March 13, 2000
Ask My Mom


Sunday morning. Sunshine, after endless weeks of rain. Momentary calm.

David is puttering happily between the apartment and the laundry room ... serenading the neighbors with "London Calling" ... hauling basketsful of soggy towels back and forth. "Your jeans are in the next-to-the-next load to go into the dryer," he announces. "And I've got your pantyhose soaking in the bathroom sink."

I nod distractedly. I have been glued to the computer since 7 a.m., trying to catch up on a week's worth of website mechanics and overdue e-mail. Earlier in the morning I posted a slapdash entry  --  a piece of disconnected junk about the Posey Tube, and about my latest trials and tribulations at the Totem Pole Company  --  and now I am tackling a series of interview questions for an upcoming e-zine article about Internet journaling, which I have been asked to contribute to.

It is not going well.

I have that cranky, headachey feeling I get when I know I'm writing far below my abilities. The problem is that I haven't felt particularly inspired or creative all week. I still don't. I'm sure it shows.

"Want to read my interview answers?" I ask David. What I really need right about now  --  besides a triple-tall French Vanilla latte, a new boss, a foot massage and four weeks in Bermuda, I mean  --  is a double shot of my baby's affirmation.

Tell me I'm wonderful, baby. Tell me twice.

He sits down in the chair and skims wordlessly through my answers. I stand behind him, one hand on the back of his neck, and read over his shoulder while I wait for the huzzahs. When he's finished, he says "There's only one thing I don't like. Want to know what it is?"

No. But tell me anyway.

He points to the second question. "Here, where they ask you how many hits you average a day, and you say  'Ask my mom.'  I think there should be more there."

I am stung. Personally, I thought 'Ask my mom' was clever and punchy and cutely self-referential. "All of the answers surrounding it are long and wordy," I say defensively. "Sometimes I think simpler is better." Plus, I'm thinking, anybody who has read *FootNotes* for any length of time knows that my mother has been my most loyal reader since Day One.

He nods, in that infuriatingly patient and accommodating way of his. (God, I hate that!)  "Yes, you're probably right," he says pleasantly. "I probably have no idea what I'm talking about."


I stalk into the next room and spread myself dramatically across the bed, next to the piles of neatly-folded laundry, and I glare at the wall. Is there anything more shattering ... more heart-rendingly tragic ... than having your boyfriend take a break from rinsing your pantyhose long enough to gently critique your writing?

Can't you just FEEL my pain?

Ten minutes later  --  the worst of my Boo Hoo Moment having dissipated  --  I wander back into the kitchen. David is still sitting at the computer, checking out one of his beloved bootleg music sites. I silently pour myself a glass of water and swallow another St. John's Wort capsule.  David looks at me. There is a mixture of affection and exasperation in his expression. 

"So when you ask me to look at your work," he says, "what you're really asking me to do is tell you it's brilliant, no matter what?"

Yes. That's pretty much exactly what I'm asking you to do.

"That's fine," he says. "I just forgot to check the rules when I got up this morning, I guess."

After the last load of laundry has been hauled from the utility room  --  an hour or so later  --  David leaves to spend the rest of the afternoon taking care of family obligations. 

"Sure you don't want to come with us?" he asks. "We can all go out to dinner." 

I remind him that this is my No Makeup/No Hair Care Products/No Undergarments Day ... and that I plan to keep it that way. 

OK. No problem. He kisses me goodbye, and I return to the computer.

I carefully re-read my interview answers. 'Ask my mom' still seems funny to my eye. I look at the questions again -- How long have you had an Internet journal? Why did you start an Internet journal? What kind of positive impact has it had on your life? What kind of negative impact? -- and I read through the rest of my answers. Everything looks fine to me.

But now I'm wavering. What if David is right? What if there should be "more"?

Here's the thing. This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart: not just the whys and wherefores of how I came to have an Internet journal in the first place, but the impact it has had on my "real" life, both positive and negative, in the two years since I first began. That is the focus of this article. The interviewer first approached me because she'd read about my experiences in court earlier this year, and how *FootNotes* was brought up as evidence in David's divorce settlement hearing. This is a subject I feel passionately about, and I want my contribution to be a valid one.

So ... reassuring myself that David probably wouldn't know good Internet journaling if it jumped up and bit him on his gorgeous nose ... I close my eyes and hit "Send."

Mere moments later, I get an e-mail from my interviewer. At last! Now I'll hear from somebody who understands and appreciates my vast reserves of brilliance!

"Hi Terry," the e-mail begins. I wince at the misspelling: yet another indignity, in a day filled with little indignities. "Thanks so much for doing this. I'll look more thoroughly through your answers later. Just a quick note - Your interview is part of an article about journals, rather than just in an interview format .. so maybe you could tell me how many hits you really get, as opposed to your cute response of 'Ask my mom.' I'd like to be able to convey to the reader how many people are actually looking at your site. I think it's somewhat important."

Talk about instant ego minimizing. I wish boobs could deflate as quickly.

My first instinct is to write her back and say Forget it! I quit!! If you don't like the way I write, I'm gonna take my little toy website and go home!

But I don't. Instead, I once again allow my Boo Hoo Moment to run its course. I walk around in teeny tiny circles for a couple of minutes. I brush the cracker crumbs out of my hair. I swallow another 300 mg. of St. John's Wort. I re-read this morning's website entry ... which, although far from my best effort, does not completely suck.

I walk into the bedroom and quietly put away all of David's freshly-laundered socks and underwear for him.

And then, when I am sufficiently calmed, I sit down at the computer again and begin typing.

Question #1: "I get about 50 hits a day most of the time ... "

self-important blurb #1 will go HERE:
fyi: i'll be heading for tictac once again at the end of the week ... in search of Taco Time, groovy photo opps, a slice of birthday cake ... and maybe some wrinkle-resistant travel fashions.

details to follow.

special *howdy* to:
jami (or is it 'jaymi'?), my interviewer pal. i'm sorry i was so full of myselves the first time around. i'm not ordinarily so self-engrossed.

just ask my mom.

about a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
what does he see in her, anyway??
it must be the boobs.

amazingly profound thought of the day:
"If I only had a little humility, I would be perfect."
~ Ted Turner ~