Thoughts On Douche-Waffles Who Poop In Your Pool

When the USS Enterprise is in a big ol’ space battle, there comes a point where Captain Kirk, or Captain Picard or whoever is sitting in the big chair, has to “direct all power to the shields.”

Everything else gets sent into reserve-power-mode: lights dim, warp speed is out of the question and the photon torpedoes might as well be phasers set on stun. All energy is being given to the shields. Because that’s how they protect the ship.

All my emotional energy has been given towards shields these past few days.

I wasn’t going to talk about this, but then I thought – meh, fuck it. I’m constantly answering questions and teaching and thinking about how I can give to my readers – I can ask for a little payback – a little take – and put up a post where I just rant and vent and talk my shit out.

There are moments when I really hate blogging. I mean, moments where I come this close to hitting “delete” on my entire Facebook page and throwing my laptop out the window.

You know why? It’s not because I don’t like writing (love it), or sharing on Facebook, or the weird technical side of maintaining this website.

It’s because some people are just douche-waffles. Not many – most people are great – but it doesn’t take a lot of shit in the pool to ruin the swim for everyone, does it? There are mean, petty, crazed-by-righteous-anger or owned-by-petty-hate people out there and I despise that this blog makes me vulnerable to them.

I know this goes with the territory – ah, yes, the ubiquitous internet troll – because apparently we’ve become a people who expect responses that couple Klan-member-esque levels of divisive hate with Kindergarden-level grammar and spelling served up with everything. Got an opinion? Apparently you should feel totally reasonable presenting your opinion in the form of a personal attack – everyone else does. Maybe throw in a good racial slur or the word “fag” for good measure, because this is the internet. Go ahead, be an asshole! Everything is anonymous anyway!

And the horse you rode in on

My friends tell me “the wind blows hardest at the top of the mountain,” and “they are just looking for an audience so you should be flattered you are big enough to get those comments,” and other very sage advice that somehow fails to change my heart.

See, I really hate waking up to emails, comments on my blog and Facebook posts on my page that express gleeful joy at the idea of disemboweling me (true story, happened last week). I hate the emotional drain of having to bounce back from people who go out of their way to let me know how eager they are for me to die (that was this morning). I’m not keen on being called a “vile sadist wretch of a so-called human” or a “cold heartless bitch” (both direct quotes) and I particularly loathe that time and mental attention that should go to my husband, or kids, or garden gets syphoned off to dealing with these assholes.

Even if the time this stuff takes is just clicking “delete” and “ban user” on Facebook or “unapprove” under the comments section of my blog’s administrative panel, I’m left to manage my own emotional reaction. And while “just ignore it” and “you can’t control other people” is exceptionally good advice, it’s not always so simple.

I am far, far less tender-hearted than I used to be about this kind of thing. I used to internalize every criticism because I just wanted to do a good job as a writer and as a teacher and as someone who shares information. I was open to hate because I was open.

Now? Well, let’s just say it takes a lot more to rattle me than it used to. My skin is, ever so slowly, thickening.

But growing thicker skin doesn’t happen overnight. At the beginning of spring, if your hands have grown soft from a winter of living inside, and you pick up a rake or a hoe or a shovel and spend hours preparing soil or raking bark or something, you don’t end up with thick, strong calluses on your fingers – you end up with blood blisters. Push it too far and you just end up wounded.

And so it is emotionally. My ability to withstand this kind of bullshittery has developed in response to experiencing it. And while your run-of-the-mill trolling and criticism doesn’t affect me at all anymore, dramatic upticks in the levels of hate still cause the emotional blood blisters until I can adapt, process, move past. And in the meantime I protect myself from the onslaught of hate by directing all energy to the shields. As if I have time to practice my dedicated non-attachment when the kids need lunches packed. Damnit, Jim I’m a gardener, not a monk.

The thick skin comes at a cost. For me, because this isn’t a job, this isn’t an obligation, this isn’t something I get paid to put up with – I find it hard to find the enthusiasm to be open, to compose posts, share ideas and build community, when I am so busy inside, closing myself off, walling things off.

The truth is, I don’t really know if I’m cut out for this. Part of this culture that I am a part of – this online culture – it sickens me. Having this noisy, braying rabble spew their pathetic, impotent hatred at me for no reason other than that I’m here – I’ll admit it knocks me off-course in a way that might make it impossible for me to truly last online. Being just the latest human being who gets turned into a people piñata for the entertainment and amusement of others – well, it’s not really what I was going for when I started this blog to teach people in my own hometown when to plant their cabbages.

Knowing I’m just one of hundreds or thousands of bloggers dealing with the same shit right now….that doesn’t make me feel some kind of rah rah solidarity, it just makes me feel discouraged.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a cry for atta-boys. I don’t need to be lifted up, or told nice things. I’m not depressed, I’m just tired, so very tired. I know how supportive and awesome and amazing you, my real, regular readers are. I know, I do. And I appreciate it so much and I thank you.

There are moments when dilution is the only solution – and so I’m going to stop trying to protect you guys from my “professional problems,” and from the reality of what it sometimes costs me to pay-to-play here as your friendly local blogger. So I’m leaning in to you, I’m diffusing this off my shoulders through good old fashioned bitching, not by rising above.

In fact, fuck rising above.

Yeah, right now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m all Zen Cool about random strangers wanting me dead. I’m not going to “let it go” and “not hold on” and all those other namaste things that I’ve been trying to do because that seems like what I should do. Nah, for a change I’m just going to let myself feel good and pissed-off that sometimes the douche-waffles show up and poop in my goddamned pool.

My friend told me a great thing the other day. She said, “Oh when people ask how it’s going, I just say ‘F.I.N.E.’ and leave it at that. Of course, F.I.N.E. is an acronym for ‘Fuck, It Never Ends’”

So how are you doing? Me? Oh, I’m F.I.N.E. Thanks for asking.

Beyond PB&J: Easy Sauces To Use Your Preserves
Digging For God

Comments

  1. Hi Erica,
    Thanks for writing such a wonderful blog!!
    You might want to check out John Scalzi’s blog Whatever (www.whatever.com) where he uses the “mallet of loving correction” when he wishes to do so. He only applies it to trolls whom he wants to mock of course. The more crude ones are simply banned and ignored. Its too bad the Internet has these pests but perhaps the freedom it provides also gives us all more opportunities to reach out to each other in ways that help and improve our lives.
    Once again thanks for your informative and sensitive writing.

  2. Awesome rant – feels good sometimes to just let it out & shout it from your mountain top. I’ve been told that ‘opinions are like assholes – everyone has one’ & a lot of times, they are just that. I like your FINE definition. I’ve used that for many years, but it was Freaked Out, Insecure, Neurotic & Emotional. I just might readjust…

  3. You had me at the title.
    Your comment box is epic. I had to scroll way way down to post, so that’s saying something! Everyone has already said it all, so all I will say is:

    BIG Mountain HUGS from another Northwest Gardener (B.C. Canada).

    Keep it up sista, we LOVE your blog, rants, everything.

  4. Don’t let the NICE (neurotic insecure crazy emotional) people get you down.

  5. Somebody we gotta hang out. You are clearly my people. :)

  6. Hit me up if you find out what they drive….I’ll key a bitch’s car with a quickness :-)

  7. I’ve just discovered you this week and am enjoying this blog thoroughly. Those people are called psychic vampires…they try and suck all the positive energy out of you and then they don’t even use it for themselves…they toss that shit. Fuckers. Get it out sista. Keep blogging please. (I don’t even know how you have time for this site but am soooo glad you make it).

  8. When I started he latest iteration of my own silliness, I just closed off comments. I’ve seen so many flame wars that I just don’t have the time, the patience, or the idiocy to reply to the legions of douche waffles. Whether you like what I write or not, go start your own blog. I put my stuff up there because there is so much of the mainstream drek floating around out there that I thought I might contribute a little bit of a counterweight. What I read here is unfailingly sincere, well-researched, constructive, amusing and well-written and documented. Whether I agree or not, it’s not my place to make any comment that isn’t constructive. It’s NWE’s pool. Should anyone feel the desire to pinch a loaf, they should go do it in their own pool. This by way of thanks for all the good stuff I’ve read here and recognition of the work and thought that goes into getting it out there.

  9. The phenomenon of internet commenting is like road rage on steroids… normal people become absolute raging dickheads, and nobody knows why. I’m so sorry you have to deal with the raging dickheads! Please don’t throw your laptop out the window – you are absolutely the best purveyor of practical garden advice in all of zone 8b! My daughter and I use your garden planner. We have earmarked many posts. We think you’re great. Keep your pecker up!

  10. I’m glad you felt you could share some of the dark, seamy side of blogging with us. Sad it’s there, of course, but I hope sharing it helps at least a bit.

    On a practical note–is there anyone in your life who could help filter responses? Someone who could feel righteous anger and also feel good about helping a friend, but not be hurt in the same way because it’s not aimed at them? I don’t know what sort of volume you deal with, so I’m not sure if it’s at all doable, but if it could eliminate the first-pass crazies, it seems good.

  11. Hey, I just wanted to give you a sincere thank you for putting yourself and your ideas out there on this blog like you do, and I am so sorry you have to deal with the kind of sickening nonsense you describe. You don’t deserve it, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it as the price of trying to contribute something to the world.

  12. Sometimes, good ol’ fashioned bitching is just what you need to do.

    And honestly, this is the reason I unplug on weekends – I can’t handle the constant stream of angry BS that is the internet. I adore your blog (I’m a local, up in the north end), and while I rarely say a word… I freakin’ love you. You’re snarky and smart and witty and I simply love that. I don’t know how you manage to do all that you do – the homesteading, the kids, AND a blog that is more well-written and informative than most paid publications devoted to these subjects. You blow ‘em outta the water.

    But really… what the hell is wrong with people? What exactly are these dumbasses -so- upset about – the fact that you’re telling people in the PNW how exactly to plant their garlic? That you used – GASP – jam in a recipe?! Oh, the jamanity! REALLY?!

    I swear, dude, some people are just angry human beings who exist to do nothing other than pour their shitty attitudes on those of us who don’t seem to share their anger and general displeasure with life. Screw ‘em.

    Big hugs from the north end, Erica. You kick ass. And even if you say you don’t want or need to be built up, tough shit, sister. ;) You’re just going to have to deal with the fact there are far more of us who adore you than the douche-waffles, and we’re vocal. <3

  13. Firstly – just found your site, totally RAD. Secondly, I live in the Pac NW so will be back for more. My blog is new so I have not had the (dis)pleasure of telling someone to fuck off for getting nasty. It is uncalled for, but like most have said above me, people are assholes and douchetards and douchewaffles.
    Maybe you should post a waffle recipe for their dishonor.

  14. Emmanuelle (from Montreal) says:

    Dear Erica,
    Apparently the very thing that puzzles everyone here, including me – why would anybody make hateful comments in the context of a gardening/cooking blog? – holds the answer to this sad and weird business: these comments have simply nothing to do with you, or even with what you write.

    They are sent to any kind of blogger that happens to be on the spotlight that day… and they are, in fact, addressing other people entirely: the ones who have, in the early and/or recent past of the commenter, bullied, criticized, threatened, hurt them, repeatedly and in such a way that they could not process it.

    So that now, they are stuck on doing this very kind of thing to others, anonymously or not. Which is quite disheartening for all the good-willed victims. And quite scary when you think of these people’s lives.

    That said, I would find it very difficult myself if I was blogging (or as a kid at school having had to watch other kids being bullied, as it’s happened to many of us I guess), because being exposed to sad and scary things like warped hateful attitudes would suck my good energy way too much.

    It made me quit my job recently, as a matter of fact. And I’ve learned the hard way that our sense of responsibility towards others only works if we are, first and foremost, responsible towards our own sanity and well-being. Absolutely and always.

    You have all my support either way, Erica :o)

  15. I don’t at all get why people behave the way they do. So disappointing. You could retreat from the world, withdraw have very little REAL interaction, just be nice and not utter anything but platitudes, and none of this would happen. but where’s the fun in that!

    Theres a person in my life right now who evidently wishes me ill. I don’t know why – possilby because I kinda rejected an offer of friendship – not overtly, but more subtly. I am a high profile person in the environment we share, successful and (seemingly) well liked. Maybe I pose some sort of threat. This person does not appear to me to be rational, dare I say ‘mentally stable’, and is incredibly unpleasant to me. If I was not who I was, if I did not put myself forward, this would not be happening to me, as it is not happening to some of the more retiring, milquetoast members of our shared environment.

    It is draining, at times worrisome, frightening, frustrating, provoking to be in this situation. I don’t have a good idea how to handle it. I tell myself that this person will move on, that eventually I won’t be the focus of all that misguided vitriol. I very much understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately that seems to be the nature of the human beast – those who can cause trouble will cause trouble. I applaud your attitude – do not give in, keep on your merry way, with your completely delightful blog.

  16. In a couple words: Fuck Them.

    Do what you do, because you do what you do well.

  17. Did you just coin the phrase “douche-waffle”? Because I almost spit my tea all over my computer screen. That’s hysterical!

    I’ll skip the “atta-girl”, but I do read every post.

  18. Just remember – Non Carborundum Illegitimi. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. And feel free to let off a full-throttle rant anytime – this ain’t Sunday School.

  19. “It’s because some people are just douche-waffles. Not many – most people are great – but it doesn’t take a lot of shit in the pool to ruin the swim for everyone, does it? ”

    That made my day! I hope yours gets better! Keep writing, you’re great!

  20. Yours is the second post like this that I have come across this week.
    I often wonder just what those mostly anonymous people would do if the hateful things they say and do were happening to them? Then I figure, why waste time on such dregs of the Earth?Obviously they lack something in their own shitty lives to take it out on others. You know, because gardening is so controversial a topic. And the fact is, some people are just happy to make others miserable. You are absolutely entitled to let it get to you and what not, but the truth is, these wretches, who lack any sense of humanism, do not even deserve your acknowledgement. May they wither away in their misery as the cowards they are.

  21. Works for me! A good rant, like a crying hysterically or cussing like a sailor (the cussing part I learned from my mother! lol!) clears the air better than any rationalizing.

  22. Erica,
    I have never responded to a blog before. I love your blog. Last night we made the delicious pea soup with bacon-it was out of this world. And now, today, I got to share with my best fav colleagues the meaning of “it’s F.I.N.E. ” You are talented, wonderful and I hope the trolls drown in their poop pool.
    Thank you for your time, your insight, your talent. I look forward to each and every posting.
    Suzanne

  23. Perhaps someone already suggested this, but if not. Why not ask a good friend to weed through the posted comments. Deleting the trolls and not bothering you with them, giving you the gist of the message of some genuine critiques, and encouragements, bringing to you any good questions that were asked and summarizing the rest. And doing it in trade for some babysitting or some of your special preserves, or the like.

  24. First time commenter saying I love your blog, I read every post and am super inspired by you.

    Also, hate douche-waffles. On the other hand, love pumpkin waffles.

  25. Spam filters can be set so that neither you nor your friends and supporters need to go through this. Talk to your internet provider or other techy suupport at Genesis Framework.

    If it is any consolation the writer/character Harriet Vane in Dorothy L Sayers Lord Peter Whimsey novels had the same problem. Lord Peter also recommended a secretary to filter out the smut. They didn’t have computers then.

    The nice thing about computers is you can use them to filter out garbage without polluting another human’s life ad emotions.

  26. Keep your chin up Erica. You are very much loved and I would venture to say that those that love you way way outweigh the assholes.
    Still it sucks to have to even read the ass hat comments….and I totally understand the feelings of anger and rage that result. WE LOVE YOU. You have made our worlds better, funnier, more educated…and sure as hell have made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. You rock. C’mon over and I will pour you some wine or a shot.

  27. Erica,

    We are sorry that you have to go through this. I know the loud voices drown out the many more quiet ones sometimes, but my wife and I love your blog and find what you do inspirational.

    Thank you.

  28. Found your blog last week, and have spent the last few days going through all the archives (it’s how I do things), so I’m a little late to the party responding to your latest post.

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with the morons who think that personally attacking you anonymously is the height of wit and/or acceptable behavior. Around my house, we call them ass-hats. I know it’s hard, especially when it hurts. Can’t tell you to grow a thicker skin, because that changes who you are and from everything I’ve read this week, you’re pretty freaking awesome (really, you and the fam are welcome to come visit the sheep next time you’re in Central Oregon!). What I will say is keep your chin up, and don’t let the bastards get you down!

  29. Erica,
    You know, I experienced this (on a much smaller level) myself this past week. I thought I was having a fun, open conversation with friends on facebook, and it quickly turned into people who didn’t know me viciously attacking my views…for no reason other than they wanted to get all worked up about something, and I clearly didn’t know “the party line”. It sucks. But there are so many of us out here who love what you do, and find your energy and enthusiasm inspiring (especially your fellow PNWer’s, who are not liking the dark, rainy season so much this year). Keep getting stronger, and when you need to vent, know that we’ll be here to share that burden with you.
    Cheers!

  30. First time comment…enjoy your material very much, and only scratched the surface of your site. I hope you can overlook the minority haters and continue to contribute for your supporters.

    …now if I can only figure out how to make the no-knead bread without it turning out like a heavy, dense block. :)

  31. This was an excellent post. It does make a person weary to always have to rise above. My son informed me recently that there are people that go on YouTube searching for videos that don’t have an “dislikes” just to dislike them. When it comes down to it, I do feel sad for the offenders because it is really pathetic to find enjoyment or value in that. However at the same time, those people exist in the real world, the same world my children will inherit. It is unfortunate that the climate of the internet cannot be changed so that personal attacks are not expected or accepted. The world would be better if people could view differing opinions as a way toward progress and not a cause for wishing death upon others.

  32. George Ann Over says:

    Thank you. Just thank you. Be true to yourself and just keep up the great work. Your many fans are with you and don’t forget that.

  33. I feel so out of the loop these days. Your blog is one of my favorites, and I’ve been so crazy busy that I haven’t made my rounds to other blogs, to see how everyone is doing. I’m sorry to hear about the trolls causing distress. I’ve had them, and can totally relate to those feelings you’re having about the whole situation.

    While no one has ever gotten past my moderation, there have been times when I’ve allowed the occasional troll’s comment onto my site. Still…it leaves a person irked to the core that things, if said in person could get them thrown in jail, are able to get away with it. I’ve always been left with a feeling of injustice, because how do you make personal threats “roll off your back” or even “take the high road?” We don’t know who these people are, and while it all may seem anonymous, our lives as public bloggers are not.

    If you run a business from your home, it wouldn’t be difficult for others to find us. And then what? There may be real need for concern, so make sure you keep all words said. A sense of protection and the mama bear comes out in me when things like this happen to us via my blog. I have to treat those anonymous threats as real, cautiously moving forward with our lives.

  34. I’m hearing a whole lot of Amen here. As well as a whole lot of Awomen. Stick with the As. Ignore the rest.

  35. The other day I posted on my Pinterest this quote cuz junk happens and this helped me. My husband and I are still quoting this to each other……..it said “take a lesson from your dog—No matter what life brings you, kick some grass over that shit and move on.”

  36. Kathy Johns says:

    I’m a teacher and often get insulting letters from uninformed parents. Don’t give up and don’t take it personally! Chances are these hateful folks are lashing out at things that have nothing to do with you. Your writing is wonderful and helpful, even to this WV 1/2 acre gardener. Vent when you need to, we are here for you. The rest aren’t worth your time.

  37. It took me a long time to scroll to the end of the comments to give you my atta-girl. Long time because I needed to read most of them, and there were so many that share your pain (in the ass).. But the day is short and I should start dinner, so I fast forwarded to this box-thing at the end.

    The garden is my church now. It used to be “Prairie Home Companion”, but that made its biggest impact on me when I was in the car, and I’m driving less these days to be more green. Weeks go by before I get chance to visit your blog. So today I landed on the dead chicken, and your fresh and candid comments about one of your public. Yes indeed, this is way better than sitting in a pew, getting the lesson of the week from people who’ve never been married, broke, or let the truth loose in a crowd.

    You set your mind to a task, get your hands dirty, and are pretty okay if the experiments don’t pan out entirely. And there are days where it seems ‘the force’ is on vacation. Not many, so that dose of very cold water is shocking. You might get 250 positives, but that negative fool finds the one nerve to stomp on and lands a good one.

    You’re doing good work here, and by all appearances have found a way to exercise on your passion, which puts you in a very select group. That jerk will do nicely at the bottom of your Hugel bed. By spring you can plant seedlings, and be renewed.

  38. I agree with what you said, completely. I’ve been there and it’s not fun. But I do have to say that despite the seriousness of the topic matter, reading the line “Damnit, Jim I’m a gardener, not a monk” made me laugh so hard I scared the dog!

    You totally get bonus points for taking the Star Trek reference and running with it!

  39. And here I saw the title and thought it was an article about someone LITERALLY taking a dump in your pool. Then I couldn’t stop reading after I realized that is NOT what happened.

  40. careforfree says:
  41. Lailand Rose says:

    I have to say as a young (returning) farmer/homesteader, your blog is the best!! Just discovered your blog a couple days ago and have pretty much read every article you’ve posted!!
    People suck. It’s plain and simple. You obviously have an amazingly loyal and dedicated followers. You have to ALWAYS do what’s best for you and your family, but know that there are so many of us that find your posts charming, informative, witty, and down-right hilarious!! (“Dam. It Jim, I’m a gardener not a monk!” I about died laughing!!)
    A million hugs from Northern California!

  42. Hi, I am checking out High Mowing seed catalog based on your email. I just found your blog and I have the most problem with broccoli type vegetables because it gets hot where I live very early and there is basically no spring – we typically jump from winter to summer.

  43. Connie Lynn says:

    I have just found your blog and it’s fabulous. I’ve been here for hours! Such good and useful stuff here, and common sense. Such good writing. You are a fantastic writer. I don’t know much about blogs but I have noticed, in reading comments on other websites, that there are many crazy people out there writing vile things. I have a suggestion which might not work (but could maybe….) It will save you emotionally, since no one is bullet-proof. Don’t allow comments. You have enough desirable content on your site, and things to buy, that you could gauge your efforts’ worthiness to others by how many garden planners or other products they purchase. A lot of work and knowledge has clearly gone into this blog. You don’t deserve to be abused.

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