the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Didn’t that woman blog about Al Roker’s nipples?

When the producer for NBC called me and asked if I’d be interested in flying to New York to be on a live segment of the Today show to talk about the business of mommy-blogging — okay, wait a minute, I think I should address this right here, right now, this label MOMMY BLOG. Do I consider my website a mommy blog? Not really, no. When I sit down to update my website I don’t think to myself, “What will I say today on my mommy blog?” The first thing I think is, how can I give my father a heart attack? And then I back up a second and go, nah, I’d miss him too much, I will just have to write this story about Jon’s Brazilian wax in my personal diary. Dad, are you paying attention? It’s because of you that the world does not get to hear about Jon’s genitals. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY.

But I also don’t get offended when people call this website a mommy blog. Not at all. Because even though some people use that label to belittle the fact that there are women out there writing about their experiences as mothers, how dare they? Who do they think they are? NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR KID, YOU MOMMY BLOGGER! Yeah, that. Turns out lots of people want to hear about your kid. Oh, and did you hear? All this writing about motherhood is bringing people together and changing lives. So you go ahead and wrinkle your nose and dismiss those mommy blogs. And I’m going to sit over here at my laptop and be totally flattered that someone thinks I’m worthy to be among their ranks. Hell yes, I’m a mommy blogger.

So I was prepped for an interview about mommy blogs, the lot of us, how this thing we started to document the tiny and intimate moments of our lives has transformed into our jobs. Our jobs that pay us money. And I was totally under the impression that it was going to be a more in-depth interview than the usual, so, tell us about your blob, is it? Your blop? Your blonk? Little anecdote here, the driver they sent to JFK to pick me up turned out to be Chelsea Clinton’s personal driver when she’s in New York, which does not have anything to do with the point I’m trying to make here other than that he said she is always shouting from the backseat, “GO FASTER! GO FASTER!” And I don’t know why but just knowing that about Chelsea makes me want to invite her over to play Scrabble while chugging Kentucky bourbon. It just makes me love her even more to know that she gets impatient at stop lights, and that maybe she has once or twice waved her middle finger at a stranger, not because it would make any difference or cause traffic to go any faster, but because IT FELT SO GOOD.

Anyway, the driver asked me why I was in New York and what I did for a living. My friend, Maggie, is going to be so proud of me for this because I told him, “I’m a writer.” And I thought it was going to sound natural coming out of my mouth but in fact it did not whatsoever. I could have said, “I teach English to genius pandas,” and the look on my face would have been the same. He asked me what kind of writing, and that’s when I looked around to see if anyone was within earshot, and duh. It’s New York. At any given moment there is someone having intercourse with a goat within earshot. So I whispered A BLOGGGGG. And I am not even kidding, his whole face shriveled inward as if he had just been sprayed with mace, and he said, “Does that hurt?”

Yes, it hurts. But I’m taking antibiotics.

So I got a call from the producer about 20 seconds before boarding the plane to New York telling me that they had bumped the segment to the fourth hour of the show, and that I’d now be interviewed by Hoda and Kathie Lee. I knew right then that the interview that was supposed to happen was not going to happen, but I still had hope. I knew that a taped segment featuring other bloggers (Kristen Chase, Mir Kamin, and Jill Asher) was going to run before me, and I thought I’d still be able to get in a word or two about why I think companies are so interested in marketing to this group of people, why they are sending us thousands of PR emails saying DEAR BLOGGER, PLEASE WRITE ABOUT MY PRODUCT ON YOUR WEBSITE. Except how many times have we been sent an email addressed to the wrong person? I’ve been called Heather Anderson, Sarah Armstrong, Hannah, Halley, and one time someone even called me Jim. Note to PR people: maybe pretend that you are paying attention.

I’d been to Rockefeller Center before but never inside the Today Show studios, and I don’t know how to say this without someone deliberately misinterpreting it, so I’ll just go ahead and blurt it out: it was kind of sad. The green room was tiny, and the make-up room looked like it had been haphazardly set up in someone’s garage. Not that I was expecting the walls to be lined with gold, but you look at the set and see how sharp and clean it is, and then you go backstage and, oh my god, has my daughter been playing in here? Because there was stuff and paper and little bits of things everywhere. Like, I had a thought that if I took off my shoes and walked around for a little bit back there that I’d stumble over a Barbie corvette and maybe cut myself on that missing Polly Pocket shoe.

And that is less a judgment than it is an observation, because the experience I had with the make-up people was more than professional. They handled me with great care and made me feel like a million bucks and didn’t mind Jon as he furiously circled the room with our camera:

Just as I was about to walk back to the green room I asked Jon if he thought my make-up looked okay, and in front of about 10 people on the Today show staff he said, “Okay? OKAY? I’d lick you right now if we were alone. COME ON!” Someone started laughing, so Jon continued: “What? WHAT? Doesn’t my wife look good? I’m allowed to say that about this woman because I saw a baby come out of her body!” And thus commenced a chorus of disgusted EWWWWWWing. And I was all, okay Jon, you can stop. And he was all, “Not just ANY baby! MY BABY! OUT OF HER BODY!” This is obviously proof that one side effect of Prozac is acting like you’re drunk when in fact you are not.

15 minutes later I’m sitting on a couch opposite Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. And we’re making small talk in the four minutes leading up to my segment. They’re asking me all sorts of questions about my website and where I’m from, and then I think but I can’t be sure that Kathie Lee Gifford winks at me. Just out of nowhere. WINK WINK. And I’m so caught off guard that my face changes its expression involuntarily, and she says something like, yeah, that was a wink, it’s something we do on television. I go, okay, so you weren’t trying to hit on me, just clearing things up. And she says, no, she wasn’t hitting on me, but honey (she called me honey), I am totally her type.

I am Kathie Lee Gifford’s type. You know what? I am not even going to start decontructing that, and instead I’m going to let you consider what that says about my husband.

And then she said something to me that made the rest of my day one giant confusing puzzle that I have still not been able to put back together. I don’t remember her exact words, but she asked me if I get a lot of criticism for writing about my family on the Internet, and when I said yes she said she could totally relate. Because people were all over her back in the day when she talked about her kids on television. She told me she could empathize. For those of you who have not seen the segment I’m going to post it here, and afterward you’re going to think to yourself, “HUHHH?”

I don’t know what happened to frighten Kathie Lee in the span of four minutes, but my guess is that she had either been instructed to bring up that controversial aspect of mommy-blogging, or maybe she herself thought that she needed to layer the interview with that perspective. Either way, it did not make her a friend of this community from what I’ve read on other websites and forums.

And here’s my take: this is obviously a case of an interviewer not being adequately familiar with the topic at hand (also, probably not a good idea to have someone afraid of computers interviewing someone about their job using computers). And I’m not about to jump into the crowd and start calling Kathie Lee names, she does not deserve that from me. I’m not so much angry at her as I am disappointed that this topic was not given the service it deserves. Blaming Kathie Lee for that would be misguided, and in fact, I don’t think there’s really any one entity responsible for how this played out other than the beast that is broadcast television. The segment got bumped, things were shuffled around, and maybe because of some miscommunication here and there it wasn’t the piece it was supposed to be. Instead of looking at this as a setback I’m thinking that this is a great opportunity for someone out there willing to take a look into the heart of this community. Start the interview with the fact that you are uncomfortable with what we do, and then let us answer you. Unless you are afraid of us, and if that’s the case, well, here, let me rub your head, you poor little bunny.

  • shaunacon

    2008/05/13 at 2:58 pm

    First comment on your ever so popular blog. I am honored…

    Good to hear your perspective on the whole thing.

  • Leslie

    2008/05/13 at 2:59 pm

    That was my favorite post to date. You are the best!

  • RH

    2008/05/13 at 2:59 pm

    Despite its glitches, what a great experience for you! Congrats on all the attention – it is very much deserved!

  • Carrie

    2008/05/13 at 3:00 pm

    I was shocked by the interview. Really, they gave you such short shrift, and the way Kathy Lee acted like she was in a debate with you and didn’t let you make your point.

    You looked great, though. Congratulations for bearing up under ridiculous treatment.

  • Erica

    2008/05/13 at 3:01 pm

    I thought you did a great job. Beside the fact that they were rushing you and cutting you off.

  • Ev

    2008/05/13 at 3:02 pm

    It was a fabulous segment, even if it wasn’t what it might have been. You looked and sounded great and I watched it with great pleasure. Heather, Jon, Leta, Chuck and Coco, you guys rock!

  • Ev

    2008/05/13 at 3:03 pm

    P.S.: Did you hear Al mention you the next day on the air, talking about bubblicious??

  • Jules

    2008/05/13 at 3:04 pm

    Wonderfully written by a wonderful writer. I think it takes a huge person to handle this situation with tact and decorum. Thanks for taking the lead for all of the mom’s out there who have a voice and want to be heard. We are women bloggers not just mom’s and wives.

  • Carrie

    2008/05/13 at 3:04 pm

    It’s true, it was a weird interview. KLG clearly didn’t know what she was talking about. . but that’s not her fault. Somewhere, someone is hitting themselves on the forehead for not prepping her well enough. You carried yourself very well. . . and, yes, you did look smashing!
    A proud moment for “mommy bloggers” everywhere!

  • Jan

    2008/05/13 at 3:04 pm

    A most appropriate pulling of a punch. One of the numerous reasons your blog is so popular is that although, like other “mommy bloggers” I won’t name, you are outrageous, funny, profane, sometimes angry, whimsical, sometimes childlike — you are a mature and thoughtful adult. Poor bunny indeed.

  • kirida

    2008/05/13 at 3:07 pm

    KLG is like a spazzy Meredith Viera. It’s like what would happen to Meredith Viera if she developed a drinking problem and moved to Boca Raton.

  • Anonymous

    2008/05/13 at 3:08 pm

    Never before commented but now is a good time to start. First, the Today Show messed me up because I was waiting for your segment and it was delayed or bumped or whatever and then I was late to work. Second, when I finally saw it posted on someone else’s blog Kathie Lee’s dress burned my retinas. And third, it was hardly the piece it should have been. I’m not even sure why the Today Show bothers with that fourth hour thing but as neither a Mom nor a blogger nor…I don’t know — your supposed target audience I can just say that I was disappointed in the extreme. It would have only been worse if Ann Curry had interviewed you while bungee jumping. Oh but how I loved your dress.

  • Amanda

    2008/05/13 at 3:08 pm

    You handle yourself so gracefully (with just the right amount of humor). I stayed up late last night to watch you on Nightline, and all I could think afterwards was, “That family is so cool!” I loved the shots of you and Leta dancing.

  • robinv

    2008/05/13 at 3:09 pm

    I think I love/hate Kathy Lee for the obvious reasons. I love that fact that she is so blissfully unaware of how she comes across to people and I hate the fact that she has been able to do it, on tv for so many years.
    She is totally uninformed about her subjects most of the time but YOU handled her perfectly! I could tell that you had more to say but she didn’t know enough about the subject to ask the right questions. You looked great and your hair was so Cute!! Well Done!

  • Robin G.

    2008/05/13 at 3:09 pm

    It did sort of come across like you were reaching the end of the segment, then Kathy Lee thought, “Oh! Crap! I was supposed to mention how this woman might be putting her daughter at risk to crazed lunatics, so we can do a Dateline segment about here with scary DUM DUM DUM intro music!” and then sort of threw it in right before things wrapped up.

    It is a shame, though, that the topic wasn’t discussed. Because it’s an interesting one, one that would be well served by an honest, open debate.

  • Scargosun

    2008/05/13 at 3:10 pm

    As usual, you rock and your post about the Today show is incredibly insightful, not that I would expect anything less. I now pity KLG just a little. 🙂

    BTW, the Nightline segment was fab! You looked great and your personality, as well as Jon and Leta’s came thru (that’s a good thing).

    Congrats on all your success! You truly are a wonderful writer.

    PS – Sorry so sappy but couldn’t help it. I am proud of you.

  • Jen

    2008/05/13 at 3:10 pm

    I totally agree with you about everything on this interview. Kathie Lee puts her foot in her mouth all the time…she should of not been apart of this interview. “I don’t know much about computers!” Ack! And they didn’t give you credit or the respect you deserved.

  • Dangermonkey

    2008/05/13 at 3:10 pm

    I always find it odd when people admit they don’t know how to use a computer. Not know how to program, that’s one thing. But turning the damn thing on and getting to the internet? C’moooon. Isn’t that sort of mentality what made AOL so popular?
    Good segment, despite the terseness and the rushed feeling on their end. Did the dress plans change since it was Kathie Lee and not Matt Lauer? 😉

  • Haley

    2008/05/13 at 3:10 pm

    I love that you are enjoying this so much yet still staying so humble and it is great to get to read about what really goes on at these things!

    CONGRATS on all your success and keep on doing what you do!

  • ricanhavoc

    2008/05/13 at 3:11 pm

    When I heard you got bumped to the 4th-hour wasteland, I cringed inside for you, but I thought you handled yourself with aplomb.KLG is a hypocritical Luddite. “I don’t understand computers.” WTF? And how quickly she forgets how she completely whored Cody & Cassidy out on TV for YEARS, and she had the nerve to look down her nose at you? At least you never employed sweatshops and had a geriatric husband who screwed stewardesses! Keep doin’ what you do, whatever “they” decide to call it!

  • Coyote

    2008/05/13 at 3:11 pm

    When I watched you on the Today Show, I was thinking, “Give me a break, Kathy Lee or whatever your name is. This segment isn’t about you — it’s about the person you’re interviewing. Crikey! Get your clueless, self-involved little cranium out of your hygenically sealed butt.”

  • Chris

    2008/05/13 at 3:12 pm

    Oh boy – I’ve commented on Jon’s webpage and I think she did an extreme disservice to all ‘Mommy Bloggers’ All it did was make her look so hypocritical after her garish display of her children in the 90’s.

  • Loraleigh Vance

    2008/05/13 at 3:14 pm

    Honestly, I can not believe the unprofessionalism and thinly veiled nastiness with which that interview was carried out. It was total horse shit.

    You handled it well. Good on you!

  • Margie

    2008/05/13 at 3:14 pm

    The interview finally made me able to quantify what it is I never liked about KLG: One can never disagree with her. About anything. She’s right, she’s always right, and there’s nothing more to be said. You know she doesn’t reside in NY and has a rooftop patio, don’t you? PLEASE let’s not talk about this Computer Stuff anymore.

  • Starr

    2008/05/13 at 3:14 pm

    Please post a response to Kathie Lee and post it. Since you didn’t get the chance on the Today Show. (You don’t have to start it “Dear Kathie Lee” or anything…just address the “I have safety concerns” issue she brought up before quickly segueing to outdoor furniture.)

  • Joel

    2008/05/13 at 3:15 pm

    Nice job Heather. The media blitz is awesome. Keep it up.

    And it’s pronounced cray-on not crown.

  • Andie

    2008/05/13 at 3:15 pm

    I youtubed the video right after your last post about the segment and clicked away thinking “huh” as well. Your reaction here says a lot about who you are. Well done.

  • kirida

    2008/05/13 at 3:15 pm

    On second thought, maybe KLG wasn’t spazzy at all. Maybe she was just suffering a man cold that day.

  • Natasha

    2008/05/13 at 3:15 pm

    I agree that it was awkward and I felt bad for you. I don’t blame Kathie Lee for her opinion, I just think, like you said, that it’s unfortunate they chose an interviewer who couldn’t ask more relevant questions because she was unfamiliar with the topic. Maybe that was the point, though. Maybe she was supposed to represent the majority of people out there who aren’t that familiar with blogging. It’s not like The Today Show’s demographic is primarily teens and 20-somethings, is it?

    If that was the point, I wish they would have allowed you more time to explain. Ending the interview with this big ignorant question was unfair.

    I was disappointed that you didn’t get to show your shoes! You looked great, especially your hair.

  • Pete Dunn

    2008/05/13 at 3:17 pm

    You were brilliant and articulate. The piece was what it was. Obviously the ABC piece was much more generous.

  • Sarah

    2008/05/13 at 3:17 pm

    Enjoyed the interview… well, the hearing from you part. Kathie Lee, I could have done without!

    Love the blog, though!!

  • charity

    2008/05/13 at 3:17 pm

    Amen. I watched your segment and I was totally left with the HuH feeling. There is sooooo much to this society and they did not even scratch any of it. Maybe it should be an on-going segment? That is a good idea I think. anyways, good for you, you did us proud. IT’s also great you flustered KLG, she needs that every once in a while

  • eej

    2008/05/13 at 3:17 pm

    The most offensive part of that interview was KLG’s dress.

  • Elizabeth

    2008/05/13 at 3:18 pm

    I saw the interview on TV, and I must say that I was disappointed with how the interviewers handled it. Kathy Lee didn’t even seem to know what a blog is. I (personally felt- correct me if I am wrong) that you seemed to have an out of body experience and watch this interview crash and burn as Kathy attacked you- didn’t let you defend yourself “HAHA I don’t live in New York City- Tricked you” and then went to commercial.

    If she had even visited your blog long enough to read your letter to Leta, she wouldn’t have said any of that- AND if they are so concerned about the exposure that Leta was getting online- then why did they even show her pictures on the air?

    I was stupefied- still am.

  • Kirsten

    2008/05/13 at 3:18 pm

    Hi! Love your blog – just found you recently 😀
    I expected worse from the segment. It just sounds to me like Kathy felt she needed to say something, anything, to get herself into the interview. I think it was a meaningless un-thought-out attempt at depth. And: the interview itself was just what I expected and pretty much why I don’t watch AM TV: it doesn’t truly teach anything, it’s all a gloss over, a “we’re on top of the trends” show.

    Blogs do way better 😀

  • Miz Booshay

    2008/05/13 at 3:18 pm

    Oh Heather,
    You are really being gracious. And you handled yourself so well on the show.

    Just think that a lot of us get our news from these shows….
    um…better rethink that.

    Sound bites. That’s all they are good for. Not even as thorough as the local newspaper.

    But hey, you looked real pretty and you were not the one to come away looking hypocritically paranoid and ignorant. So that’s a good thing.

  • zchamu

    2008/05/13 at 3:18 pm

    I feel like saying you are right, that it’s unfair to trash Kathie Lee for being ignorant about computers and blogs.. and yet, it’s her job to understand what she’s talking about when she interviews people. If she didn’t get it, perhaps she should have let Hoda do most of the talking?

    I am also amazed that she actually addressed the fact that she got flack about talking about her kids in public with you directly.. I must commend her bravery for taking the angle she did with you, then, since she had already given you the ammo to shoot her ass right out of the sky if you had wanted to.

    Can I ask: What was the point you were going to make when she cut you off?

    No matter what, though, you were amazing. Very eloquent and your hair, girl, I would kill for your hair.

  • Becky_N

    2008/05/13 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a year now, and I had this *mommy* instinct to protect you when Kathy Lee said you made her uncomfortable. What makes me uncomfortable is that table cloth of a dress she had on. Good for you for taking the high road and responding as a professional writer. I’ll prod along and ask the difficult question “just what store was that moo moo purchased from in order to chop it into that horid dress?”

  • Adiel

    2008/05/13 at 3:18 pm

    It was truly uncomfortable to watch Kathie Lee speak about this topic…

    I’m always amazed with people’s apparent ease with being on television. I would probably being tripping over my words non-stop. You were great on there, you looked super comfortable in front of the camera.

  • Lori

    2008/05/13 at 3:19 pm

    I can’t stand Kathie Lee myself but that’s beside the point..or is it? Anyways, I thought you handled yourself like a trooper and congrats on such a momentus occassion;)

  • Valerie

    2008/05/13 at 3:19 pm

    I was really uncomfortable with the end of the segment. I feel like Kathie Lee sucker punched you and then walked out of the room all “Oops! Out of time!” It was weird.

    You, on the other hand, looked FABULOUS. I would have licked your face, too.

  • Windy City

    2008/05/13 at 3:20 pm

    I agree with most everybody when I say it was hard watching the interview because Kathie Lee looked so uncomfortable and obviously didn’t know your work at all. I was sorry the new book didn’t get mentioned at all because it’s FABULOUS! You, however were very gracious and effortless. Keep up the brilliant work, you always brighten my day.

  • cristen

    2008/05/13 at 3:20 pm

    Very nice response, Heather. Good job with that. I was very interested to read what your interpretation of the event would be. This is very grown-up and civil. Shocking!

  • Rachel

    2008/05/13 at 3:20 pm

    Morning talk how segments always seem to me to be so simplistic; there is just no depth of conversation because of how fast they’re trying to move on to the commercial for feminine hygiene products. You handled the interview — and the wacky last 30 seconds — really well. Congratulations for making it through the trial by Today fire.

  • Angel

    2008/05/13 at 3:20 pm

    I was very shocked at the piece. It didn’t do our world justice at all. I know you were prepared to talk more and I felt like they just cut you off. How dare you Kathie Lee? I think it’s partly her fault as well as she should have done a little bit of prep work before the interview. Sheesh.

    You looked amazing though and your hair was stunning.

    I did watch the Nightline piece last night and I was much more impressed by it. So if you all haven’t see it, you definitely should. I believe you can see the video here, but the article is there if the video isn’t.

  • Mandee

    2008/05/13 at 3:20 pm

    For people who are willing to see things for what they are, Kathie Lee looked foolish and you handled her with grace. I haven’t understood all the people who are so up in arms about how she “treated you.” You gracefully refrained from petting her on the head and saying “there, there.” The focus should be on commending you for how you treated her.

    Similar to your point with the Mommy Blog label–it’s the people who don’t get it who are ultimately painting a picture of themselves.

    Certainly, it is frustrating that the mainstream media keeps missing the boat on blogging. I thought the Nightline segment was the best I’ve seen yet (although, it had its weaknesses,too). Thanks for being willing to stick your neck out.

  • HouseofJules

    2008/05/13 at 3:22 pm

    Watching it live, I felt kind of sad for Kathie Lee. I mean, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor afterwards and everything, but I thought at any moment the grim reaper was going to pop up from behind that couch and put her out of her misery. You handled the chaos very well on camera, I was seriously impressed.

  • Angella

    2008/05/13 at 3:22 pm

    Watching that segment was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

    I actually felt a little sorry for Kathie Lee, because she was the absolute worst person to interview you. I am guessing it was not her choice.

    Her interviewing you would be like me interviewing a rocket scientist. It would not be pretty. Or even coherent.

    You, however, came out of that interview with a whole new level of respect and awe from everyone. You handled yourself with grace and flare. Well done.

  • ae

    2008/05/13 at 3:23 pm

    You did an amazing job staying classy under pressure and I heart your accent. That you continue to remain classy when it would be easier to point fingers speaks volumes of your class still.

    Besides… the Nightline segment made up for the Today show segment a million times over. We got singing AND dancing in that one. What more could we want?

  • marysia in tx

    2008/05/13 at 3:23 pm

    For the record, you looked dazzling. I’m sure many people would lick you.

    I feel embarrassed for KL, because she came off not seeming “I’m old fashioned, relate to me middle-aged people,” so much as “I’m disrespecting the interviewee and in general not so bright.”

    I’ve never really had beef with KL, and I don’t mean to seem protective of Dooce, but you’re right. HUH???

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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