TO:   Emma, Site Hosting Representative

FROM:  One of the confused millions

RE:   Our unfortunate exchange last night.


I’m sorry I yelled at you.

When I say yelled,  I mean all-capped three quarters of my answers to your incomprehensible questions, as there really is no such thing as talking out a problem with anyone over the phone other than my mother these days, and that’s a little iffy if you know what I mean. I also apologize for the inexcusable use of exclamation points to end all my sentences. Some of them twice.  I do make it a point when writing to avoid them wherever possible. Always have.

But I was angry Emma.  Angry and frustrated and hopped up on my third glass of red wine which is also something I make it a point to avoid when I’m writing, for reasons that probably seem fairly clear to you now.

desk2And this, however interminably, brings me to my point, Emma – if indeed that is your real name, for I’m almost certain I saw your Live Chat photo on iStock last week, and let’s face it, ‘Emma’ is suspiciously user-friendly.  I should know, it’s my daughter’s name.

But I digress.

My point, Emma, is this.  I’m a garden writer.  I spend four to five hours a day lightly dusted in dirt, spend two to three hours jotting down thoughts and studying other references, and then I use the rest of my daylight hours to do frivolous things like pay the mortgage or get some laundry done before we all go naked.

I don’t do this virtually, I do it in reality. With real dirt and real mortgages and real headaches when I’m forced to deal with the electronic world around me.

I’m busy.  Like everyone else. But it’s a good busy, and I do not regret a moment of it. Frivolous activities aside, if I’m not connected to the magic of soil, I’m connected to the magic of language. Except, and this is where you come in my dear – possibly virtual – girl, I am forced to spend so much time trying to figure out how to connect in your world that I’m losing the connection to mine.

It’s a brave new world out there Emma; but then perhaps you don’t understand the reference, much like I didn’t understand the indecipherable terms “header code” or WIP file last night, or WTF IS A WP CLOUD PROXY?!??

There I go again Emma, I apologize. That was unnecessary.

My generation is stuck in the middle Emma.  Stuck between you and those grayer than ourselves to whom you happily and understandably grant the golden ticket of IT Ignorance.  And so you should – they grew up without color televisions and electric typewriters, and we used to feel sorry for them too.

But I want that free pass Emma. And you won’t give it to me. And you are legion.

My generation is stuck in the middle Emma.  Stuck between you and those grayer than ourselves to whom you happily and understandably grant the golden ticket of IT Ignorance.

Have pity Emma, we’re still building careers…raising kids…paying off our student loans (Yes we have them, you aren’t the only ones tired, oppressed and yearning to be free you know.) We’re working in fields that we were trained for before the world went topsy-turvy and iPhones ruled the planet.  We had John Cusack and made fun of Trump’s hair the first time. Our acronyms referred to tangible things like SCUBA gear or NASA shuttles. We were adults with pagers Emma, and now we’re just trying to keep our heads above water.

Some of us are thriving of course. My sister is a website designer.  And she’s good at it – the way I’m good at growing things and putting words together.  Except she tells me that there’s very little point in putting the words together these days because people don’t want to read them. They want to click. I believe that’s what sent me to the third glass of wine Emma.  I hope you understand.



I don’t want to go back to this Emma. But I need more than three months before you change everything it took me three months to learn.


Now, I am perfectly aware of the acronym TLDR, and realize that to your average Millennial it applied to this missive two sentences in, but I’d like to leave you with the following analogy:

I want you to imagine for a minute that you live in a world where there is a little country with a fascinating culture and an incomprehensible language –  such as Holland.  In fact, let’s say it IS Holland.

The Dutch are cool as hell and we love to visit and eat kroketten and stroopwafels, but we’re thankful that they’re all better educated than we are and speak English fluently because what are they even saying with all those voiced glottal fricatives?

Bear with me.

In this theoretical world Emma, the Dutch have taken over.  The power has gone to their heads because they know they’ve got great stroopwafels and everyone wants one. Their voiced glottal fricatives rule the world and everyone must speak Dutch in order to get food. Of course, they love their language and it makes sense to them, because they learned it as infants, and really, it’s the best language anyway, everyone knows that.  But it’s no longer a fun place to go for mayonnaise-coated chips and a bike ride through the forest. It’s an exhausting trek, because every time you learn how to say ‘hallo’ they change it to ‘hallootjes’ just to piss you off – and everywhere you look there’s another bistro with menus in Dutch.

And damn you’re so hungry.

Have you ever tried to learn Dutch Emma?  Exactly.

That’s how I feel about your HTML and your WP Cloud Proxies and your CRON jobs and is precisely why I needed to open up another bottle of red just to get through our conversation.

I want to be able to exist in my world and visit yours.  Occasionally.  For a stroopwafel. Even a Stroopwafel 2.3.

I’ll get over it I suppose.  I’ll embrace a world where we text, not talk. Where gardening becomes a virtual pastime, not a pastime that’s virtually limitless. I’ll look forward to 245 emails (11 of them from you) because I left my desk for a day. And I’ll teach myself to text with two thumbs sans reading glasses just as soon as I retrain myself to type without two spaces after a period. Because I have to.

But until then Emma, if you could just try to understand.  Just a little.  I’ll take anything — I’ll even cope with being patronized. The way the Dutch do when you walk into a bakery and say carefully and proudly “Mag ik een stroopwafel hebben?” And they answer you in English.

If at this point I must listen to a 22-year-old speak to me slowly in artificially bright syllables while he simultaneously scrolls his SnapChat account I’ll do it – just show me where to sign.  Or will that be an extra $6.99 a month too?

Sorry, I guess I’m still a little bitter – that last hosting bill put the kibosh on my greenhouse project this year.

Well, thanks for your time Emma, I know it’s much more valuable than mine – me being over forty and all.  But I think these things needed to be said.  Even if you were binge watching The Big Bang Theory while you read them.  I like that show too.  Probably for different reasons, but hey, it’s something we can both laugh at.

When you get your first place, call me, I’ll show you how to plant a tomato and start to connect. For real.

Kind regards,

Marianne Willburn, Gardener
Representative-at-Large, Generation X