My Thoughts Exactly

Where were the women in this office?  Oh yeah, working at the restaurant around the corner . . .

Where were the women in this office? Oh yeah, working at the restaurant around the corner . . .

Dear Lisa Miller at (Are you the Lisa Miller from my favorite show Newsradio? You probably get that all the time.):

Thank you for explaining what I’ve been thinking since grad school, just haven’t been sure how to verbalize.

We all need models:  inspiration rooms / inspiration outfits / inspiration people / whatever.  For example, I could finally decide what to wear to my high school reunion this summer after first seeing it pulled together (so well, Emmanuelle Alt,) on someone else. Additionally, there’s a whole vocabulary floating around a certain American demographic that comes directly from HGTV (e.g. my dad uses the terms “curb appeal” and “reno” now).  And what hip hop music has done to the mainstream white population of the US that has so blatantly appropriated it is another post for another day.

The point is, once we see it done, we know the way.  It’s the age-old apprentice approach.

I’m remembering the former director of my department who worked three jobs to make her life happen while simultaneously caring for her aging mother.  She was tough, fair, and encouraging when she hired me.  She was experienced both professionally and academically.  She was an actual mentor who visited classrooms, gave feedback, and treated me like a colleague instead of an employee.  She was also replaced a year later.  By a man with a PhD.  Since I know how he got where he is, and since I’m trying to advance in a situation not set up for me to win, your piece verbalized my need for my former director’s model—for any model that looks like the possibilities that could come from a life like mine.

So while I wait for the revolution that will be female leadership in the workplace (and will look like fantastically dressed multitasking), I think I have a thank you note to write.


A. Olson




Dear Christina Bonnington of Wired:

Thank you for this important update.  I have been waiting for the world to change, and clearly this means it is.

Thank you especially for writing your article from the perspective of a dog.  I found it informative and professional.


A. Olson

And How!

Riveting Rosies

Dear Ms. Kan:

Thank you for saying everything I’ve been saying (to my husband) for the past decade I’ve spent in higher education.  You’ve made me feel validated, something I don’t get particularly often because I’m scared of social media (including this blog–see me there hiding behind my sarcasm?).

In my next life, I want to be you.  In the meantime, perhaps you’re looking for summer interns . . . .


A. Olson

Keeping Your Distance

Guess where I am in this photo?

Guess where I am in this photo?


Dear Kid that Drives the Land Rover with the Tennessee Plates and Other Kid that Drives the Red Saturn:

I get that you don’t want a ticket for failing to have a neighborhood permit.  It is definitely uncool to have your parents’ car towed, so I’ve deduced that you’ve taken to parking on my street where the rules are slightly less stringent.  This is me being on to your plan.

However, I moved into the suburbs so I could stop having to parallel park in front of my own house.  You, college student friends, aren’t allowing this to happen.  So stop it.  Stop snugging up to my house like you live there as you’ve been doing for the past month.  Please.

Also, any parking enforcement officer could look at the size of my home and note that there is no way all the people who drive the cars parked in front of said home could possibly fit inside of it at the same time.  No possible way.  This is parking enforcement officers being on to your plan.

My next recourse is to leave a note on your windshield in my intimidating handwriting,

A. Olson

I Cannot Believe This Is Real


Dear Robert Haleluk:

I am writing to inform you that I’ve awarded you points for innovation for your “The Dipr” product.  I like creativity, and I like to see it rewarded.  You explain:

My favorite snack as a kid was Oreos and milk, but they would always break and fall into the milk if I dunked them for too long! As an adult, I still had the same problem so I set out to solve the issue and created the dipr. Now, all ages can enjoy the dunking experience without losing their cookies!

Eating cookies should never be a frustrating experience.  You’re helping millions.

However.  Dipping Oreos is an art to be mastered, not subverted.  Figuring out how to dip one’s chocolate sandwich cookie into the milk without losing it is part of an important process one needs to practice.  With dedication, one can elevate it to an art.  And as my sister pointed out years ago, one has to swallow that last drink of dunked cookie milk “like a shot” in order to get all the lost goods and efficiently complete one’s treat time.  So unfortunately, Mr. Haleluk, with this product, you’re being a bit of a killjoy.

As a result, I am also writing to inform you that anything that deters something from ascending to its endowed level of art results in lost points.  I think you can see where I’m going with this.  Additionally, your decision to throw spelling to the wind with the naming of this product is resulting in a further point reduction.

Please grab yourself a napkin and enjoy your Oreos like a big boy,

A. Olson

Oh To Be So Cool


Dear Virgin America Airlines (a.k.a. Movie Star or Movie Star Wannabe Airlines):

I absolutely enjoyed this.  And thanks to your creativity, my daughter now wants to be a flight attendant.  My son wants to be a robot rapper.  We’re not going backwards in life goals here, are we?

Looking forward to your announcing your Salt Lake City to Pocatello to Great Falls route,

A. Olson

In Case You’re Keeping Track . . . .


Dear Chris Morgan (writer, films 3-7), Justin Lin (director, films 3-6), and Neal H. Moritz (producer, films 1-7):

I hadn’t realized that we’re up to film #6 in The Fast and the Furious saga, with #7 coming next year.  Wow.  And I also read that it is Universal Studios’ biggest franchise of all time.  Look at this collection of greatness.  Way to go.

Just wondering a few things:

1.  Mr. Morgan, how have all the characters not died yet in all their dangerous and illegal street racing situations?

2.  Mr. Lin, how does one direct a series of films whose action is largely computer generated?  Do you work weekends?

3.  Mr. Moritz, how rich are you?

4.  How were films #1-5 insufficient enough to warrant the 2.4 billion dollar chain of cinematic splendor we have today?

I’ve never seen a film go up to #7, so congrats on this.  (Well, I’m guessing there are some Mary Kate and Ashley Olson movies, but nobody counts those direct-to-VHS ones, do they?)

Please keep up the good work of unnecessary violence and sexism; and no, Vin Diesel didn’t ask me to write this note,

A. Olson

It Seems You’ve Had an Evolution

Dear Mr. Shane Victorino:

In case you (or anybody) needed proof that the Red Sox are poisonous, let’s take a brief look at your MLB evolution.

At the Padres, 2003-2005:


So clean cut. Likely the team bus monitor.

At the Phillies, 2005-2012:

Shane Victorino

Committed, engaged, but still appearing respectable and respectful.

At the Dodgers, for like ten minutes:


Nice smile, clean teeth, friendly.

And now to Boston, just this season:

Shane Victorino red sox 2 ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Nothing too weird here, right?  Just the requisite facial hair and punk attitude and overall disheveledness.  With a dash of bugging eyes and some borderline crazy.  I’m all about reinventing oneself.  You bet.  And maybe all that cold in Boston’s frozen your Hawaiian brain.  It happens.  But I think it’d be worth it—and wouldn’t jeopardize any superstitions or streaks or World Series whateverness—if you could take the white supremacist/meth addict persona down a couple of marks and keep things mentally healthy for the last few games.  I know Boston likes to think it’s scrappy, but there’s plenty of high brow hiding underneath the right-angled accent, no matter what those drunken fans are leading you to believe.

Can’t wait to see you all cleaned up in the off season (and I bet your wife and kids agree with me on this one),

A. Olson

The Real Hazard


Dear Brown Nissan Sentra Sharing Adelphi Road With Me on Saturday Afternoon:

When you are operating your vehicle with your hazards flashing, what does this mean?

You are driving down the street like a regular part of traffic (albeit much slower), with your hazards a-flashing.  You stop at the red lights; you merge where necessary; you proceed through intersections–all with no indication of when (or if) you will be pulling over to change your baby’s dirty diaper, or your flat tire, or your shoes.

I don’t know how to proceed with this.

When I took driver’s ed, I was taught that hazards were for emergency situations.  It turns out AAA agrees with me, and in the state of Maryland, the law states that “hazard light use is not permitted except in emergency situations.”  Okay.  So where was your emergency situation?  As I indicated previously, perhaps the rest of us couldn’t see your emergency situation?  You were planning to turn right at some point?  You were awaiting a sneeze?  They were playing Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” on the radio?  Yet you continued to proceed as if you were out for a Sunday drive (except it was Saturday which means Weekend Traffic of Doom), indicating nothing hazardous.  Except you.

Your Nissan Sentra is not an 18-wheeler climbing a mountain.  There was no fog on the afternoon we were driving together.  Adelphi Road is not the New York Thruway (thank goodness) where signs tell drivers going slower than 45MPH to use their hazards to alert their fellow commuters.  And I needed to get my mom to the airport.

So perhaps you might trade in that dreamy vehicle for a Jazzy scooter, which seems to be just about right for you and your needs.  George Kastanza proved they are certainly good in an urban sidewalk setting like Adelphi Road.  Seems like a win win.

Many thanks,

A. Olson

A Smarty Pants Gets It Right



Dear Mr. Chomsky:

I read this article (rather than watching the clip–I figure you’d approve), and I wholeheartedly agree.  You are known as a brilliant crab, and I cannot think of a higher compliment one could be paid.  I say this truthfully with no tongue in cheek, no sarcasm wafting.  Because you have said what I have been feeling for a while now, and if I could stop my online shopping habit, maybe I could go totally retro, like you.

Plus, you are at MIT, so all my years of pent-up nerdiness respect you all the more.

I am too committed to grammar and general formality to participate in social media, but this is not my point.  Your comments have made me realize why my frustration with holiday cards has become so great in the past decade.  Nobody bothers to hand sign or hand address the piece of “correspondence” they send to my home.  And really, it has to be my home–rather than to me–they’re sending it because surely one human would want write a personal note to another human, right?  Surely the need for actual, not virtual, connection trumps the need for bragging or empty glibness?

It looks like the answer is no.  Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

Best regards,

A. Olson