I qualified for food stamps? That I have become successful by working really hard? Does she have any clue how much I give back? No. She was on a mission to be hateful and hand-picked some of my specific posts to mold them–and me–into her cowardly genre.

Ironically, she actually asks for “donations” on her “ad-free” blog. Why not write about the Newtown parents and donate to the organization Sandy Hook Promise? Or to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy? These are posts I have written about, donated to, and encouraged others to do the same. But asking for donations to her blog? Panhandling for her “wit”? Beyond tacky.

It would be easy to pick on and compare her to having 80s era porn star hair, or mock her bio for portraying herself as a cutting edge, too-cool-for-school writer but then bragging about an award from the Readers’ Digest, that radical, forward-thinking publication, in the next sentence–but that would be too easy. And too mean. So I won’t. Even though I just did. See how that happened? Clever, no? Anyway…

The thing is, in reading some of her posts that aren’t hate mongering, it seems we have the same take on some major parenting issues.  I think she just really wants to hate me. Bizarre, right?

As a sidenote: she lives in Hollywood. She knows enough about me and with all her “Los Angeles” references.  Why didn’t she reach out to go grab a coffee? I’m serious. If she’s that obsessed with me then at least attempt to get to know me before bashing me behind a computer screen. I think she would have been pleasantly surprised and perhaps dropped her diatribe mission.

She did learn something once from her computer screen. After bashing sorority girls in a post, a commenter wrote: “Indiscriminately bagging on sorority girls is lazy writing.”

I would add, “Indiscriminately bagging on individual bloggers is lazy writing.” It’s also mean-spirited, obnoxious and pointless.

One person did comment on her post about me and the general purpose of her blog. She wrote:

“I really liked your article about attachment parenting and came here via the bloggess, but now I’m wondering are a lot of your pieces about taking down other people? I’m not really into anti sites.”

That right there should tell her a lot. Sadly, it probably won’t. But on the off-chance any of this resonates with her, here’s a link to the National Bullying Prevention Center. If nothing else, her children might need it.

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Here is her blog folks, in all its glory:

I am a little bit in love with Jill Cordes, she of the “Fearless Feisty Mama” blog on Parents.com who made a“project” out of teaching her nanny about the world according to rich, white lady. It seems like I might not be the only one since I get a surprising amount of search traffic with her name, most notably with the search “jill cordes nipple.” I’d love to hear anyone’s theories of what that might be about.

There is so much that’s amazing about Jill Cordes. I mean, her bio:

Jill

Wow. Okay, so like, some things about that bio:

  1. How the hell does she think teenaged Fia and Emmet are going to feel when it first occurs to them to Google their mom and they learn that their mother never wanted them and she only became a mom because she got hammered on a little vacay with the mister?
  2. Is that bio supposed to make her sound wild and loosey-goosey? Because I’m all for wild and loosey-goosey and maybe I’m just grouchy about such things after being told my whole life that I was a “camping trip accident,” but I think it crosses the taste line.
  3. Why does she describe her children primarily in terms of their conception? Is this bio not an introduction? Would you ever in a million years introduce yourself to someone by saying where and under what degree of insobriety you conceived your children?
  4. Oh, hey. Kate Gosselin called and she wants her… No. I can’t go finish that joke. It’s too hacky. ZING! Ugh. Sorry.
  5. Can you imagine in a thousand million years if someone other than a rich white woman had that bio? Jill Cordes would have to make a “project” out of her.
  6. I would never just click around the internet and poke at moms’ bios on their blogs, but this is Jill Cordes’s bio on her parents.com blog. It’s written in third person, possibly by someone other than herself. The lady is surely getting paid by Parents and thus has an editor. Furthermore, she’s a “television personality” and must have PR people. This is not just some random “mommy blog” bio. People signed off on that. Admittedly, the whole bio is less…weird than this snippet, but someone okayed that as the bit to appear on her blog’s main page.
  7. Okay, but the hair. I can’t let it go. Homegirl has hella money and lives in Los Angeles. There is no reason for her to be using a Flowbee to cut her hair.

In her defense, there’s another fellow who blogs under her “Fearless Fesity Mama” banner and his bio includes the following sentence: “He has written the fiction book ‘The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt’ and is working on releasing a parenting humor book.” There’s a lot going on in that sentence, but let’s just stick with the phrase “fiction book.” Is that not a novel? Isn’t that what we call those things? Perhaps a novella?

There are a lot of mysterious things about “Fearless Feisty Mama.” Like, does Parents.com not have someone to install a spam filter? And does it ever bother Jill that she so often writes about her anxieties and fears but the word “fearless” is right there in the title? Or that about a quarter of the posts are written by a dude even though there’s “mama” in the title?

The reason I keep reading is the sick schadenfreude I enjoy when she reports that her hypnotist/healer tells her:

Would you rather be right…or be a mom? Because your kids are going to f-ck up a lot, and if you are wound this tight, you’re going to have some f-cked up kids.

She’s vulnerable enough to let us in on that moment and I credit her for that, but I think this one passage about going to church when she was a kid conveys what I find so frustrating about her:

My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.

“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.

Guys. Cornrows? Huge black afro? Are her step-siblings…black?! She was, like, clinically incapable of leaving that detail out or you know, refer to her siblings as siblings and not give the far more exotic title of ”adopted siblings.” See guys, she’s not all milquetoast. Also, let’s all take a sharp inhale for her describing her interracial family as a “motley crew.”

It’s this kind of tone deafness that keeps bringing me back to her blog. I kind of want to sneak into her house, kidnap her and then take her to a freshman social studies class. After all, I haven’t had such a wince-y read since I saw a student paper that referred to trans women as “shemales” and realized that everything this student knew about transexuals came from porn. Jill Cordes has an interesting background and could probably write a heckova memoir about her bipolar, crack-addicted now-deceased mother, but she just sorta fumbles right when I want her to…I don’t know how to complete a football metaphor…uh, run with the ball?

Also, there’s this troubling bit about changing her last name:

So why I am changing it? Because I feel like a partial outsider when we travel as a family. My kids and Phil all have the name Johnston. I am the odd-woman out. [...] However, I have to confess another hesitation in doing this. It’s the vain side of me. I don’t like the way “Jill Johnston” sounds. My initials would be JJ. It feels campy.

Fuck her. JJ sounds awesome.

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Photo of Nelson Muntz courtesy of simpsons.wikia.com 

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Going to Mom2Summit: I’m Outta Here!

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

It’s my turn!! I get to go out of town today. I get to sleep in high thread count sheets at the Ritz. I get to order room service and have two precious nights of uninterrupted sleep.

Since we moved to LA, Phil hasn’t had to travel nearly as much as when we lived in NYC. As a screenwriter, he was hopping on planes all the time to the west coast. Which is one of the reasons we moved here when I became pregnant with our second baby, Emmett. We both wanted to cut down on his time away from home.

However, he’s had a few trips. A couple different ones to London (he even got snapped by the paparazzi) and recently an 8-day trip to Atlanta where his latest movie is shooting.

So when Parents asked me a couple weeks ago if I could go to Mom2Summit in the beautiful area of Laguna Niguel, about 90 minutes from my home, I told them my bags were already packed.

Then I started reading about the conference and saw there was a whole lot of crazy/silly controversy surrounding it. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article called “The Mommy Business Trip.” I didn’t find the article as offensive as some did.  Though the comments were pretty brutal. I mean the title is a bit demeaning, and some of the piece suggests that conferences like these are one big excuse for moms who have pretend careers as “mommy bloggers” to get out of town and party.  I think because we carry “mommy” in our title as bloggers, people don’t take us as seriously. But they should. We moms are the demo most advertisers want. We DO matter.

One of my best friends is a businesswoman. When I told her I was going to a “mommy blogger” conference she scoffed a bit and a laughed. I had to explain to her that these are real conferences with thousands of attendees and corporate sponsors. But I didn’t take offense to my friend. She just isn’t in my world.

For most of us, including myself, being a “mommy blogger” isn’t what pays the bills. But as my good friend Liz Gumbinner put in her popular blog Mom-101, a blog… “is rarely the end–it’s the means.

“…your blog can be a platform for visibility, a place to connect with your community, a demonstration of your writing chops or digital prowess–all of which can lead to those actual career opportunities.”

She is absolutely right. And for some of us, it’s just an extension of our career. She mentions me as an example, since I have had a television career for the past 20 years and blogging for me, is a natural progression of not only that, but for whatever I have to come. Be it a book, a show, etc. For now, I have put many of my career aspirations on hold in lieu of changing diapers–something that is my choice and my luxury, since Phil can carry the bills (Sheryl Sandberg would be disgusted. As if I care…). Phil and I have always had a mutual give and take relationship. I put him through film school; he is putting me through motherhood. I love the trade-off. But I digress…

For me, going on a trip is exciting in my post-kid world for all the legitimate and plain fun (i.e. illegitimate) reasons. Which is the same as any businessman or woman who travel on occasion. I don’t need to justify this to anyone. I’m just flattered Parents asked me to go and that I have a husband who can take the reigns for a couple days. I may even get really crazy tonight and take an Ambien since I don’t have to listen to the baby monitor. Ahh, the little joys in life.

Best of all, since the conference is close to home, should anything go wrong without me, since I’m a total control freak and expect everything to fall apart, I can just hop in my car and come home. But really, I don’t anticipate that.

Stay tuned for some cool updates. Most will come next week as I’m going to try and really enjoy myself.  I think I’ll also be posting an interview I’ve been asked to do as well (with a surprise keynote speaker).

Okay, hitting the road! More to come…

 

Pic of business woman via Shutterstock

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Blogher 2011

Monday, August 8th, 2011

I used to get high on travel by doing things like climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or driving around Iceland. How far I’ve fallen since becoming a mom. Now my biggest source of excitement (particularly when going away alone) includes black out shades, central air and a soft puffy bed. Ahhh…the joys of a comfy hotel room.

I basked in that luxury this past weekend in San Diego. I was at the big BlogHer convention where 3000 women—many of them moms–left the husbands and diapers behind to descend upon the town.

I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant to go. Parents asked me if I would be their “blogger” representative, and of course I said yes. But the closer the time came, the more I got in my head. Who will I hang out with? What is my purpose in going? All strange thoughts, considering I’m one of the most social people I know. But since I’m a newbie to this blogger world I did have some insecurity (though as my husband points out, not something that is typical of my personality. He begs me to be more humble). There is also this fear that a bunch of women thrown together will equal petty behavior, cliques, jealousy, gossip, etc. Especially because if we’re all bloggers aren’t we all competitors too?

I couldn’t have been more surprised. It was just the opposite. Granted, I’m only speaking for myself and my experiences, but I found the women I met to be open, gracious, generous and excited to welcome me to their world.

I am especially grateful to my old friend Liz Gumbinner, many of you know as Mom-101. She took me under her wing, invited me to a bunch of fun dinners, and got me out dancing past 1 a.m.  (Click here to see her pictures).

Not only that, but the women kicking it up on the dance floor thought of this brilliant idea: a purse circle. By the end of the night it was a huge pile of purses all safely placed under the watchful eyes of “moms gone wild.”

The Purse Circle

The Purse Circle

At any rate, I met amazing people, got completely inspired by the women there, and stayed out WAY past my bedtime. When I did crash, I had that lovely hotel room to come back to–with blackout shades that allowed me to sleep in.  Heavenly. A far cry from my Africa adventures, but in many ways, just as rewarding.

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Elmo, Babysitters and BlogHer

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

A World Sans Elmo

A WORLD SANS ELMO

I barely put my foot down in San Diego today for the BlogHer Conference when my husband called me. He sounded so serious.

“I think we need a new babysitter.”

My heart tightened. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, but you have something to blog about with sitters again.”

Oh dear lord, not the Sitter Chronicles again, I thought.

“What happened?” I said almost frantic.

“She lost Elmo.”

The world screeched to a stop. I felt dizzy. Saw bright lights. My brain turned fuzzy.

“OH NO!!!!!!!!” I screamed.

“Yep,” he says, “It’s true.”

This is a substitute sitter who we’ve only used once before. My regular sitter had to cancel at the last minute and with me going out of town; I had to scramble to find a replacement. I emailed her a list of stuff to be aware of last night, and one was Fia flinging her shoes off while she’s in the stroller. I’d hate to loose an expensive pair of stride rites. (I left this morning before she came and was completely freaked out about not being there in person to drill everything into her. Namely, no texting while strolling, stay on top of Fia at all times, don’t let her have pacifier during the day…you know the usual control freak issues of moms–or at least this one.)

But because she was so focused on Fia flinging her shoes, she didn’t notice the little red monster being hurled out on the street. She retraced her steps, but was too late. Elmo was gone. G-O-N-E.

I blame Phil. He should have told her not to take her monsters out of the house. This is what happens when mama leaves town. Things go south. Elmo becomes homeless.

As I type, Phil and Fia are on the way to the toy store to buy a replacement Elmo before bedtime (didn’t happen, see picture). Hopefully this is the biggest thing I will worry about while I’m out here for 3 days.  I’d really like to enjoy this conference of entrepreneurial women, maybe learn a thing or two, and sleep in!! So please sitters/husband/and Wayne Sanchez–I’ll even include you–Take care of my baby. And her accoutrements. In the words of our annoying, talking Sesame Street book, “See You Sooooon.”

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