Thursday, December 4, 2008


So, when I began blogging back in June, I did it for a very clear reason. Well, it was clear to me at the time: I really needed a community of people to talk to, talk at, talk with, whatever. I needed to connect with someone or somemany. I had just moved to Texas and really hadn't formed any friendships. You know, making new friends as an adult is tricky, don't ya think? It's not like you have a buddy who is in English 101 with you, or a BFF who lives right across the street. Now that we're all grown up, we have to make friends by finding people we actually enjoy and share our interests. Just sharing geography or coincidental circumstances isn't enough anymore. Finding those people can be hard - it's not like there's an interview process.

"So, do you have children? Are you Democrat, Republican, or Independent? Do you clip coupons or proudly shop at exclusive boutiques?"

So, when I got online and met all you wonderful bloggy people, I was so relieved to find some folks to whom I can relate. Y'all get me! But here's the problem... and I'm wondering if anyone else out there feels the way I do...

You are all like TV stars to me.

Here's what I mean... I love to watch TV. I love to get lost in the story lines and forget about my own problems for a little while, even just 30 minutes. So when I watch an episode of your life on my feed-reader, I feel entertained. Often encouraged. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I get angry, sometimes I cry. But, really, I feel like I am just a voyeur in your lives. The only blogs I read that feel "real" to me are this one, because I've known Angie for more than 20 years (I count myself lucky for that); and this one because Bridgett lives in my old stomping grounds of St. Louis. She tells me about somewhere she went and I actually picture that place in my mind.

But the rest of you are like superstars to me (Angie and Bridgett too, but they are the attainable kind, like Scott Baio or that teen singer who performed in shopping malls). I love reading what you write and I wonder, "What does their house look like? What are their kids like? Where do they take vacations? Do their minivans look as messy as mine does? How often do they cry? What makes them cry? Do they bite their nails? What are they proud of?"

And then I realized that you may not be able to relate so well to me, simply because I don't reveal too many specific details about my personal life. I must explain why I tend to play my cards so close to the chest. It's a good reason that I will tell you now: my husband works in a place where the people he works with can NOT know our personal information. For LOTS of safety reasons. And, while you may not be one of those people, maybe your neighbor is. Or your brother in law. Or your best friend's ex-husband. Or your employee. Whatever. Finding someone's personal information on the internet is easier than finding Cheez-Whiz at the grocery store. And we're not interested in having crazy show up on our doorstep, thankyouverymuch.

However, I've decided to tell you a little more about me, just to open myself up. This is an exercise in letting go, for me.

My name is Gretchen. I have blond hair, but not really. I have dyed it blond for almost 20 years now, but my real color is just dark-blond. I like being a full-time stay-at-home mom, but I yearn to do more. At the same time, I realize that being a mom to my children is the most important job I will ever have and I want to do it well. I want to make a difference in someone's life. I *hope* I'm making a difference in my children's lives. But for some reason, I want to affect someone who appreciates my efforts, not like my children who simply expect my efforts. I constantly question myself about whether my decisions are right or wrong. I have trouble being comfortable with the decisions I make out of fear that I might have to justify them to someone else. I love my kids with my whole being, and yet I feel terribly guilty when I just want them to go away for an hour, an afternoon, a day. I feel like I am betraying them, like What kind of mother am I???

Something else I have realized is this: I love typing out my thoughts and sharing them with you. It's kinda like performance art, yes? I write my words, I share them with you, and I await your comments. The snarky ones are the hecklers. But, this love of blogging has given me pause to consider, since I have so many friends online, is it causing me to avoid making friendships in real life?

So, there is a little bit into the inside of me. It's not pretty, but really it's me. It's Gretchen.


Mrs de Miranda said...

I think the inside is beautiful too. It's real and that's what makes it so beautiful.

You are right. I find that now that I am not in college and I am working, it is really difficult to meet people. Especially a really good friend. I think I feel the same way as you though. It's kind of like everyone's blog is their own little TV series. You get bits and pieces, here and there, but you always wonder about all the other little details. For me, I dont think blogging prevents me from making friends in real life, I think I am open to the possibility. But it definetly fills some of the void where they are supposed to be. Does that sound incredibly sad? I hope not!

Thanks for sharing today Gretchen it was fun to get to know more of you!

jori-o said...

It IS hard to make grown-up friends. I'm usually friends (by default) with moms whose kids MY kids are friends with, which is okay...but rarely gives me that deep friendship we all used to have. And don't get me started on couple friends--you know where your hubby likes the guy and you like the girl? Nearly impossible!
But I am glad to get to know more about you; now there's just more to like! ;)

Scary Mommy said...

I love seeing more of you. I was complaining to my husband the other night that it seems like most of my friends these days live inside the computer. :)

Krissi said...

Ahh look at you, you've broken the mold! Now just wait till the next time you can't find that cheeze-whiz in the store, you will be thinking of all the funny or pissy ways you can write about it. So glad that you opened up a little doesn't it make your soul feel good?

Heather said...

Hi Gretchen, my name is Heather and I am a coupon-clipping, bleeding heart liberal, upstate New Yorker and former Jersey Girl. I have one daughter, age 5.5 (the "and a half" is of course crucial at this age), she's a little nutty just like her mom. We rarely take vacations besides driving to NJ to visit my family, but when we do take a "real" vacation, we go to Florida (we're huge Disney fans), I don't know how messy your minivan is, but mine is pathetic, though I periodically try to get it vacuumed out before the layers of detritus pile up to the level of the seat cushions...

My house is a 2 story, 3br colonial with walls we haven't painted in the 9 years since we built it, so they're all eggshell white with the exception of Kiddo's room, which we painted sunshine yellow when we finally were matched with her birthparents and knew we were going to become parents. I cry easily, so therefore pretty often, either tears of joy and gratitude or just from being moved to tears by something as "oh I can't believe she cried over THAT" like a Hallmark TV commercial or a story in a book or magazine. I do bite my nails, which is sad considering I'm turning 37 in less than 2 weeks. I'm most proud of my family, as my daughter has some special needs and seeing her thrive and succeed and be a happy, bright, loving child makes me prouder than anything, and I'm proud of (and so, so grateful for) my husband, who works very hard to enable me to stay home with my kiddo (though he wouldn't mind if I found a part time job at least now that Kiddo is in school full days...)



Jaden Paige said...

Hi, Gretchen! I'm Jaden :D

I have to agree with you... It is SO hard making grown-up friends that we can relate to. Who has the time to take, the extra energy, the GUTS to go up to someone in real life and say "Let's get together... let's grab coffee" etc? It was so much easier as a kid, when you could just saunter over to that sandbox and exclaim- "WANNA BE MY FRIEND?" and start building a castle together.

I am grateful for the friends I have found on here- even if they do seem like *fake* friends in some ways, they are still there to listen and encourage and laugh along with me. This was a great post!!

April said...

I know you are curious so...3 kids, republican, shop Wal-Mart w/o coupons, my house is a 2 story white frame house that needs a paint job, my kids are all totally different from one another but all so funny, we do a lot of mini-3 day vacations usually to Arkansas or Oklahoma (Beavers Bend), my SUV is a HUGE mess, I don't cry a lot, I cry most when people do wonderful things for others for no reason or I am VERY mad (which makes me more mad), I don't bite my nails, and I am very proud of you for opening up.
Hope you have a good day.

Natalie said...

Well, now that I know what you look like I will make an effort to say hello to you in real life if we run into each other at the gym!!!

Pinky said...

Oh, you're awesome, Gretchen! I have pink hair, brown underneath. ;-) My minivan is a total mess, and it stinks of french fries. I have stretch marks and body issues. (tmi?)
I do bite my nails.
I do make new friends in real life, but I'm slow to trust b/c I've been gossiped about and hurt so many times. I trust "freaks" more than those that appear to be perfect on the outside. I cry when I'm very frustrated or tired. I crave my alone time. I don't feel guilty about being away from my kids. I love to work on the weekend, as a physical therapist. It helps them to appreciate me more when I come home.
I cook about four times a week, order out once, reheat leftovers twice.
We're pretty normal, with a bit of dysfunction, I suppose.
I love my kids, but I take pretty darn good care of me. I know that if I don't, it'll all go downhill FAST.

I LOVE your honesty and openness.

Jen said...

Hi! I am glad to see you, while a picture of you. Now I can rest assured that you are not a turd-head. I didn't really think so but you know, I had to work in turd.
Any hoo....
I feel that same way about blogging. I am so many more bloggy friends than real life friends. Is that right?
I feel that most of the bloggers that I read are real and I can relate to a lot of them and then others have more of an entertainment appeal.
I had a point but I lost it b/c some of the kids are awake. So I can glad to see you and hope that we can continue to be friends.

Anna See said...

First of all, I love your picture! I agree with everything you said, including wondering if we rely too heavily on internet friends rather than "real people." I used to think teenagers were so weird for communicating this way and then-- in a little less than a year-- I've gotten hooked. I do spend too much time on the computer downstairs while my husband is working upstairs.

I'm Anna. My house is a 5 level 1969 split. I am more of a classic farmhouse type person, but my motto is "The most important things in life aren't things." This is written on my yellow kitchen walls in Papyrus font. Too much info?

I never exercise, so I probably won't run into you at the gym. Wal-mart (no coupons) more likely. No nail biting here, but I do go around with 3rd day hair more often than I'd like to admit. Speaking of hair, I started going gray at 18 when my mom died. I sometimes resent my kids' presence when they get home even though they have been gone all day. My politics? Democrat, although about as conservative as you can be and still vote democrat. My faith is hugely important to me as is trying to protect my kids from the garbage in our society. I really appreciate your blog friendship. Reading my fav blogs is a big part of my day, so keep being my tv star! :)-- Anna

Christine said...

Ok, you are causing me angst.....because I love my anonymity( of course not my children's) and now I feel guilty! How am I supposed to embrace blogging fully now If I don't post a stinkin picture of myself and let it all out there......but I'm not going to do it. I am going to stay strong, and let you people continue to use your imagination ( besides....I am sooooooooo not photogenic)

Carrie Thompson said...

I like this is so true. I think of all yall like tv stars too! I love getting tidbits of information about you and getting to know you just a little bit better! Friends in real life is SO HARD! Bloggy friends are like a lifeline! You get the fun of people who care aobut what you say and what you think about a topic enough to come on their very own and read about it! I mean how often to real life friends call you on the phone and say" okay just talk, ilove to listen to you!" Um, pretty much never!!! I love getting to know you!

a few more things about me you didnt know...
my suburnban is pretty messy but not as bad as when the kids were toddlers! I will not go into a movie theater if the previews have already started- becasue secretly they are what I am there for! I love icecream, with nuts! I cant stand people who know everything, I dont mean people who have experiences or people who can relate to you I mean KNOW IT ALLS! Yuck. I love Kenny Rogers- music, movies anything Kenny!
I do not like stinky cheese of any sort! I do not bite my nails but I pull them off which is almost as bad. The house I live in is two story, we have a pool in the back which is more trouble than it is fun! I look in ditches on the side of the road in case there are dead things---I know weird right (I am always scared I will find a dead body somewhere - to much law and order! Did you need to know that???

Last but not favorite Christmas song ever is Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton!

sassy stephanie said...

Oh, I'm with ya. I just moved in May from the area I grew up in. I knew someone no matter which way I turned. I moved to a tiny country town and blogging has been my entertainment. Sometimes I make a "connection" and think about my "friends" but in fact, I don't really know them. I do have IRL friends that started blogging after I did and it is fun to keep up with them and my old 'hood.

E said...

Nice to meet you Gretchen. Making friends is harder as a grown up. We have way more riding on it than just an afternoon roller skating. We have to trust their ethics and their parenting if we are going to have them be around our kids. And then if you don't want somebody around your kids why would you want them around you? People in messy marriages are no good for your marriage, so you gravitate away from them too.
Now in what's left of the pool you have to find someone who likes your humor, gets the books you love and the movies you see. It would be nice if you can share robust political chat and find at least some agreement along the way. It is a complicated soup. Online we offer more in anonymity and paradoxically we can decide faster.
You will find a couple of people eventually. And what I have learned is that is all it takes. A couple of close friends can make for a rich life....stay open and keep looking. meanwhile you have all of us and we are enjoying you more and more...

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to share that. In answer to your question? I bite my nails until they bleed. And, there are loads of friends to be had out here.

Dorsey said...

You hit the nail on the head for me. All these bloggy folks are like celebrities! (But kind of like reality TV stars, sort of) I get a glimpse into their lives by reading their scripts. I picture what each of their houses look like and how they spend their down time when they're away from the computer.

I totally get you! And you've helped inspire my 100th post!!

Bridgett said...

I love it. I've been compared to many things, but never Scott Baio. That's awesome.

Finding out your real name was an interesting moment--it was in an email you sent about Lutheran church records, and it struck me that until that moment, you had remained completely nameless. Many bloggers do go by pseudonyms, but I love it when I find out who they "really" are.