January 5, 2001
Happiness Is Like A Bathrobe

 


 
Writing about your happiness, I'm discovering, is a little bit like wearing your favorite ugly Vicks-VapoRub-stained bathrobe in public.

It feels a whole lot better than it looks, apparently. Nobody really wants to see it/smell it/hear about it ... even if they say they do. And most people would secretly prefer to see you wearing something slightly less comfy, if only for the entertainment value.

(Like sackcloth, maybe. Or handcuffs.)

In other words: happiness is unfashionable. Misery is a much better *look* for an Internet journaler.

A handful of people have written this week to protest what they perceive as the alarmingly saccharine direction that *FootNotes* has taken recently. "It's growing tiresome," says one disgruntled reader ... sick to death of hearing about my ring, my engagement, my fiance, my wedding plans, my nauseating infernal happiness. "Do you have to write about (your engagement) in *every* journal entry?" plaintively asks another. "It's almost as though you're trying too hard to convince us that you're happy." And she adds that she's going to quit reading altogether unless I cut it out.

Frankly ... I'm not sure how to respond to this.

I think I've developed a pretty thick skin about negative reader response, during my almost-three-years of Internet journaling. I'm a lot less likely to weep over a spelling correction these days. It's been at least a year since I've threatened to have anyone arrested. I've achieved a sort of uneasy peace with Cranky Denver Lady (as long as she quits sending me .jpgs of her dog, anyway). But I'm not sure how I'm supposed to handle this one.

How do you defend yourself against charges that you're writing too 'happy?'

I'll admit that I've been making a conscious effort lately to concentrate more on the good stuff than the bad. I don't like the way I feel when I spend an entire evening writing about Franz, for one thing: it's as though he's followed me home from the Totem Pole Company. I don't like the *negative energy molecules* it generates. I don't like the message it sends to people I care about. Plus it's just plain more fun to write about a marriage proposal than a resignation letter.

Apparently this doesn't sit well, however, with some members of the audience.

Part of me wants to get all huffy and defensive about this. "I've only had my engagement ring for a couple of weeks, forcryingoutloud!," Huffy Defensive Secra wants to say. "It took me forty-three years to create this happiness: I'm allowed to crow about it for awhile!"

Part of me -- Peacemaker Secra, who needs everybody to love her, and who hopes to avoid confrontation at all cost, and who doesn't want anybody to be mad at her, ever -- wants to go back and accomodate her grumpy readers by editing out all recent references to David, diamonds, proposals, weddings, wedding preparations, honeymoons and long, lingering New Years Eve kisses. Tone it down a little. Maybe toss in an occasional gratuitous complaint -- God, I wish David would shut the bathroom door in the morning! That inconsiderate bastard!! -- just to make the account more fully actualized.

And part of me wants to point out the obvious: If you don't like FootNotes ... don't read it. It seems so simple, but maybe there are people out there who need reminding. There is an entire Internet universe filled with dark, dour, angst-ridden journals, written by people who hate their lives, and who hate the people they're dating/living with/married to/involved with, and who hate the world and everything/everybody in it. 

People who don't spell "fudk" with that extraneous "d" for comic effect.

Go read THEM for awhile!, Huffy Defensive Secra wants to say. (Or go read *my* archives from a few years back: there's enough angst there for an entire series of Jennifer Love Hewitt made-for-Lifetime TV movies.) And let me enjoy the pure pleasure of writing about my wedding for the next few months, without making me feel like what I'm doing is bad or wrong or stoopid or a fundamental betrayal of some worldwide sisterhood of independent women.

But in the end, of course, I'll do what I always do: I'll write a careful, courteous personal response (I am genuinely sorry to lose you as a reader: take care, and all the best always) ... I'll delete their e-mail from my computer, so I can't obsess over it later ... and I'll go right back to writing about my life in my usual slapdash, off-the-top-of-my-heart, saccharine-intensive/punctuation-optional fashion.

Even if all I've got to write about is the annoying *happy stuff.*

Have a great weekend, everybody.



one year ago: when the cat's away
two years ago: duluth, south dakota


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