I love it when friends call me on my shit. Especially when the shit I’ve been meaning to talk about is fucking awesome. So when the subject of this story called me out on my very public (Facebook) post of , “you just know I’m gonna blog about this”, I was nudged, ever so lovingly, do to so.
It’s been a few days (fine, weeks) since this thing happened, but c’mon. When have I ever let time stop me from laying it on you? I’m writing a goddammed book about shit I lived through in the 80s and 90s, for fucks sake. What’s a handful of weeks, compared to the decades of soul-searching it’s taken me to find my balls, and actually write about it?
But this isn’t about my story. It’s not even related to me, except that it serves as a reminder and inspiration to stand up, walk the walk, and not take anyone’s shit. As much as the (recovering) narcissist in me would love this to be about me – it isn’t. It’s universal, so pull up a chair.
This has been swirling in my brain for a while, and as I was playing with my laptop keys, The World had other plans. There was a catastrophic hurricane affecting my friends (and millions of strangers), then a nail-biting presidential election that caused me to fall into a vortex of Twittergasms, not to mention inhale an entire box of Mac and Cheese. When that dust began to level, my birthday weekend quickly came, and I headed out-of-town. And on the actual day of my birthday, I learned my recent mammogram result was abnormal, so I had an ultrasound on Monday, and meet with the biopsy bitches today. Talk about a blog-buzzkill.
But fuck it. Today, before getting felt up, I’m making the time, and inducing this little fucker of a story. My posting contractions are less than a minute apart, and this baby is coming. “It’s a Blog” balloons are blanketing the Interweb as we speak.
Every now and then it happens. You witness something that reminds you of the person you want to be. Or maybe forgot you could be. Or are. The person inside yourself, who perhaps you knew as a kid, but somewhere between learning to tie your shoelaces, and nailing how to parallel park without bending your dads fender, it got lost in the convolution of tightrope walking between wanting to fit in – and standing up for yourself.
I met Kristen Johnston after reading her hilarious and evoking memoir, Guts (that link takes you to my review, so check it out). I’m not name-dropping here. I’d be writing this post about Kristen if she were a postal carrier, grocery checker, or mall security guard. She’s so much more than the “name”; her celebrity status makes her to be. She’s a real person, with real feelings, and because of her profession, happens to be in the public eye.
Now, can I get on with it, please?
When it comes to people I adore, my Compassion Meter is always dialed in. If they’re pissed off, I’m in their corner with an open ear and my proverbial Got Your Back sign. A few years back, when my friend Becky screamed on the phone at Cable Dude for something obviously out of his control, I sat on her couch, listening, shaking my head with that “fucking unbelievable” look, feeling her frustration. Don’t get me wrong, when shit flies off the crazy-Richter scale, I step in and help keep a sister grounded, but for the most part, letting your loved ones vent is harmless and totally justifiable.
When I read a tweet from Kristen about how pissed off she was after reading an article (about her, during a night she was being honored for her charity work), I already knew I’d be pissed. And after reading the piece, I was. This wasn’t just Twitter ranting about some helpless cable guy, it was serious. This bullshit piece of journalism questioned her sobriety and carried weight, which challenged Johnston’s word, and livelihood.
I’m not spilling all the deets about what this woman said about Kristen. There’s no point, because it was written through such a tainted lens of envy and projection. But I will say, she reminded me of a type. You know those bitches in high school in desperate need of a tampon, then you save their ass in the lady’s room, but back “in public” they shine you, like nothing happened? This writer reminded me of that. Especially since Kristen spent a great deal of time chatting with her on the very night she later wrote about – bashing her.
Details aside, Kristen will be the first to tell you (and she will, just follow her on Facebook and Twitter), it takes a lot to piss her off. She’s been working her ass off, staying sober for nearly six years now, and when someone calls her hard-earned sobriety in to question? Fan. Shit. Everywhere. And rightly so.
Then it happened. A direct letter. Not only did Kristen stand up, she looked this person square in the eyes, called her out, and demanded a retraction – all without breaking a nail (take note, Jersey Shore Ladies).
With Kristen’s blessing – here is the letter she wrote and publicly posted to the writer:
Dear Name-less Hack,
This is Kristen Johnston. I’m the actress who spoke to you at length at the NYClass Gala. I’ve had false shit written about me for years. I’m used to it, and usually laugh it off. But for someone to so casually allude to me being drunk, when I spoke at length with you about my book GUTS, which is about my sobriety, I will not stand for it.
To refresh your memory, you wrote “Ms. Johnston’s boozy proclamations made Pamela Anderson seem tame.”
I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in almost 6 years. I wouldn’t expect this to matter to someone who writes on her timeline that “Getting drunk in the daytime is so much more satisfying than after dark inebriation.”
I know I’m sober, and that’s all that matters. However, because my memoir is about how & why I got sober, and is inspiring others to do the same, your silly comment could negatively impact my livelihood, not to mention my reputation.
I won’t stand for it. I demand a retraction, and an apology. Or you’ll be hearing from my lawyers.
What Kristen wrote was nothing short of brilliant. Not only was it heartfelt, honest, and real, she stood up for herself in a way I’ve never seen. There are people who argue, fight and swing, because they get pissed. Then you have people like Kristen, who find a way to fight back without…fighting. What a reminder to us all that true dignity lives inside the breaths we take. The space between losing our shit, and remembering that we are worth the levity in which we hold ourselves accountable.
The result of Kristen standing up for herself? The article was taken down from the site, a personal apology from the magazine’s editor-in-chief was issued, and a retraction was included in a revised post you can read HERE.
I absolutely love this story.
What a reminder for us all to stand up for ourselves, because when what we fight for and believe in is questioned, it’s not only our right to stand up for ourselves, it’s Mama Nature’s test in how we handle this kind of shit.
Having the brain of an addict and/or alcoholic is anything but fun. I can’t imagine how things like false accusations and reputation bashing would trigger me to want to escape by using. Especially if I lived a life where walking my fucking dog was considered TMZ worthy. Kudos to Kjo for riding the wave. And, although she has an awesome posse in her corner, ultimately, it’s her own self who must act as a life raft in a sea of sharks.
Bring it on, Universe. When it comes to fucking with Kristen, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.
For more on Kristen’s book, visit her website. She’s extremely interactive and personable, and welcomes all feedback, even constructive criticism. The videos she’s posted on her site are also hilarious, so enjoy.
So here’s the part where you tell me: Have you ever stood up for yourself? Please leave this story in the comments, and inspire us to do the same!
27 thoughts on “What she said”
Not just standing for herself. It goes for everyone who stands up for themselves, even more, for those who stand up for others who don’t have their own voices, whether it’s those in another country, or someone on the subway being harassed.
Amen to that EG!
Letting you know that I read this and I recall reading your earlier post about Kristen… hope you are doing well and good luck on the book..!
Thanks Mark – it’s getting there!
I wldn’t dream of not standing up for myself, and I’m always ready to stand up for any friend that won’t or can’t for themselves….with that said it doesn’t mean I’d be ready to jump into the fray and fight someone else’s battles but I would certainly have their back…and anyone thats knows me knows that…
on a side note hope you get great results back! my yearly cancer checkup was yesterday 🙂
Thanks Jeannie. I am so quick to stand up for my loved ones, and not so much with myself. I’m learning to, though. And with therapy, and people like Kristen, it’s sinking in that I am worth it.
I love this article, especially the quote from Jaws “you’re going to need a bigger boat”.
Once again, instead of feeling flattered & pleased to read such an ego-fluffing piece about me, all I can do is think “DAMN, THAT GIRL CAN WRITE.”
What a magnificent voice you have, Madame. And I’m thrilled that nastiness served some good, after all.
And I agree with Jim. In fact, I now want it to be my epitaph:
“Bring it on, Universe. When it comes to fucking with Kristen, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
How did you know Jaws is one of my favorite movies of all time?
Many, many, many thanks
PS. One small note….Your first sentence is never explained….
First sentence now explained. There you go, calling me out again. Thanks, girl!
You’re very welcome. I love it when people inspire without setting out to do so – it makes it more…organic. And shit.
“I love it when friends call me on my shit.”
Okay, here goes…
Standing up for yourself = great!.
Use of vulgar language = terrible.
I would expect vulgarity to come from the mouth of a stripper/druggie, of which you are neither. I like your writing, and find it very encouraging, but I found this last article offensive due to the excessive amount of cussing. Very juvenile, in my opinion.
“You attract what you are, so be your BEST!”
Just my 2 cents.
Looking forward to your book.
How cool, that you find yourself comfortable enough to leave a comment like this. Thank you for the kind words about my writing and book, which I am working hard on completing.
It’s taken me 44 years to be comfortable enough with my own voice, and that aint changing.
The “druggy” and “stripper” you expect such vulgarity from is still here. I’ve been called worse, and will never hide behind the shame of judgment I’ve received for two decades about being both those things. It’s part of who I am, and who I am is a brash, outspoken, opinionated, fabulous mutherfucker, who happens to cuss on occasion.
The beautiful irony here, is that this post is about standing up for yourself, and how Kristen did it without compromising her integrity. There was a time when I wouldn’t have fared so well in reading your comment. But now, I hope I make Kristen (and anyone else who digs my shit) proud when I say: Amy, I’m well aware my writing isn’t for everyone. So if you are offended, please don’t fucking read me.
I’m sorry, but as a gal who enjoys a cuss-word or 10, I’d like to weigh in. Please don’t think I’m attacking you, because I actually think you said this with a lot of class.
However, what on earth does someone’s use of the word “shit” have to do with “attracting the best” life or whatever?
Look, I think there is a time & a place for as you put it, “vulgarity,” or as I put it “Dropping the F-bomb.”
When one is in church, or in the company of kids, or surrounded by one’s mother & her friends…perhaps best to curtail the bombs.
But when writing one’s blog? It seems to me that in one’s blog, or memoir, or facebook page, or wherever….these are the places that one can & should have the freedom to say whatever they want to say, however they’d like to say it.
On YOUR blog, you can forbid bad language. In YOUR memoir, you can have the mouth of Holly Hobby. On YOUR facebook page, you can block anyone who swears.
But I think it’s wrong, and frankly, un-goddamn American to insist that someone write in a clean, inoffensive manner.
In fact, you seem to have been so distracted by the word “shit” that you missed the WHOLE POINT of this post…
Which, it seems to me, is about a woman expressing admiration for another woman standing up for herself. In an elegant manner.
You keep spilling your shit, Christine. To me, there’s nothing more gorgeous & classy than a gal with smarts who speaks the truth.
See y’all in church!
Kristen (the dirty mouth) Johnston
Thanks Kjo. The spilling continues…xxoo
Can’t say enough how much I agree.
“Amy, I’m well aware my writing isn’t for everyone. So if you are offended, please don’t fucking read me.”
I grow weary of the conceit that use of foul language indicates a small mind or a small vocabulary. I can tell people to fuck off using many words, I just prefer fuck off.
As a writer, this is something I’ve often run into, and I think you just summed it up better than I ever could. Thank you.
I’d like to echo what Kristen is saying about being attacked. And in re-reading my reply to you, it sounds a bit sarcastic. But I truly do appreciate your taking the time to comment and that you feel comfortable to give your opinion. Even if I don’t agree.
people who stereotype? “I would expect vulgarity to come from the mouth of a stripper/druggie…”
that’s extremely juvenile. narrow mindedness isn’t something I really care for.
swearing? obviously I fucking love it. it’s a personal style, a personal choice.
much like religion, politics, haircuts, dance moves… if you don’t like it, ignore it. it’s your choice what you read, who you follow, what you subscribe to. if it’s not for you, move on… quietly, politely, with dignity.
if something’s being forced on you or is directed at you and is hurtful? that’s another story… this was not.
don’t change a thing. we all get to decide who we are & you, darling, are a gem & one hell of a fucking writer! xoxo
Thanks Emily! I truly appreciate it!
Sharing my honest opinion on YOUR PUBLIC blog, on a PUBLIC website, where YOU continually ask the PUBLIC for their comments, I’m surprised that I find myself being met with sarcasm and bullying, especially from someone who claims to have been bullied all her life.
Had you asked me to elaborate, I would have – adding to it my sincerest apology – as my comment wasn’t meant to be insulting. I was simply ‘standing up for myself’ by sharing being taken aback by all the cussing used in the current post, when most of the others written here have been so inspirational. I don’t feel the need to swear to get my point across and I don’t find swearing the best/most positive use of language.
Was it your intent to create this blog to seek sympathy and the opinions only of those of like mind? For someone who claims to always being judged, you sure didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt.
As for kjothesmartass,
“Please don’t think I’m attacking you…” How could I not with the backhanded compliment/comment you gave to me?
If you didn’t intend to attack me, you would have been respectful of an opinion that differed from yours (that WASN’T ABOUT YOU, and WASN’T LEFT FOR YOU) and you would have omitted your judgmental/sarcastic “Holly Hobby” ,”See y’all in church!” and “un-goddamn American” etc. digs, but you didn’t. Therefore, it was you who attacked me! You were never part of my comment to Christine or my conversation. It was you, and only you, who chose to put yourself there when you chose to write and assault my character first. I expressed my opinion on Christine’s blog, I insisted nothing. Don’t get it twisted.
By the way, every Red-Blooded American in my family who have served proudly in our U.S. Military, who have fought for your right to express your opinion, would be offended that you would utter publicly the words “un-goddamn American” to any American for having an opinion that differed from yours. Your words, not mine.
Also, I would not have “been so distracted” if it were just the word “shit” used in Christine’s post, but it wasn’t. It was the use of all the “shit, fucking, goddammed, fucks, fuck, fucker, fucking, bullshit, bitches, ass” that left me surprised.
How quickly you jumped on the bully bandwagon. Now would be a good time to take your foot out of your mouth.
I think what Ms Johnston was saying (and I know her, I’m sure she was simply going for humor, she is most definitely not a bully) is that anyone can express their opinions.
Its when a writer is in any way told “we shouldn’t” do this or that, that it certainly goes against freedom of speech, which is “un-goddamn-american.”
Also, I just shared with Ms. Johnston your comment, and her reply was to laugh & say “Oh, THAT’S where my fucking foot is!”
As far as your comment to me…
“I’m surprised that I find myself being met with sarcasm and bullying, especially from someone who claims to have been bullied all her life. ”
I was bullied. There’s no “claim”, and I did bring to light the fact that I did NOT mean to sound sarcastic. Not meant to bully you, but rather, express my feelings of how I’m not changing my voice, and that I disagree with you – I also thanked you twice, very sincerely.
“Was it your intent to create this blog to seek sympathy and the opinions only of those of like mind? For someone who claims to always being judged, you sure didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt.”
There’s that word “claim” again. This is the last time I will tell you – I don’t need to “claim” anything – because the content I write about are indeed fact.
My intent for this blog is to build my writing platform. It’s taken a life of its own that I am very proud of – and if you read through other comments on other posts, you’ll find that I have many readers with minds that are NOT like mine at all. We debate, and not once has a person told me they were offended by my writing style, or offended at an opinion that differs from their own. Again – my posts are not for everyone. If you are offended, maybe I’m not the best post to read.
I don’t seek sympathy Amy. Nor do I want validation, or approval born from this blog. What I do want to build, is the momentum of healthy dialogue sparked from the different topics I write about, which is all apart of my own recovery and healing process. I’m happy to reach many readers who connect with the topics I write about and are happy with my voice.
I don’t cuss because I feel the need to – it’s just part of my voice. But it’s something that you felt strongly enough and comfortable enough (again, that’s really cool!) to share your feelings about it here, so again – I thank you.
We agree to disagree. Thank you for our honest opinion. I’d like to end this and move on from this silly thread of heated debates, because there’s a whole word out there with far heavier stuff going on.
My last post was written out of frustration/anger from your first response, and I didn’t see your apology in the second until just now. I accept your apology, thank you, and ask that you forgive me as well. I really like that you are, as you say “brash, outspoken, opinionated…”
Still looking forward to your book.
Thank you so much Amy. Of course. Let’s hug it out! xxoo
I’m just gonna say this and hope it comes out the way I intend. Me and words are not getting along today.
I was raised to never stand up for myself. In any way. There’s a lot more to that, but for now, it will suffice to simply say that. Learning to do so has been difficult, and at times, heart breaking.
I’m now a 40 year old author, and I still find myself struggling with it. My first instinct is to accept, my second is to walk away. It take a concentrated effort for me to actually say something back, not in anger, but with the dignity and self respect I’m owed as a human being. I’m learning, though.
I’ve been a fan of Kristen Johnson for a pretty long time, so her response does not surprise me. What it does do is remind me that it’s okay to stand up for myself. Sometimes, in life, it’s hard to do that, especially when you’ve got years of ingrained training telling you that you don’t have that right.
So, first off, thank you Kristen. You continue to be an inspiration.
I first came across you and your work on Scribd, and I admit, I’ve not followed as closely as I meant to. Life, again, dragging me around by the hair. My girlfriend actually pointed this out to me, and I’m glad she did.
Thank you for sharing this. We all need a reminder now and then that standing our ground is not wrong. Life has a way of knocking us down, and when it does, it’s always good to have someone out there, even if they don’t know us personally, telling us to get up, stand firm, and not take that shit.
Lately, I’ve been dealing with the whole getting knocked around thing. I’ve been having a hard time deciding how to react, cause I don’t want to do it in anger, and right now, this moment, I feel like I know. By just standing my ground, and not letting others knock me cause I am not the person they want me to be.
By just telling them tough shit, and as I mentioned earlier, if you don’t like what I write, or how, then don’t fucking read me.
I was actually a little too moved at the moment to say all this. Me and words today, not friendly. But, with a little thought, I think I’ve gotten it out the way I wanted. Today, cause of you and Kristen, I feel better, and like the person I want to be.
Thank you for that.
This is lovely – thank you! Here’s to standing up for ourselves.
I’ve actually received e-mails from my Mother letting me know how disappointed she is with me after reading some of my posts. She talked about how crass I am and how she didn’t bring me up to be this sort of lady. I suggested she perhaps not read anymore as I wasn’t going to filter myself to keep from offending her. Still stings a little to hear your Mother is disappointed in you.
I thought this post, along with the comments, was an amazing example of what it means to have respect for others while showing class.
From Kristen’s response to the nameless hack, to Amy Lynn expressing her opinion, to your response to Amy’s opinion. Although there were different opinion’s expressed and some initial frustration, it was all met with respect and appreciation for each other. Really liked this!
Thanks VV! There’s always a way to fight w/out breaking a nail.