the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Your momma said you ugly

So I guess it was maybe a year ago when I was sitting in Heather Champ’s living room in San Francisco, holding her Chihuahua Chieka, and talking about how people sometimes send me hate mail because they look at a picture of Chuck and think his nails are too long. She was all, SHUT UP YOU DO NOT. And I was all YOU SHUT UP. And she was all WHY DID I EVEN LET YOU INTO MY HOUSE, BITCH? And next thing you know we’re mud-wrestling in the nude, pulling each other’s hair, and fulfilling the fantasies of IT departments nationwide.

Once things settled down I explained in detail that The Dog Nail People, in fact, are not happy with me, along with an enormous list of other very pissed off groups that include Those Who Believe Australian Shepherds Should Live On Farms Not In Suburban Homes Why Didn’t You Do Your Research, The Did You Seriously Just Link To A Twenty-Four Dollar Tube of Mascara Don’t You Know That Some of Us Can’t Even Afford A Saltine Cracker People, and my Granny.

And she goes, you know what you should do? You should monetize the shit out of it. Collect all the crap that people say about you, put it on a single page, and then litter the entire thing with ads. And I was all, I don’t know as Jon immediately turned to Heather’s husband Derek and asked, “May I borrow your laptop, I’ve got a bit of coding to do.”

We’ve actually toyed with the idea here and there because one does not have to leave one’s name when commenting on this website, and oh, what that freedom has given to certain insecurities that have not healed in a small segment of my readership. Sometimes I leave hateful comments up just because they are so outrageously fun to read. Sometimes I delete them because in trying to insult me they are also insulting other innocent people, and I don’t enjoy being a platform for that. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered to deal with it.

And then sometimes, like last week, when the left side of my abdomen starting aching only to manifest itself in a raging case of shingles — SHINGLES! OH MY GOD! SHINGLES! I am not even kidding, the doctor walked in, took one look at the rash on my stomach, and was all DUDE! YOU’VE GOT SHINGLES! And I was all EXCUSE ME? And he was all I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO THAN MAKE UP THIS SHIT, WOMAN.

And when he leaves the room to go look up some information on whether or not the medication for SHINGLES! is safe to take while breastfeeding (sorry, I can’t even think the word SHINGLES! without it being in caps followed by an exclamation point, and for the last two days it’s been a Tourettes fest in here where suddenly I just stand up and shout SHINGLES! for no reason other than SERIOUSLY? I mean, I get it Universe! Leta is a picky eater because both Jon and I were picky eaters and put our parents through hell, I GET IT, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BEAT ME OVER THE HEAD WITH THAT LESSON ANY LONGER, but SHINGLES?! At least give me some waffle fries! FOR FREE!) I text both Jon and Katey at home: DUDE. I HAVE SHINGLES!

And Jon texts back: NO YOU DO NOT. And Katey is all: SHUT UP. And I was all, you know what? I’d mud-wrestle you to the ground BUT I’VE GOT SHINGLES!

So I’m in a bit of pain, and here’s the thing. Do you want to know the thing? Because the thing is, THE THING IS, if I’m not careful and Marlo touches my rash I COULD GIVE HER CHICKEN POX. That one disease with the bumps and the pain and the fever and the DANGER. So that’s basically all I’m doing during the day, making sure my three-month-old precious, delicate baby doesn’t touch my SHINGLES! Except, this case of SHINGLES! is conveniently located right in the middle of my stomach, right where her body rests when I’m breastfeeding her six times a day. WHERE ARE MY WAFFLE FRIES? I WANT MY WAFFLE FRIES.

FOR FREE!

Anyway, while all this is going on people are sending me messages going, dude, do you see what is being said about you over here and over here? Oh, and right there in your comments section? And I’m all, no, but I can guess. Is it something about the way I look? My chin perhaps? The mole in the middle of my forehead? Is it about what I’m wearing, how unflattering it is? Or how I’m an awful mother? Or how I’m exploiting my children for money? Or how I love Marlo more than I love Leta? Or how my husband must be gay? Because it’s all been said. Every awful thing you can say about a human being, it’s been said about me and my family. Over and over again, like a broken record, and I guess with the intention that it will at some point hurt me so badly that I will throw my hands in the air and give up.

And I’m sitting there feeding Marlo, my abdomen wrapped in a bandage SO THAT I DON’T GIVE HER CHICKEN POX, and I’m reading an anonymous comment calling me an asshead, and suddenly I remember that conversation I had with Heather. And I’m like, you know what? I’m going to let that anonymous comment help pay for the therapy that Leta is so desperately going to need once she finds out what awful things I’ve said about her on my website.

Internet, let me introduce you to Monetizing The Hate.

Here I will be posting all the hate mail I get in my inbox and all the hateful anonymous and not-so-anonymous comments left on this website. And let me tell you, it is a hoot! And the money? OH THE MONEY! I am going to roll around naked in all that money! Because that’s what assheads do!

Also, for your convenience, I’ve added a link to this project at the top of the page in the navigation bar, so you can stop by at any time and see the artful way that insecurity unfolds via the anonymity of the Internet.

PS. SHINGLES!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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