I was at In-N-Out (no, that isn't the weird part, I live in Southern California--of course I was at In-N-Out) with my kids. It was crazy crowded (also not the weird part, again, In-N-Out, of course it was crowded) with the lunchtime rush. After finishing, I stood up from my table to refill my soda (also not the weird part, of course I was drinking Dr Pepper) when I walked past a man I'd never seen before and he said, "Is your name Kiersten?"
It's not unusual for people I don't recognize to know me. My mother-in-law knows pretty much the entire state, and people I have no memory of attended my reception, or taught my husband in scouts, or recognize that I'm a member of his family simply because my kids are dead-ringers for him and his sisters.
Weird number one: He knew my first name, not my last.
Weird number two: He pronounced it correctly. (There are some people I have known for YEARS who still do not say it Keer-sten, but rather Curse-ten.)
So I smiled and said, "Umm, yes?"
And then he smiled and said, "I read your blog."
Now, this is the part where, if I were a horror writer, things would start going very, very badly. But I don't write horror, so it's all good. Turns out his name is James and he's a graphic novelist who was on his way to Comic-Con. (Hi James! Hope you're having fun and loads of people are appropriately awed by your graphic novel of awesomeness.) I was caught off guard, of course, and said something really clever like, "Wow. This has never happened to me before."
And that was pretty much that. We chatted for a few seconds, then he went on his way, I went on mine.
But when I got to the car I thought, wait a second. I didn't say anything clever. Not a single clever thing! I was so caught off-guard by being recognized at random, there wasn't a witticism for miles! And the make-up, or lack thereof...I'm not an especially vain person, but my pictures on the blog are very pretty, aren't they? And how weird was I behaving while eating with my kids and unaware someone was actually noticing me? Did I sing any songs? Because sometimes I do that. And it's weird. But my kids think it's funny. Except when they yell at me to stop. But of course I can't remember just how strange I might have been behaving, which could have been anywhere on a vast continuum of strange, because I am a stay-at-home mom to two small children and trust me, we get strange.
So suddenly I'm thinking, great, someone who reads my blog and then sees me in the wild is going to think, "Hrm. Kiersten isn't nearly as clever or pretty in person. How disappointing."
And then I thought, at least he knows I'm really this short. That fact is a constant, on- or offline.
But it was a strange thing, unexpectedly meeting someone I don't know who could potentially know quite a bit about me. And it's got me thinking about this platform, this business of creating a public persona for oneself. I highly recommend reading Natalie's recent posts on behaving online (both very, very helpful and insightful).
Because truth is, I am not always cheerful and perky. (GASP. I KNOW!) I am not always funny. (I use it all up on you, my beloved readers. Hot Stuff can testify I am a dull as a rock come the end of the day.) I am not always kind. (Which is why I have to quickly backtrack and tell my kids that yes, it was wrong of me to yell, "IDIOT DRIVER!" at the car that nearly sideswiped me.) I do not actually speak with a lot of parenthetical statements. (Although I do interrupt myself a lot.) And I am not always as cute as my author photos have captured on film. (The hair is good, but sometimes I have bad face days.)
On the other hand, the me you see on here, while only a portion of me (because really, you don't want to hear me whine like I do to Natalie and Steph. I am an EXPERT whiner. Like, Olympic level. The competitive whining circuits have been trying to recruit me for ages, but it's just not a challenge anymore.) is still genuine. That's the most important part of having an online presence, I think. You can only fake it for so long; sooner or later the real you will out.
The secret is to pick the parts of you that translate best into writing and use those. The rest you can save for real life. (Unless you guys want me to start stressing out/obsessing to you, in which case get ready for EPICALLY long posts with very circular patterns. You'll want a more comfortable chair. And some snacks. Also, maybe a babysitter, because your kids won't see you for a while once I get going.)
So now you know. I don't wear much makeup most of the time. I call other drivers idiots. I may or may not behave strangely to entertain my kids in restaurants. I am, I hope, clever and witty on occasion, but I'm also just plain tired a lot of the time. I always try to see the bright or at least the funny side of things, but sometimes even I get worn out and discouraged.
If you ever meet me, though, you can count on one thing: I am definitely short.