Trying to explain to my Polish mother that my recent blog post – Presidential Election: “A Sad and Tragic Day for Our Nation” – has gone viral has been a bit challenging to say the least:

“Mama, you know that post I wrote the day after the elections? The one about counting our blessings because we live in such a great country?”


“Well, a lot of people have read it so far. And most of them seem to really like it. In fact, I’ve gone viral!”

“What?!  I told you not to go outside with wet hair! You never listen to me! ‘Mama, you’re so old fashioned,’ you always say, ‘Mama, that is an old Polish wife with a tail,’ you always say, and now look what has happened!”

“No, Mama, I’m talking about my post!  I just wanted you to know that it’s very popular.”

“I don’t want to talk about post right now!  Tell me more about virus. Have you called doctor? Do you need special ointment?”

“No mama, I don’t need special ointment.”

“You need garlic! Eat the garlic now! Are you eating it? I cannot hear you chewing the garlic!”

“Okay mama. I’m eating the garlic. Nom Nom Nom. MMMMMM. Delicious.”

“Good Girl. What are symptoms? Headache? Stomach? Fever? Rash?”

“No mama. I don’t have symptoms, I’m trying to tell you……”

“No symptoms? Nothing good can come from virus with no symptoms! My 2nd cousin Franek, from my father’s side, had virus with no symptoms!”

“Well, what happened to him?”

“He died.”

“From the virus?”

“No. He ate bad beets.”

“Okay, mama, I have to go. I have a lot to do today. I love you.”

“Do not work too hard. Rest. You do not want virus to spread.”

“Well, actually, I kind of…… know what mama? You’re right. I’ll rest. Have a wonderful day.”

“Okay, you too. Call me if rash appears. I will come inspect in. In meantime, cover yourself in cabbage.”

“Goodbye mama.”



The other side of immigration: Trying to explain the difference between "going viral" and "having a virus" to your Polish mother. Photo courtesy Jo Ashline.


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19 Replies to “Going Viral Can Be Good or Bad, Depending Who You Talk To”

  1. OK that was just too sweet. Thanks for sharing. As an aspiring blogger myself I sincerely congratulate you on your success. I’m in the process of drafting am after-action post on the election and can’t imagine making such a poignant statement with equally broad appeal. It just goes to show that it’s important to write from the heart. Again congratulations.

  2. I can totally relate to that, I am loosing my Portuguese, which makes it really hard to communicate with my mother! I hear all the time that I have to teach Portuguese to Andrew…my little man is already working so hard on English, that is plenty!
    Your mom sounds like a wonderful woman!

  3. I could be partly responsible for making you go viral. I shared your story on Facebook after swiping it from a friend. I think you so eloquently put into words the way a lot of us were feeling. I know several of my friends who also shared your story. Matter of fact, in one of my responses I said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog goes viral!”

    I’m techie, love math and science, but I am not a good writer and I know it…..but strangely enough, I can recognize good writing in a heartbeat!

    I also live in Orange County, am a teacher, mom. and grandma, and have worked with special needs students. I have subscribed to your blog because I love your writing and sense of humor and obvious passion for your family. Keep up the good work!

  4. I don’t have parents who came from another country, but i do have very German and native american roots. I truly appreciated your post about the freedoms of this country and how easily they are taken advantage of. I am moving soon – to a different country. And although i’m excited about the new adventure, it scares the hell out of me that i no longer have the freedoms that i have lived with all my life. I don’t even know how i will respond to things – being a woman, and an outspoken woman at that, i’m a little nervous about blending in. Thank you again for your statement. I wish the rest of America would remember how amazing and wonderful this great nation is because the word FREEDOM is truly special. Have a great day.

  5. Thanks for the post. As a Romney supporter living in a very liberal state I found myself under attack–personally–thru out the entire election process. I agree with what you wrote. We live in America, we can have different views on politics, religion, even sports teams and we should still be able to be respectful to each other. WE are AMERICA not one man in a white house. Thank you again for the great post!

  6. Love your post and I am proud to say I am one of those who helped the original election post go viral (was so tired of facebook doom, gloom & vile comments). As the granddaughter of immigrant grandparents I can relate to the language difficulties.

  7. My mother’s family immigrated from Poland in 1908. My mother was the first of her siblings to be born on “this side,” which is how they always referred to the United States. Despite my mother growing up here, her first language was Polish (mixed with Yiddish) so that when she began school, she didn’t speak English. Gradually, over the years, my mother became less and less Old Country and more and more typically American, but some things never changed. Is it an Eastern European thing to believe that if you go outside with your hair wet, you’ll get pneumonia? My mother was pretty smart. She read books on astronomy and physics for fun … but I could never convince her that you don’t get sick from being chilled or, God Forbid, going out with you hair wet! I pointed out that it had been long-established that microbes, bacteria and virus are the culprits, not wet hair. It was hopeless. She never got past it and I remember with great affection how she clung to those remnants of her Eastern European heritage.

  8. I should mention that I also reblogged your original post … and more than 600 hits on it. It was reblogged again from my site to at least 267 others either through WordPress, Bloggers, or ScoopIt. I think you said something that many of us have been thinking and you said it so very well. Thank you!

  9. I understand why you wrote your post, but you miss the reasoning of why people are so upset that Obama won. He (and his policies) make another 9/11 more likely. He makes us significantly less free, with all the regulations, overspending, and government controls. Obamacare will cause people to wait in long lines for medical care (or not be able to get it at all).
    Freedom isn’t free; and we won’t always have it in this country. It will only exist so long as people fight for freedom instead of for handouts; and there are a lot more handouts today than there were 4 years ago, and will be still more when Obama is done.

  10. Loved your post about everyone ranting on FB about the election. I agree with everything you said and hope that people will see it for what it is and do something good for someone else. You rock!!!

  11. Loved your post….I had so many negative comments on election night and the morning after …some from family members so upset and talking about doom and gloom and how the country was going to hell because we elected him again…it was pretty bad alot worse things were said too..Been hearing today how all these companies are going to lay people off because he was elected too…they even threated their employees before hand with lawoffs. I think it might have had the opposite affect.:-)

  12. Thank you so much Jo for a wonderful post. Unfortunately there are still racists and haters out there and they aren’t going to give in easily. Sad that people are responding to your sensible and caring posts with such nonsense as Meridian Hutchins writes above. Happy that almost 100% of responses that knocked down your other site (haha) and to this one are positive and thoughtful. We will get through and as the hater/racist diehards die out or just give up, unable to recognize or accept our changing nation, we will go forward – and the youth will bring American to a far better place for all people in the future. Happily there are many moderate and intelligent Republicans so that we can h0pe that as the party rebuilds itself it can once again be the strong, respected and cooperative party it once was. Our parties used to be able to work together for the betterment of the country and many of us hope we can again. I personally have high respect for President and Michele Obama, truly intelligent, highly educated and most seriously caring people. Barack will be everyone’s president, and will lead us forward to four years of healing and improved prosperity. He is highly thought of in the world and most analysts (forget nutzo Rush and his ilk) already see that he will go down as one of the great presidents in our country’s history.

  13. Hi. Your post is nice and sweet and good job havig success on it. However, since I read it, it has weighed heavily on me. Respectfully, you miss the point of peoples fears entirely. I could go on and on but the people who are rightfully afraid know exactly what is to come in our future…no matter who won the election. WIth Obama it is much faster. If you are going to stand by your “post gone viral” then you need to with an educated standpoint. Your family fled a country that had crappy healthcare and food shortages to come to America. America is free now. Right now…at this very moment. But in the snap of a finger it’s not going to be. It is going to resemble your parents past. Watch this presentation, get a little more perspective on where the people are coming from and then form an opinion. Because I kinda think what your blog post says is blinded from reality. I am not trying to be mean or rude…it’s hard to pass info on in words. I just want you to have a clear picture.

  14. I whole heartedly concur with Karleene and others who supported your blog. Your sentiments were greatly felt as I read through it. It is such a shame that people, meaning Americans have yet to respect one another, let go of old false teachings of discrimination and racism, open their minds and hearts to possibilities so great that none of us would have thought it could happen and come together to mend/heal this nation. This is what’s destroying us. I believe there’s a very key point that those who supported Mr. Romney is forgetting. He lied his way through the election to obtain votes. Lying always catches up with people. He offended many hard working people who fell in the “47%” and he most definitely offended me as a woman. Another key factor and this is very important. President Obama inherited many of the issues so many were upset about when he first took office. Those issues just piled on one another with nothing being done about it and then he gets the blame – it was almost a set up if you ask me. People wanted to see him fail. He deserves a chance to dig us out of the mess that was developed and fueled by administrations before him. I believe this election was all about race. What’s going to happen when a woman runs and believe you me she or they meaning democrats, independents, liberals, republicans are going to run and run soon! What will happen to the male vote? Especially since this country has had nothing but male presidents. Then the vote will be based on sexism. Come on people! We have to get beyond this divisional mess and help one another.

  15. Thanks so much James. I was pretty surprised at the intense reaction but it was a wonderful experience, one that most writers would covet. Knowing that our words can resonate so deeply with others is why I’m in this in the first place, but it’s so humbling when it actually happens. Much luck in your blogging aspirations!

  16. Your mom is funny. I think my MIL would react in a similar way about not knowing the meaning of ‘viral’ and she was born in the US. Computer/internet talk can really widen that generation gap sometimes.

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