A NOVEL IDEA: TAKING A DEEP BREATH BEFORE I BLOG
Normally, I blog the minute my temper flares. I don't draft, I don't proofread, I just bang out my emotional diatribe and shove it onto the internet. Sometimes I later wish I'd said something differently, or taken a different angle, or avoided blogging on the topic altogether. But I hardly ever learn and continue to blog without mulling things over. I'm glad that being on vacation prevented me from doing that this week.
On Wednesday, I found out that a very good friend from high school, one I hadn't seen or heard from in ten years, was right under my nose. I walked into his office thinking I'd knock his pants off and was a tad puzzled that he didn't seem to be as surprised to see me as he should have been. The first words out of his mouth: "Hey, Sarah! Good to see you! I read your blog, and I'm one of those dirty liberals you hate." Gulp.
We had a pleasant talk about other stuff for a short while, but on the drive home I was fighting back tears. I figured I may as well have shown up to his office naked. Because of this stupid blog, he already knew everything there was to know about me and had pigeonholed me into nutjobland before I even opened my mouth. And what is with this telephone-tag group of my high school friends reading my blog? Here's a tip for incognito bloggers: when someone from your high school gets murdered, don't blog about it. People googling the story will find you. I hadn't talked to this friend in ten years, but he heard from Billy Bob who heard from Betsy Sue that Sarah has a blog. He's been reading it for lord knows how long but has never commented, emailed or left any hint of his presence.
I tried to imagine if other bloggers ever get that naked feeling when they meet someone new. Surely Glenn Reynolds is surrounded by liberal profs who know more about his blog than they do about him as a person. But my husband unhelpfully pointed out that Reynolds is a lawyer and far better equipped than I to handle shock and exposure.
So anyway, on Wednesday I was done as a blogger. I was ready to shut down this site so I could avoid the horrible feeling of being outed, which seems to happen more and more frequently these days. I don't even know if I have any strangers left reading my blog; it's all my uncle, my parents' next door neighbor, my entire high school physics class, and my neighborhood from Germany. And if I hadn't been on vacation and having to go home and prepare for my husband's birthday party, I would've headed straight to the computer and announced that I was shutting down this infernal blog.
Luckily, I actually had to calm myself down and think as I cooked the creamed corn. I reminded myself of all the wonderful things that have come from blogging. That my blog friends were calling and emailing me during my vacation. That people online took up the slack when my husband was deployed, and people like Toni sent me postcards of encouragement while people from my real life were ignoring me. That I wouldn't be heading to Hawaii next month for a blogger's wedding. Would I fly to Hawaii to see anyone else in my life? Doubtful...
And as I went through all the things blogging has brought into my life, I began to feel much better. I decided it doesn't really matter deep down if people from my high school are reading this thing, because I only talk to them once a decade. I talk to my blog buddies every day. Last week, CaliValleyGirl asked, "At what point does someone from one's blogging life, become someone from one's Real Life?" I think I'm making that shift, or at least realizing that my blogging life matters to me a whole lot more than my real life does. I don't even have any friends in my real life anymore.
And as I stirred that creamed corn, I also realized that I was right to start this blog. I had less like-minded friends around me than I even thought. Four years ago, I wrote:
I care about my friends and I don't want to lose all of them. But I wish I had friends that I could talk to about how I feel about the world. I have my husband and my mother, and that is basically it...and my mother lives an ocean away and my husband will be gone for a year. We're new to our post here in Germany so I don't have any strong relationships yet, and despite my efforts, I don't hear from my old friends that often. When my grandmother died, I called my mom's best friend to talk about it, and I realized how pathetic I am that I don't have anyone I can count on anymore. And the few relationships I've been trying to hang on to really disappointed me this past week.
I'm at a crossroads in my life where I am realizing that people don't stay friends forever (remember, I'm only 26) and that it's OK to grow apart and move on. I'd like to maintain a casual friendship with some of these people, but I'd really like to find someone who understands me and shares some common ground. I'm at a point where I more look forward to an email from Tim or Marc than from any friends back home, and that bothers me. It makes me feel lonely, but not lonely enough that I think I should keep pretending to be something I'm not so that someone will stay my friend.
I started this blog because I thought that all my friends were too liberal for me and I wanted an outlet for my true beliefs. It bothered me when all those friends found this blog and learned the shocking truth about Sarah. And in reading this old blog post, I see I haven't come as far in the past four years as I wish I had. I still worry that people won't like the real me, when in fact I should just focus on the fact that I have made friends like Tim and Marc who do like me for who I am today, not for who I was in physics lab a decade ago.
And again, if I had banged this out in typical blogging fashion, I wouldn't have been able to include a postscript: I got an email from this friend I chatted with in my hometown, an email in which he mused that it must be really hard to have a blog where everyone assumes they know everything about you, and that there's nothing I could write that would stop the two of us from being friends. And he signed it from "your pinko commie friend." And in the end, I feel better that he knows the real me than if I'd gone into his shop and chitchatted about inanities for half an hour.
For those of you who missed me while I was on vacation, be thankful you didn't hear from me on Wednesday; I would've quit. It's amazing what a few deep breaths can do.
And for those of you from my physics class, this is the real Sarah. I hope you like it, or at least tolerate it. And that it doesn't detract at all from your memories of the girl who nearly set both her partners on fire during the experiment on angular momentum.
I'm afraid after rereading my post -- dang, and I drafted this one too! -- maybe my friend came off sounding mean or rude, which was not the case. He has been nothing but nice over the past week; this post was about my reaction to feeling exposed, not anything he did or said that bothered me. Please don't think I was mad at him. But if there are others out there from ol' RHS, I'd love to hear from you before I walk into your place of business and feel like a jackass.
Oh, and this is the friend who handed me The Fountainhead. I have him to thank for that, no matter how dirty and pinko he is. And the physics experiment: that falling pendulum making sparks on the paper around the pulley fell a little too fast and made a nice fire instead of a little hole in the paper. And Sarah stood there stuttering while her friend got singed fingers and the teacher barked at her to stop being a moron and put the fire out.
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VERY glad you didn't "hit and run". You would be missed, dear lady!
It's funny, because I've been looking at "real life" vs "Blogging life" and realize they have now become one. My closest friends are bloggers. The causes I support, I found via blogging. My main communication on a daily basis....blogging.
It doesn't make sense to everyone, but then again, it doesn't have to. If it works for us, then that's all that matters.....
Posted by: Tammi at August 13, 2007 03:39 AM (F/bmV)
I admire people who have the courage to say something (of actual substance) on a blog. I enjoy writing but hold back for all of reasons you've laid out in this post. I was never ultra opinionated in high school or college, or I should say that I was never passionate about the issues back then, and I'm always afraid of stepping on someone's toes. It's so easy to be misunderstood in writing--to have your words be misconstrued--and that frightens me.
Posted by: Nicole at August 13, 2007 04:13 AM (S/s4V)
I'm certainly glad you didn't quit.
Was the guy actually pissed, or was he just making sure you knew where he stood, politically-speaking? The 'good to see you' part sounds like he couldn't have been too furious.
I've been reading your blog for a while, and can't remember you ever using a phrase like "dirty liberals." Indeed, you don't use much invective by blogosphere or MSM standards, let alone by talk-radio standards.
Posted by: david foster at August 13, 2007 04:29 AM (gguM0)
Well I am sure glad you didn't quit. In fact after we met last week, I went home and confessed my blog to a friend whose response was that's cool to talk about your feelings. That surprised me a bit. It felt like having someone go through my underwear drawer; I felt like I had completely exposed myself. But now I don't have to worry about that person finding me out.
Posted by: Butterfly Wife at August 13, 2007 05:13 AM (+2qii)
I'm glad you didn't quit too! Though I know what you mean, I have more friends from blogging that I do in real time. Though many many have crossed over. I found that what happened is that my values changed over time, my blogging friends reflect that change. But I agree that I would feel awful if my blog got outed to some of the people I grew up with and have been friends with for years. I'm not liberal anymore, but I used to be.
We change as we age, who your friends are now are a reflection of who you are right now, in this moment.
Keep writing, there are plenty of us who would miss you.
Posted by: mare at August 13, 2007 06:12 AM (i4Nd4)
I'm glad you waited a bit. Anger often leads us to act immediately - which is not always the best way to do things (I know - I've done it *grin*). A few days can lend perspective - as you've found.
The thing about "blog friends" is that we have a good idea of the personality of those whose blog we read. Generally if you like a person's blog - if it resonates - you will like the person behind the writing. In conventional meetings - things are much less straightforward. Often it takes ages to figure out if you like someone.
BTW - your "friend" from high school was very rude. Sorry - but he was. The whole - "I'll shock her that I know about her blog"... it smacks of high school oneupsmanship - especially in the manner he presented it. You would think people would outgrow that crap - but they never seem to (at least when dealing with people they knew back in high school). Sorry you had to get smacked in the face with it.
In any case - enjoy your friends, ignore the boorish, and continue to blog. We'd miss you if you were gone!
Posted by: Teresa at August 13, 2007 06:40 AM (gsbs5)
I agree with what everyone has said. I am also glad yu did not quit blogging. I don't write to much about my beliefs. I just enjoy reading what everyone else has to say and yall do it way better than I ever could. I am just beginning to make friends in the blogging world but some feel alot closer than the real life friends I have. Thanks for letting us see the real you.
Posted by: Reasa at August 13, 2007 06:42 AM (JfF5d)
Hello - long time reader, first time poster.
I think its safe to assume that I am the friend that Sarah is posting about. Just to clairfy, my intent certainly was not to shock or one-up Sarah at all. I'd like to think that we were very good friends in high school, and I understand from reading this blog that Sarah has some apprehension about crossing the line between blog life and reality.
I could have not mentioned the blog, and that would have been rude. Frankly, I consider myself liberal, and I treasure this blog for the ability that it has given me to stay somehow in touch with a dear old friend. To not mention the blog would have felt wrong to me. Also, I wanted to let Sarah know that, while we may not share the same opinions on "issues" and other whatnot, we're still tight where it counts.
While it may seem "boorish" to some of you, my intent was only to break the ice and try to alleviate any fear that Sarah may have had about my feelings about her. She's a dear friend now, as she ever was.
So, blog on. And rest assured, that I would have missed this blog too, filthy liberal bashing and all.
Posted by: Sarah's pinko commie friend at August 13, 2007 07:00 AM (E3cB2)
I'm also glad to hear that you're going to continue on. What that classmate did could have been taken in two ways. I've known some people who have read my blog but never mentioned it to me. When I eventually found out, I felt like they had been playing a joke on me. So I guess I prefer it when people let me know whether they know about my blog up front. Perhaps he meant to be upfront but was just very clumsy about it. I don't know...but I'm glad you're staying.
Have a great time in Honolulu! I hope you find the time to hike Diamondhead Crater and visit Pearl Harbor. Since you're military, take a look at the Pearl Harbor BX/Commissary complex (just rebuilt and very impressive). You can also drive on to Ford Island and on to Hickam AFB. Both still have buildings showing damage from the Dec 7 attack.
Posted by: R1 at August 13, 2007 07:15 AM (9JS9f)
Both friends and enemies would probably like to know more about that angular momentum experiment. Was anyone taking pictures?
Posted by: david foster at August 13, 2007 07:20 AM (gguM0)
Uh, I guess I don't grok. In a rage? Fighting back tears? Feeling naked? This is a public blog, right? I mean, you know people read what you write, otherwise you'd have it password protected, or write in a diary and pass it around only for really best friends to see and appreciate. Are you sure you're not pregnant? You sound pretty hormonal to me!
And I so grok on your friend. I outed you the first time, didn't I? Because I didn't know the public internet blog was supposed to be a secret! So - you have two 'insensitive' friends who actually said out loud they read your blog, one liberal, one conservative.
Posted by: Oda Mae at August 13, 2007 08:33 AM (k23td)
When blogging and real life change places...
But when you are really into blogging, it IS your real life. No one thinks twice when the majority of their friends come from church or work. The blogs are how we discover our friend group in the same way.
I didn't even tell my family about my original blog - as the lone non-flaming liberal I would be eviscerated routinely at Thanksgiving if they read my stuff.
Posted by: airforcewife at August 13, 2007 08:47 AM (emgKQ)
Glad you didn't call it quits... I'm one of those strangers, or at least, you haven't met me yet
Posted by: Green at August 13, 2007 11:11 AM (VqW06)
Okay Todd - perhaps then... let's say, it could have been phrased better. Or you could've dropped an email when you found her blog. Something like that.
You know the manner in which you say things is definitely something that must be considered. How about looking at it in these terms:
You were both at school together: Say Sarah was doing track and field. Everyday she goes out to the track and runs... everyday you stand in the building where she can't see you and watch her out the window. Then on the day of a race, you walk up to her and tell her - I've been watching you run, can't wait to see the race.
Now, the track is definitely public and there's nothing that says you can't watch. But then she starts to feel like - well, what have you been seeing and why didn't you say something? That kind of thing.
Do you see the difference? If you'd been sitting in the stands and she knew you were watching - it's a different matter.
As for me - I figure if someone I know wants to read my stuff and not tell me - well no problem. Other people find it disturbing. I just think it's good manners to let someone know you're there... but that's just me and I'm kinda old.
Posted by: Teresa at August 13, 2007 03:28 PM (gsbs5)
I think all have the caught naked feeling at least once while blogging...
I have at least 3 times.
I am guessing there will be at least 3 or 4 more...
Posted by: armywifetoddlermom at August 13, 2007 05:05 PM (W7QkX)
This post is why we like you. I haven't met you and you are the age of my older grandchildren but I get it. You tell us in your writings who you are, how you feel and I guess that I,like your other regular readers, feel a friendship. I could pass you on the street and we wouldn't recognize each other, but if I read your writing I would recognize you, the internal you.
And I really respect your friend Todd for his comments. He did good!
Posted by: Ruth H at August 13, 2007 05:54 PM (LFV0a)
My apologies to you and Todd for misunderstanding. Just like me to stick my foot in it. Figures.
Posted by: Teresa at August 13, 2007 06:24 PM (gsbs5)
I'm also glad you didn't quit.
To avoid this problem, I talk about the news only and disclose very little information about my life on my blog.
But when you compare yourself to the thousands of women who daily publish inimate details of their sex lives on their blogs, I think you are pretty restrained in comparison.
In any case, I wouldn't sweat it too much. It's unlikely someone finding your blog for the first time is going to have the time or patience to read it all and comb all your personal information from it.
Posted by: John Rohan at August 13, 2007 11:26 PM (BfPzY)
I haven't been able to get to your website in 2 days...I am such a slacker, but now I get to soak up in all the grokky goodness...yaaaayy! Anyhoo...I can emphathize, because it's not fair when you think: hey haven't seen you in 10 years...what's up, and someone says: yeah, I have been reading your online diary, so I know what's going on...nothing wrong on their part, it's just that you suddenly aren't on a level playing field...on another note: Todd's quote makes me laugh, because pinko commie is what I used to call myself when I first met my fiance, because he was soooo much more conservative than me...and still is...but heck, we are getting married...and you are coming to Hawaii to come witness it. So, can't be all that bad.
Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at August 14, 2007 10:11 PM (63ayv)
You're right, even I stopped reading your blog. But I rediscovered it now and there's a full report at warcheerleaders. Sad.
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My wife was finally able to kick the habit before she got pregnant with our now first born beautiful baby gilr, so I tought I'll share the resource that she has used to help her quit the smoking habit with as many people as I can.
She was a heavy smoker for about ten years and just a couple of weeks after finding out about the program that I have researched online, she was able to quit smoking permanently and now can't stop telling people about how she had kicked the habit for good.
Anyway if somebody want to check it out the site is; http://endthehabitnow.com
Posted by: exsmoker at August 28, 2007 05:11 PM (UHYQ0)
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