Last night I grabbed a friend and headed to one of our local bookstores, because Hollis Gillespie was there doing a signing. I met Hollis last weekend in Decatur, and I suppose that if I’d had my life together I could’ve gone to her session (and gotten my books signed) there at the festival, but that’s not how it worked out, so I decided to go last night.
One of the advantages of going last night was that I was able to bring Chickadee with me, as well. Hollis has a daughter around the same age, and had said it’d be fun to have the girls meet, so off we went. Chickadee and Mae did make scintillating conversation towards the end, standing there pelting one another with pertinent questions, like “What time does YOUR school start? and “What size shoe do YOU wear?” It was totally cute.
If you’ve never read anything by Hollis, you absolutely must—she has that special sort of quality I LOVE LOVE LOVE in a writer, which is that she tells the whole (outrageous) truth, hair and warts and all, with this sort of “I know, it’s ridiculous, you had to be there” kind of tone. She’s hilarious. Her talk hit on various topics, including the birthing movie she had to see in a class while pregnant that made her think the woman looked like a horrible two-headed monster, and later, how when she bought her first house in a bad neighborhood, hefty bags with body parts in them were found on her street.
“You know, the first bag, it had a severed HEAD in it!” she said. “And then it turned out that there were others, like a bag with a leg in it, and another with just an arm, and they didn’t even all go to the same PERSON!”
Chickadee was sitting on my lap, and I put my hands over her ears. She bucked and clawed for me to put them down (she was riveted). Hollis looked at us and threw her hands in the air.
“MIR! You cover her ears for this, but not for the thing about the woman being a two headed monster??” I think I said something about the miracle of life. I’m not sure.
A good time was had by all, is what I’m saying.
But here’s the thing that was really interesting, for me. When we walked in there, seated in the little audience is a woman I know from a committee I serve on. It’s a district-wide thing, so I only ever see her at those meetings—her kids don’t go to my kids’ school, we don’t live in the same area, etc. Yet here she was, at the bookstore. Fine. Great. No problem there, right?
Except that Hollis knew who I was and then my daughter started tugging on my shirt and asking if MY book was at this store, and all of a sudden I could see this woman’s face completely change as she looked at me and said, “Wow, Mir, I had no idea you were a writer!” And I smiled and said that yes, I am, and I made polite small talk and then I sat down and died.
Well, I didn’t die. I mean, I would’ve missed Hollis’ talk if I had.
But this is becoming… increasingly… a THING for me, ’round here. My life used to be completely compartmentalized, and I LIKED it that way, because I’m a freak. I like saying whatever I like here and very rarely having to face people day-to-day who’ve read it. Running into that woman reminded me of our last committee meeting, where something COMPLETELY blog-worthy (wow, I just mistyped that as “blow-worthy,” which is a separate classification altogether) (sorry, Dad) (see, I can say THINGS LIKE THAT) happened but I didn’t write about it because more and more local people are starting to know who I am, and it’s never my intention to hurt or embarrass anyone.
[Someone came to our meeting and made a complete ass of themselves. Which would be fine to write about in excruciating detail if I could be certain of it never getting back to the person in question… but as I’m increasingly just not sure, I skipped it. Which is a pity. This having a conscience thing rather sucks.]
ANYWAY, it was a weird juxtaposition, sitting there near someone who had just found out that I write, listening to someone who lets it ALL hang out, and realizing that I still have issues, or maybe even entire subscriptions, about this whole Writing About My Life thing.
Maybe I should switch to fiction. Or disguises!
Stop looking at me like that.