Contrary to what you might think about a woman who writes about her entire life on the internet, I’m a fairly private person.
I know that seems a complete contradiction of terms and some of you are thinking that I’ve finally started drinking during the day, but REALLY, it’s true. There’s a reason I blog about the stuff I do from the relative anonymity provided behind the computer screen, and believe it or not, there’s plenty of stuff I don’t write about at all.
Yes, yes, I know. My uterus and subsequent lack thereof, talking to the kids about sex, tormenting my husband into marrying me, and the time I went to a job interview with my pants falling down all seem like things which I maybe should’ve kept to myself, but BESIDES THOSE THINGS, there are things I don’t address.
I have been blessed with relatively few trolls on this site, and I choose to believe it’s because I’m sweet and charming and everyone loves me. HAHAHAHAHA! No, actually, I think I’ve just been really lucky. Plus, the majority of my readers are extra awesome. The occasional troll I generally deal with by completely ignoring them, because I consider it poor karma to engage in a pissing contest with someone whose entire strategy in life is to be angry about things that have nothing to do with them.
Anyway, a little while ago I got a particularly nasty missive added to this post, a post which was, incidentally, one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written. I promptly deleted the comment and then I did something I rarely do—I emailed the person back.
It was stupid, I guess, because blind hatred isn’t generally open to education. But I found myself responding as calmly as I could, pointing out that this website is hardly a complete story with every detail intact; things are left out—either on purpose or by accident—and it is, at best, measured snapshots. Hardly the basis on which to make a sweeping judgment of a situation, I’d think… and the particular judgment which had been made was, I thought, rather ridiculous even given the limited information available.
My troll never responded, which was no surprise. Given that I already broke my rule about not engaging in that sort of thing, it’s not as though I want to turn it into a prolonged communication, anyway. An apology would’ve been nice, I suppose, but when someone feels justified in leaving a sweeping indictment of another person in a public forum based upon a fraction of the available information, I guess it’s a good bet that they’re not the apologizing sort, anyway. And GUESS WHAT! Now I’m breaking a second rule of mine about this sort of thing by even addressing it, but I do have a point in here that I’m getting to, I swear.
I lived here in Georgia a good six months before anyone local ever knew about this site. Now some of my friends read it and truthfully, I sort of love that. I can see where several of my friendships have deepened as a direct result. But when one of my friends asked me “Why didn’t you just TELL me about it?” I struggled to answer, because I don’t KNOW the answer. It’s not that I don’t want my friends reading it, it’s that it seems like the ultimate hubris to be all, “Oh, and by the way, I sort of write about my life? On the internet? And thousands of people I’ve never met think I named my children after animals?” There’s no good casual way to bring it up in conversation without feeling like an ass.
I don’t just trot it out to people for the same reason that I don’t open a conversation with “Hi, I’ve been divorced for over five years and it’s still astounding to me how much trauma shrapnel from that event is littered around the landscape of my life.” It’s part of me, and it matters—deeply—but it’s too private to just hold up as an introductory social parry. I can’t do it.
Part of the reason I can share the things here that I do, I think, is because (as a general rule) you lovely folks understand what matters to me and you get it. You REALLY Get It. That’s a wonderful connection to make.
But in the day-to-day, well, I’m perfectly happy being anonymous, having that deeper connection with a chosen few, and letting everyone else think… well… whatever they think. When I meet readers who enjoy me it’s very gratifying and lovely, but also a totally different experience than what I consider Normal Life—going for groceries and maybe waving at a person or two I know but not ever wondering if those people remember the time I had an allergic reaction to a wasp sting and had to go on steroids and then didn’t sleep for several days and basically became a raving lunatic.
Some people crave fame. I am not one of them. Even the spoils of semi-known-ness, such as people feeling justified in telling me how very wrong and evil I am, are sometimes right on the outskirts of my tolerance.
And you know, when I agreed to be taped for the Today Show, I talked it over with my husband and several other trusted folks, and decided it was a good idea for various reasons, even though the very thought of it sort of scared the crap out of me. In the end it was a fun experience and I thought, “Hey! That wasn’t too bad!” and I mentally patted myself on the back for putting on my big girl panties and dealing, and then time passed and it began to seem like maybe they would never air the segment, and I found myself thinking: OH THANK GOD.
That, of course, was the producer’s cue to email us and let us know that it’s airing tomorrow morning. (UPDATE: The word is now that the segment will air in the 10:00 hour, around 10:10.)
And suddenly my ridiculous fretting over what to wear and how my hair looked is replaced with the inescapable realization that I am going to appear on national television tomorrow and ANYONE could watch it. People I don’t know! People I DO know! People who might recognize me when I’m picking out bananas at the supermarket in my sweatpants! People from the PTA! People I lost touch with accidentally on purpose who will now know where to find me! And it will be all EDITED which means I may be appearing to say something TOTALLY STUPID in a different context than the one in which I was ORIGINALLY being TOTALLY STUPID!
If you think I’m being melodramatic, let me assure you: I AM ABSOLUTELY BEING MELODRAMATIC, and also, didn’t all of this occur to me BEFORE the taping? Well, yes, as a matter of fact it did, sort of, but to a lesser extent. Because BEFORE the taping it was still possible to believe that the entire thing would end up on the cutting room floor and without even realizing it, I clung to that possibility to make it possible to participate without freaking out the entire time.
I thought I was coming out when I gave my parents directions to my website. And then I thought I was coming out when I started writing elsewhere and attaching my name and directing people back here to this site. But tomorrow morning I am REALLY coming out—whether I want to or not—to, well, everyone. I suppose I should just apologize, now. (You know, to whomever. Sorry!)
It’s okay with me if YOU watch it, because you’re one of my favorites. But if you could, I dunno, use your body as a shield to prevent, say, my kids’ orthodontist or anyone else I encounter in real life who doesn’t already read me from seeing it? You would be my FAVORITE favorite.
If I’m lucky, maybe Tom Cruise will do something wacky and the segment will get bumped.