And then I realized...It Was My Own Daughter...

For a period when I was a teenager, my mother devised an ingenius method for "making me take a sharp look at myself." When overt bullying persuasion did not appear to work (for instance, when I emerged from the hairdresser's with a bright orange flat-top--circa 1985--making me walk ten paces behind her down the high street "so people did not associate the two of us...") she switched to a devious tactic. I was instead treated to long and intriguing stories of how she had "seen a young girl, about your age, and...."

These stories went a bit like this:

"I went down to the bus station after school today to see if I could find you and give you a lift home. There was a young girl there, about your age, and I remember feeling just so terribly sorry for her mother when I heard the torrent of obscenities that came streaming out of her mouth. She had the lanugage of a guttersnipe. And then she turned around, and I realized It Was My Own Daughter...."

Or, alternatively...

"I was driving home after school today, and I saw a young girl, about your age, walking up the hill, and I remember feeling so terribly sorry for her and her mother because this girl was so clearly disabled in some tragic way. She dragged her feet, her cardigan was sloppily hanging off her shoulders, the sleeves slouched over her fingers, her bag was trailing around her ankles, and her head was lolling to one side. I don't know how she could see with that fringe completely covering her eyes. And then, as I passed her, I realized It Was My Own Daughter..."

Clearly I was channeling Robert Smith or Morrisey in the latter scenario, but this miracle was utterly lost on my mother, who only saw a sloppy and foul-mouthed little urchin emerging into puberty. Although it was immediately obvious that these "stories" were fabricated for shock-purposes only (in both cases, I think I would have noticed my mother stalking me so closely) she won in the end. By the time I hit sixteen I had shifted from the carefully cultivated grubbiness of an altnera-chick to a new-wave "casual." I sported the permed-do and frosted lipstick to prove it. When I started wearing cameo broaches, 10 chains of plastic pearls, and silk floppy shirts over leggings, she audibly heaved a massive sigh of relief and then set her sights on my brother.

And there, in a nutshell, is one reason why I have not given my parents the link to this blog. My mum and I have a great relationship now, in spite of (or because of?) being several time zones and an ocean away. Despite her remonstrations of "blasphemy" when I uttered the word "shit" at fourteen (it turned out it was unwise for me to then explain that, technically, "shit" was not a blasphemous term) she now uses the term liberally when we chat about certain things. The other day when I chatted to her on the phone, she used the term "minging" at least 5-6 times (to refer to my brother's hallway carpet) which I actually found quite disconcerting--no, I was shocked that she would use such a base word so freely.

So in some ways it would be safe to pass on the link. I made it a policy to myself when I started this thing that I would never write a word that could potentially hurt or offend anyone in my life (although I think there's an early post in here somewhere where I recount my mother's sadistic "acne treatment" methods from around the same period--maybe she would see the funny side....).

For me, this is a public and completely open space where anyone has the right to access what I have written--but that's due to the nature of how and why I write. Different contexts for writing will change this for people--and I respect that. I am, of course, protected by my anonymity--although a lot of friends of mine log on and read to see what's going on with me. I have toyed with passing on the link to Mum and Dad--and I think for the most part they'd get a kick out of it. Even the swear words might not really phase them too much (case in point, the BBC, since my departure, has now Ok-ed the "f" word for usage after 9pm. So if the Beeb is saying "what's the big deal....?" then...)

But when I brought up the idea to my husband the other day, he simply said "don't...it will affect your writing, knowing they are out there..." And I realized he was completely right--it would affect me. Even stump me. So for now, gingajoy is just between us.

So how about you? Has there ever been a time when the discovery that a certain person was reading your blog gave you pause for thought. Is there anyone you protect your blog from? I should add, I also protect mine from work colleagues--but this was mainly because when I started, I was not sure if I would end up writing about the workplace. What I have discovered as I went on with this is that if I am posting on something that one day I could regret or come back to bite me--best to not write. A friend of mine recently commented on how "honest" my writing was--and I responded, "well yes and no...There's a lot I don't write about too." I suppose this is another way of saying that my writing is filtered--I work to be honest and open, but at the same time it is carefully directed. I am not writing a personal journal documenting all my thoughts, fears, hopes and frustrations--though there are many people out there who are doing just this who I find fascinating and enjoyable to read.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts about how your writing is affected by a sense of who is "out there" (if at all). Did you, like me, find that once you had a better sense of that audience or other bloggers that resonated with you that your writing style changed?

Or let me put this another way--do you let your Mum read your swear words online??


Anonymous said...

i suspect your mum would be as charmed by your writing as i am (along with all other readers who now frequent your site)!

i actually drop the f-bomb on my mother on a regular basis... which is a long way from where we both were when i was growing up. (my mom was incredibly strict in every sense of the word). but, after my sister got her doctorate, and later wrote that book about penises and vaginas, it seems nothing is taboo to Mom.

"so people use their mouths to do what??"

"some women wax where??"

"multiple orgasms???"

i think you can see what i'm getting at. you're a doctor. anything you say will now be regarded as fucking genius to your mother. and, i might add, rightfully so, because you, my dear, are a fucking genius!!

that said, i might let my mom read my blog, but my older crazy bitch sister? not on your life! of course, my sons have informed me that, under no uncertain terms am i to write about them. but since i'm the mother here, i say "fuck that". xoxox

(by the way, Joy, your comment on that guest post i did last week was BEYOND kind... thank you SO very much!)

sarah doow said...

My parents read my blog, which I both like and find a little inhibiting. They don't care about my language or anything like that, but there have been a few times when, in the interest of sharing or just lightening a load, I would have liked to mention that I was tired or feeling a bit lost in the world.

However, I kept it to myself because I knew I didn't want to get into it with Mum and Dad; it was a conversation for friends. If I'd been up late at the computer, they most likely wouldn't be able to resist a "go to bed, you said you were tired" kind of remark. Sometimes I just want to throw thoughts out without that, but I guess it's not a big deal.

I've just eaten my last Rolo. I'd have given it to you, but you weren't here.

OhTheJoys said...

My mom and my delicate southern flower of a granny read my blog (and the f-word), but I strictly don't share the site links with any of my work colleagues. The last thing I need is my silly posting to impact my work.

On a completely OTHER note... you must now post a photo of you with the "new wave casual" look - and make sure it has PLENTY of frosted lipstick. If you do it, I've got a permed mullet I'll share...

OhTheJoys said...

p.s. "permed mullte" - SHUDDER.

SUEB0B said...

My life is a crazy patchwork people who either get to read my blog or not.

Mom - nope, because of the swearing and I don't want to wear myself out explaining all the cultural references and things like why I talk about poop and shaved crotches so much.

Only one sister gets to read my blog. I have 3 other sibs. Much for the same reason that Mom doesn't get to. I would constantly have to censor myself.

Work people - no way. My private life and my work life need to be kept apart, though I have one co-worker who pretty much hears everything anyway. I have a suspicion that one snoopy co-worker probably has looked for or found my blog, but I don't really give a flip for him anyway.

Mr. Stapler found the blog on his own. He never asked about it so I was too stubborn to spill it. But one day he let it drop in casual conversation that he had read it. Now I probably write about him less.

Most of my readers are either strangers, a few friends, or people I have only met at BlogHer.

Anonymous said...

Okay. So my SIL reads my blog (my bro's wife) - and while she's a little bit crazy, she has been the closest thing to a relative (better than my bro) that I have - other than my mom, SO, it's fine with me - she apparently has a great sense of humor - which I never knew.

I've showed my mom certain essays, but that's about it.

No one else knows.

And let's pray the in-laws don't discover GOOGLE :)

Her Bad Mother said...

My parents read my blog, and love it. There's nothing that I write that I wouldn't share them, anyway (including the cursing.) In-laws, that's another matter. And certain friends. And that, my dear, was why I started the Basement.

josetteplank.com said...

My mom doesn't read my blog, but only because she is computer challenged. My MIL does read my blog. So does my sister and some of my relatives. I personally try not to poke fun at anyone who is not me, anyway (although, mercy, my extended family does offer much in the way of comedic fodder) and once I got over the taboo of talking about my bowel movements, the dam just burst.

I'm 40 years old. Or, I will be in a few weeks.

I think I'm having a mid-life crisis in the way of "love me or lump it" and just letting whatever hang out.

Sometimes I feel pressured to write just because, well, I actually seem to have readers at all. :-)

Cristina said...

I have only shared my blog with two friends and my husband (who doesn't read it anyway.) I don't want my parents, co-workers or other friends to even know I have a blog. It's not that I write anything terribly offensive or secretive, but I really don't think I'd be able to write as honestly knowing they were reading. I'm just self-conscious about it. I wrote about my feelings on this topic once on my blog

However, I do have another blog where I post some of the entries on my blog that I think my parents would appreciate (removing all curse words of course). I think this is a good compromise because they still get to read my writings about my son (which they like) but I still get my own personal space where I can talk about anything and not worry about being questioned about it later.

themikestand said...

My mother (and my wife's parents) know where to find it -- that is, if they remember how to use the "internet". In the case my own mother, she could get news faster from my blog than from our semi-weekly telephone conversations, if she wanted to. But I know she doesn't.

It's almost relieving to tell someone about your blog, regret the decision to share, and then find out they never read it anyway.

Sandra said...

My friends and husband all read my blog. Even my 5 year old on occasion and 2 ex boy friends!

But no inlaws. Not my parents or my brother and no one from my workplace. It would definately change what I write and how I write and I'd feel far less free to express myself.

Your mom cracks me up.

Mom101 said...

SUCH a fantastic topic. You stole a blog post right from under me, you devil. I've been thinking about this so much.

I think it comes down to how you perceive your blog. Unless it is a diary, you will always think about who reads and what their impression will be. Everyone has an audience in mind that they write for, even if it's the fantasy audience of your 8th grade English teacher or the mean girl from 8th grade (whose sister ends up reading my...er, your blog completely coincidentally).

For me, I look at it less as a venting tool or a diary, but as a memoir. I don't want to hurt anyone, I don't want to air my dirty laundry, I don't want it to be my therapy. Of course there are times I wish I could write about certain topics that are off limits because of family or (eek) inlaws who read. But for me I see the positive side of that: it's good practice keeping boundaries. I'm not so good at the boundaries.

And yeah, I write fuck. And yeah, my grandmother reads. But in the end, those aren't really things that would hurt her.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your husband said "don't." Wise man. I think people blog for different reasons and because of that some tell lots of people and others want to remain anonymous. I think you have to do whatever fits for your situation.

My blog is meant to be educational so unfortunately for me, I have to avoid cursing. Pity, I worked in a prison for five years so have cultivated quite a repetoire.

By the way, your mom sounds a LOT like mine...does she have a long lost sister?

Pendullum said...

I did not let anyone I know know about my blog... I just told my husband a few weeks ago...
They are my ramblings...
a friend of mine found me on line... and kept on using the blog for communication instead of picking up the phone...
but I guess I am over it... as it does not seem to bug me anymore..
But I will never tell my family as there are far too many stories there that need to be told...
It is my deep secret that I share with my blogger pals that I have grown to love...
P.S.(My ex brother in law was with The Cure... so seeing a pic of Robert Smith sent shivers up my spine I tell ya!!!)

Debbie said...

my mom accidentally was provided with my url, b/c I am a phenomenal ass. I won't go into details. however, for the record, she is, quite simply, the last person on earth that I'd like reading my site. so, sweeeet.

also, my in-laws can suck it before they'll be provided with a link to my blog. (although I try to avoid discussing them, purely b/c of advanced paranoia that, through some fluke, they'll happen onto it.)

Robert Smith was sooooo hot back in the day. Sigh.

Virtualsprite said...

LOL... my mom used to say that to me, too! I embarassed her so much.

And no, my parents do not read my blog. My mom doesn't even know how to turn a computer on. But I do swear in front of her. She's even stopped crossing herself when I do it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not allowed to swear on my blog (fucking editors) but I have several times thought..."Shit. My grandfather is going to read this blog about my vagina. I can never go home again."

But I still write what I write and pray that they forget to read on those days.

Kevin Charnas said...

aaahhhh...the 80's, what a fantastic time that was...

my parents know about my blog, but I think somewhere along my "words" I offended them and so they always say that they haven't been on the computer in a long time. Whether this is the truth or not, I don't know. I hope that they don't read it (example being the present post).

when I found out a few other people were beginning to read it, I actually had to go and delete a few stories, because they were about them and certainly were not flattering. that's what I get for putting my name on the damn thing.

Anonymous said...

My parents read. My in-laws read. My watchwords have always been "never write anything you wouldn't say to someone's face". The problem is, I'm mouthy.

I don't talk about everything, but that's mostly because I'm a bit reserved about spilling my guts to anyone.

Anonymous said...

MOM? No way, no how!

Now how do I get the kind of relationship with my kids where they want me to read their blog? That's what I want to know.

Jill said...

My parents and in-laws read, and yes, it affects the writing. In some ways I think this is OK because it prevents me from writing something I might regret later.

Whenever I find out that a new "real person" is reading my blog I reread recent entries viewing the posts through their eyes.

Love your blog. Here via Mom-101.

P.S. Please don't give your mom my address.

Anonymous said...

My family and friends all read my blog (although I wish more of them would comment instead of talking to me about it in person!). I don't let up on the swearing much, because it's MINE, and they don't have to read. I do wish, however, that I could write about certain family dynamics more freely. But I can't. And those posts will have to be constructed in my head while I wash saucepans.
Ever since I put my blog address as a signature on my email, I've worried about who I let read it. But a couple of Had's teachers have the link (don't know if they've read it though) and I'm certainly not going to censor myself. I am who I am. Although, not sure if the parents of my Brownies would be happy about my blog, but I can't worry about that.
Sorry for the book.
In conclusion, I won't censor the things I DO write. But I feel censored by the things that I CAN'T write. Le sigh.

Anonymous said...

I have only given my blog address to a handful of real-life people. My husband reads it, as does my best local girlfriend. A couple of coworkers who I am also friends with also have the address, but don't check it out much.

I will not give the address to my family members because I do talk about personal things that I wouldn't necessarily discuss with them. Not super-secret things, just levels of emotion that I don't delve into with my parents or brother. And I do occasionally use the blog as a forum to vent about things with them. I'd like to say I only blog things that I'd say to someone's face, but since I'm a nonconfrontational person in real life, my blog sometimes becomes the outlet for things I don't have the courage to say.

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