J Redux

Twenty months ago I wrote about the reason I haven’t had an empty inbox since February 4, 2014. 

Because I had this Listserve email from j in Indiana:

for a long time, i needed the attention of strangers on the internet to feel good about myself, but i don’t anymore.

have a good day,



It’s still there in my inbox. I haven’t read it in a long time. I thought I knew it well enough to not have to open and read it. I thought I kept it in mind. 

I haven’t. 

Tonight it’s the only item there (for now). And I read it, and it resonated. I found my post about it, and read that. 

I don’t think it ever goes away forever. I think I will always need the attention of strangers on the Internet to feel good about myself. 

Finding like-minded strangers to talk to on the Internet has been a pastime of mine for nearly half my life. And comments section idiocy or no, I find that strangers are less judgmental that my “real” friends on Facebook. 

I’m Out!

I know, I know, three posts in one day, what is going on??

My email went out today!

You can read it, and all the other emails ever, here.

Submitting to My Submission

Remember when I announced that I’d won the Listserve? Of course you do! That was this week.

Man, that was a super awesome feeling. 

I generally don’t believe people when they say oh, I’ve never won anything. I mean, the odds are totes against that. Nearly everyone is won something. Yeah, yeah, I know that conversely, people do exist who actually have never won a single thing. But that’s like meeting someone born without a nose. It can happen, but probably won’t today.

So just about everybody has felt that thrill of winning, which is fantastic, because it makes you feel special. We all need that, except for one person (I have a really short list of people I hate). 

Heck, last month I won four Most American Thickburgers from a local radio station just because I know Bruce Springsteen is the Boss. I was glowing from that triumph for like a day and a half, and it was hamburgers, for crying out loud. But it didn’t even have to be a prize. Winning is winning, isn’t it?

I’ll have to paraphrase since I don’t have my copy with me, but I read in Robert Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax how intermittent reward is most effective for us as humans. I’ll admit I have no idea how fact-based that statement was, but it makes sense to me, especially since I live in a gamblin’ town. If we win all the time, winning loses meaning. 

Winning is like success: the satisfaction of any win is directly proportional to the amount of intrinsic value personally allocated to the contest. 

I like hamburgers; I was happy I won. I won a Cobb salad from Hooter’s about ten years ago, and I like salads, so I was happy I won. If my husband had won a salad, he would not have been nearly as happy, because he doesn’t like salad. He’d have been happy to give me his prize, but winning or losing the contest wouldn’t have meant as much.

I shit bricks that I won the Listserve. I don’t even know the number to multiply my hamburger win by to get how thrilled I was. And for hours! Even now, days later, I can feel my eyes begin to glaze as I consider the magnitude of the whole thing. I shouldn’t have stopped to consider. Now I have this whole jittery wave of mind-blown-ness passing over me.

But that’s the thing. I sent off my email Monday night, and I don’t know when it’s going to go out. The longer it is, the harder it is to deal. I did my usual let’s type this up and make a couple minor edits before sending it out into the world thing, and now I’m second guessing. 

What if nobody reads it? Okay, that one’s not really on me. I came up with a fair subject line. But still. 

What if nobody likes it?  

What if they laugh at me?

What if, what if, what if?

I’m so insecure.

I’m really not that worried. That bubbly excitement of winning is still outweighing any doubts I have come up with so far. And after writing this, my doubts are even smaller, because the little voice of reason is getting louder with its two-word answer.


So I grin and bear it. It’s so exciting! And it’s far too late anyway. It was too late already once I hit send

It’s around Listserve o’clock now, and I can’t help obsessively checking my email to see if today’s the day, even though I don’t really believe that today’s the day. 

You. Guys.

I just won The Listserve. I have 48 hours to come up with 600 words to share with over 23,000 people. I never realized how big a deal that actually is until like twenty minutes ago.

It’s huge.

I’m freaking out.

A Letter to J in Indiana

I used to fret over a mess in my inbox. One of my goals last year was to make it a weekly ritual to empty the darn thing completely. And while that is a lovely sight to see, I haven’t had an empty inbox since February 4, 2014.

Such a specific date, you may notice. Surely there is a story behind this, you may think.

There is.

Sometime last summer, I subscribed to the Listserve. Thanks, Justine! It’s an email lottery with (as of right now), 24,556 subscribers, each of which has a chance to win every day. The prize is a single email sent to everyone else. So every day I get an email from someone, somewhere.

My absolute favorite came on February 5, titled a change in my life. In its entirety:

for a long time, i needed the attention of strangers on the internet to feel good about myself, but i don’t anymore.

have a good day,



This single sentence is the most profoundly hopeful message I have ever read. Every time I read it, it affects me again as strongly as it did the first time I read it. On the rare occasion I briefly ponder what I might write about if given the chance, I think how could I ever come close to this?

Thank you, j, for your words. Thank you for encouraging me every day with your message of change.

I only wish that you had included an email for me to thank you directly.