| June 21, 2001
Three Years Later
Another June 21st ... another *FootNotes* anniversary.
Three years ago tonight, I sat in the Tree House and tossed that first grumpy, abbreviated journal entry out into the cyber airwaves. I can tell you exactly what I was wearing that night (purple thrift-store shorts/Benchmade Knife Company T-shirt) ... what I was listening to on the boombox ("Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon") ... what I was having for 'dinner' (a half-case of John Adams Pale Amber Ale and a cold Quarter Pounder). I remember that it was uncomfortably warm in Oregon City, even for June. I remember the backs of my thighs sticking to the green plastic lawnchair. I remember Next Door Neighbor Dog sniffing around the *welcome* mat in front of my open apartment door, as I sat working at my computer ... and somebody chain-smoking in the apartment directly below mine ... and calling my boss the next morning to claim "toothache" (and then spending the day playing with my website some more, through the fog of hangover).
I remember, too, how I felt as I sent that first entry soaring off into the cyber ozone: flush with triumph, a little overwhelmed, a lot nervous. (What if somebody actually reads this crap??)
And I remember this: I remember thinking This is either going to be a colossal failure (not unlike The Great Cheerleading Tryout Debacle of 1972), or else it's going to be one of the best things I've ever done. The jury may still be out on that one ... but three years later here I am, still plugging away at it.
*FootNotes* looked a lot different in those early days. Some of you may remember it. Everything was jumbled together on the same page: the daily entry, the archives, lists of related links ... in-jokey subrefs to EdmundKaz and The Tots and Lorenzo Lamas ... photographs, bits of poetry and quotes and cartoons and big ugly GeoCities banners. There was an animated .gif of running feet at the top of the page, and a MIDI file that automatically launched into an annoying electronic version of "Runaway" whenever the website opened. It took forever to load, and the whole thing looked (and sounded) precisely like what it was: a big messy artless mishmash of stuff. But it was my big messy artless mishmash of stuff, and I loved it immediately and absolutely.
I still do.
Over the years the look has changed, obviously. Once or twice a year I am seized by the overwhelming desire to wipe everything out and start all over again. Usually I settle for a website 'face-lift' instead.
But layout isn't the only thing that has changed about *FootNotes* since that June evening three years ago. My motivation for writing it has also changed. Originally I was mainly interested in The Three R's of Internet journaling: Revenge, Revision and Redemption. I was mad as hell at my last two or three romantic partners, and I wanted a place where I could publicly (albeit cryptically) terrorize them. At the same time, I felt I was being unfairly judged for things I'd done -- leaving my family to run off with someone I'd known online for three weeks, for example -- and I wanted a place to tell *my* side of the story ... even if it meant tweaking the facts eversoslightly, here and there. Plus I hoped that by baring my soul -- and my unmentionables -- in a self-created spotlight this way, I would eventually make restitution and earn forgiveness. From whom, and for what, I couldn't say.
But I felt I had to try.
My motivation today is a lot less complicated: now I'm simply telling a story. The fact that it's a 'story' that's as much fun to live as it is to write is just a bonus.
More than anything else, though, I think my message has changed. (I didn't even know I had a "message," frankly, until about six months into the process ... right about the time I started writing about recovery issues. But when people start writing to YOU for advice, you know you'd better start taking this "message" stuff seriously.) While I hope I haven't gone completely Oprah on you, in recent months -- I do try to provide enough whiney insecurity and tacky self-absorption to counterbalance the daily *saccharine factor* -- I'll admit that I'm more interested in writing about possibilities, these days, than I am in writing about impossibilities. In the early days it was all about what I couldn't do: I couldn't see my kids, I couldn't pay my rent, I couldn't write, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stop drinking too much or eating too much or thinking too much about whether or not the drop from a third-story window would be fatal (or whether it would just hurt like hell).
Today I guess my message is "If I can do it, you can do it." And that goes for everything from sobriety, to figuring out what you want to be when you grow up, to finding true love in midlife, to giving yourself a total head-to-toe Life Makeover. (Trust me: if *I* can haul my big flabby uncoordinated butt onto a bicycle for the first time in nearly three decades ... ANYBODY can do it.)
I would like to think that I've evolved slightly in three years, and that my journal has evolved along with me. Otherwise, I might as well go back to revenge, revision, impossibilities ... and little animated feet running across the top of the page.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
P.S. Now that I've made all this noise about it being a *FootNotes* anniversary ... I'm immediately taking the next three days off. (I've got a perfectly good excuse, though: my wedding-preparation *To Do* List runneth over ... and the clock is ticking.) I won't even lie to you and tell you I 'might' write something over the weekend: I already know I probably won't. If I do anything even remotely computer-related, in fact, it will be catching up on e-mail ... or ordering another tube of $28 mascara.
P.P.S. Speaking of birthdays ... happy second birthday on Saturday to The World's Cutest Nephew! Aunt Terri and Almost-Uncle-Dave love you! xoxox