Enough with Slut Shaming Women on Halloween

harley-quinn-bodysuitI don’t dress up for Halloween. I didn’t as a child and I don’t as an adult. I have this one sweater with orange stripes that I inadvertently wear every year on Halloween, because that’s about as “festive” as it gets for a lazy person like me.

I’ve never dressed as a “slutty” version of anything (except maybe of myself, when I find shirts that are particularly flattering in the cleavage area because, you know, if you got it….).

I have nothing at all against dressing up, honestly. I’m just not a big Halloween person. I typically exhaust all of my Halloween energy on my kids in their yearly conquest for the coolest costume, annual obligatory pumpkin picking and carving activities, and of course, the extensive trick-or-treating sessions that seem to yield higher mountains of candy with each passing year. By November 1, I’m wiped out. And it’s basically already Christmas. So ain’t nobody got time for grownup costumes.

But I admire those parents with that Halloween gusto, the festive few who power on through Party City past the kids’ costumes, sparing some extra energy to find Tinkerbell in  an adult size or to piece together some hilariously horrifying murder victim ensemble, complete with a rubber butcher knife to the throat and enough corn syrup to bake 50 red velvet cakes (nope, no clue if corn syrup is even an ingredient in red velvet – or any – cake, but you get my point).

I even experience a bit of costume envy on Halloween weekend (typically the debauchery-ridden Friday and/or Saturday night closest to October 31). I sit on my couch in my pj’s, wine in hand, chuckling as I scroll through my social media feeds, ooh-ing and ahhing over the clever couples, the Jokers and Harleys, the peanut butters and jellies, the zombies and vampires, the Trumps and Hillarys, momentarily wishing I wasn’t such a lazy bum and swearing I’ll do it next year because, really, it looks very fun. I even have my costume already selected (a lifelong Nightmare Before Christmas fan, I’ve been dreaming of a Jack & Sally costume since I was 12 — I just hope not to fail as epically at Halloween as Jack did at Christmas).

Quite frankly, who wouldn’t want to be somebody else for one night? Hell, I want to be someone else 365 days of the year. Seriously, can I just climb out of my own skin and find a host body with a flat stomach, a knack for organization, and a husband who cooks? Is there a Halloween costume for that?

I have no problem with any adult’s choice of costume for Halloween, and neither should anyone else.

Yet inevitably every year, judgy people take to Facebook with their cyber pitchforks, bitching and moaning over all the scantily clad kittens, mermaids, and comic book characters who opted against a sweaty full-body costume. The audacity of these women! Showing a little skin on the ONE day of the year it is (or used to be) socially permittable to do so. As though every woman should just show up to the party in a giant paper bag with a stick figure drawing of her costume on it.

No one wants to be a tired mom for Halloween (well except for this little girl, who NAILED IT). We walk around in coffee-stained sweats, covered in toddler boogers, smelling like cooked casserole, hair messily pulled into in some pathetic excuse for a bun, undereye circles for days. We’re at a point in our lives where we can’t help but inwardly smile at catcalls from a construction workers and secretly envy the mom at school who wears heels to pick up her kids and looks like she actually has her shit together.

There’s barely enough time in the day to make sure our socks match, never mind to slap on a coat of makeup before heading out the door.

So if a woman wants to feel sexy in her own skin; if she wants to take some extra time to look as attractive as she deserves to feel; if maybe, just mayyyybe, it’ll bump up her often-bruised self-esteem, then I say let her be. If you’re dressed as “tired mom” 364 days a year and you want to be a slutty fucking cat for one night, then you should be able to do so without being judged. Because underneath those faded Old Navy pajamas, you’re a hottie and you damn well know it.

I speak for tired moms everywhere when I say, don those “slutty” costumes and enjoy the attention. For once, look in the mirror and smile at what you see. Tomorrow it’s back to stained sweats at soccer practice but for tonight, go be the sluttiest damn leopard in the animal kingdom. You deserve it.

In fact, I’m speaking for all women — with kids, without kids, in your twenties, forties, sixties, whatever. I’m speaking for all of us.

As women, we have so many reasons to feel bad about ourselves. We’re fat-shamed, skinny-shamed, our hair is too short, our teeth are too big, our breasts aren’t covered, our roots are showing, eyebrows not waxed, jeez, the list could go on literally forever. And what’s truly sad is that often, we’re our own biggest critics. When you are your own biggest enemy, the last thing you need is to be harshly judged by somebody else. Moreover, when something makes you feel beautiful, you should always embrace it. And don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it, ever.

This notion that women should be shamed for wearing something sexy on Halloween is total bullshit. Women should be allowed to wear ANYTHING THEY FUCKING WANT, any day of the year. If it makes you feel good, then that is all that matters.

Like they say, haters gonna hate. Don’t be one of them. And don’t let ’em get to you, either.

Five Things I Need in a Bestie

Bestie goals.

So I haven’t posted a new blog in over six months. Why? Well, I won’t bore you with details, but mostly because life. Because stress. Because marriage. Because work. Because 4-year-olds. Because 8-year-olds. Because writers block. Because summer. Because back to school.

Speaking of back to school, my daughter just started kindergarten at the school where my son is currently starting third grade.

If you read my most recent blog post, aptly titled People think I’m a Bitch, you may already know that I’ve struck out pretty hard when it comes to snagging some new mom friends from my son’s class. Apparently hiding behind trees to avoid social interactions does not win you any points in the new friend department. But I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf with my daughters class this year. I’ve been given a second chance with these mamas and this time I won’t screw it up. Heck, I’m already planning my future blog entry titled “People Think I Couldn’t Be More Fucking Awesome.” I’m gonna leave that one at the top of my blog for even longer than six months this time!

Sorry for the painful cliche, but this is a new year and a new me. No longer will paralyzing social anxiety leave me hiding behind trees (and no, not just because there aren’t any trees shading the front entrance where the kindergarten classes are dismissed). I’m going to slap on a smile, maybe swallow a Xanax or two, and get my ass in friend-making mode. This year I will meet my future mom friend BFF.

Full disclosure (and before she kills me) you should know I already have a bestie and she’s, well, the best. But whatever, she works a lot.

So here’s the thing. I just have a few small requirements for my future bestie. I know, I know, someone with a social circle the size of a cheerio shouldn’t exactly be picky, but if we’re gonna be sharing wine and bitching about everything from husbands to homework, then she’s gotta fit some necessary criteria. Like the following:

She must drink wine. Like copious amounts of it. I’m not really into that whole “oh I need a glass of wine, I had a rough day” crap where you literally drink just ONE glass of wine and then act like it made an ounce of difference in the shittiness of your day. I want my future BFF to be the type of chick who goes “oh today sucked” and then guzzles a whole bottle before ordering $300 worth of Christmas decorations on Amazon and passing out on the couch with her hands in a half-empty bucket of Party Mix.

She must not be a judgy bitch. Look, we’re ALL guilty of passing judgement here and there. But you can’t be a total witch about it. Like if we’re at the park with the kids or something and I see a woman breastfeeding her kid and  I’m like “hey good for her, breastfeeding her kid in public and not giving a fuck about what anyone thinks” and then you’re like “oh gross, she should put those tits away,” and then I’m like “well the baby’s hungry, it’s no big deal” and you’re like “oh but there are kids around” and “I’m like yeah totally, there’s one even hanging off her boob” and then you actually walk over to the poor woman and tell her to go feed her kid somewhere else, then not only can’t we be friends, but I will loudly call you the C-word before asking Public Breastfeeding Mom to squirt some boob milk in your bitchy, judgemental face

She must watch trashy reality TV. If I send you text during the Bachelor asking who you think is SOL on getting a rose this week and I don’t receive a response within exactly five minutes, then this isn’t gonna work out.

She must not be too weird on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media site. I guess it goes without saying here that she needs to also be ON Facebook and Instagram, mostly because I’m a huge fan of the screenshot and she should be too. I don’t have any specifics for “not too weird” but if your kid comes down with some hideous rash and you post a photo of it, asking for opinions from all the Google University doctors on your Facebook page instead of consulting an actual doctor, then that falls into the “weird” category. Also weird? Is the compulsive desire to post nauseating pictures of your significant other every day, declaring your undying love for all the world to see as often as possible. Aside from an overabundance of daily selfies, there’s nothing more likely to get you deleted, or at the very least, politely hidden. Don’t mean to sound bitchy, it’s just that if I don’t even want to see your face in my News Feed then there’s no way I want it anywhere near me in real life.

She must dislike talking on the phone. There are very, very, VERY, few people whose calls don’t go directly to voicemail (or they would, if I ever bothered to set my voicemail up in the first place), and I’ve known all of these people for over 30 years. So unless you want to wait til we’re in our sixties to chat, let’s just stick to texting, k?

Are you out there, future bestie?

Why Having “Only” One Kid Is Harder Than It Seems

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Recently a very sweet reader commented to me that she only has one kid, but can still really enjoy all the stuff I write about on my blog. ONLY one kid, she said.

My kids are about three years apart, so I had “only” one kid for a while myself, and let me tell you, having one kid is not necessarily easier than having two. It’s probably not even much easier than having a whole litter of ‘em, actually.

Now that I have two kids, a nice chunk of my day is admittedly spent prying my children off of one another, mediating arguments prompted by such pressing matters as whether it’s time to watch Princess Sofia or Scooby Doo and who gets to eat the last package of fruit snacks. But I have to say, in between those annoying moments of fighting, my home is constantly filled with the joyful sounds of children playing together. Frequent fits of giggles and shrieks of laughter, freckled by mischievous moments of quiet scheming, then followed by even more explosive laughter– these are the sweet, sweet sounds of siblings getting along. And to me, they’re some of the most beautiful sounds you will ever hear.

I think that if you could bottle the blissful sound of children’s laughter, it might just cure every illness under the sun.

Just to clarify, I’m not implying that having one child will leave you with a dull, laughter-less home. Not at all. Every kid is hilarious in his or her own little way. But we do tip the laughter scale around here a lot more than we used to before my daughter came along.

Particularly for a new parent, caring for “only” one child can be one of the loneliest feelings in the world.  In fact, I was extremely depressed for most of the three years I spent as a mother of one child. The door would close in the morning as my husband headed off to work, and the seemingly endless hours of loneliness would begin. I’d look down at my little guy, and he’d look up at me, his eyes as big as his expectations for the day, and I knew that keeping him content for those long hours was all on me.

It’s a pretty big job, and not an easy one.

Fact: there is really only so much coloring, finger-painting, and shape-sorting you can do before you start to lose your ever-loving mind.

Some moms like to fill their toddler’s schedules with exciting play dates and Gymboree classes. And that’s great. But what about parents who, like I was, are new to their neighborhood and don’t have a ton of mommy friends with whom to set up playdates? And the Gymboree classes? Um, have you seen the pricetag on these freaking classes? I can roll a big ball around and sing The Wheels on the Bus to my kid at home for free, thankyouverymuch.

Another problem I had when my son was an only child was the sharing thing. At home, all of his precious toys were his and his alone. Without the frequent wails of “but it’s MY turn!” from a jealous sibling, sharing was a foreign concept to my little guy. So you can imagine that play dates were a BLAST back then. I’ve always found it an awkward situation when your kid has engaged in a knock-down, drag-out, tug-of-war match with another kid over some shitty toy, and the parents need to step in and encourage the angry toddlers to “take turns” with said shitty toy. Either no one listens and the match rages on until the toy is removed and both children are sulking, or the other kid hands it over and your kid ends up looking like the jerk. Nope, my kid was never the one to hand it over. Not back then, anyway.

So moms of “only” one child, do yourselves a favor and give a little (or a LOT) of credit where it’s due. Raising kids is tricky business, no matter how many you have.  Every type of parenting comes with its own set of challenges- one kid, two kids, ten kids, twins, triplets, whatever.  The bottom line is that you are raising a living, breathing, human being who is depending on YOU to keep him or her thriving and well, 24/7. It’s a big damn responsibility. And I think that, even for those parents raising a whole boatload of kids, we’re all just figuring out this parenting thing as we go.

Although for the record, I do NOT want a whole boatload of kids.

Doin’ My Working Mom Thang

If you’ve stopped by my blog in the past few weeks, you might have heard crickets chirping in place of the usual 1500+ words on what’s been pissing me off lately.  I promise I haven’t decided to call it a day on my little writing adventure.  Nor have I been vacationing in the Caribbean, in case you were wondering (and also don’t know me at all).

The truth is that I’ve crossed over to the other side, folks.  I’m going back to work.

As much fun as being a stay-at-home-mom has been (at times), I think it’s time for a change.  Those of you familiar with the six things I’m too broke to do will understand that I’ve simply come to a point where I’ve seen one Magic Kingdom picture too many.

So I’ve accepted a position at a wonderful company that allows its employees to maintain a flexible schedule in order to more easily balance time between work and family.  I feel extremely blessed to have stumbled upon such an amazing opportunity.  To my new boss, if you’re reading this:  you’re seriously awesome.  I really appreciate you giving this mama a chance.  And I swear I’m not just saying that because, well, you’re my boss and stuff.

Now that I’m doing my working mom thing (which I still kind of can’t even believe), I’ve been understandably distracted.  I started work about a week ago and my mind has been going a mile a minute ever since.  So, being the open book I am, I figured I’d share some of my (in the moment) first-week thoughts with you, in case you’re wondering how the transition is going.

  • Holy crap, I’m in an office.  There are only adults present.  And people are doing work—quietly. There are permanent markers and breakable picture frames very visibly displayed on desks barely two feet off the floor.   Nobody is crying, or whining, or asking for orange juice, or biting anyone.  I thought places like this only existed on TV.
  • Not only did I shower and do my hair this morning, but I also put on MAKEUP.  And then?  I put on pants.  No, not SWEATpants.  Real pants.  Pants!
  • I wonder what Big M is doing with Little D right now.  I hope they’re playing together.  No, wait.  I kind of hope she’s driving him crazy.   What do you do all day, my ass.
  • This is a lot different than my first day at my last big new job.  Last time, I went out afterward to celebrate with friends and drinks at the bar.  This time, I went food shopping afterward, then celebrated with an early bedtime and some herbal tea.  I’m a real wild woman in my 30’s.
  • What happens if my son’s school calls my phone and I don’t hear it?  Last time they called, it was to tell me that someone had hurled on him (yes, that happened).  Will he have to sit in a pool of some other kid’s upchuck until I finally look at my phone next time?  I better take it off of vibrate.  Not that people are vomiting on him left and right, but just in case…
  • How is it possible to miss my kids so much all day long, and then come home and still find myself anxiously awaiting their bedtime?  What kind of crap is that? Go away, mom guilt!
  • Pretty soon I’ll be less broke than I am now.  Woohoo!  I’m going to Disney World!  Which we’ve already established.  So…
  • I really need to update my blog.  My thousands of adoring readers must be wondering where I’ve been.  Ha!  Couldn’t even type that with a straight face.
  • This doesn’t actually feel real yet. I feel like I should be home right now, knee deep in dirty diapers and Doc McStuffins.
  •  I’m just gonna go ahead and say it.  I’m proud of myself.  It’s been tough saying goodbye to my babies every day, but I need to do this for me and for them too.  It would be great if I could just stay home with them, but this scraping-by thing is kinda bullshit.  So yea, I’m about to grab this working mom thing by the short-and-curlies and rock it out.  Go me.  Insert happy face here.

Slippers Vs. Stilettos: The Working Mom/Stay-At-Home-Mom Feud

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There’s a war going on out there, ladies, and it ain’t a pretty one.  Moms– awesome women who should always be united on the sippy cup front, who should stand together as one in all of the trials and tribulations of motherhood —are currently battling it out in a bitter feud so controversial that I almost didn’t want to weigh in.  Almost.

The working mom verses the stay-at-home-mom thing.  You know all about it, girls.  It’s a major source of tension between mamas these days.  From sisters to best friends, to strangers, to people who are closer on Facebook than they’ll ever be in real life, we are ALL guilty of it.  Whichever end of the rope you find yourself on, you can just go ahead and admit to having the occasional feelings of jealousy, animosity, resentment, and even actual anger for the other side at some point or another.  And it’s totally normal– it’s human nature.  The grass is always greener on the other side, right?  It’s hard not to sometimes wonder how that lush, green grass would look on your own weedy, toy-littered front lawn.

But before we allow this petty rivalry to continue, we should probably take a few steps in each other’s shoes for a moment just to see what life is like in the slippers—or stilettos – of the women we are often too quick to judge.

The stay-at-home mom has probably found herself on the business end of a nervous breakdown at least once or twice, brought on by a potentially lethal combination of neither seeing nor speaking to another adult for several weeks at a time and the 24/7, nonstop, earsplitting shrieks of a colicky infant all day and all night.  She is home ALL THE TIME, she hasn’t showered in days or worn anything but pajamas for a month, and all she hears from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes back to sleep is “mommy she’s hitting me,” and “mommy I want more juice,” and “mommy I peed on the couch again.” And if she sees ONE more fucking episode of Dora, she’s going to take that horrible, singing map and stick it so far up Swiper’s ass that he won’t be swiping anything again for a long, long time.  Yes, it’s a pretty lonely, exasperating life.

The working mom, on the other hand, is eternally plagued with stress and guilt.  There are assholes everywhere she goes trying to make her feel bad for doing something as basic as GOING TO WORK EVERYDAY, as though we live in some kind of utopian society where one measly income could effortlessly provide any family with everything they need.  And it’s not like there is some mathematical equation for balancing home and work and everything in between.  It’s not like she ENJOYS coming home to a messy house, the kids needing homework help at 8p.m.,then having to fold laundry until 11p.m., then waking up at the buttcrack of dawn the next day to chop vegetables for the stupid crockpot, so she is literally making everyone’s breakfast, lunch, AND dinner at the same time, and then sitting in rush hour traffic or next to some smelly person on the train for over an hour just to get to work and have some dickhead boss up her ass all day, making sure she isn’t Instagramming pictures of her kids instead of getting work done.  Does that sound fun to anyone?

I, myself, am actually kind of a work-at-home-mom these days, as I do freelance writing in between refilling juice cups and cleaning pee off the couch.  The amount of money I make doing it is practically laughable, but I can use all the help I can get with bills and writing experience, so I do it.  When I started, I thought that working from home was going to be the best of both worlds.  I can work but I don’t need to find a babysitter!  How awesome, right?  Um, not quite.  My daughter literally climbs on my head whenever I attempt to get work done, my son is always on my laptop playing computer games when I need to use it, and I usually have to wait until everyone is sound asleep to get anything remotely productive done, often finishing my work just a couple of hours before the kids will be awake.    

So you see, we need to understand that we are ALL amazing women, and we’re just striving to do the best we can with the hand that life has dealt to us.  If you are familiar with me and my blog, you know that I’m rarely serious about anything.  But I take this seriously because I am so incredibly tired of seeing women tear each other down over something that doesn’t even need to be an issue.  I don’t go to “work” every day, but so what?  Sometimes I’m happy about it, other times not at all.  But that’s my life, my decision, and no one’s business but my own.  The same goes for each and every one of you in the decision you have made for yourselves.

And as frustrating as the working-from-home gig can be, it’s allowed me to see things from the other perspective.  It’s given me a chance to see how stressful, exhausting, frustrating, debilitating, and downright miserable ALL of these situations can be.  But it’s also proven what I’ve known to be true all along:  that being a mom is insanely difficult, no matter what you do for a living.  It doesn’t matter if you have a job, a career, a business to run, a house to run, or maybe some hectic, hybrid version of it all.  Because, at the end of the day, there’s a good chance that the hardest thing you will EVER do is something that we are all doing— raising children.

Can’t we all at least agree on that?

So What Do You DO All Day?

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I’m a stay-at-home mom, an occupation which, by the very nature of its poorly chosen name, implies that I merely STAY AT HOME all day.

Fellow SAHM’s, is that hilarious or what?

I think that in order for a person to be dumb enough to even ask me that question, they must be imagining that perhaps I am doing what THEY would be doing if they were staying home all day– like painting my nails or washing my car or catching up on the last season of True Blood or whatever.

And it makes total sense, really.

Because my nails ARE painted.  I had a mani/pedi before a wedding back in June and haven’t gotten around to removing the bits and pieces of leftover polish yet. So yep, the nails are painted.

And my car?  Freshly washed.  I mean, it rained this weekend, right?  Nothing chips away at bird shit like torrential downpours!

And you KNOW I’m all caught up on my True Blood.  That’s the one with the vampire who counts the numbers on Sesame Street, right?  Haha, I’m joking!  I can’t even pretend that watching a True Blood marathon in the middle of the day wouldn’t give my children nightmares until 2015, so you got me there.

To the idiot who is stupid enough to ask me that question, we’ll call you Jackass from here on out: I want you to know that what YOU do during your free time is completely different from what I do in my free time.

You know how I know that? Because, unlike you, I DON’T HAVE ANY FREE FUCKING TIME.

Jackass, my day begins not whenever I choose, nor simply when I wake up. Nor does it begin even after a nearby alarm goes off that I can bash with my fist in order to enjoy ten more blissful minutes of restful sleep.  My day begins whenever my children decide it’s time for me to get up, usually by poking me in the face or smacking me in the head or screaming in my ear until my eyes have opened fully.  I then rise from bed and change the first of many diapers for the day, cook the first of many meals for the day, answer the first of many random questions of the day, and referee the first of many fights for the day.  I then painstakingly get my children and myself dressed and out the door with less than a minute to spare, drop one child off at school or day camp, or maybe soccer practice if it’s a weekend, then proceed to drag the other along with me on my daily errands, praying that she will let me get at least one thing done before she throws a total shitfit and tries to eject herself from a shopping cart or a stroller or maybe even a moving vehicle.

I then return home and take advantage of her nap time by doing some awesome dishes, a chore that’s nearly impossible to do when my daughter is awake because she gets such a kick out of removing the plates and silverware (knives, in particular) from the bottom rack of the dishwasher whenever it is open.  If I’m lucky enough for her to still be asleep once I’m finished with the dishes I can then fold up some awesome laundry, another chore that’s difficult to do when she is awake because she likes to steal and unfold clothes when I’m not looking and then hide them away in various spots around the house.

Once this is done I make lunch for her and then usually choke down my own lunch while standing over the sink.  After lunch, we go pick up my son and spend the remainder of the afternoon breaking up fights, handing out snacks, setting up activities to divert them from killing one another, and fielding some more endless random questions.  Oh, and in between all of that I attempt to clean the house and prepare dinner for everyone, too.

On really fun days we spend the afternoon at the park, where I perform this really cool magic trick of splitting myself in half so that I can easily chase both children around the hot, crowded playground while they run at full speed in opposite directions.

After dinner is finished and all cleaned up, the next hour is spent scrubbing little asses and feet in the bathtub and then getting everyone pj’d up and ready for bed. Which is a joke, really, because bedtime is always just a game of “who can stay up the latest?” This is a game I lose more often than not.

Once everyone is finally asleep I’m usually pretty exhausted and so I head off to bed myself.  Then I wake up and repeat a similar process the next day.

Even if the next day is Saturday.

Or Sunday.

Or Christmas.

Sorry, “me time.” I guess we can try again another time.

Oh, Jackass.  Come on, now. I’m totally kidding around.  My life really IS as simple you think it is.  In fact, you should come over and hang out one day to see firsthand just how I slothfully I lie on  my couch all day, inhaling Bon-Bons Peggy Bundy style, drinking bottles of Cabernet and ordering new tank tops online with my Macy’s credit card.

See for yourself how my children sit quietly in separate corners of the house, feeding themselves healthy food and entertaining themselves with educational activities throughout the day.

Watch in awe as the pots and pans magically arrange themselves on the stove, and the food flies right out of the refrigerator and chops itself up on the cutting board, all to be cooked by osmosis.

Watch, my dear Jackass, as the laundry leaps from its basket directly into the washing machine, and from there into the dryer, even taking the fabric sheets with it as it goes.

Be mystified at how *POOF* groceries just materialize in my cabinets and fridge, literally forming out of thin air and neatly stocking themselves in the shelves right before your very eyes.

See my amazing dog use his opposable thumbs to refill his very own water bowl all day long, and then witness my vacuum cleaner plug itself right into wall and begin to remove smashed up Cheerios from the carpet fibers all on its own.

And after that, you can go ahead and hop back in your time machine and return to 1925, when it was typical to openly assume that a mother’s job (working, stay-at-home, and everything in between) made her ANYTHING less than a fucking superhero.

I really think you need to go call your own mom right now and tell her she’s amazing.  Do it.

But first, did you have anything else you wanted to ask me?

Didn’t think so.

Jackass.