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Dingus of the Week: The Pollen Count
Also, in praise of E Jean Carroll
Welcome to the Weekly Dingus™️, the newsletter where I make fun of something or someone in this world that is making our lives a little worse, then I list some nice things and share a drink and a song. This is the newsletter that more and more people are saying, “This is a pretty dumb newsletter coming from a professional author™️.” If you do like this newsletter, please support it by sending it to all your friends, enemies, and in-laws. You can also share it if you want to prove to people that I am, in fact, an unserious person.
This week, Tucker Carlson announced he was moving his show to Twitter, proving that social media has just become one big orgy for the worst people imaginable.
And former dingus award winner, George Santos, was indicted on fraud charges.
So it was a week filled with many a dingii, all worthy of a good roast in the ovens of this newsletter. But I need to focus my attention on the dingus that is insidiously ruining all our lives. The dingus that no one is brave enough to call out, the pollen count.
Listen, pollen, I understand that your numbers are incredibly high due largely to the fact that humans are ruining the environment, and I understand that this might make you upset. Heck, I am upset. But do you have to personally kick me in the face? I wake up every morning with a throbbing head and throat full of mucus. And it feels like you snuck into my home and roughed me up. It feels personal. I’m taking Zyrtec and doubling it up with a nasal spray, but it’s still not enough. And listen, I recycle! I don’t even care about my lawn. Could you target an oil executive or a celebrity that takes a private jet to travel a distance of 50 miles?
You seem angry, pollen. And I get it. Humans are murdering the bees, your best friends (if I understand science, and I don’t). We are poisoning the water, which I’m sure contributes somehow because of the circle of life and all (again, pollen, don’t make me science here). And somehow, our misogyny is embedded so deeply in our little gross human brains that urban planners planted a lot of male trees and not enough female trees and this has made your numbers worse. So yeah. I too would be mad if I had to be around that many men with that much bark. I get it. But like, could you stop hurting me, specifically?
I mean, sure, you are mad. We are all mad. I’m losing bodily autonomy and you don’t see me sneaking into people’s homes and punching them in the face in the middle of the night. No, I go to therapy and run an ill-advised newsletter where I make terrible jokes. I text my friends increasingly disturbing memes until they reply “u ok?” and I write back “lol finneeee.” I am not lol finneee no one is, pollen. But we do our best not to be violent about it. So, lay off.
I know you do so much good, pollen. You are literally the spermatozoa of life. So, don’t sully your good reputation by wrecking my face.
And Now For Something Good:
This week, E Jean Carroll won her lawsuit against former President Donald Trump. A jury deliberated for three hours before ruling that Trump had indeed assaulted Carroll in a Manhattan department store in the 90s, and he had defamed her.
Carroll’s trial was only possible because of laws rolling back the statute of limitations on assault charges and it was only possible after decades of conversations about assault, bodily autonomy, and the feminist fight to have women seen as human beings.
Even now, the world is not a safe place for women who want to bring to light the abuse of men. At least once a year, I speak with a woman who wants me to write about what happened to her — about the unwanted advances of a powerful man, about boundaries blurred and assaults endured. I always talk to them and tell them about what happens next — stories so rarely result in justice, often they just bring more ridicule and scrutiny, and they will need to corroborate, to constantly be on the defensive. “What is best for you now?” I always ask. “What will help you heal? What will help you get your life back?” I never want someone’s life to become a casualty of my writing. I don’t like hit-and-run journalism because I know a little bit about how it feels to be in the center of a story like that.
I was once groped at a conference by a man and I once tweeted about that experience during the #MeToo movement of 2018. And that experience is the thing that most journalists reach out to me for a quote about. I stopped commenting a few years ago. Because I am tired of relitigating that experience of having people say “oh well prove it.” Over and over. I’ve also done a lot of great things, ask me about that! But no, it’s always the worst thing a man has done that women have to answer for.
The last time a journalist reached out, the only on-the-record quote I gave was this, “Too much of my life already has been defined by the things men have done to me and around me. Too much of my life has been spent cleaning up the messes of men. Too much time spent managing the egos of men who insist they are good but use women as carelessly as they use paper towels in a bar bathroom. Too much time in my life has been spent giving CPR to the victims of these male moral hit-and-runs. I have my own work to do now. I have my own stories to tell.”
So, it’s no small fight that E Jean Carroll took on. She was not just going to court to fight a man who hurt her, she was fighting a powerful man, and with him every misogynistic demon of our culture — the harassment, the hate mail, the weird internet comments, the money, the stress, the notoriety, the condescending well-wishers who implied she was unwell, or mistaken, or in it for the money, or looked at her and said, “Well something happened to you, but not that.”
But she did it and she won. And her win this week feels especially poignant because just days later, CNN decided to give Trump a platform to defame her again.
As Rebecca Traister wrote, “Me Too is not dead, and it wasn’t the beginning of the current battle. Fights for progress unwind over lifetimes, not seasons. There are no neat stories. Progress is marked by regressions and switchbacks, crushing defeats and galvanizing reactions to those defeats. In turn, the wins, big and small, bring painful retribution.”
The phrase that keeps going through my head this week is that it takes difficult women to do difficult things.
Some weeks we lose, but other weeks we win. And this week, E Jean Carroll won. And that is a good thing.
A small note: This week, I was able to travel around Iowa to find stories to report on — stories that are important and have national relevance, stories that aren’t being told. I can do that because people subscribe to this newsletter. Paying subscribers can comment, and receive a special Sunday email filled with links, you also receive access to the newsletter Discord and a weekly thread. Over 31,000 people are subscribed to this newsletter, but only 11 percent are paying subscribers. If you’ve been putting it off, this is your reminder that I can’t do this without you.
What I Am Drinking:
My yard is a mess. The crumbling retaining wall that I put up with for the past three years gave up sometime this winter and I need to do something about it. I need to finally hire a landscaper and fix this nonsense. Every year I’ve owned this home, I’ve had to do something big and frustrating and soul-crushingly expensive. First, it was fixing my roof because an in-land hurricane wrecked it. Then, it was my furnace. Then, it was that I needed a sump pump and a tiling system. So this year, okay, maybe it’s time to fix the yard. These are the travails of owning a home, which I realize is so privileged. (Although I do have to live in Iowa to make this happen, so am I really winning?)
But as always, the resilient mint I planted when I first moved in is thriving. Once, someone told me never to plant mint because it’s like a weed and it will take over. But I like that in a plant. I like something that survives. Plus, you can use mint in watermelon slushies and mint juleps. So, this week, in celebration of resilient weedy plants, I will be making mint juleps. Mint juleps are very easy. You just mash up some mint with some simple syrup and mix it up with bourbon. I don’t love super sweet drinks. So my ratios are always light on the simple syrup. But your mileage may vary. You don’t need a recipe. You only need feelings to guide you. Go with the booze gods.
I hope you have a lovely weekend. And in this house, we believe in Kesha.