Monday, February 12, 2007


I never identified as a "hipster," until yesterday.

I do not define myself through what I wear, or what I buy, but just like everybody else, I am guilty of wearing and buying things that fit my definition of "cool." But we live in a consumer culture, and while I rail against it on the inside, I fall victim to it more than I care to admit. I wear Chuck Taylors. I buy Gap jeans. My kids wear funky, crazy tights, Misfits onesies, and get pushed around in a well made stroller.

By its current definition, that does make me a hipster.


I've been called worse.

Yesterday, I was attacked online, both personally, and as a contributing writer of Strollerderby. Called names. Made fun of. Insulted. And I felt compelled to defend myself, and my choices. I could've just ignored the comments, and jibes, I suppose, but I chose not to. I jumped into the altogether pointless and downright mean "conversation," because I felt like I was being accused: accused of being a bad parent, of being a thoughtless consumer, and of being less that what I am.

I spent the better part of my day yesterday thinking about who and what I am, exactly. And all I could come up with is this: I am more than just one thing. I am more than a lifestyle or a demographic. I am bursting with contradictions, opinions and passions. I am less than perfect. I am a beautiful mess.

I can see how someone who does not know me in real life could get an impression of me by reading Strollerderby. I write snarky posts about celebrities, and make fun of stupid people for being caught doing stupid things. But that's my job. I get paid to crank the sarcasm up, and engage readers in conversations like "New Mom Jen Garner Thinks She's Fat: Discuss!," and to debate things like a federally mandated HPV vaccine for young girls. I like my job - but I'm more than that.

I can see how someone who does not know me in real life, but reads this blog, could form an opinion of me based on what I write about my life as a woman, post childbirth. Let's see: I breastfed my kids until they were almost 2; My 4 year old daughter only recently stopped sharing a bed with her parents; We had a loving pet pit bull in our home for 6 years; We take our kids to protests and concerts; I swear a lot, and sometimes, I ignore my kids in favor of spending a little quality time alone. Depending on what your take is, I could be called a hippie, a hipster, an attachment parent, a careless parent, a mommyblogger, a pushover, a lactivist, a foul mouthed knee-jerk liberal, an asshole, a freak, or housewife. But I'm more than that.

Some people call Salad Days "an exploitation" of my children, a way to get attention, a badge of my status as a (insert insult here). I call it a chronicle of this amazing time in my life, and my family's life. When I started it, no one read it but family, and the word "blogosphere," was not in my vocabulary. Through it, I have made friends, shared heartache and joy, told intimate secrets, learned some valuable lessons, and discovered pieces of myself that I didn't know I had. Yes, I am a blogger, and proud of it. But I'm more than that.

Yesterday's discussion of the TIME piece, and Strollerderby, and me, took me back to high school. It was bizarre. It took me back to a time when everything and everyone was labeled and categorized - if you were this, you weren't that, and if you weren't that, you had to be this. There was no grey area, no room for more than one interest, belief or defining characteristic. It took me back to when a time when I had no idea who I was, so I was a little bit of everything, and nothing.

But now, twenty years later, I've got better things to think about; I have two young girls to raise up. And I have the self-awareness and chutzpah to tell people who make assumptions about me to go fuck themselves. People who don't like who they think I am are just ignorant. People who think they can define me based on their own perceptions of mothers, women and the word "cool" will get it wrong every time.

I'll never be just one thing - ever. I'll always be a mess of ideas, dreams, plans, contradictions and compliments. I'll always be changing and growing. No one word will ever accurately describe me. Because I am more than that.


Blogger 02793553 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the problem with the poop article is that you lowered yourself to their level, by telling them to f*ck off and calling them an idiot. It takes away from your message -- which I think was spot on.

4:40 PM  
Blogger all one hundred said...

you are one word: alisyn!
which translates to me as: unique, beautiful and inspiring. we've been through all the labels together and back again. so here's to being in your 30's and letting go of the restrictive identity labels and caring what everyone thinks of them. you rule! and you have the guts to always stand by your convictions. you are beyond admirable, in my book.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Stefania Pomponi Butler aka CityMama said...

I usu. read blogs through my feedreader (which strips out banners and graphics and stuff) so I haven't seen your new sidebar (with probably isnt new, right?). Loved "Of Human Bondage," too. Can I borrow the Painted Veil? And, God! Freaks & Geeks. Sigh. I can't believe it was only one season. I mean, how can that be? The best.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous cry it out! said...

I always loved reading this when I was young -- -- and in a way, your post brought it back. I contain multitudes -- but don't we all? Great post.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Alisyn said...


I *do* swear too much - it's one of my worst faults. But telling CC to fuck off felt sooooooo good!

9:50 PM  
Blogger happygal said...

Whoa, Nelly! I just read the whole string.
All I can say is, mean people suck.

The guy (it's a man, right?) sounds like he was looking to pick a fight with someone.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

I can relate to so much of what you say here, from breastfeeding my kids until they were almost 2, to feeling pigeonholed. This post made me say YES! out loud. How uncool is that.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Oh, in case there was any doubt... I LOVED this post! Thank you!

9:28 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Well said! Why can't we be more than one thing? And furthermore, why should anyone care how I dress my kids or what I wear as long as I'm teaching my kids good honest morals and values and raising them to be good human beings?

9:05 AM  
Blogger ECR said...

Even though it's upsetting that you were forced to defend yourself when your self needs no defense, I guess it never hurts to take some time to think about who you are and to reaffirm it all. Here's to messes and more!

10:42 AM  
Blogger Ms. Crazy said...

And my love for you deepens.

That was some crazy shit, my friend. I simply do not understand this whole "hipster parent" label. You are one articulate, smart, hilarious, well-informed, fabulous mama. Among many other things. I feel lucky to know you.

And if falling victim to an absolutely absurd personal attack doesn't warrant a "Fuck you," I don't know what does.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh mama.

1) I think we delude ourselves when we tell ourselves we grow up. we never grow up. we're ALWAYS in high school.

2) I have a label for you: REAL. And I appreciate it SO MUCH you may never know. I admire you from afar for not being afraid to be REAL with the rest of us, for making us all feel a little more normal, a little more connected.

Eff the rest.


5:55 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I just read the whole melee and I think you handled yourself perfectly, frankly. Some people just earn a good old "fuck off," and that commenter did in spades.

Look back at this in a month though and I think you'll see it's mostly one troll with a clear chip on her shoulder about a crapload of stuff in the world that has nothing to do with you. In the heat of the moment it's infuriating.'ll be able to laugh.

You know who you are, who your kids are, why you write and how you parent. That's all that matters; not someone who forms snap judgments based on a few words in a magazine.

10:19 PM  
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11:00 AM  

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