This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

Here goes nothing

At the beginning of July I was served court papers. The case is a matter of public record, and I’m sure anyone who wanted to do a little research could read every sordid detail, or at least the plaintiff’s one-sided account of the details, but I’m not going to get into any of the specifics here other than to say that I chose not to sign a contract and was sued because of that decision.

There hasn’t been a single moment in the last three and half months when I didn’t think we were going to lose our house trying to pay legal fees.

Settlement papers were filed earlier this week officially ending what has been the most traumatic, agonizing, demoralizing experience of my life. I have no faith in our legal system, one that guarantees victory only for the party who can afford to pay for it, one that would allow a large company to bully a private citizen because it knows that she has no money with which to defend herself. I am angry and bitter and feeling all sorts of unbecoming emotions. More than that, though, I am afraid that these people are watching everything I say here, ready to pounce on a single word, twist it, manipulate it, and then sue me again.

I haven’t said anything about this before now because that was the counsel of our lawyers, and I’m sure that if they read this they will recoil, shake their heads, and then charge me $350 for having expended energy thinking another second about my case (I can hear one of them calling the other to say, “Dammit! She wrote about her feelings!”). I understand why they haven’t wanted me to talk about this, but I have felt completely dishonest in remaining silent, in putting on a brave face when inside I was feeling as black and dramatic as every lyric written by The Cure.

So here we are, on the other side, and Jon and I are bewildered and confused and not sure where to start picking up the pieces. We can’t shake this creepy feeling that we’ve been violated in the most disgusting way, made to fear the loss of the roof over our heads. I firmly believe that the mystery illness Jon suffered in August was a direct result of the stress he was trying to cope with, the stress of trying to remain calm and level-headed as he watched his wife collapse frequently into a sobbing heap on the floor. I have not handled this well.

I have also felt completely responsible for putting my family through this, for being the reason that our futures were jeopardized, and the guilt of that has been almost too much to live through. There have been too many moments like the ones I felt two years ago when it made sense for me to go away, made sense for me to leave because they would be so much better off without me. But unlike two years ago I can actually see how idiotic thoughts like those are. Plus, if I went away, I wouldn’t get to hear Leta say the moment after waking up from a nap, “Mom? I want chocolate cake.”

I could use some chocolate cake, too.

  • jen

    I don’t know what to say, but I feel that I should say something. So- I am thinking of you… and f**k the dirty motherf**kers that are f**king with you. Eat some chocholate cake and then some more… and then tell us, your readers, what we can do to help. I keep thinking that there has got to be something. I am not a lawyer or I would offer legal help, but surely there is something.

    I am thinking of you and your wonderful family and doing my best to send as many warm wonderful.. stamp the f**kers out… energy your way. Let me know if there is more that I can do. In the mean time have some more cake and take care.

    Jen

  • Ok I have two comments:
    1. After I found your blog (via that magazine article about you) you quickly climbed above every single other website I check each morning over my coffee. Countless hours of entertainment and aww at how adorable Leta is. I want to thank you for your honesty and humor. There are plenty of us out here who support you… we could stage a protest.

    1. “HOLY CRAP DOOCE you’re on wikipedia! That’s amazing!”

  • You need to sell more things. Why aren’t you selling more things? My Congressman calendar is about to expire, hint hint…

  • SurprisingWoman

    Wowzers Kiddo, I am so sorry you are going through this. People suck sometimes, that’s all I have to say on that.

    I can appreciate the fact that you can recognize that the only option is being there when Lita gets up for chocolate cake. Whoot! That is such progress, you are really doing well. Take that fact and celebrate it. Yeah, with cake! And water, with ice, in a big cup, a blue cup. Yeah!

    You have many people that are rooting for you and your family.

    xoxo

    Brenda K.

  • Judy

    I DONATED $10 TO DOOCE THROUGH HER PAYPAL LINK…

    YOU SHOULD TOO 🙂

  • That’s awful. I’m glad you made it through this though and still have your house, etc in tact.

    Chocolate cake is a very good thing!

  • Legal proceedings, like secrets, are burdensome things. You’ve had to endure both, and for that, you’re entitled to more cake. And cowbell. Be well.

  • Heidi

    Heather, that sucks donkey butt! Hang in there – all of us, the minions of Blurbodoocery, are behind you 150%.

    Heidi

  • Goldielox

    You’re a wonderful and quirky kind of person! You make me smile every day. I wish you and your family well.

  • What did they hope to get out of it?! See? Now I’m mad as hell at some unnamed corporate entity for screwing with a family that I have never actually met.

    Seriously, I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through, and would that I could, I would will all this away for you.

  • Laurie

    Chocolate cake is good. But, when I thought I was on the verge of being sued AppleBee’s Perfect Margarita’s were even better than chocolate cake.

  • I know you won’t do anything to yourself because you don’t want your daughter to grow up wearing clogs. (Do you?)

    Sorry for the a-holes.

  • OMG! WTF? I feel for you!!! I once had a small business that I ran out of my bedroom. I quickly learned that no matter how hard you try to keep your butt and your nose wiped clean someone will come along to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, and that they deserve $$$ served up on a platter because of it.

    I know it doesn’t make it any easier, but just remember that you’re not alone.

  • Cake doesn’t go in the mail well, but I’m working on it. Maybe a cupcake could work?

    I didn’t know you could be sued for NOT signing a contract. I thought contracts were for outling all the things you could be sued for AFTER signing it.

    Please move to Canada. You can snowboard here, we have cake, and it’s a lot harder to sue people. We will take care of you well if I have a say in it.

    Failing that, I hope you can get them back somehow.

  • I was once royally screwed by an ex-mormom bishop. Since he had lots of friends in high places all I could do was spend a bunch of cash trying to regain my cash. The system works best for those with the money honey. Sorry for you. Your best revenge is writing about it and letting it go.

  • Ummm…chocolate cake. Makes me think of that show “Kate & Allie”…they were onto something with the whole “there’s-no-better-way-to-work-through-the-day’s-problems-than -with-chocolate-cake” thing.

  • Gecka

    Damnit, you rock and bring a smile to my face with your quirky writings. Hopefully us internets can bring your smile back for all those that you gave out.

    I ran across this recipe today and you definitly deserve some delicious and decadent cake.

    Molten Chocolate Cake
    http://community.livejournal.com/food_porn/2922373.html

  • HeySenorita

    Oh no. What a horrible past few months this must have been. Nothing causes stress like the threat of financial ruin. I’m sorry that you’ve had to keep silent, when as a writer, WRITING is your outlet.
    I hope the fog begins to finally lift. Add me to the chorus of the millions of us who wish you, John and Leta happiness, health and healing.

  • Emily

    One more thought…..

    Even if you lost everything, the one thing that could not be replaced is YOU!!! Houses and big screen tvs can be bought again, but never a wife or a mom or a friend.

    My dad spent years and lots of money fixing up his old house, only to have an upstream damn break THE DAY HE WAS CELEBRATING IT ALL BEING DONE. The contents of the creek ended up in his kitchen, nearly destroying the whole house. He learned after that to never get attached to material things. Those bastards can take away money (and stuff), but can never get at what’s important.

    YOU ARE IRREPLACEABLE!!! HANG IN THERE!

  • bellabugs_mom

    Delurking to wish you well. I know that words can be a great comfort but still leave us helpless at times. That is why I too am going to click your ads. I wish I could donate, but currently I am waiting on Friday’s paycheck just so I can buy some shampoo. A true luxury when you’ve been using dish soap to get buy for a week.

    Two tears in a bucket… FUCK IT.

  • Shyun

    Heather,

    So, so sorry for what’s going on. Glad to hear it is resolved. I know you guys will find the way to get past it. Your pic of Jon today was wonderful. You guys are so lucky to have eachother and to have Leta. I know there are days that my hubby and two babies are the only things that keep me going. Just want to say that I look forward to and appreciate your blog so much. Thanks, Thanks, Thanks.

  • Kath :-)

    So very very sorry Heather. Can’t imagine what your precious family has gone thru. I know you don’t know me at all…you don’t know most of us I would guess…but if there is ANYTHING I can do to help, please ask.

    Or if you just want good thoughts, honey, you got ’em.

  • Settlement is like waking up with the worst hangover you’ve ever had on one of those brilliant, warm and sunny fall days that you know you should be enjoying. there’s nothing that can make you feel any better about it, but at least you’re no longer paying lawyers. Every settling litigant should be handed a balloon full of nitris oxide and shuffled out of the room as soon as the papers are signed. If I ever practice law again, I’ll make sure to include that service in my hourly fee.

  • i’m being sued now too – mercifully, they are in boston and i am in washington state…so i just hid from the processor servers…that’s been working nicely for me since april or so…too bad everyone knows you are in utah…

    and i would so totally donate to your defense fund, if there were such a thing…because lawyers are minions of satan on earth 🙂

    get yourself a big ole slab of cake…

  • NotWithoutArt.com

    The legal system is illogical – there is no rationale, no fairness, no humanity – it is run by LAWYERS for gods sake.

    Please know that even if you and Jon had lost everything material – the beautiful home you share with Leta and everything that fills it – you would still be rich with all the things that matter in life. And it is true that these trials, these life lessons make us stronger – because they make us understand that security isn’t about our bank accounts or our stock holdings. Security is about the people we love and who love us in return.

    In October 1999 my husband was injured at work and rendered disabled with cognitive brain damage. It felt like the end of the world initially but what we faced medically was nothing compared to dealing with the legal system to get him the cognitive therapy he needed. It was/is humiliating, degrading and scars you deeply. But the entire nightmare, as well as the permanent after effects, has made us understand that there is nothing and no one out there that can take what matters from us.

  • Sounds like you need some really good chocolate cake. My advice to you is to buy a box of Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and follow the recipe for their “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake and frosting. It’s not possible to be sad while eating this cake.

  • Heather, I’ve been reading your site for about a year and a half now and have never felt it necessary to comment until now.

    First of all, I’m so sorry that you and your family have had to go through this. Sadly, I think this is the price of public life, and I think it’s awful and unfair. Unfortunately we live in a society of very little personal accountability where people always feel the need to blame others for their problems… it seems that somebody has decided to make you responsible for their issues, and that’s unfair.

    Second, somebody recommended the “Juice for Dooce” account, and I have to second that recommendation. I’m sure you’d get a lot of negative feedback from “the haters,” but those of us who love you and count on your site for a little bit of humor and wit every single day would GLADLY donate money to repay you for all you’ve given us.

    Thirdly, I think that one of the biggest differences between those who suffer from depression and those who don’t, is the inability of those who DON’T suffer from depression to ever understand the “it would just be better for everybody else if I wasn’t here” mentality.

    Rest assured that it would not be better for ANYBODY — ANYBODY — if you weren’t here. Especially the husband and daughter and dog who ADORE you.

    Love,
    Jessica

  • s2lrbarn

    I was sued and dealt with lawyers, court appearances, depositions, mediation, etc. for two years after my Mom died. Since then, I have advised all of my friends to stay away from lawyers and courts at any cost. In hindsight, I wish I had settled and saved the enormous amount of money I ended up paying lawyers. (Not to mention the time I lost and panic attacks I had.) My advice is to take a good shower, enjoy your family, don’t take it personally because A LOT of people get sued, and, most importantly, help someone avoid what you went through. It will make you feel better.

  • Jezzie

    psst..y’all, you can donate to Heather thru paypal to the right of the post. Pass it on.

  • Wow. Glad everything worked out. So to speak.

    I do know how you feel. When I began dating my now husband, he was dealing with a huge, multi-million lawsuit himself at the hands of Giant Corporate Consulting Firm With Huge Pockets. Needless to say, my husband’s pockets weren’t so big {insert dirty joke here}.

  • Emily

    VERY sorry to hear about this.

    Karma is a bitch and they’ll get theirs.

    This is a disturbing story on many levels, but primarily what it’s done to you and what it says about our country.

    Of course we’re all curious on the details, but beyond that what does this all mean for blogs, and freedom of speech, and whatever else was involved? What does it all mean?

    You do SO much for so many by going out on a limb on this website. We’d hate to lose you to the writing world. Maybe a private website is the way to go…Join, etc. (of course assuming any of this is about the blog, which I’m sure it is….)

    WE LOVE YOU HEATHER!!!!!! and Leta and Jon! You’re like family to us! 🙂

  • bellybuttonbugs

    For some reason when I read your post I envisaged writing a letter to the unknown money grabbing b*stards along the lines of ‘The Young Ones’

    It started something along the lines of this:

    Dear Fascist Bully-Boy
    GIVE ME BACK MY MONEY YOU &%^$£!*&%$ing B*STARDS!

    It won’t bring back the money or get rid of the stress of the past few months, but it might just give you some satisfaction and make you feel just that little bit better.

    Whatever you do, just don’t mail it to them.

  • girlhappy

    I’ve been a fan for awhile, but your post today prompted me to finally make a comment, which is simply this: hang in there. You’ve already persevered through all of this ugliness. Your writing and humor carry me through many a dull afternoon at work, and as a mother of a daughter a month younger than Leta, it’s always refreshing to hear of and laugh about other adventures in parenthood.

    You’re very much loved by many, and I’m sorry that you’ve been subjected to this.

  • Ariel

    Aha. So that’s why I’ve been getting so many referral searches for “heather armstrong sued” and “dooce being sued” and “blurbodoocery suit” in my referral logs this morning. Good to know that the suit has been settled — WHEW.

  • ~Lorien~

    Thanks Veep, never would have found those links had you not told me.

  • Mo

    In the vein of stupid people’s stupid lawsuits, here’s a Weird Al song!

    I sued Taco Bell, ’cause I hate half a million chalupas and I got fat
    I sued Panasonic — they never said I shouldn’t use their microwave to dry off my cat
    I sued EarthLink, ’cause I called ’em up and they had the nerve to put me on hold
    I sued Starbucks, ’cause I spilled a Frappuccino in my lap and brr, it was cold

    And so on. I just realized posting novelty song lyrics is scant comfort to someone in your situation. Can’t blame a guy for trying, I guess.

  • That sucks and I’m sorry you guys have had to go through it. Injustice is frustrating and demoralizing, but not being able to shout from the rooftops about the wrong that is being done makes it far worse. Now I’m flat out terrified of all sorts of contracts.

    Been there on a smaller, not losing the house scale and it sucked. I keep telling myself reaping what you sow slash karma will come back to bite someone hardcore. A line from the book Three Martini Playdates sticks with me about how some people should be doomed to a hell full of eternally collicky babies. It’s a pleasant, yoga-like meditation…

  • I just want you to know I’m thinking of you and rooting for you, for what it’s worth.

  • Dmom

    I feel so bad for your family having to go through this, remember to lean on eachother and that everything happens for a reason.
    Just in case it helps, I want to tell you that I’ve read your blog eversince I had postpartum depression and wanted to leave my family in a most dramatic fashion. I’ve also told all of the women in my family about you and we all read and care about what you have to say. Your thoughts and opinions matter to us and sometimes even inspire us. Please keep at it.
    Besides that, I’d love to make you a chocolate cake, you know, the kind they used to make when they thought butter and sugar were healthy and the only chocolate around was the really really good kind.
    Love and suppport from a perfect stranger, Dawn.

  • I’m going to go click on a whole bunch of your ad links now. Hope it helps.

  • So very sorry that happened to you. My goodness. I can’t help but look at Jon’s picture today and the one of you in his Flickr account and know that at different times, both of you have enough love and strength to carry the other through times like this. Eat your cake…
    Karen
    xo

  • I hope you’ll find a healthy way to keep going – I’m here every day for the laughs & the insight … you speak for many less eloquent than yourself.

  • wenhaver

    Heather, best wishes to you and yours in picking up the pieces. Kind of makes me glad that I left law school before they could kick me out.

    Also, everyone who wants to donate… there’s a teeny-tiny wee little donate section on the right-hand side, under the Gooooooogle ads. I’d donate myself, but we’re so po’ right now, we can’t afford the rest of the word.

  • Veep

    I think this needs to be mentioned every ten comments:
    There is a tiny “donate” option at the bottom of the right column.
    I think we should all use it to make our appreciation spendable.

    Juice for Dooce!

  • I’m glad you wrote about this. I hope it helps you heal and move on. Our thoughts are with you and Jon.

  • thejoyof

    “…But unlike two years ago I can actually see how idiotic thoughts like those are.”

    I am so glad to read that.

  • Dooce Loving Peeps:

    For my birthday I left a donation in the Paypal Jar for the Armstrong Legal Defense Fund (my name for it) – if I could share my birthday cake with the Dooce fan community I would. So enjoy some virtual cake, and send some real support to our favorite girl.

    -Lori

  • Heather,
    I own brass knuckles if you ever have a need for them. Sending you love at this hard time.

  • I haven’t read a single comment…
    I will in a minute once I’ve said my bit!
    I f@$#%^g hate, despise, LOATHE that this society is a “sue-you-first-before-you-sue-me” one or even a “Ooooh I can make some money and destroy someone/something here so why not?” one too…It makes the bile rise in my throat to think I might even well end up a victim one day like you (because I have a headstrong, feisty character and my mother predicted it would get me into trouble one day)!! I feel so outraged for you and so upset.
    That you can’t even exercise freedom of speech is terrible in itself as this is your sanctuary here, your blog, your means of exorcising your feelings/emotions is it not? Oh maybe not cuz now you’re too famous so you have to zip it…
    I’m so sorry and hope you can come out it with some dignity intact.

    BTW My husband, 3 yr old and I will be moving to UTAH in March. Frankly I am dreading it – Mormons, no chocolate, no coffee, no alcohol, polygamy, cult attitudes (!) ….people have filled my head with that kind of stuff…Knowing you come from there makes me feel optimistic in that not all people there are going to hate me for being me !! Oh and please tell me which neighbourhoods not to look for a home in…Ta !

    Keep your chin up!

  • trinny

    Bloody hell!!!!

    Poor you, no wonder you’ve been feeling crap. I make an excellent choccie cake… but I don’t think it would survive the trip from Oz…

    Hang in there Heather (and Jon) – you seriously make my day, I love reading your blog and looking at your photos.

    Big companies totally suck – they just want publicity from your coolness! 🙂

    Take it easy honey … we are all here for you and would do whatever we could to help.

    Jenny