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Okay, the latest round of (diarist.net) award finalists are in. But I don't want to talk about *that* per se. I want to talk about expectations and disappointments and how we handle them as people.

I was disappointed not to be nominated. It made me a little cranky. I think that's pretty normal if you feel as if you've tried as hard as you can to do the best job that you can. What surprised me, though, was that I seemed more upset by who else wasn't nominated. My instinctive reaction includes guns and hips - like the kids who were mean to you at the playground - the best defense is to not *want* to play with them.

How do you handle disappointment? Does it come across as anger, sadness, mournful depression, a renewed desire to "try harder" and "be better"?


-- Catherine (catherine@cmjcom.com), November 06, 1999


To tell you the truth, concerning the diarist.net awards---the best thing that ever happened to ME was to get the Legacy Award, because I don't have to worry about being nominated for a site award ever again---and it's very freeing.

However, to be perfectly frank, I was disappointed that DAve Van didn't get at least NOMINATED for best comedic entry. There were some others I voted for who made the nominations---I definitely wanted Diane Patterson as one of the ones in the running for the diarist Legacy award, her "Why Web Journals Suck" is a pivotal thing for web journals as a whole, and that one article, if nothing else, would qualify her---and her others writing do too.

Disappointment? I tend to sulk, and turn away, and sometimes leave the area altogether. It's usually a mistake to do so, but sometimes if you're pushed enough, you don't have much choice, unless you want to ruin what you were enjoying.--Al

Hi Al ... Catherine here ...

Yeah, I know what you mean about feeling free-er when you were unable to be nominated for the awards. Makes sense to me.

But really (really) I am not pissed that I didn't get nominated - just disappointed (is that spelled right? looks wrong). And it struck me when I was dealing with that disappointment that I maybe don't handle it so well and that this lack of handling it well has probably caused me all sorts of problems in my life.


I think I was mostly mad (MAD) about Nancy. But (LOL) that's probably a convenient handle, eh?

Ack - better to get involved and do something about it - rather than bitch, I suppose.

I recall, at the moment I read the finalists, feeling two things that seemed to spring from my disappointment. One was an attitude of "what do they know anyway?" and the second was "stupid fucks". So some sour grapes and some belittling anger. Blech.

Good to talk about it, though - thanks :)


P.S. - I sulk, too.

-- Al Schroeder (al.schroeder@nashville.com), November 06, 1999.

Oh, and I forgot to add---those people who wrote you that are jerks, Catherine. Your journal would be an engrossing and beautiful one whether you had your condition or not, graphical and beautiful, and if anything, your comments in the various listservs were MORE sane than most, not less.

That's as insulting as saying people only read my journal for the autistic children bits. Certainly it's a draw, but that's not the only think I write about, and certainly your condition isn't the only thing YOU write about.

Your writing is also quite good---I enjoyed your story in INKSPOT, and I might try for the November issue....following your example.

Al of Nova Notes.

Me again...

Well, I am definitely going to bitch and whine more often. LOL. Seriously, thanks for the kudos Al - they mean a lot - although it never occurred to me that it would seem that I needed them.

I don't. But I do like them. Heh.

My journal is very much a labor of love and no award (or lack thereof) could change it or how I do it.

Which is probably close to the source of the problem and probably how a lot of people feel who do journals. This is my life. My best work. My soul and my self. Whaddaya mean I don't get an award? Heh.


-- Al Schroeder (al.schroeder@nashville.com), November 06, 1999.

You know, that stuff about your journal only being worthwhile for the sympathy vote is utter horsecrap, and I fervently hope you know that. This is the first time I was ever nominated for a diary community-type award, so if I'd based the worth of my writing on awards (which I know you're not doing), I'd have some real problems.

I think of your page as a scrapbook, so the pictures and the little "click here" thingies all add to the experience. You're interactive, which is what the Web is supposed to be about. Anyway, you know I think very highly of your work, and your site, so I'm not going to beat that drum.

I think I'm pretty good at handling disappointment, mainly because I learned at a very young age that bad shit happens. And keeps happening (well, to me, anyway). And sometimes I get really depressed and crawl into a bottle for a couple of weeks here and there, but overall, I try to look at the sum total of my life. And you know, it's been pretty cool.

Like you, I know up close and personal that it's not going to be forever. And that frightens and thrills me at the same time. So I try to not spend so much time in that bottle, and I try not to take disappointments to heart. I don't want to spend the time I have left on things I can't control.

It's like our Jaguars-- we know they're sinking ships, but they make us happy so we're willing to carry them. I'd rather exert my limited resources on things, people, situations that bring me joy.


PS: Thanks for what you said. I sent Nan (my mother) to read it.

Hi Sara ... Catherine here..

Nice to see you. Congratulations on your finalist nomination! Wow! I am so pleased for you. Your journal is a TOTAL joy to read.

I hear you about appreciating my own mortality in a different way than most people. It's one of the things I like about your journal - you've been there too and you understand it.

Does it kill you that many people (I hear it whispered in the halls by the other uncool kids) want your life? Want to be just like you? Me included! LOL.

Thanks for the nice stuff said about my journal - appreciated. (I feel like I should say - "but you didn't need to" - but perhaps you did, after all...in any case - thank you so much).

Now, about you ... you take it easy with Mr. Altemus, eh?


-- Sara Astruc (anything@fauve.cc), November 06, 1999.

I really focus on winning the lottery that week. Tell myself , which I more than half believe and sort of wish I didn't, that nothing matters very much and very little matters at all. Sophisticated sour grapes - I admit that what i wanted was desirable but for someone who isn't quite me. And though I know you didn't intend (primarily? :)) to solicit compliments, I think your site is as good as any I've seen, and if I had to describe it to anyone, I don't think that it would occur to me to mention HIV.

Hi Chris ... Catherine here ...

The lottery. Yes. Thats' a good one. Heh. I suppose you need to buy tickets for that?

Interesting about the HIV - because it seems to me that I dwell on it constantly (that must be my mind, then, I guess - heh) and some days I want to take a de-fragger to the entire lot of (bad) HTML and wipe it out. I expect lots of people feel that way about their work.

Your line "I don't think that it would occur to me to mention HIV." was about the sweetest thing anyone could say to me. Thank you. Feels NICE to crawl out from under the labels. :))


-- Chris (chris@clatimer.freeserve.co.uk), November 06, 1999.

hmm.... conversations seems to be so many things...

disappointment - i handle it by finding trying to find the up side to the new path i have to be on since THAT didn't pan out, and analyse analyse analyse what it was i wanted about it, so I can get whatever stroke it was some OTHER way. i look at it real critically until i can convince myself that it wouldn't have served me well anyway, because ____. Most of the time, that's the truth. Sometimes it's a lie.

sour grapes - My first reaction to hearing that anyone tried to make you think you got yours base on a SYMPATHY vote is to get angry and laugh at anyone having the nerve to make such a stupid and blind comment.

Then I look at each cycle of this award thing - and sure enough, this has happened every single time. If it isn't the 'sympathy vote' theory, it's the 'clique vote' (that ones funny - 'you only got nominated cos everyone reads you!!'... um, ok...), or some other nonsense.

I don't get it... I can understand such thoughts crossing a person's mind (see 'disappointment' - petty thoughts are understandable), but I am amazed at someone taking the time to SHARE those thoughts and try to kill off the pleasure of the one they are feeling petty about - and apparently not getting that it makes them look so much worse that it does the one they are talking to.

I guess it's handling disappointment by spreading the misery. When I stop being angry about it, I can only feel sorry for them, and hope they learn a better way of dealing with it.

But I'm kind of relieved not to be on that list this time... things are so loopy here, I don't really feel up to getting email saying "you just got it for because everyone's reading to see when you're going to finally wreck that train!"

The awards feel good.... the crap that surrounds them doesn't. The double edged sword of being noticed, I guess.

On a totally different note, though, this is my week in the examination chair on the Crit List. I asked folks to focus (because this is my third round, and I have a pretty good idea of my design and writing flaws) on who it is they see - why they read, or don't read... what impression they have of the person.

The responses have had me blushing and THERE... that's what is great about doing this. Being known - not as in fame, but being KNOWN, people digging in with you and finding out who you are.

Those are the questions I've had about the awards each time... I won, but WHY? there have to be reasons other than 'sympathy votes' and 'cliques'. I wish the awards included a way to write in just why it was nominated or voted for.

I think that's what we're really after - not a nifty graphic, but some in-depth feedback.

-- Lynda B. (lyndacat@bigfoot.com), November 06, 1999.

I'm too lazy to click on "back" to see whose comment I'm following up on. Anyway, I don't think of you as the Journaller With HIV. It's like, built into you. Like a personality trait or an overbearing mother or something like that. It's integral to the experience, sure, but it's not the end-all be-all of my experience reading your pages. Oddly, it pleases me. I know how whacked that sounds, but I bond tighter with people who know the colour of death. Like you. Like Cory Glen. Like Scott Liles and The Intern and Kristin.

The open heart surgery alone rattled my psyche in places I hadnt even known existed: it shook me physically, leaving me drained and beaten; it shook me emotionally, leaving me apprehensive and frightened. In my life I had run the usual gamut of pain-- a fall from a horse, a broken arm-- but I had never known pain so great that I wasnt sure if I could survive it, whether my brain would just pause in mid-shudder and stall, like a plane at too high an altitude. I wondered if I could die from the pain alone.

It's like we belong to an exclusive club, the initiation being a new realm of sensation of pain and death, and are forever after slightly altered. The boundaries of our imagination expanded into territory inhabited by agony-- we own the rawest possible material for new fears, and would always now know ourselves to be more vulnerable than even we ever thought possible.

And as for people wanting my life, my first impulse was to say "Oh, that's not true, my life isn't so amazing... blah blah blah." Much like your first repsonse was to refute my praise of your journal. Honestly, it's really weird. I don't even know what to say about it. I will admit that it fascinates me, to some degree. I'm always curious about people's perception of me, good or bad. I think most people are (with regards to themselves).

For a long time, when I branched away from The List and started to keep the journal, I tried to steer away from mentions of money and the circumstances that let me live my life in the manner I do. (Christ that sounds pompous.) It took awhile before I realised that it would be an impossible task.

Anyway, I guess I'm sort of peripherally aware of the proverbial whispers in the hall. It was singularly odd reading what the other online journallers said about me after the NYC reading. Not that any of it had been bad, quite lovely, actually. It was just interesting weighing what they thought I was going to be like versus what I am.

After a few exchanges, though, I sort of got the gist of the expectations.

"Its not that I didnt want to meet you. Its just that I thought you would be, well"

"Snotty?" I supplied helpfully.

You know, I should never post to guestbooks this late at night. I have no idea what I'm trying to say, and this is rapidly turning into a journal entry.

Never mind!


-- Sara Astruc (anything@fauve.cc), November 07, 1999.

So, Sara worries about who she's following and I actually have the gall to follow Sara. But in my position, I can clearly point up now -- ^^ -- and say look! Did you just read that? About the pain? See? Incontrovertible proof of why awards can be a good thing, by the way, when writers like Sara receive the recognition they really deserve.

I so much want to thank you Catherine for what you said about my journal -- I confess I snuck back to your site tonight (it's 3:20 am) to re-read your kind words and to re-warm the cockles of my heart again. We will always want awards and sometimes we get lucky -- and sometimes we get to read such words.

I think the reason the whole award thing stings is because of the way many of us climbed over broken gravel to get our journal sites up and open in the first place. I know I had become hand-shy after years of one-agent, one-editor slaps. You lose your own judgement, your own way, your own mind when you let someone else tell you your net worth that way.

So, after saying the hell with it -- I'm going to put it up for the world to see -- you find a certain irony in getting rejected again. I'm especially uncomfortable with the webrings that exclude whomever for whatever whimsical reasons ... and I know, I know, there has to be fraternities and private clubs ... but again, the very people who put it all online are many times not the ones who like to be told no. You can't. I don't like you. You don't meet my criteria.

I haven't had the cojones to even try to join one of them, and probably never will. I'm very used to being rejected when someone is putting good money on the line and expects to make money from my work. But for some reason I have a hard time with people who want to carve out a portion of this free web playground and rope it off and make it private, just because they want to.

It's so hard to veer back to center in a rant. Disappointment. It's a bruise that heals quickly and there's lots of pretty colors on your skin the whole time. What really got me this time was my feeling that the levers on my nominating machine must have been broken: so many of the people I voted and voted for did not get in. And what makes it especially bad is that in some cases I could *prove* my nominees were more deserving. I could *prove* it, I tell ya, if I had the chance.

I think we have to get used to the fact that it's a big web out there and the people have spoken.

And here, in this forum, friends have spoken -- Catherine, one day you will be HIV-free and I know your journal will not change a jot. You will still capture the bird on one leg and the wasp on one inch and we will all be the better for it.

And to those nominees on the list: congratulations and try to enjoy the joy. You worked very very hard

-- Nancy Birnes (turret@mediaone.net), November 07, 1999.

I, too, felt awfully disappointed when Nancy Birnes didn't get nominated. I guess I'm being a rebel and not voting for any of the whole journal awards this time. I only voted for the specific entry category because my nomination of John Bailey's entry about the solar eclipse made it.

As for MY winning an award, well, I've always been a kind of weird lone wolf, just doing her own little weird thing. I really don't expect such a thing. But that wouldn't stop me from happily accepting it, should one come my way.

Weighty Matters

-- Joan Lansberry (gallae@casagrande.com), November 07, 1999.

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