Emancipating Myself From Acute Comment Anxiety

There’s a scene halfway through Some Kind of Wonderful where Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) tells her best friend Keith (Eric Stolz) that perhaps they shouldn’t hang out any more. Keith’s pursuit of the popular Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) is driving Watts crazy.

She says “I’d rather have you not see me and think good things about me than have you see me and hate me. Because I can’t afford to have you hate me, Keith. The only things I care about in this life are me, my drums, and you.”

This morning I woke up to zero comments on my Bead Snowflake post. Turning on your computer to zero comments is like standing in front of a bemused Simon Cowell. He shakes his head sadly: “You can’t be serious. That was bloody awful.”

I’ve been thinking for some time about turning off comments. I talked to Marie about it back in September, as a way to make sure that you’re blogging for the “right” reasons, and she pointed out that turning off comments can seem snobbish, as if you don’t care what anyone else has to say.

Well, the truth is, I care too much. Oh, not about what others think, exactly. In fact, I like nothing more than a well-thought-out disagreement. (See the great comments on Bloggy Prostitution or Kids and Cars).

But the comments, or lack thereof. It matters too much, and I hate that it affects how I feel about myself AT ALL. Even encouraging comments mean too much.

Every time I see her, my grandma tells me how much she enjoys my blog. I’m so “unexpected,” she says. (I think Grandma is a bit sheltered, in a good way).

If I can make Grandma happy, what care I for sponsors and trackbacks and followers?

Still. My visceral response to zero comments (or, on days when NOTHING would appease the insatiable comment monster, NOT ENOUGH comments): It’s something I can stomach no longer.

(I’ve tried less drastic remedies. Reaffirmation mantras like “I am a worthwhile human being whether people comment or not” and the Neti Pot. (Not really on the mantras and the Neti Pot was great for my sinuses.) But I did set up a protocol in GMAIL where my comment notification emails bypass my inbox and get quarantined in the WAM Comment folder. Didn’t help. Much. Except I can now check my email without facing my neuroses. Most of the time. And ol’ Sitemeter? We parted ways months ago.)

I’d rather have you not read me and not comment than have you read me and not comment. Or something like that. Really I’d love it if you read and commented and came to sponge my fevered brow while the dinner made itself and the dishwasher deigned to actually CLEANSE THE DISHES when I push Start.

This may be a short experiment; who knows? Blogging is great for the freedom to make a complete idiot of yourself and then make as many corrections as necessary in trying to get it right. I do know that one of my favorite things about NaBloPoMo was that I was too busy thinking about what to write that day to worry if “enough” people liked what I’d written the day before.

As always, I welcome your emails (whataboutmom@gmail.com), and I cannot thank each of you enough for the kind words you’ve sent my way. I’m just afraid that if I end up in a mental institution for Acute Comment Anxiety, I might not get the serious drugs such a condition would require.

Would the doctor even believe that Acute Comment Anxiety exists?

If she’s also a blogger, I’m willing to bet she would.

Jane

Not drinking enough, apparently

Today is the penultimate day of National Blog Posting Month, and it has been much more of an experience than I expected. An experience in the way that the week-long wilderness survival trip I went on as a senior in high school and the first few months after bringing a newborn home from the hospital and the fourth time I quit Mountain Dew were all experiences.

Posting every day for a month is demanding and specific enough that you start to hold your breath at the end, hoping you’ll make it to the edge of the pool before your arms give out. You think of all the other things you need to be checking off your To-Do list, and realize (half-guilty, half-relieved) that you can’t possibly deal with them until this thing is over.

Two quotes have been chasing each other like hamsters in my brain all month (yep, there’s a lot of space in there for hamster wheels and puppy dog tails). The first is so intoxicating, exhilarating, liberating, inspiring, and I have no idea what it really means (or, if, in fact, Ray Bradbury ever really said this):

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Why is this so appealing? Why does it make me want to run BARBARIC YAWPING to an Edenic spring, tearing off all my clothes as I go and cannon-balling into the water with a splash that ripples all the way to the shore?

The second quote, I am all too sure that I know exactly what it means, and what it means is that I will never be a genius (i.e. “one who creates”) so long as I am mired in the motherhood. (Handy, right, to blame all my un-genius-ness on the myriad mundane moorings of my morassifisic life?):

A genius is the man in whom you are least likely to find the power of attending to anything insipid or distasteful in itself. He breaks his engagements, leaves his letters unanswered, neglects his family duties incorrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his attention down and back from those more interesting trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.

Perhaps William James just wanted an excuse to give his wife for why he was always late for dinner.

And I am the wife. Feeling (not-guilty-but-defensive) if dinner is not on the table.

Jane

And, lo, the great Mississippi shall turn to blood

I always think some of the funniest stuff to come out around election time are the “Do you really want to vote for someone crazy enough to want the job?” jokes.

Especially this year, I’m just grateful that anyone is willing to take on the job (and the blame) of leading us through recession, war, pestilence, and frogs.

And whatever else President-elect Obama is able to accomplish, the absolute highest hope I have for his presidency is that, God willing and all the stars aligning, my friends, The Express will be the last movie EVER MADE to feature a newly-integrated sports team triumphing over bigotry, failed quizzes, athlete’s crotch, and small-town blonde girls in leftover poodle skirts.

But I wonder if our President-elect might not be rethinking his ambitions. Apparently, the president is not allowed to email or text or instant message. Obama is hoping to have a laptop in the Oval Office, and if he succeeds, he would be the first American president to ever have a laptop on his desk.

I have a laptop on my desk IN MY KITCHEN.

Who knew that being a stay-at-home mom had advantages over being president of the United States?

What do you think? Would it be worth technological annihilation to preside over 300 million back-seat strategists?

Jane

My Better(-Paid) Half

I’m often asked why I blog (WHY do you blog? Why do you blog? Why do you blog?). There are as many reasons to blog as there are people to blog. Basically, writing is good for you like exercise is good for you. It quickens the heart, focuses the mind, works the muscles, cleanses the system.

Blogging is the easiest and most easily rewarding way to write that I know of. But it can still be discouraging or upsetting or maddening. In the end, I blog (despite not turning blog-famous) because I have something to say.

And also, apparently, to communicate with my husband. Dick writes at IdRatherBeWriting.com, and today he’s got a post up about how living with a mommy blogger is great training for a corporate blogger. He totally misrepresents me in places, but I’m reminded that I fell in love with his thoughts and writing even before his hot body.

If you started reading Seagull Fountain after reading Dick, I only ask that you keep in mind that, while Dick’s college GPA was .02 higher than mine, I smoked him on the ACT, GRE, and dishwashing championships.

Why do YOU blog? (Or not?)

Jane

talk-to-me-tuesday_white

HELP WANTED — Winner Announced

If you’re looking for a quick, leave-a-comment-and-win-a-toaster-cozy post, scootch on back to Bloggy Giveaways and try your luck. (GOOD LUCK!)

What we have here is a chance to win a $25 giftcard to the online store of your choice in exchange for a few minutes of your time and some constructive criticism.

But first, a short quiz:

Tacky or Not?
1) Requiring people to subscribe to your feed to enter a giveaway.
2) Requiring people to leave an actual, thought-ful comment to enter a giveaway.
3) Throwing out all entries that don’t include the words “thank you for the giveaway” in the comment.
4) Holding giveaways in the first place.
5) Using spit to clean the baby’s face. (your spit). (in public).

And another quiz, though this one is more open-answer:

Which type of post do you prefer?

A) Dear Sally, Grandma Thinks You’re Autistic, and She Can’t Stop Talking About It

B) Molten Lava Cakes: 5 Ingredients to Chocolate Bliss

C) Shooting Yourself in the Foot

D) I’d Gaze at My Navel, But Have You Seen That Thing?

Go check them out. I’ll wait. There’s a link back to this post (HELP WANTED) at the top of each of these.

Tell me your Tacky or Not answers and which type of post you prefer (and why), and you’ll be eligible to win the 25 dollar giftcard. (Don’t forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!)

Thanks!

Jane

Updated: The contest is now over. I’d still love your feedback, but the winner of the $25 gift card is commenter #15, Kathleen. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

And you thought the texting was bad

Spot turned two yesterday, so we set her up with her very own blog: Spot.blogspot.com.

(I guess I should check and make sure that isn’t a naughty site). (Checked. Dang. Someone’s already taken it!)

Happy WW!

Comment of the day from JanMary in N Ireland:

My older 2 kids recently requested their own laptops, and both the adults in the house now have them.  We declined, and my 8 year old replied “But we are human TOO”

How NOT to respond to comments ***Updated***

I’ve been reading Jonathan Fields | Awake at the Wheel for a couple of months now. He’s a pretty interesting guy for a pro-blogger type. My favorite post of his so far was about taking his kid to the hospital and living in the moment, because it transcended the cliche, which, really, is what all good writing aspires to.

He’s got an interesting post today called: Should Your 14 Year Old Be On Facebook, to which I left a way-insightful comment, and I got this email reply:

Just a quick note to thank you for leaving your first comment on my blog, Jonathan Fields | Awake At The Wheel.

Feel free to stop back anytime, e-mail me any questions and, if you’ve enjoyed the blog, why not subscribe for free updates? Here’s the link:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/JonathanFields

Have a great day!

Jonathan

How sweet. He responded. So quickly. And, come to think of it, I do have a few questions for the veteran blogger, so I drafted an email response. I asked if he knew what percent of people subscribe after getting one of these comment-follow-up emails, and if he really “follows” all the people he follows on Twitter.

I suspect there must be a secret super-blogger Twitter filter for sifting out the feeds you actually want to pay attention to (while appearing as if you are gracious enough to follow everyone who follows you).

In my email, I was torn between my readerly-disdain for automated replies to comments, and my bloggerly-interest in GETTING! NEW! READERS! THE EASY WAY!

The only other blogger I’ve gotten an automated comment-response email from was Jordan @ MommaBlogga, and she just had a baby, so I didn’t harass her about it. Plus she has explained tricky WordPress thingies to me, so I love her, even though she sent me an automated response after we totally email-bonded over the tricky WordPress thingies (not to mention my participation in her group writing project, but, really, I still love her).

I hesitated before sending my email to Jonathan (can I call you Jonathan?), worrying that I sounded too snarky, and — What if his email wasn’t automated? What if he really does follow my twittering? What if he’s deeply offended by my not feeling his sincerity about wanting to be my friend and get emails from me?

Well, I got both the answer to some of my questions and absolution for my snarkiness, in under a minute:

Internet Smarm = We’re agin’ it!

***Updated*** Holy Real-Time Internet Non-Smarminess: THE Jonathan Fields just responded to my email, NOT AUTOMATED, and can I just say that I am his loyal follower for EVER now.