Internet Explorer users may need to widen their browser windows to span all three columns. Or download Firefox.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website, PlantingDandelions.com

Almost Famous

It's happened enough times now that I can see it coming.

Someone at the park, or in the checkout lane, keeps looking at me, then looking away. They're thinking about saying something. Then thinking they won't. But then they might.

The first few times it happened, I thought maybe there was spinach in my teeth, or I had come unbuttoned somewhere. After all, I am a person who routinely discovers my t-shirt has been inside out all day. It would be nice if someone would intervene before lunchtime.

Finally, they take a step forward. Usually they are blushing. And they always smile.

"I hope you don't think this is weird, but..."

"I feel weird telling you this, but..."

"I have a confession to make..."

Here it comes.

...I've been reading your blog."

Last night, I went to my kids' school picnic, where there were at least half a dozen self-professed daily readers of Notes, and judging by a few stolen glances, I'm guessing several more who are keeping it on the down-low for now.

Unless I had spinach between my teeth or was wearing something backwards.

Most of these are people I have no prior relationship with, other than the fact that our kids go to school together. They are ALL people I've admired in passing for one reason or another: for being organized, pretty, funny, clever or kind. I'm the one who should be saying, "God! I hope you don't think I'm weird!"

Apart from the fact that it's killing my small talk game at public gatherings (they've read it all already on the blog—I've got nothing left), it's thrilling for me when someone delurks in person. I'm always astonished and humbled. Please don't ever feel weird letting me know you're out there. Unless you are on my doorstep, and you are weird.

Patrick teases me that I'm becoming a "local personality." This is not nearly as famous as "local celebrity." I am still not as recognizable as, say, the local late night weather guy or the city paper movie critic. But it's possible I am on track to be invited to judge a county fair pie contest someday. Barring scandal.

It's mostly all wonderful, this overspill from the blog into my offline life. But a little overwhelming at times, too. It's a strange thing to talk to someone who knows so much about me, and to know so little about them. And the Sally Fields part of me that is so gratified and excited to learn someone likes me—they really like me—is the part that worries they might not like the next thing I write.

I'm sure it happens. Someone comes here because a friend sent them something I wrote that they found inspirational; then they are turned off when I use a strong word to express a strong emotion. Or they came here for something I wrote that was funny and irreverent, and don't know what to think when I mention that I'm a church-going Christian. I might go off on a rant or a rave that offends their own, most deeply held values, and they take it personally. Or they just get bored with me.

It's okay, I tell myself. That's part of being a writer. Readers and recognition is what I've worked for. Time to put my big girl underpants on.

If things continue the way they are going behind the scenes here at Notes, the public part of my life is going to get a lot more public in the next few years. So I'm grateful for these opportunities to practice getting pride and fear into manageable proportions.

Of course, not everyone I encounter offline is a fan. While some of my friends are enthusiastic readers, others don't know what to think. One of my very closest and dearest friends has never read this blog, though she is unfailingly supportive of me and my writing. The internet is just not her thing.

Some don't get it. Some don't like it. One or two still think this is just something I do instead of my "real" writing.

Some want to talk about the blog, and it's all others can do to keep their eyes from rolling back into their heads when I say the word. You'd think I'd spit up a half-eaten canape into my cocktail napkin and showed it to them.

"Here, how do you like my BLLLAAAAGHHHH...?"

Sometimes they can't make out the line I draw between public and private, and they worry that something they do or say might fall on the public side. The more public things get, the more I try to err on the side of caution with this. But still, as one friend confided in me recently, it's a bit like travelling with a member of the press.

Those reactions are all understandable. I don't know exactly what it is or where it's all going either. Some days, I wonder what I've gotten myself into, and what it will cost me. Some days, I feel like I'm wearing my whole life inside out.

And then one of you comes over, blushing, smiling, and says,

"I hope you don't think I'm weird but..."

And I smile all the way home, spinach teeth and all. Thank you.

Labels:

22 Comments:

Blogger Patrick said...

I hope your "big girl underpants" aren't big ol' grandma panties.

Just sayin'.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Angella said...

My first time commenting (I found you through a bunch of common Twitter friends).

I sat and nodded throughout this entire post. I live in a small town and have had people I know (and DON'T know) come up and introduce themselves as people who read my blog.

It's a little cool, and a little unnerving.

As another church-going Christian, I struggle with that a bit too. My PASTOR reads my site (as does the entire staff, apparently), and sometimes I worry any ranting posts I do will offend.

Sorry to ramble on - I just fully related to this post.

Cheers :)

1:19 PM  
Blogger Mrs. G. said...

I can understand your mixture of feelings, but I am glad you are flattered. You should be.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Chris Callahan said...

I don’t have a blog but can empathize. Countless times seemingly bright, cordial people approach me and say hello. I always say hi back even though I have no idea who they are but I suspect how they know me. (No, it’s not Americas Most Wanted).

Most are former students and the standard line is “Are you still teaching math?” Classes are so large - usually over a 100 - that I rarely get to know a students’ name. My standard line at the beginning of each semester: “If I know your name, that’s either really good or really bad.” Unfortunate, but true.

If one of my former students is a serving me in a restaurant, I always ask them if they passed before I dig in. Better safe than sorry.

While I don’t have the lofty and envious status of “local personality” I’m working on it. Give me a few more years in the classroom. Of course, by then it will be: “You probably don’t remember but you taught my Mom.” Ouch.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

People in Albany tend to email me about finding my blog then I end up looking like crap while out and about even though I know that there are people around who read it.

Anyway, in July, I hope it's ok when (not if but when) I come up to you and say "I hope you don't think I'm weird, but I LOVE YOU". It'll be real subtle.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Jennifer H said...

Well,maybe...before long, people will recognize you after seeing you wear the red dress on Oprah.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

I found out that the entire staff at my son's daycare reads my blog. This after I'd done posts about how pregnancy messes up your sex life, how I lost my temper and swatted my boy one night, and some of the less savoury aspects of my childhood.

My blog has since taken a turn for the banal - I don't write about serious stuff much anymore.

8:26 AM  
Blogger White Hot Magik said...

I am stopping by via flawed but authentic. Voices carry was an awesome entry.

You bring up some interesting points. I haven't really tried to promote my blog with people I know in real life. I think they can read what I choose to repost on myspace or something. I don't hide it either, every once in a while I mention blogging and get that half eaten canape response as well.

In any case enjoyed your writing.

3:55 PM  
Blogger all over the map said...

I recently found your blog via Cool People I know, I think! Doesn't matter really, I suppose, except that I feel the need to explain how I got here. Weird, I know!
I like your sense of humour and your banner ain't bad either! Seriously, the passport in the banner just resonates with the wanderlust in my soul.
It would be interesting to bump into someone whose blog you read but didn't know them, although recognised them. I think we do feel like we *know* someone in a small way through their blog.
It is a way of putting yourself *out there* which can of course, lead to criticism and eye-rolling.
Enjoyed your honesty in this post.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Shelle said...

First time on your blog and I loved this post...it's so fun that you are "almost famous"...i probably will never run into you...but if I ever do, I most definitely will run up to you with my Sharpie in hand and have you sign my kids shirt...no I kid...but fun blog, I think I'll return as a regular from now on!

Visiting from BLOGHER ADS

1:36 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I always knew you'd be famous some day! And you totally deserve to be. That's why I'm still holding onto that poem. :)
It is weird that I get to keep up with your life on a daily basis(yes, I check your blog almost daily at work), but that I don't ever keep in touch or let you know what's going on in my life.
I can't wait to stop by to see the new house the next time I get down there.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Julie @ Letter9 said...

What a strange experience that would be. It's like the scene in When Harry Met Sally when the Carrie Fisher character quotes a magazine article she reads and it turns out it was written by Harry's best friend who is also at the table. He says, "No one has ever quoted me back to me." I've always wanted someone to do that.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Mocha said...

I have been keeping it on the real down low because I've not been recognized. Either that or people are afraid to approach me because of that amazonish-angry-face thing I've been told I have. Like *I'm* intimidating. Pish posh!

You are on a journey, my friend, and it will be fun to watch as you navigate new waters and become famous. FAMOUS.

As a sidenote, isn't it weird when people who read you (friends) start talking to you about your blog writing as if it's mid-conversation like you've already been talking to them about it? Like their getting their news from your blog and then pick up and talk about it before you shift gears and catch up to what the heck they're talking about?

11:09 AM  
Blogger blackbird said...

How wonderful for you...I'd be thrilled.

12:28 PM  
Blogger LetterB said...

I have never had a stranger come up to me but I do have a growing faction of local readers in my tiny town. I love that anyone reads the thing at all so I am happy about it but totally hear you on the small talk thing. I just have to do more rimshots and zings when I'm talking so people know it's just my shtick.

10:08 PM  
Blogger HRH said...

I loved this. I identify with the loss of small talk. I often wonder if I am repeating a story they may/maynot have read in my blog.

8:19 AM  
Blogger MizMell said...

As a writer, yes, you must realize readers are fickle. I became more aware of what i was writing after my parents bookmarked my blog. Let's just say I try to be very politically correct.
Now I hear the inlaws have it bookmarked!

11:19 AM  
Blogger Pendullum said...

Big Girl underpants...
Now that's a quote!!!!
I am shy by nature... Inwardly shy... And I think I would die a thousand deaths if someone recognized me from my blog...
I think I would pee in my big girl underpants...

12:13 PM  
Blogger K8spade said...

So what you're saying is, I shouldn't forgo posting just because all I did today was take a nap and do the laundry and comfort my daughter when she did a header down the stairs?

Sometimes I just don't post because I can't think of anything funny and witty to say, and my life is just too boring for anyone to care about. You don't have to worry about that -- you're eloquent even with nothing to say, so keep right on saying it ;-)

8:41 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

K8,

PLEASE post about your nap. Slow-ly. It's like porn to the sleep deprived. :-)

8:58 PM  
Blogger PinksandBluesGirls said...

This post is great!! I love it... !
best,
Audrey

3:07 PM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

I love hearing people's stories about being recognized in their town/city.

Perhaps it's because I live in mortal fear of anyone I know, don't know or might know eventually, from where I live, reading my blog.

Wish I was more like you and less like me!

10:02 PM  

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

<< Home