The email I’ve been waiting for didn’t come again. Darn. This is getting to be a big disappointment. I have checked both my email accounts every 10 minutes for the last two years and in all those thousands of times it hasn’t come.

You might ask what the heck am I waiting for.

I asked myself that after the first year.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know what it is. But I know what it isn’t.

It’s not a Groupon for an eyebrow threading and additional facial area special, though throwing in that additional facial area is pretty doggone tempting.

It’s not a plea for me to sign a petition, although that can make a difference in the world.

It’s not a deserving charity begging me for funds now that it’s been decimated by budget cuts.

But I know I’ll know it when I see it.

It’ll be an opportunity that is going to CHANGE MY LIFE!

Nah, not the person I never heard of who’s requesting to Friend me on Facebook.

Not the millions of dollars registered in my name in Nigeria.

And I know it won’t be the publisher accepting my manuscript, because an editor once told me, We only email bad news. Good news, we pick up the phone. We want to hear your excitement. We want someone to be happy to hear from us.

The email I’m waiting for is something SO INCREDIBLY SPECIAL I can’t afford to wait more than a few minutes to see if it’s arrived.

What if I missed it?

Or came upon it too late?

I’d just die.

It’s not that I’m addicted to checking my email. Everyone I know is the same way so it can’t be a problem. It’s not as if we all have a carefully conditioned Pavlovian reflex that starts us fidgeting and salivating and wondering every few minutes if we’re going to get our reward. When I say every few minutes, that’s give or take after all. Of course there are some addicts like the guy in the row in front of me at the movie theater who’s checking email on his blackberry. But personally, I don’t worry a speck about my ability to concentrate or that my brain is actually changing its configurations by constant shots of dopamine and subsequent plunges.

Ping! That could be it! Hold on just a second, I’ll be right back.

Shoot. It’s not the colonic special for $15.00.

Have I made a terrible mistake? Could it possibly come on Twitter?

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GABRIELLE BURTON is the author of the novels Impatient with Desire: the Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner, and Heartbreak Hotel. Also the memoir, Searching for Tamsen Donner, and the nonfiction book on the Women's Movement, I'm Running Away From Home But I'm Not Allowed To Cross The Street. It took a while but she did get across the street. More info than you could ever want to know is at www.gabrielleburton.com.

6 responses to “The Email That Will Change Your Life”

  1. Art Edwards says:

    So true, Gabrielle. I had to ditch the Blackberry for this reason. There are enough places on this planet to check one’s email. I don’t need one in my pocket.

    Still, I feel like, after constant email checking for close to a decade, I’ve lost a total of about seven minutes.


    • gabrielle says:

      For me it seems closer to 7 years, Art. It’s the getting back to whatever I was doing after the interruption.

  2. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    Yes, I do this all the time. That life-changing message really is just on the other side of the refresh button, isn’t it? It’s amazing the delusions of grandeur we can conjure out of a potential email. You describe it well this strange, contemporary longing. Thanks for posting.

  3. angela says:

    haha, this is great, gabrielle. i *totally* do this.

    in fact, it’s been about 10 minutes since i last checked my email. who knows what could be waiting in there for me!

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