October 23, 2001
For Better Or For Worse

Before the ISP crashed this morning, my e-mail was running 4-to-1 against the new design.

After I finally managed to get everything up and running again, just before lunchtime -- at a cost of $39.95, two forty-minute phone calls to sullen "Customer Service" representatives, four-and-a-half hours of my life and my two best fingernails ...

... my mail was still running 4-to-1 against the new design.

The complaints seem to be pretty evenly divided between the stuff that was missing -- Where are the cartoons? What happened to the index list? Why did you get rid of the bottom links? -- and the new stuff that had replaced the old stuff -- I hate the sidebar! I hate the calendar! I hate the self-important blurbs! The handful of readers who were complimentary were very, very complimentary. The rest: not so much.

That's the way it goes.

Am I upset about the negative reaction so far? Disheartened? Disillusioned? Ready to pack up my pail and my shovel and stomp out of the sandbox in a huff?

No. Not at all. And I'll tell you why.

Every day -- or as close to "every day" as I can manage, given the complexity and the unpredictability and the overall weirdness of my schedule -- I upload the contents of my head and heart onto the Internet for your reading pleasure. And every day, you reward me in kind by telling me what you like, and what you don't like, and which things you would like to see changed, and which things you hope stay the same forever, and what sort of 'message' you've gotten from the most recent entry, and what sort of 'message' you're sick to death of hearing about, and how ridiculously self-involved and oblivious to the world you think I am, and how you're thinking about dumping out that half-bottle of Smirnoffs/quitting the job that sucks all of the joy out of you every day/dragging your old Schwinn out of the garage and riding it around the block this afternoon.

I give: you give back.

It's sort of like a marriage. Except that we're not bound to each other by law. (And except that you don't get to see me naked.) And the truth is that I believe our writer/reader "marriage" has evolved to the point where it can withstand stuff like ISP crashes, and temporary hiatuses, and occasional journal-entry misfires (see: Sliding Doors fiasco) ...

... and the semi-annual design remodel.

We're in this thing together. For better or for worse. And I value that, and I value you, as readers and friends, more than I can express.

Because of this -- and because I know that you know that the writing is always going to be the most important thing to me: layout is just window-dressing -- I know that you'll indulge me while I satisfy my craving for creative change. I know that you'll bear with me while I continue tinkering with the design. (I haven't decided whether I like the sidebar, for instance. To my eye it seems a little *busier* than I'm normally comfortable with. Plus it's going to generate more work for me every day -- and seeing as how I'm starting a new job tomorrow morning, and I'm already stressing over how I'm going to find time/energy/motivation to write in the days and weeks ahead -- adding MORE WORK to the journaling process may not be a good thing.) I know that you'll be patient while I fix the stuff that isn't working properly yet. I know that you're not going to hold it against me if I eventually decide to go back to the old format ... or if I decide NOT to go back to the old format ... or if I decide to just scrap the old format AND the new format and go someplace completely new.

(See? That's the beauty of this particular *marriage.* I get to do the stuff I want to do, and if you don't like it ... I STILL get to do the stuff I want to do! Just like my *other* marriage.)

Above all else, though, I want to tell you that I find it flattering and life-affirming and lovely that so many of you would even give three-fifths of a crap what *FootNotes* looks like in the first place ... or that you would take the time to write and tell me so. It's only a website, after all. Yes, I have a lot of time and energy and *emotion molecules* invested in it. Yes, it's important to me, on all sorts of levels. But it is, when all is said and done, just a website -- a tiny insignificant satellite in the vastness of the cyber universe -- and knowing that people out there have an opinion about it, one way or the other, is just about the nicest compliment any Internet journaler could receive.

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