Most popular posts of 2011

I think this year was a year of me looking for stuff. Trying to figure stuff out. Maybe trying to figure out what I’m looking for.

It was also the year I discovered pictures for my blog, and I even redesigned the whole blog so the photos are more prominent. So it makes sense to me to end with a picture of me looking for something — who knows what? — when I was a child. Because some things are just part of us. They don’t change, even when the year changes.

I don’t know if these are the best posts of the year. But they are some of the posts that received the most comments. My favorite post of the whole year is the one that’s first on this list. Hopefully I’ve picked a few of your favorites too, and a few that you missed, so there’s a fun one for you to read right now.

Happy new year, and thank you for reading my blog and commenting. You make me feel lucky. And here’s the list:

On Sunday my son sold his pig (271 comments)

Voices of the defenders of grad school. And me, crushing them. (249 comments)

Blueprint for a woman’s life (440 comments, 3,000 likes on Facebook)

5 Reasons to stop trying to be happy (146 comments)

Salaries top out at age 40 (102 comments, 471 likes on facebook)

What gen-yers don’t know about themselves (250 comments)

Generation Z will revolutionize education (175 comments)



45 replies
    • susanb
      susanb says:

      Please keep us updated if the Farmer kills you in a fit of domestic violence. Best wishes for the new year.

      • Shinako
        Shinako says:

        I laughed. I mean there’s no such thing as injustice. We all choose what we want. If a woman wants a man and that man comes with violence, she knows. She takes what she wants and she swallows the shit. She probably has her own bit of shit she brings too. She writes. She raised kids and made a career. The woman knows, and I wouldn’t doubt he’d have her strangled and as she’s going blue in the face she’s typing about it “DEAR…READERS…THE FARMER…GGGAGGGCCCHHTT”. Several hundred views. The crowd goes wild. Things to read and a woman with a crowd. It isn’t good or bad. Everyone gets what they want.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Right now what I’m doing is I’m thinking of what is next.

      In the meantime, today is the last day of the year, and it’s time to celebrate the successes of this blog over the past year. So that’s what I’m doing.


      • MBL
        MBL says:

        My first thought when I started reading the post was “Uh oh, people are going to be pissed (or maybe confused is a better word) that this doesn’t flow from your last post” (which has me on the edge of my couch also.)
        I completely understand their dismay, but even more so, I understand that you need to process things in your own way. I am so happy to see that you are doing that in spite of your knowing how it will upset/confuse many people. I really, really understand how invested everyone gets in your situations. I’ve done loads of research for you that I haven’t posted since I know you are on information overload and I have poor follow-through skills. :D But, again, I am so glad to see you staying true to your process. It gives me great hope.

        Happy New Year to you, your family, and your devoted readership. I am so grateful that you have facilitated such a (frequently) well-spoken, (always) passionate, and (fairly) diverse group.

        Take care. I trust you.

      • Katherine
        Katherine says:

        Celebrating your successes is good; Thinking is GREAT. Thinking gets you places that impetuous actions don’t. Thinking gives you time to breathe. Thinking doesn’t make you feel pressured to make a decision about anything. Thinking gets you to do one small thing instead of a doing the mother of all big thing that may don’t be the right thing.

        I have more hope for you because you’ve said you’re thinking.

        Be well, my friend.


  1. Pen
    Pen says:

    I’m somewhat confused. Your last post was a really serious one, that engaged us and left things up in the air. Now this one is just “quick and breezy” as if nothing had ever happened.

    I mean sure, you don’t technically owe us anything, but… it feels weird?

  2. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    I feel manipulated. You follow a post about physical and emotional abuse with this? I can only imagine that this was written and scheduled to post before your last entry. Please let us know how you are.

  3. Virginia
    Virginia says:

    Your post of your son selling his pig is pretty significant. You have this child who needs guidence, direction, a sense of accomplishment, male role models, an opportunity to compete, socialization, and on and on. You have moved in with a man you met on the internet and now you don’t have to pay rent or any of the other expenses the rest of of are responsible for. Your children have a meal to sit down to every night with a man who wants them there and wants to be in their lives. As much as I hear you talk about how he hurts you, it is always twisted from your perspective. Does the guy have issues? No doubt – he took up with you. His inability to maintain his temper is not acceptable, neither is your psychic (and maybe physical, we haven’t read his blog) violence towards him and constant goading. You post sex pictures to get sympathy for a bruise you blame on him slamming you into a bed post. Not a good scenario, neither is it in the heat of an arguement if you fall into a bedpost. I wasn’t there but I read you and connect the dots. It is different than if this person (I’m tired of the disrespectful name “the farmer”) took his fist and slammed you in the face or hit you over the head with an axe handle. All of of the abuse you accuse him of, like throwing yourself in front of a tractor, has a couple of ways you can look at it. In all cases, you are a major participant.

    But to get to my original point, here you had an opportunity for your children to be in a more stable home than you could ever provide, with a man who cares to teach them his trade, plays basketball with them, wants to sit down to dinner with them in the evenings and financially supports all of you. But there is an unrelenting attack on him with your need to dump your neuroses towards him on the internet and I can only surmise its the same for him at home, until he cracks. Whether its your unrelenting revealing of his private life, accusing him publicliy of wanting to have sex with your friend, refering to him as a thing (the farmer)and so on. I am not defending violence, I am not taking sides. You are equally responsible. What I am defnding is your children’s opportunity to have more stability than they will have being alone with you because when the man you are living with is gone your kids are going to take the brunt of all the hate and anger you are directing towards that man and it is unhinging everyone including your readers. I have read you for about three years and you are a manipulative psycho and your kids will pay the price.

    So the favorite post “On Sunday My Kid Sold His Pig” is by far my favorite because it describes one of the few moments your child had the opportunity to relate to his male role model and was rewarded in a tangible way and had the opportunity to feel succesful in his own right and this is all because the man in his life helped him get there. I hope he is able to hang onto that feeling throughout his life when, due to his upbringing with his mother, confusion and depression overtake him, he’ll remember one adult that had his interest at heart and made him feel good about himself.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      I can see that this is a heart-felt, invested post. But I also see that you are putting everything through your personal filter. Most people do and it is very hard to separate out what is a global truth and what is a personal value judgement. I’ll just address one thing that is clearly a value judgement.

      You take great issue with the reference to “the Farmer.” The fact that you interpret a farmer as a “thing” says more about you and your views than P and her family. I see “the Farmer” as a term of endearment and that he and she have shared their inside joke with the world. His name for her on his blog is equally lacking in sentiment. It is a funny counterpart to “the Farmer” and gives me insight (I think–since it is through my own filter, I can’t know for sure) into the playful nature of the healthy part of their relationship.

      No doubt many people would take even greater issue if she were to use his real name. Truly, when dealing with more than one person, you just can’t win no matter what you do. She has posted enough info that a careful reader can figure what his blog is. Some of those careful readers have actual posted the name of it, but I think that is unsporting. :D

      Please take care. I know how easy it is to get invested and caught up in her world. Much of her value to me is in triggering me to think, whether I agree with her or not. I think that is the ROI that most people get here. I have the added bonus that I really benefit from seeing things through her Aspie filter. Because she helps me to see what things may be like from my husband’s and daughter’s point of view, my world is exponentially easier. I’ll never forget that I realized that it was the height of irony that autism/Aspergers is hallmarked by a “lack of empathy” but most Aspies spend all day every day navigating a world where non-Aspies don’t give moment’s thought as to how the Aspie is experiencing things. Very, very thought provoking, for me.

      • Virginia
        Virginia says:

        Yes, I have an Aspbergers filter too. I don’t take GREAT issue with an offhand title “The Farmer”, just that the reference to him is negative and dismissive. He is portrayed as violent in incidences that indicate to me in Penelope’s own words that she is also violent towards him. She says he is her “husband” (although they are not married)who has no name but her BFF Melissa, an unbelievable high ranking executive who works as a nanny, does have a name. Even when the nanny is fired for doing the husband, she still gets top ranking as one of Penelope’s Career examples. So do her other friends and aquaintences she talks about when she goes to conferences or meetings or whereever. I even think she gave the one night stand who urinated on her a name. It’s incongruant but who cares. There is no excuse for violence, verbal or otherwise. A sick person is writing this blog and it goes beyond Aspbergers. I tried to understand her ramblings with an open mind and now I am seeing her self destruct and put public blame and photos on the internet about the man who supports her and her kids. No one knows his story, only through Penelope’s filter yet people are calling the police on him. Why didn’t the police do anything? Whether or not the victim presses charges, a crime is a crime. The police know this but didn’t intervene because they saw it for what it is. I have worked in Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault advocacy and very few women or men make up or participate in the abuse they receive but as I read Penelope over the past few years, the thread is there. She is a participant and works to make it happen and spins it on her blog. Some could say that she is perpetrating domestic violence against him. I know alot of her supporters want to help her get out of it, and she should, but narciccists like being the center of attention and showing her ass and passing it off as sympathy for a bruise is a prime example. She should get out of the house, but I don’t think she will. Where else will she find the drama and have her rent paid too? She is not a fit mother and I feel sorry for her children as well as the man who has taken her in to his home and tried to show those kids a better life. A terrible conundrum.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      I appreciate that you have a different take away than I from her blog. After any potentially liable post from P regarding F I always check his blog for any response. Since I have yet to find one, I figure whatever she posts is between them, so to speak, on the validity front. Obviously, he feels she has posted anything that is slanderous, he has plenty of evidence and it is up to him to decide what to do. Since he approached her via her very, very open blog, I also assume that he signed on for being fodder for traffic. But again, that is their deal.
      I do not have Asperger’s and have no personal experience with DV so I can’t speak from her pov. However, I do feel that regardless of the circumstances of her situation, she has a very important voice and can help a great deal of people. Even if her whole blog were a hoax, which some people–not I–espouse, that does not negate the overwhelming benefit of her raising “unspeakable” issues.
      Regarding her insulation from the expenses that “the rest of us are responsible for”, if you have a child on the spectrum you are well aware of the cost of the interventions for Asperger’s and private insurance is outrageous. As you pointed out, they are not legally married, so she may well be paying quite a bit out of pocket (for premiums and services that insurance does not cover.)
      I agree that the boys need protection, but do think that Penelope is doing her best and truly hope that she quickly realizes that she and F are a toxic combination (from my view 300 miles away, but again, I really don’t know.) I feel a great deal of compassion for ALL of the members of the household, not just the males, and hope that they all find peace in this new year.
      Take care.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        That should read”
        Obviously, IF he feels she has posted anything that is slanderous, he has plenty of evidence and it is up to him to decide what to do.

      • Virginia
        Virginia says:

        I see, so what you are sayig is that this high end career guru should stay in her made up marriage because insurance premiums are too high? If someone is perpetrating violence against her in front of her kids, that is far more costly than insurance.

        And they are out of the school system so no help for them there. Can a mother make any worse decisions than to move her already fragile children in with an internet stranger and subject them to violence, her own or otherwise? Is she still throwing glass objects around the house? I havent heard whether she has cast herself in front of any moving vehicles lately. We should all chip in for her kids insurance because they will be getting more exposure to violence as time goes on no doubt.

        I am reading a good Anne Rice novel right now, it is much better written and has more truth in it than this career blog/psycho drama.

        Cheers and have a happy new year.

  4. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    Happy New Year, Penelope. You were an adorable, curious child.

    For the people who feel “jerked” around, life is not linear. We have crises and other things happen around them. Or sometimes, we need a break. Penelope owes us nothing. In fact, I think this post is giving us just what you’re claiming she is withholding. She is saying, “I’m okay right now. Thank you for caring enough about me to take time out of your life to see if I am.” She’s saying she’s here and she’s grateful.

  5. MK
    MK says:

    It’s fascinating how much people project onto you.

    You’re a Rorschach for them. They’ve never met you, but they’re all absolutely sure who you are, what’s going on, and what must be done.

  6. Mark Wiehenstroer
    Mark Wiehenstroer says:

    I enjoyed the homeschooling posts (as a group) the best this year. I looked back on the individual posts this year on this blog and I think my favorite was “How to think out of the box”.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks, Mark. I really loved writing the homeschooling blog this year. I think it gave me a chance to take risks I’d never take on my regular blog — this blog.

      And this seems like a good time to thank you for all your comments on the homeschool blog. They were great, Mark.


  7. Lila26
    Lila26 says:

    Thank you Penelope for this posting, to let us know that you are still around and hopefully doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Love and miss you. I’ll read through these posts on 1/1/12. Smiles.

  8. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    So very glad to see you posting, Penelope! You make a lot of people feel like they are not alone in their thoughts. Lots of people that read and don’t even comment, like me. I hope 2012 is very good for you, and for your blog, and any other business ventures.

  9. Kate
    Kate says:

    Ridiculous that people feel entitled to a follow up post, and find a happy new year post offensive.

    It is your life and your blog. You can share what you want, when you want. There is no reason people should feel ‘manipulated’. You are sharing your story at your pace.

    Personally, I am grateful this blog even exists. I have learned so much from you Penelope, and you offer this all to us for FREE.

    I’m wishing you strength and happiness in 2012. Be well and take care of yourself. You are an incredible person. Thank you for being you.

  10. fred doe
    fred doe says:

    wow? that was a nice rap up for the year. much response. thank you for your blog and i look forward to next year. you were an adorable child in your picture. where did go wrong? happy new year. dose the farmer have a blog?

  11. Joana
    Joana says:

    It’s like James Frey’s “memoirs”. People (we) are going to keep reading even if it’s more made up than the Kardashian’s wedding.

    That’s good writing right there.

    Happy 2012!

  12. redrock
    redrock says:

    There is extremely powerful fiction, and there is the real memoir, the personal experience story. Both are powerful genres of literature, and have great impact on peoples minds, but (!) claiming a story which is 90% fiction as a personal memoir is deceitful. People get angry because they feel honest and true empathy for someones suffering and are then told in the end: oh, hey, sorry man, just made it up. It leaves a bad taste and the strong feeling of having been used. So, no the fact that people keep reading fake memoirs does not mean that it is right to publish fiction as a memoir.
    As to PTs blog: we have no way of fact checking, seeing both sides, finding out how much is true, how much is intentionally or unintentionally embellished and exaggerated due to strong and overwhelming emotions. The extreme swings between extreme openness and lack of privacy in the previous post and the complete withdrawal from the public blog to the privacy of thinking and working it out feel … well, extreme and somewhat unreal. The blog is like a camera which exposes moments in time, we don’t know the movie playing out the rest of the time when the exposure is of.

    • joanna
      joanna says:

      @ redrock – it’s not a matter of right or wrong. The fact is, even if it can be validated that most of it is embellishment, people will keep reading.

      It’s the same with the Kardashian’s wedding. For the outrage expressed by the media, you would have expected a backlash, but people keep watching the show. The want more.

      Titillation. Middlebrow. Gotta love it.

  13. jake
    jake says:

    I’m a little confused. The posts about domestic abuse got more comments than these, which would seem to make them the more “popular” of your posts. So are these the least controversial posts with the most comments, or the ones Penelope likes the best?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Well, the whole blog is information filtered through me, right? So this list is, too.

      Popular posts is not a black-and-white label. There are, for example, the posts that get the most traffic, the ones that get the most comments (there is always a difference in those two lists). The posts that get the most replay on Facebook. The posts that get picked up by TV or newspapers. The list could be a wide range of posts and the list would still be, technically, correct.

      So this is the list of posts that I wanted to have in my list of posts :)


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