Object Not Found

Hey, Ego:
Shut up and relax?

Take a snooze!

Dream about what we could be
If you would Shut up and relax!

Dream about what we could do
If you would Shut up and relax!

Dream about what we could have
If you would Shut up and relax?

Wake up refreshed?
Ready to shut up and relax!

Glen D. Lovelace

Because I’m visual, I try to imagine my ego’s appearance. Maybe it’s orangey red as it orbitally zooms through my mind. I think it has tentacles that probe and poke, prickly and annoying, displaying a few destructive tendencies–indications I’m not very enlightened.

I hope you aren’t bored with my self-indulgence, that you haven’t stopped reading. If I heard you click the back button, I would be crushed. And, yes, I’m aware of the liberal use of the letter “I”.

Here’s the deal: I’m thinking about all that’s involved along the writing route, including the submission process and publication–especially, the submission process and publication. Nod to Jeffrey and Alex. It’s that I keyboard with abandon, fingers dancing across letters, shoving nouns against verbs, dashing here and there. Of course, an inspection is necessary, for blunders, the errors that slip by the computer’s check, you know, writing it’s when I should have written its. Next is the title. I come up with something, change it, think of another, and plant it above my name. Finally, I copy and paste my paragraphs in the body of an email, looking, again, for any red lines under words, and, when satisfied, I push send.

Then this: I think of a possible mistake and check “sent” mail. Yep, a zero omitted from the end of a number or something really dumb like, “In May the deaths peaked. Who knows what the following month, April, will bring?” So, I make the repair and write, “corrected submission” in the subject line. Sometimes, I have to do this a couple of times. Sorry, Jeff.

Finally, I go to bed, wake up the next morning, and wait.

Doctor So and So, am I there yet? How many centimeters dilated? Because on a small scale, this is like giving birth, and no one wants to be told the baby is ugly.

I pull up the site. And see yesterday’s date. Close. Wait. Pull up the site, again. I’m a CounterPunch stalker. Again, I enter the delivery room, pushing for my child. Ah, I see the right date, the names: David Ker Thomson, Kathy Kelly, Charles R. Larson, Ron Jacobs, William Blum, and, and, (sigh of relief) Missy Beattie, among others. Sometimes, my title’s been changed. That’s okay.

Time to count the fingers and toes.

I click on my article and (GASP) it’s not there. Instead, I see a white page with black letters: “Object not found” and “Error 404.”

I am an “Error 404,” an “Object not found!”

I hear the “ping” of an email, a reader who tells me what I’ve just discovered. What to do? My mother is no help with this, although she has never been at a loss regarding manners, perfect thank-you notes, the placement of utensils and glasses on a dining table, finger bowls, the way to eat soup, that one never wears a halter top or jeans in church. She not only KNOWS etiquette, she is Etta Quette. But she is useless when it comes to “Error 404.”

So, I email my peace pal and 9/11-justice expert Jon Gold. And this is the part of my story that’s sooooooo pathetically embarrassing and ego driven–I contact Jon or call my best friend Joan and I say, “Do me a favor. Go to CounterPunch, click on my article, and when you’re taken to that loathsome page that says, ‘Object not found,’ notify the webmaster.” I don’t want to do this myself. I do not want to appear presumptuous, impatient, or bitchy.

And, then, unable to exercise restraint, I am presumptuous, impatient, and bitchy, because, after all, it’s my baby that’s gone missing. “Hey, where’s my article? Jeffrey, Alex, anybody home?” Yes, it’s vanity, ego run amok, because I’ve entered a little piece of my SELF as a contestant in the beauty pageant of opinions. I don’t care about taking the crown (number one position belongs to Alexander Cockburn) and, puleease, don’t even think I’d be interested in the Ms Congeniality honor, if one were awarded. Truth is: when my submission isn’t chosen, I’m fine?someone else has said it better than I. Or has written something more important.

The reality is that I need to be cool with “Object not found” and “Error 404.” Arrive at acceptance, as Glen Lovelace says: “Ready to shut up and relax!” If all egos could “MAINTAIN OUR SPECK,” that dying before Death, we’d accomplish world peace.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Reach her at missybeat@gmail.com.


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com