As you may remember, I met and interviewed the delightful Natalie as my first part of Neil Kramer's Great Interview Experiment last month. I never heard from the person who was supposed to interview me but that was obviously fate stepping in because Neil assigned me a new interviewer, Erica, who turned out to be an alternate reality version of me, only she's from Texas and has three kids.
We thought it would be fun to interview each other, so she set up a shared Google Document and we had a day of fun back-and-forth while we discovered all the things we had in common. In fact, she has formally proposed marriage to me now, so I just need to work out a few details with my existing husband, then I'll have the almost-doppelganger I've always wanted and the cats will feel like every day is a carnival.
Here's our interview:
EM: Erica, free fringes
AJ: me, Average Jane
* * *
EM: You've been blogging regularly since 2004 according to your archives at averagejane. What are the main differences in the online community you discovered when you first started and the online community you've found yourself in today?
AJ: I was the first of my real life friends to start a blog, so my early online community was largely made up of web-savvy people I already knew along with some random readers who found me via occasional front page features on Typepad and links from larger blogs such as J-Walk. Since then I've gained a lot of readers by participating in the BlogHer community (actually, my long-time friend Rita, who started blogging not long after I did, now works for BlogHer). In recent years, Facebook, Twitter and my local social media club have all done an enormous amount to expand my blog's reach as well as introduce me to lots of new people. So to answer the essence of your question, my online community is now significantly larger and quite a bit closer, now that we have so many different touch points.
AJ: A question for you: You seem to blog pretty openly about your life, but of course we all set limits. What kinds of things do you hold back from blogging about?
EM: I've always had this kind of dichotomous rep of being halfway open, halfway public. People feel very comfortable around me once they get to know me, but for most people, it takes a very long time to get to know me. I share, but only what I want people to know. On my blog, my largest mission is to help people understand that no matter how fucked up they feel, someone else is commensurately fucked up while making life work with what she has. I don't share details about my extended family, especially about my parents. They get basic parental descriptions. I don't use names except for my kids who have signed all kinds of waivers and love seeing their names in print as Mommy is writing about their knuckleheadedness. I'm still searching our Internet archives for the post Q wrote about Jon Alex unknowingly using my Vagisil to brush his teeth. He numbed his lips and gums for more than an hour. That was too funny to keep secret.
I'm impressed that she's willing to share the occasional "warts and all" post. I sometimes find myself posting such a sunny, Technicolor version of events that I feel like a big, fat liar.
EM: I'd like to go back to the subject of your online community for a second. I just don't do groups although I fantasize about having large social networks, parties to attend, brunches to brunch, yet I get hives with each new Facebook friend request. What overwhelms you as your social network grows?
This is where she asks me to marry her, and I am embarrassed to say that I got caught up in my answer to her interview question and failed to respond to the proposal.
AJ: There are several overwhelming things about my social network and it is indeed so large now--particularly on Twitter--that I lose track of whether I've met certain people in real life or not. My general rule for Facebook is that I have to have met you in person at least once before I'll add you. Yet I still have 357 Facebook friends, which gives you an idea of just how much networking I do. I don't generally block anyone on Twitter except for porn spammers, but I am not in the habit of reviewing my followers very often these days, so often I won't follow someone back unless they @ me or ask me in person.
The truly overwhelming thing about my social network is that I am constantly turning down invitations to things. Since I don't have kids, I have a pretty good amount of free time and I'm not fond of sitting around at home. Still, it's gotten to the point where I sometimes have more than one social event to attend on a given weekday evening, and that's just too much. My husband is starting to complain that I'm not spending enough time with him, so I'm doing my best to cut back.
AJ: And, yes, I noticed how much we have in common, which leads me to my next question: How are you feeling about being in your 40s? Where's your balance point between the positive aspects of maturing and growing into your self, and the negatives of being concerned about aging?
EM: First let me say I am taking your silence on the marriage proposal as a maybe.
This will sound weird, but I never thought I'd make it to 40. I'm one of those people who is surprised the house didn't burn to the ground while I was on vacation and that I wasn't fatally sideswiped during a lane change on the way home. Now that I'm a year past 40, I've stopped counting because it seems like a dream, like it's not really happening. I feel no more than 32, 33. So the positive aspects are certainly that I've made it this far and genetically should have about 40 more to go. I am concerned about aging not as a negative, mainly because that will mean my kids will also be older and more mature, and I won't have to drive everybody to every single errand and activity. My balance point lies somewhere between a much higher self-awareness, like working on my fixable faults, and whether or not I'll color my hair when I'm 60.
Yes, you should color your hair when you're 60! Never give up!
EM: Rapid fire answers: Stevie or Janis? Candied or caramel? Flannel or flimsy? Codeine or morphine? Seaside or town square? Circus or carnival? Roma or cherry? Long or short? Walk or ride? Kiss or tell?
How rude of me to fail to respond to your proposal! I could definitely
use a wife like me. The husband's skill set is a good adjunct to mine,
but I really need another me in the household to get things done.
Stevie. Caramel. Flannel. Codeine. Town square (mostly because I've grown up landlocked and don't know what I'm missing with seaside). Circus (except for lingering worry about the welfare of the animals). Roma. Long. Ride (lazy, I know). Neither kiss nor tell at this point.
EM: Celeste, you grout, you sheetrock, you cook, you rock out in a band. You party at BlogHer. I'm nowhere near a wife like you. I was hoping you could use a baby mama who starts drinking at kickoff on NFL Sundays and is asleep by halftime. The kids will be in charge of taking your cats out for piggyback rides and Slurpees.
To be honest, I only know how to patch sheetrock. I think I can figure out how to hang sheetrock, too, but I haven't tried it yet. I, too, am a fan of the Sunday at halftime afternoon nap. I can't wait to see how the cats respond to piggyback rides and Slurpees.
AJ: In keeping with the rapid fire portion of our interview: Cats or dogs? Who or Zeppelin? Pie or cake? Wine or beer? Vegas or NYC? TV or theater? Donate or volunteer? Hug or handshake? Penny wise or pound foolish?
EM: As pets, neither. As headaches, both. Who. Mmmmmmm pie. And cake. Vodka. New York. TV now, theatre before. Burned out on volunteering, so check-writer. Don't touch me. Money wisdom is not my strong suit.
See, she is my long-lost sister! Ask anyone - I love me some martinis and desserts, and am a notorious non-hugger. Plus I haven't balanced my checkbook in literally 15 years.