Pin It Down the street from my house there is a large, wooded gully with a stream running through it. One of the fastest ways to get into Salt Lake City from my neighborhood is to drive down into and out of the gully, so that you can zip over and catch the little highway that leads to the interstate.
The roads in and out of the gully are very steep - steep enough that you can watch even four wheel drive vehicles ice blocking in the winter-time. Last night, I decided it would be a good idea to try to walk down the gully and back up the other side, then back down and up again. (This was a BAD idea. I am so out of shape right now, it's pathetic. When I got to the top of the other side of the gully, I realized I'd overestimated my ability to continue to use my legs, but I still had to walk down the gully and BACK up the other side in order to get home. If I'd had my cell phone I would've called my husband. My legs are KILLING ME today.)
I took the long way down, meandering my way back and forth down the gully through a newly minted, completely unsold development. I liked the solitude because I could sing along with my Ipod while I walked, and bust some really cool dance moves with my arms.
I guess I could sing along with my Ipod while walking through MY neighborhood too - I mean, who cares, really? So I'm singing along and waving my arms a little, big deal. But if I was doing it on my actual street, it would be like doing it just to say, "Hey, look at me! I'm so unselfconscious and silly!" I don't want to be a dork just because people expect it. I want to be a dork because I AM ONE. And that's usually when I remember that nobody's watching me anyway, and I should really just get over myself.
Sometimes that's how I feel about blogging and writing. Sometimes I start to feel like a parody of myself, all capital letters and exclamation points and parentheses and hitting myself over the head with a baseball bat to get laughs. And yes, I can be that way in real life sometimes, but not most of the time.
When people who only know me from the blog meet me in real life, they're always surprised that at first, at least until I relax, I'm sort of reserved and quiet. I'm not shy, exactly, I'm just not sure what to say, so I try to mildly smile and not say anything too objectionable or wrong or offensive. Someone that I met a few weeks ago said something like - "You're kind of quiet - I didn't get that from your blog at all." I felt almost like I was disappointing her, even though I know that wasn't at all what she meant. I just could not live up to the persona I'd created. (And depending upon whether you like me or find me insufferable, I guess that could be a good thing, or a bad thing.)
My family on the other hand, would never think of me as quiet. My brothers and sisters (yes, I know you are reading this, even though you never comment, you traitors), all eight of them, are probably thinking "Quiet and reserved? QUIET AND RESERVED? Try bossy and loud and a showoff and a drama queen." And that's part of who I can be too, sometimes (although I hope I've outgrown the drama queen thing).
The thing about having such an active imaginary life is that you spend a lot of time inside your head, and you make yourself into a lot of different characters, and then you are never quite sure who you really are. Are you who you pretend to be? Are you who the characters in your novel are? Are you who your children think you are? Are you who your brothers and sisters remember? Are you who your church friends see on Sunday? Because I know I automatically behave differently with each group of people, without even giving it conscious thought.
Sometimes I wonder what people who know me in real life think of my blog. They might tell me they like it, but do they think it doesn't jibe with what they know about me? Do they think I'm being fake? My husband knows it's a pretty accurate portrait, because he knows me best - he is the person I am most myself with. But he also knows it isn't ALL of me, not by a longshot - I don't blog much about how snippy I get on four hours of sleep. People I work with would be shocked that I have a sense of humor, because at work I'm very reserved and quiet and almost maternal, trying to nicely play the role of the token mormon mom in the office. (Plus I have one of those naturally frowny faces - I CANNOT HELP IT, it's a curse.)
Sometimes I AM really silly and dorky (ok, I'm USUALLY dorky) and whimsical, but a lot of other times I'm just - trying to make dinner, or cleaning the house, or helping kids practice the piano, or wiped out from staying up late at night after the kids are in bed to meet a deadline. It's hard to be whimsical when you're scrubbing a toilet.
So what I'm kind of wondering is - are YOU who you are on your blog in real life? When your neighbors and friends and family find out you have a blog, are they surprised by how you write? Are you revealing new parts of your personality every time you post, or are you already an open book? I really want to know.