Dear Austin:

I’m trying to write a piece about you, and I’m remembering all my moments surrounded by your confluence of the downhome and the bombastic, and it’s making my heart race.  With anxiety.

I enjoyed the summer I spent in the live music capital:  shopping at Central Market, taking classes with a great friend at UT, dreaming of having a pool.  But beyond that, I’m remembering, it just plain wasn’t fun to live in Austin, the town that’s supposed to be the best time of all.  It was stressful being priced out of the hip (not hippie) neighborhoods.  It was frustrating having such crappy public transportation.  It was lonely being a transplant to a place of long-timers.

I salute you, but I am officially too scared to visit.  Maybe ever.


A. Olson


Dressed for Success



Dear Mr. Kalaf:

I’m writing to thank you for your article, as I was just asking my husband the same question this weekend (only using different language).

Also, maybe if the Cardinals got a newly designed logo?  As it stands, it’s hard for me to get behind their we’re-a-baseball-town image because their uniforms reveal that they never got the retro overhaul the rest of Major League Baseball did in the past decade.  I know a logo issue is trite, but I feel like storied teams should wear their heritage a bit more proudly.  Otherwise two things happen:  1) you’re the Florida Marlins, and 2) you look preeeety upstart-y against the kings of nostalgia-nearly-to-a-fault Red Sox.  And if there’s anything baseball hates, frankly, it’s upstarts.

Here’s hoping you can encourage the Cardinals on your end of things,

A. Olson

Not Helping One’s Cause



Dear Anyone Who Makes Giant Signs and Holds Them At the Roadside:

I want very much for you to go back to work.  Very much.  Your sign, however, suggests that you might need to go back to school.  And in the case of a government shutdown, well, what else do you have going on . . . ?

Here’s hoping everything gets corrected quickly for you,

A. Olson

Not Getting It


Dear Highly Respectable Members of Congress:

I’d like it if a government shutdown meant that telemarketers stopped working, too.  You all are good at taking on and running, running, running with meaningless projects, so it seems like absorbing the people who call my house asking for donations or trying to sell me some sort of gutter repair / energy consolidation plan / new windows is a good idea.  You should look into it.  Put Mike Lee or Ted Cruz on it.  It can be part of their dunce-hat-wearing detention sentence for all their unforgivable pot stirring over the past few weeks.

Also, I think my mail lady takes a personal furlough on Saturdays.  And when it’s raining (unless my magazines aren’t covered–then she’s out in full force).  I’m not tattling, I’m just hoping to know when her shutdown will end.

Thumbs up for all your good work,

A. Olson

That’s Reparations?



Dear Dan Snyder:

I don’t know what would possess one to purchase an NFL team when there are so many scholarships to give and developing nations to foster.  But you have–congratulations–and you’ve even written an open letter to fans about the controversy surrounding the name of your very own Washington Redskins.  Since I’m not a fan of the Washington Redskins, or of American football in general and specific, I am not the target audience of your letter.  However,  Mr. Snyder, you wrote an open letter.  So it looks like I get to write back to your open letter with my own.  I love to write back.

There are so many terrible places I could begin, but I’ve decided to contain my response to just your concluding sentence:

We are Redskins Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.

You’re right.  We are the Redskins’ nation.  And what better way to honor the heritage we gave the Redskins when we killed, stole, rounded up, displaced, and disenfranchised them than to preserve them with a gross and violent pageant of excess?  Excellent work.  Insert pat on back.

Please, please do not patronize an entire people and culture by using the word “heritage.”  Let’s call things by their proper names:  appropriation.  Very, very uncool appropriation.  “[W]e owe it to our fans and coaches and players . . . to preserve that appropriation.”

Here’s hoping you get a chance to do some soul searching after adding this to the NFL’s already-rough week,

A. Olson

Food Bias


Dear Dr. Oz:

I am confident that you are overlooking the restorative and nutritional properties of Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos.  It would assuage my guilt considerably if you could do a segment on all the reasons why eating these makes one–and one’s spleen–smarter and happier.  Maybe you could suggest that they’re a neutral food, not a venomous monster of doom food, in the grand scheme of good and bad stuff to consume.

Please remember they’re made with real cheese,

A. Olson

The Winner


Dear Owner of the Buick Rendezvous in the Giant Grocery Store Parking Lot This Morning:

You did it!

You are the biggest Redskins fan of all the Redskins fans that drive a Buick Rendezvous.

Anybody that would risk launching his or her vehicle into orbit because of full sized flags mounted to his or her car hood is certainly in the running for biggest fan.  But you clinched it with your Robert Griffin III effigy.  Clinched it.

I was nervous just parking by you; I cannot imagine the fear I’d feel if I saw your banners approaching and then revealing they’re ensconcing a mini RG III of traffic terror.

I hope very much that Mr. Griffin III is securely mounted on the roof of your car.  Because if he is not, and he sails into my car at the stoplight, well then I am afraid we’ll have a problem no amount of vehicular decor can smooth over.


A. Olson

Because I Sew Only For Utilitarian Purposes . . .

Dear Halloween Costume Manufacturers in General (so, China):

My child just wants to be a panda for Halloween.

Not Panda-esque:


Not Button Panda:


Not Weird Skirted and Fishnetted Panda:


Not Zombie Panda:


Last time I checked, pandas were cute.  Cute, as in, having the power to make the photo of a baby one front page news in The Washington Post.  (But who really wants to look at DC Mayor Gray or any members of Congress anyway?)

My child is a child and pandas are cute.  Why are you only offering me options that would make my girl look like a waitress at a problematic restaurant or a Korean all ready for summer vacation?  There’s got to be something in between here . . . .

Not trying to appropriate your lovely animal, just trying to make my child’s Halloween dreams come true,

A. Olson

Coming Clean


Dear People Who Award the Good Motherhood Badge (my mother often referred to you while I was growing up, so I’m assuming you’re real, right?):

I’m writing to remove myself from the running for this very worthy prize because, as it turns out, I have not only begun to suck up my son’s errant Legos with the vacuum cleaner, I also get sincere satisfaction from doing it.

I did do some ironing this weekend, if that counterbalances anything.


A. Olson

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