Giving Me No Choice

Dear Congress:

It seems like I’m always writing to you in one way or another.

It’s these latest shenanigans, however, that are intolerable.  Plus, look where you were sitting in popularity in 2011: below communism.  And we both know you haven’t moved up the scale since then.

So it looks like I’m going to have to move.  To Canada.

Thanks so much,

A. Olson


And the Winner Is . . . .


Dear Third Grade Teachers Who Work Hard to Keep Perspective and Treat Children With Respect and Hope Rather Than Absolute Annoyance:

I’m a parent who is noticing.

Thank you and God bless you.

A. Olson

Work Clothes


Now here are two guys who take their jobs seriously.–nba.html

Dear NBA:

I’m working pretty hard to convince my children and my students that formality is worth it—that even though it isn’t the trend, it is certainly a worthy, useful habit.

Must I now add you to the list of Things That Are Only Making It Worse?  (Along with Twitter, texting, and ESPN.)

And as an additional note, genius and verbal giant Ray Allen offered this accidentally enlightening comment on the NBA altogether:

It shows growth in our league and it shows we do adapt to what’s going on around us. . . . [W]e’re still kids, playing a kids’ game. Even though we’re now men playing a kids’ game, we still remember where we come from. Everybody had a nickname and it’s a way to let the fans in a little bit more.

If basketball is a “kids’ game,” as Mr. Allen suggests, why are we paying them adult salaries?  My children do stuff for a quarter or, even better, for the privilege of doing it (my daughter will be contacting you shortly with excerpts from my famous “School Is the Reward” lecture).  Perhaps the commissioner might want to rethink whether or not he has bigger fish to fry than this dumbing-down-the-jerseys issue.

Wow, I didn’t realize I had so much to say to you,

A. Olson

Acting Like Adults


Dear US and Israeli UN Delegates:

I read this article in The Washington Post this morning and found myself flabbergasted.

Apparently this “taking one’s ball and going home” / “giving the cold shoulder” / “come on, Pedro, let’s go play over here” practice happens annually in the UN.


So then I read this article and my being flabbergasted was confirmed.

When my kids act like children, we talk about things like respect as well as not giving another your power by acknowledging his or her lameness / abuse / etc by engaging in it in response.  I’m kind of unsure, then, how the world’s supposed to handle it when the representatives of UN Member Nations act like children.  Where’s the third party that mediates this display of drama and petulance?

Oh wait.  I remember now.  The UN is that third party.

I’m not for chemical weapons or violence or extremism.  As I say to my kids, “Of course you should not tolerate this abuse.  However, your response and actions may not include disrespect.  Then you’re just playing the same game.”

So if you all might throw your tantrums in private before arriving to the upcoming General Assembly, I think the world would appreciate it.  If not, it looks like warnings and checks and detention for everybody.

Be grown ups,

A. Olson

Cite Your Sources


Dear Foreign Minister Lavrov:

I’ve become aware of you as I’ve been following the recent Russia-America conversations surrounding the Syrian conflict, and based upon what I’ve seen so far, I find you very intriguing.  You’re appear to be The Putin Whisperer who looks like he’s on his way to a Kansas State game.  I love it.

I’m also noticing you’re part of that great Russian political tradition of vagueness when it comes to credibly supporting your claims.  You might want to stop into a first-year writing course while you’re at one of those K-State games and grab a bit of training / theory on why this approach always, always unravels.

Just a thought.


A. Olson

Just As Good (Almost)


None of these plastic seals have perforations to make opening them actually possible unless you have the claws of Wolverine. Trust me.

Dear Store Brand Makers:

I am on your team.  I usually like your product just as well as I like the name brand version, and I always like spending less money.  So thanks for your great work.


If you cannot get your protective outer seal situation under control, I’m ending our relationship.  Here are my two words for you:  perforation machine.  Please use all that money I’m spending on your products to invest in a machine that perforates plastic safety barriers clearly and well.  When my child has a fever and I purchase your product and can’t get the plastic seal off of it in the middle of the night when I’m bleary eyed and exhausted and it’s too dark to find my scissors all because you are skipping the perforation step—well, as Liz Lemon says, “That’s a deal breaker.”

Please, please.  Please.

A. Olson

Giving Fair Warning


Dear Owner of the Chrysler Concorde That Was Parked Near Me at Target This Week:

Many, many thanks for clearly posting your driving practices on your car.  If I found myself unsure about the way you drive because of, well, the way you drive, you’ve provided me with the very helpful option of a statement of your driving credo right there above your license plate.  While I like to assume that your motivation is altruistic, I’m wondering about a few things:

1.  Is your statement’s placement calculated so that, say, when the police run your plates, they can also see that you are clearly a benevolent intersection approacher?

2.  What do you mean by “the” yellow light.  Is this the royal “the,” as in “I never run ‘the’ yellow light because that’s ‘the’ rule?”  Or perhaps it’s referring to one specific yellow light that you have deemed the yellow light you will not run and the rest of us have to find it somehow, like a treasure hunt?

3.  Using my semi-rusty logic skills, does this mean you run the red light?

Thanking you for the food for thought and hoping that many more drivers will make their driving intentions so plain (“I will cut you off”; “I am morally obligated to not use my blinker”; “I do not plan to move out of the left lane even though I’ve topped out at 60 mph”; “I will weave. I just will”; etc.),

A. Olson

Pass the Benadryl


Dear Ms. Dillard:

Your writing is indisputably beautiful.  Keeping this as an understood constant, the variable I’d like to discuss is your ability to be enamored of nature in all its minutiae.  Since I know the secret to your writing involves effort, humility, and possibly previous-life deals with saints, I’m wondering if you can share your secret for abiding in nature.

I love nature—beholding a glorious vista, stopping to acknowledge the beauty of the light, commending my tomato plants for making it for a month without my watering them—and I revere it.  But its details tend to make my skin crawl and my throat itch.  Maybe you don’t have allergies?  Maybe you aren’t afraid of rattlesnake bites or raccoon scratches because there’s already venom and rabies swirling in your blood, giving you immunity?  Maybe creatures recognize your greatness and back away, head bowed?  Maybe you are exempt from humidity?

I just read your piece “Living Like Weasels,” and it was remarkable in both content and concept.  But I can’t get past your sitting on a mossy throne to begin with, let alone your not slowly-but-certainly relocating upon meeting a creature that could plant its teeth into your bone and never, ever relent.  Is there hope that a thin-skinned suburbanite like me who really likes to sleep in her own bed can live a deliberate life without becoming Thoreau or Johnny Appleseed or an REI member?

I know your graciousness qualifies you to answer all these questions, so I thank you in advance for considering them.

A. Olson