Our Lady of Perpetual Depression

“I’m glad there is an internet job my mom is qualified for.”

YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO READ THIS ONE ALL THE WAY TO THE END. OKAY? Okay. So. So many announcements, let me try to keep it all straight but I cannot promise anything. Except crying. There will be crying, so much of it and I will not apologize:

Before we begin, I have a favor to ask of you! Yes, a favor. Womp, womp. Consider it a favor for the woman to whom I dedicated my book, Minnie Ann McGuire:

If you have read my book and it spoke to you in any way, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or anywhere you like to leave reviews. You’ve no idea how helpful this is in getting the book into the hands of those who need it.

If you hated it, I can come poke you in the butt.

Okay, let’s begin.

ONE: Thank you to those you who came out to the meetup in LA on Saturday. I wish I could have had two more days with all of you. You made me remember why that place is the home deep inside my heart.

TWO: I’m going to be in Chicago from the 10th of June through the morning of the 14th (Marlo’s 10th birthday, it just so happens to be). I’m speaking at the Kennedy Forum on the 11th, at the Family Institute on the 12th, and we are currently figuring out if we are having an official book signing on the 13th or an unofficial meetup. The cohost of my podcast will be there (Chicago is sort of/kind of his home town) so it would be a combined book/podcast meetup. But we will meet and we will hug and we will cry. There will be crying.

THREE: I’m going to be in San Francisco on Sunday the 23rd of June for a reading/signing at The Assembly. This is the city that beat out all the other cities in a vote for an extra tour date. We’re still getting all the details in place (so much more to come), but there will be a small ticket price of $10 to cover the cost of the venue and a portion of that cost will be donated to Navigation Center. They asked me which nonprofit I’d like the proceeds to go to and I wanted it to be something that benefited your part of the world. And since mental health is a struggle for so many who suffer homelessness, this makes the most sense.

SPEAKING OF:

FOUR: I got the idea for Navigation Center from Mike Monteiro, The Original Mommy Blogger, who has bolstered me more times than I can count. He spoke some stern truth to me when I saw him in Seattle on my book tour, and it has been ricocheting in my brain ever since. Also, he wrote a fucking fantastic book called Ruined By Design: How Designers Destroyed the World and What We Can Do to Fix It

Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all. Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name.

He takes no prisoners when it comes to social platforms and how they are designed to devastate those among us who are the most vulnerable. It’s a savage read, one that I am going to give to Leta who is increasingly angry at all of us who have set up this world in which she and her friends are struggling to survive—do not even get her started about climate change because she will rip out your throat and drop a mic.

This is one of my favorite passages in the book because every time I see this happen I become enraged at the condescension.

WRITERS. Do no do this to potential customers who could be amazing patrons of your brand. You basically told them to go die a horrible, gory death just because they wouldn’t sign up for your newsletter. If you’re going to use language to say, “Okay, but there are amazing things in this email,” at least be funny about it. Meaning, make fun of yourself and not the person who is there to read your words or buy your shit. You have NO idea what kind of day they’ve had. Don’t make it worse.

ONE LAST THING:

Take home of the weekend/day/entire book tour whatever…

You have NO idea what kind of day someone has had. No idea. None. And so, be kind.

Someone at the curbside of LAX almost punched Cowboy in the face as he was loading our luggage into a Lyft he’d just ordered on the app. This man’s family were removing the last piece of their luggage when Cowboy began loading my bag into the car. Something about that set this man off and he rounded the car—I had no idea that this family was even getting out of this car, so all of this happened in what seemed like an oblong millisecond to me—to yank my bag out of the door, slam it onto the pavement and get so up into Cowboy’s face that I really did think I was going to witness physical violence. I was scared. I was terrified. I thought I might see blood.

When he turned to face me to walk back around the car, I stopped him. I had no idea what I was doing—it was just an instinct, a reflex. I touched his arm, and then wrapped my fingers around that part of your wrist that sits so very close to the rest of the muscles that make up your forearm. I could google the names of those muscles… the flexor carpi ulnaris? the flexor carpi radialis? the palmaris longus? I grabbed him there and gently squeezed as I found his eyes. And I pulled him toward me. Yes, he could’ve decked me right there, but I didn’t care. And I said, “Hey, I’m Heather. I’m so sorry you’re upset. You must have had a horrible day. I can only imagine, and this airport is a nightmare and always makes things worse. I’m so sorry that we contributed to your bad day this way. I care. And I really hope your day gets better.”

And then I moved my hand down to squeeze his hand, to let him know that I meant it.

He nodded at me. And I could then see he was holding back so much inside, so much of what he has had to carry.

He then continued to the curbside where the rest of his family was waiting for him. And I made a point of making eye contact with him again when he strapped a computer bag to his shoulder, and I nodded at him. He nodded once again at me and slowly, silently, and deliberately blinked his eyes while holding my eye contact to communicate everything that he could not possibly ever say to me, a stranger.

I am not a believer in Christ except in all of the stories about what he gave to the sick and the poor and the lonely and diseased and those who disagreed with him most, those who grabbed him and wronged him and yelled at him and tormented him. He gave them their bad day, their bad month, their bad year. He gave them their humanity.

We all have our terrible moments. I have had so very many, and my god, the years I have to make up for the horrible ways I have reacted to people I thought have done me wrong. If only we could recognize ourselves in others who are having a terrible day and let them have their moment of weakness. It’s as basic as wanting food from our parent when we are an infant: I am weak in this moment and am imperfect. Please believe that this is not the sum total of me.

In those very slow blinks that he sent across the five feet between us, from curbside to my face at the far end of the car, that man let me know that he’d felt the intent in the hand I had wrapped around his forearm. And I selfishly swallowed so hard and with such relief knowing that people are people are people.

We are all, all of us. Having our days.

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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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