Worlds continuing to collide

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.

38 Responses to “Worlds continuing to collide”

  1. 1
    Barbara September 5, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    I visit everyday, even if I don’t comment. No surprise to me that you are drawn to Hollis. Separating what you say from what you shouldn’t – now you get a feel for my life.

  2. 2
    Em September 5, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    Time to move again!

  3. 3
    Leandra September 5, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    Grrr. I’m so jealous! Did you eat a moonpie on my behalf? Even though I don’t really like them?

    I love Hollis’ writing, too. I admire the ability to let it all hang out, writerly speaking.

  4. 4
    getsheila September 5, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    And then there is the part where some days you are proud of what you write because it is funny or thought provoking or cathartic, while other days you put dreck out there and die of embarrassment when you realize people actually read your stuff.

    Oh wait, that’s me. You, on the other hand, are always hilarous and have nothing to be embarrassed about.

    Does Hollis have an RSS feed? I could not find one so I guess I shall have to go to her website MANUALLY, if my poor brain can actually remember to do so after rebooting during the night. Oh bother.

  5. 5
    Tammy September 5, 2008 at 11:38 am #

    I just checked out Hollis’ website and the titles ALONE are enough to make me want to read all three of them. Hmmm… or Barnes & Noble? Lunch break here i come!

  6. 6
    Megan September 5, 2008 at 11:40 am #

    It’s like when I realized that not only my parents and my kids were reading my blog but also the FRIENDS of my kids – WHY?? So now I can’t blog about the salacious and increasingly bizarre things that happen at work AND the things that would offend my Mother more than I already offend her (a wobbly and treacherous line to walk) AND the things my Children do that are potentially blackmail worthy but also now the things that my Children might know but their friends probably shouldn’t. It’s a hard, hard life.

  7. 7
    Grace September 5, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    Lucky you! I love Hollis Gillespie.

  8. 8
    MomCat September 5, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    I’ll have to check out her work – always looking for good books!

    Hmm…I think the whole blackmail idea has promise. (“Five grand in cash, or I blog about this!”)

  9. 9
    el-e-e September 5, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    NOT to the same extent because I am not fam-e-ous, but I am thinking I need to be more censored, too. One little link to my blog last week (for which I was, at first, honored and grateful!) is all it took. IDENTITIES REVEALED, Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnnn.

  10. 10
    Lori September 5, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    Relatives, co-workers, friends of my parents and a whole slew of lurkers from my church all read my blog. So as much as I would like to write about the many, MANY blog-worthy moments that happen among my family or at work…I just can’t. *sigh* I feel your pain. And I completely admire those who just say “screw it” and write it anyway.

  11. 11
    Kristin (aka Krisco) September 5, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    Oh Mir! This is the story of my life. You are lucky you live in a big metropolis and had a time where no one knew.

    I have totally shut down on my blog of late – because of this fear.

    And going to one event and seeing someone from another – it would be weird here if it didn’t happen.

    And finally, I’ve been thinking – there’s something about the nature of the blogs that we think it’s sort of anonymous. Yet if all you ever wrote were real books : ) – I mean not of the ether kind – then wouldn’t we always be aware that someone we know might read them? And circumscribe accordingly? Isn’t this why David Sedaris and apparently Hollis are so brave? Or have no relationships with their immediate families anymore?

    Huh. Love these quandaries.

  12. 12
    elswhere September 5, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    I’ve always wondered how Dave Barry and the late, great Erma Bombeck deal/dealt with this issue. It’s a tough one, even for those of us whose blogs aren’t so widely read. Apparently even David Sedaris has stuff he won’t write about because his siblings take offense.

  13. 13
    Katie in MA September 5, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    You know what you need? (Don’t you love convos that start that way?) You need an anonymous blog for that sorta stuff. Just make sure you tell us where it is.

  14. 14
    Jen September 5, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    You might want to consider a password protected feature for certain posts. I have one and although I rarely use it, it is nice to have. Sometimes I feel the need to write but like you said I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It allows me to give the password to a smaller sect of readers. That way what I think is out there, but not TOO out there.

  15. 15
    Giovanna Diaries September 5, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    I sense a Super Secret Blog is in order!

  16. 16
    Springsteen fan September 5, 2008 at 1:34 pm #

    Mir, you are livin’ my dream of having a blog in the first place. I think the whole self-censorship thing IS a big deal, but you’re right to edit at times–it’s why I don’t have a blog myself (my boss and my mother-in-law would kill me). When I’ve read posts by folks who post and have a blowup, and then they blog about the ramifications, I’m more convinced than ever it’s a life lesson I never want to experience myself.

    Count your lucky stars your life is so chockablock w/interesting stuff that we readers never miss “the ones that got away!”

  17. 17
    Shari September 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    I am new to your blog- but you have been inspiring! Thank you. I am beginning my own dive into the world of “reveal-ation”, and am about to work on posting “Thoughts from a young girl’s diary”…(mine)and first names only, so I hope to not get myself into any trouble. But, seriously, it is too much of a hoot not to share! I guess there is no point in writing if no one is to read it, no?

  18. 18
    LiteralDan September 5, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    Okay now for the blow-worthy post. Forget all those people– just order your groceries online, and don’t ever leave the house!

  19. 19
    Aimee September 5, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    You know I’m dying to hear the committee meeting story, right? I’ll make you a deal — you e-mail me the story, and I will tell you my (NOT even kidding, wish I were) Joey Buttafuoco story.

  20. 20
    Burgh Baby September 5, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    I always think it’s weird that I’m OK with sharing some things with total strangers, but I don’t want friends or family to read it. I’M WEIRD. Shocking, I know.

  21. 21
    Jen September 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm #

    Burgh Baby Says:
    September 5th, 2008 at 3:02 pm
    I always think it’s weird that I’m OK with sharing some things with total strangers, but I don’t want friends or family to read it. I’M WEIRD. Shocking, I know.


    I feel the SAME EXACT way

  22. 22
    Teri September 5, 2008 at 3:19 pm #

    Hah! I know how to cure this problem! Start ANOTHER blog! You could call it “The Secret Life of WouldaCouldaShoulda.”

  23. 23
    Grant Henry September 5, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    Don’t believe a word “the bitch” says about me!

    Thanks for peeking in on all things Hollis Gillespie!
    Ya’ll come down to Atlanta,
    Sister Louisa’s Art Gallery
    in The Church of The Living Room
    and Ping Pong Emporium…
    Come On In, Precious!
    and take Hollis’s writing course.

    Check out her website:
    for the next class!!!

    I’ll be doing my
    during the class!

    Hope to see ya’ll there!

  24. 24
    laurie September 5, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    oh yes. i completely relate. the only one I can safely talk about now is my dog!

  25. 25
    The Other Other Dawn September 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    “issues, or maybe even entire subscriptions” HAHAHA!

    I know. I think I have life-long subscriptions.

    I also feel the fear regarding how much I say. I’m no local celebrity, but it’s a small place, so I still feel somewhat inhibited in what I can write. Pretty much what Burgh Baby said. And yes, it’s weird.

  26. 26
    becky September 5, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    That happened to me at a local watering hole. I was there, talking about the crazy day I’d had at our company trade show. And the guy across the bar, someone I didn’t know, asked me if I was talking about said trade show.

    I almost fell off of my chair with the impact of my worlds colliding. I’d never seen ANYONE from work there. It was my little sanctuary. Since then I’ve come to terms with it as my online and offline worlds continue to overlap.

  27. 27
    Randi September 5, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

    Oh I know the feeling – oh – wait – my life’s an open book…no I don’t. My poor husband, I would (and do) write more about our sex life than anything else, yet I get barely any readers. guess I don’t have a very exciting sex life ;)

  28. 28
    Karen September 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    Mir, I know your pain, or at least your feelings about this. I have been recognized in public because of my blog, three times. Once I was sitting in the lobby of a resort checking my email on my laptop, when a woman walked over and said, “Excuse me, but are you FabGrandma?” I wanted to drop through the floor, mostly because I wondered what I wrote that made her remember me, and secondly because I didn’t think I looked so much like my picture on my blog.

  29. 29
    Flea September 5, 2008 at 8:03 pm #

    I think Kate in MA is on to something. :)

    I don’t know what to say. I’m open and honest on my blog. I also tell many people I meet that I have a blog, including handing out cards with my wee bovines on them. But I don’t reveal anything which would embarrass people I know. Much. And I’m not so open that the blog is cathartic, which leads me to think maybe I need to get an old fashioned notebook and start writing in it again.

    Where’s the balance? Is this forum supposed to be cathartic? I guess it’s different for everyone. But y our dilemma intrigues me. Let me know when you figure it out, will ya? ;)

  30. 30
    Daisy September 5, 2008 at 8:40 pm #

    Trite but true: Truth is stranger than fiction. In my job, we see that each and every day.

  31. 31
    hollis gillespie September 5, 2008 at 10:52 pm #

    I blab the hell out of everything, as long as I make more fun of myself than I do of anyone else it all works out. Clint Eastwood said, “Tell the truth, then it becomes the other guy’s problem.”

  32. 32
    tuney September 5, 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    Um… one of my blogs cost me a job once. I don’t tell people I know where to find my current one. Bless them. They’d really rather NOT know, if they know what’s good for them. :)

  33. 33
    tuney September 5, 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    Know, much? Sheesh.

  34. 34
    Shalet September 6, 2008 at 12:00 am #

    To quote Anne Lamott …”Write as if your parents are dead.” Easier said than done.

  35. 35
    All Adither September 6, 2008 at 12:08 am #

    Oooh, you’d be good at fiction.

    My blog, which is read by exactly hardly anyone, has an odd following of people I’ve never met in real life, my mom and acquaintances. I love it. But before I write a post, I scroll through the list of possible readers and try to make sure it won’t offend anyone too terribly much.

    It’s a burden I tell you. A huge burden.

  36. 36
    Michelle September 6, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    Sometimes I’m pretty certain the most popular blogs are complete bullshit – total fiction written to entertain the readers.

    You gotta make money somehow, eh?

  37. 37
    Tress September 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm #


    Well, what I was GOING to write was that I can’t really relate to your squirminess as I don’t seem to have gotten much past the “friends and family” audience stage yet. I was GOING to say that, in an admiring-but-slightly-annoyed-because-I’m-jealous-of-your-fame way.

    But it seems many of your other commenters have similar paparazzi issues. And now I’m just…well…I just hope my mother at least recognizes me…

  38. 38
    Zee September 6, 2008 at 9:19 pm #

    I struggle with that same issue too. How much is too much, who’s reading that I don’t know about… There is plenty of blog-fodder at work but I learned my lesson early on. My rule of thumb is that I don’t write anything on my blog about someone that I wouldn’t say to them directly.

    It can be disappointing at times not to get to tell that “really great story” but I also don’t dread running into people in the real world for fear they’ve read what I’ve written about them. :)

    (And then I get to use the crazy anecdotes and incidents in my fiction writing. Seems to work out well. :)

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