Covert. On the D.L. Undercover. However you want to put it. The simple fact is I lead a double life. Regular Me and 43rd Year Me. I blog. I’m a secret blogger. I cavort around the blogosphere. And for the most part, I’ve been cavorting in relative obscurity. I’ve been in the bloget. My blog is not meant to save the planet or change lives. It’s meant, really, to keep me from tearing my hair out. And it’s fun. Even though the premise of the blog is to be brave - to go forth into the world of writing that has been so terrifying for so many years - it turns out I’m still a chickenshit because only about ten people know about the blog.
Why write on the sly? Well, what if I discover I’m not a good writer? What if my colleagues discover I write rather than network in my free time, or worse, that I HAVE free time? And I’ve enjoyed my obscurity. Obscurity is freedom - sometimes to say outrageous things, sometimes stupid things. Sig Other knows about the blog, of course. And the children and my best girlfriends. And that was about it. Until Miss Whistle started spreading the word.
A few days ago, Miss Whistle very sweetly tweeted about a post she liked. And thinking myself very clever, I tweeted back to say thanks. I should explain that I am digitally challenged. The world of internet interface is remarkably confusing and while I am not a total Luddite, still I suffer from a sort of hand-eye-computer lack of coordination that is stunning to some (Sig Other chief among my critics). So the “thanks” I thought was a “direct reply” was actually a “retweet” that hooked directly into my Facebook account – my Facebook account that is accessible to my mother who was unaware that I blog. My pride and excitement about Miss Whistle’s tweet momentarily stripped away any shred of terror or discretion. And that moment was all it took.
I realized my mistake relatively quickly and raced to my Facebook account to amend my homepage and remove the link to my blog, hoping I’d rectified what was sure to be a disastrous discovery. I made it all ok in my head until I went home that night and confessed my fear to Sig Other. “Hm,” he said. “You know, Philip Roth’s family disowned him after they read Portnoy’s Complaint.” Not exactly comforting. Miss Whistle tried to reassure me by telling me that when she starting writing she was given the following piece of advice, “write as though everyone you know is dead.” But of course, everyone I know is NOT dead (thank goodness) and that’s easy advice to follow when you’re tapping away alone in a room, but awfully terrifying once you realize that not only are you read by people you have never and will never meet, but also by those nearest and dearest. Still though, there was no call from Mom and I slept easy assuming I’d erased my Facebook error.
Until the following - an email sent from my sister with a single phrase in the subject line: “you are screwed.” Three little words that sent a shiver up my spine. No further explanation was required. I knew that my technical error had been irreparable, that Mom had discovered my blog and that the Silence from the North would be broken in a matter of time – only I had no idea what to expect.
A day passed, I’d left a message the morning before the discovery and was surprised that she hadn’t called back. Usually I get a return call quickly. So I knew she was thinking about what to say – thinking about whether to be hurt or angry or entertained. I fretted and stewed and wondered what I would say when she finally did call. It was the next morning, and we both danced around and talked about my health and her upcoming travels and things of no importance until she said, “I read your blog.” I didn't know what to say. I feared what would come next until she said the thing that every child would want to hear from a parent, “you’re a very good writer.” We talked a little while about perception and poetic license, about memories versus fact and things I’d gotten wrong (my father loved the Sierras not the Rockies, but let’s be honest, the Rockies just SOUND more romantic). And that was it. All my fear, all the machinations I’d gone through to avoid discovery and the truth is, it was no big deal. The truth is, she got that a blog is just a blog and that my arranging words on a page doesn’t change our relationship or the world or anything else. Thank you, Mom, for understanding or at least for pretending to understand.
So now, I'm out of the bloget. My mother knows. My sister knows. And some nice friends of Miss Whistle from Twitter. Welcome to the 43rd Year. I hope you enjoy...