Doree Shafrir is an editor at the New York Observer. If you regularly read this site, you might’ve seen mention of one of her recent pieces, “The Hipster Grifter.” Jessica Grose is Managing Editor for Double X, Slate’s soon-to-be site for women. (For now you can find her on The XX Factor blog.) This my long-winded way of saying that if ever there were two women destined to team up and create virtual lightning in a bottle, it’s them. Which is exactly what happened when they launched PostcardsFromYoMomma.com.
The premise behind the blog was simple: There’s nothing more entertaining than reading emails from moms. Your mom, my mom, a complete stranger’s mom, that part doesn’t really matter. It’s the funny/sweet/crazy/silly/weird/psychotic/etc. things that they have the universal capacity to type that does. Which is how Postcards From Yo Momma became so successful that the women decided to adapt a hundred or so entries into a book — Love, Mom. View a trailer here.
Buy this for your mom for Mother’s Day. It’s cute. And it might be a subtle hint to stop sending you notes in all caps. Just an idea. In the meantime, find our interview with Doree and Jessica below. It was conducted over instant messenger because that’s how the idea for the site was born. Plus we hate transcribing things. Enjoy!
Caroline: It’s funny, when we were tossing around this idea, I didn’t realize it was going to make me feel kind of To Catch a Predator.
doree: HA! I’m 14. And ready to party! OK, sorry. We should get down to business.
Caroline: Which leads me into my first question. How did you two first meet?
jessica: Aw. Well actually, we don’t exactly remember. We get asked this all the time.
doree: I was thinking about this last night. I think we were put in touch by a mutual friend and Jess emailed me to get a drink. We went to Moe’s in Fort Greene.
Caroline: What is your first memory of the other person?
jessica: Well now I remember that meeting! I remember Doree was super nice and I felt at home with her immediately.
doree: Our mutual friend had been like, you are going to love Jessica Grose! And indeed, I did feel that way upon meeting her.
jessica: Aw. Also I remember it was summer and I wore jeans and I was super unfortunately sweaty.
doree: I don’t remember you being sweaty. I was probably sweaty.
Caroline: So, the idea for the site was born in Gchat?
doree: Indeed. We quote from our original Gchat in the intro for Love, Mom. I’m really glad we didn’t go with emailsfromourmoms.com
jessica: I know, me too.
Caroline: How surprised were you when the site went nutty viral?
jessica: Super surprised. We just thought it would be a fun thing for us and our friends.
doree: Yes, exactly. I think we knew our friends would get a kick out of it, but we had no idea it would resonate so widely.
Caroline: Do you have a favorite email in the book?
doree: That is a tough question.
jessica: Very hard. Sophie’s choice!
doree: I don’t think I have just ONE favorite, but a few that I like are the HPV vaccination one on page 45…
Caroline: Wait, you don’t have that memorized, right Doree?
dorees: Ha. No. I have the book here. I don’t want to speak for you, but isn’t one of your favorites the 3 N’s on page 40?
jess: It IS!
doree: I also like “I love you all (equally)” on page 30.
jessica: Nice. I also like the “Get With It” chapter [which is described in the book as “Taxes, cell phone bills, and why mom won’t send the fifth copy of your birth certificate.”] I like the one from lola the car.
doree: Yes, love that one. Oh and Javier Bardem, which is on page 198.
Caroline: Have your moms, Judy and Robby, met?
jessica: Indeed! At our book party!
Caroline: How weird has it been for them? I mean a Web site is one thing a book is another.
doree: Totally. I think my mom thought the site was, like, cute and fun, but she was SO excited about the book.
Caroline: Books are at Barnes & Noble and that’s where parents live.
jessica: Seriously. My Mom loves ordering things on the Internet. Back in the pre-Internet days, we used to get like, 15 catalogs a day, because she loved ordering things from afar! She is all about the Amazon.com
Caroline: How hard was it too organize things?
doree: It wasn’t bad. The messages seemed to fall into naturally occurring categories and then we just divided up the work.
jessica: It actually went incredibly smoothly. I think initially there was the fear that it would be hard to work together, since we had never done a project together before. But it was so easy. Doree is a delight!
Caroline: Did any of the emails submitted by your friends make the cut?
doree: My boyfriend’s mom is in there.
jessica: Yes, there are some from our buddies.
Caroline: Have you noticed this changed your relationship with your moms? Ie., has it made you feel lucky that you were getting their emails
and not certain other ones?
jessica: Well, I was always appreciative of my Mom, but yeah, she gets points for being uncrazy.
doree: My Mom has said to me several times, she was thrilled to discover she’s not the craziest mom out there. Far from, in fact.
jessica: A lot of the depressing ones we don’t post. Like the ones where it’s clear there are… issues.
Caroline: If you had to have a fictional mom who wasn’t yours from TV or movies, who would you pick?
jessica: I am partial to Elyse Keaton from Family Ties. She was such a cool lady.
doree: OMG, I was seriously going to say that too!
jessica: ahahah YAY! She’s adorable!
doree: Haha yes! She’s awesome.
jessica: She carries public radio tote bags!
Caroline: So, do you have plans to do a spin-off? Or another book?
doree: I think we’re going to wait and see how this one does. Right Jess?
jessica: That sounds about right.
Caroline: Was it hard to balance this with your day jobs?
doree: It just took some time management. We didn’t have that long to do the book, so we were working on it almost every night after work
and on weekends.
jessica: I think Doree and I have both been trained to work quickly because of our history as bloggers. We just get ‘er done.
Caroline: Right — the blogging metabolism.
doree: Totally. I always forget about that but it’s so true.
Caroline: Are you guys ever brainstorming new Web site ideas?
doree: No, but we should! Note to self.
doree: I think we’ve just been so focused on this project for the past year.
jessica: Well also, I think we’re not that calculating.
doree: Ha, that too.
jessica: Like we started this project because we enjoyed it and we thought it was fun. And good. Not because we wanted something to come of it.
That sort of alchemy can’t just be reproduced because you will it, y’know?
Caroline: Well if you both wore lab coats…
doree: Hahaha… Yes. Bunsen and Honeydew?
jessica: Wait can I be Honeydew?
doree: SURE! But seriously, at our book party someone asked me for advice about getting a blog to book deal and I was like… erm… I don’t know! Have a good idea? Like jess was saying, we really weren’t thinking like that.
Caroline: Final question. What is your favorite thing about your moms?
jessica: How perceptive she is. My mom can really read people and emotional situations, and I’m constantly astonished by how insightful her takes on things are.
dorees: My mom is funny! I like that about her. She definitely always encouraged me to have a sense of humor about things and to find the hilarity in many situations. Which is a nice way to look at life. She knows when to take things seriously, but my Mom has a generally very optimistic view of things.
Caroline: OK, second final question, because I’m indulging my inner fangirl. How did you wrangle Diablo Cody’s mom?
doree: That was all Jess!
jessica: Oh! Well, I met her at a screening of Juno before it was released and she was a Jezebel reader. So when I wrote about Juno for Jezebel, she emailed me. And then we had a lovely email relationship. She was so, so supportive of this project and really generous.
doree: She really was. Also when her mom sent back the permission form, She wrote on it, “I hope you sell a million copies!”
Caroline: I am almost too jealous to type. That’s like a blessing from the Dalai Lama.
jessica: Pretty much. But she has better tats.
If you live in New York, join Doree and Jessica at the 92Y Tribeca on May 7 for a talk entitled “What to Do When Your Mom Gets Drunk and Posts on Your Facebook Wall.”