Friday, February 22, 2008

Biggish Tuna, Tiny Pond

The last couple of months have been a very strange time for me. I'm not even sure if I can put it all into words. It has just been strange...yet tremendously flattering.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article for my paying gig that got floated out there just about everywhere. It ended up in the newspaper, online, in a local magazine, and in a publication that the kids' school puts out. (As an aside, I got paid approximately ten bucks for this article. That is why we'll never be rich.)

The article was basically about how I cried during a ceremony at the kids' school honoring our military families.

It doesn't sound all that exciting, I know. But coming right on the heels of my husband's Iraqi deployment, it created a lot of buzz. The folks at school fell in love with it.

And suddenly I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without people gushing at me. They love me. They love my writing. I'm wonderful. My kids are wonderful. My husband is a hero.

It's a huge ego boost, I'll admit it. It is unbelievably flattering and I am grateful for the outpouring of support. But I am very much humbled. It has all been just really weird.

This whole year I have felt like I've been living under a spotlight. It's a flattering light and somehow manages to hide all my flaws, but it is always on. I have, like, fans. But they aren't fans of my work. They are fans of me!

There is a part of me very, very deep down which thinks, "Hey! I rock. I deserve some attention. Get down with your bad self." (My inner voice is a dork.) But mostly I think I am a dork and, well, everything they are praising me for is complete bunk.

All of these civilians think I am so awesome for just living through a deployment. But I know that countless other military wives are doing it better and with a hell of a lot more grace than I did. They didn't yell at their kids. Still, the kids and I never missed a day of school, an after-school activity or a single appointment. That's not bad.

I got all these amazing kudos for planning and hosting our school's Grandparents' Day. I was able to throw a luncheon for 900 people and only spend $217 of the parents' association money. I was told that the whole day had my "magical touch". Yet, all I know is that the catered food sucked. I mean SUCKED! People paid ten bucks a head for a plate of cold noodles. SUCKED! Still, I need to give myself credit. Most people wouldn't even volunteer for such an undertaking while they were dealing with a deployment.

And then there is the article. You see, the school's communications director had asked me to write something for the school magazine and I happily agreed. But that article wasn't it.

This article was something I sat down and just spewed out because I was missing a deadline for the publishing company. It's not my best writing, by far (much like my blog posts of the last, oh, say, year!) but the school still asked for permission to publish it themselves. Seriously, a day doesn't go by when someone doesn't tell me how much they love it. Strangers stop me in the streets!

In the midst of the craze I turned to my husband and said, "You know, I feel bad. I was going to sit and write something much better. This isn't even very good."

"I know," he replied. "It's kind of boring."

And that's why I love him. He tells it like it is and keeps me grounded. I guess we keep each other grounded. You've just got to love him.

It has felt like the "Year of Me" and it has been amazing, but weird. The only compliments I really take to heart are the ones about my kids. They are constant too, but I least I know they are true. They are special kids.

Now I've had to tell all of my (sarcastic air quotes) fans (sarcastic air quotes) that we are moving and it has sent the attention into a frenzy. People are mad. People are upset. People are sad.

Every day I get people asking me to find a way to stay here. But there is definitely a part of me that is looking forward to moving away from all this attention. My blog friends give me enough of an ego boost as it is. (My husband is laughing at that one.)

I have learned one thing though. I very seriously and very secretly always wanted to be a famous writer. Now I've only had a tiny touch of fame in a very small pond, but I'm not sure I would ever really want to be famous. Sure it must be gratifying to earn a living doing something you love, but responding to fans can become a full-time, uncomfortable job.

I have learned to say, "Oh, thank you! I have fun writing," in the most sincere way to people I don't even know. I'm not good at faking it.

When I did our taxes last night, I actually had to fill out a Schedule C for my self employment as a freelance writer. I used to take pride in that Homemaker in the occupation line near my name. Being self employed is totally not worth the 1200 bucks I earned.

I don't think I'm going to bother searching out another writing job when we move. As flattering as the attention of the last few months has been, I'm looking forward to being just another shy, anonymous mom.

My alter ego can do all the hard work.

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