Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Heather in Real Life

I spoke to Heather Armstrong today, for a freelance article I'm working on. Just like the last time I interviewed her, I was surprised by how nice and polite she is.

I guess I didn't expect her to mock me for writing a blog about using coupons, or be like, "You know, you're family is not as funny, funny as you think." But my heart was pounding a bit calling her up. I always get a little nervous making phone calls, one of the reasons I was not the world's best newspaper reporter, but I was more nervous than usual today.

I think it's the "popular crowd" factor. Dooce is the most popular, successful personal blog on the Internet. Heather hangs out with other women who are also the funniest, most successful bloggers. They visit each other, go to conferences together, buy vibrators together, even write books together. They're worse than the popular crowd in high school because, unlike those cheerleader yearbook-publishers who you knew would crash and burn or stay in our dead old town forever after high school, these are grown up women who are actually awesome people.

Facing up to this kind of in-crowdness brings out my inner junior high outsider. (In/out/in/out, I know, but stay with me here, ok!) Calling up Heather Armstrong was like dialing the number of the most popular girl in school and casually asking, "Do you know what pages we were supposed to read for biology tomorrow?"

If you were me, making that call, you'd get mocked mercilessly for the rest of the school year. I mean, you'd get mocked even more.

So it's a pleasant surprise to remember that we are all grown up now, that I am actually "the media" and that most people with a business to promote have to be nice to me when I call on behalf of a magazine (and this is a really cool magazine I'll be writing for, btw!) And that, you know, the people that you respect and envy as an adult are not those mean girls from jr. high, and even if they were, those mean girls grew up and got out of the strictures of their own social order, and even some of them are pretty nice nowadays.

So. The other weird thing: When bloggers interact in RL. Cause then, you're like, ooh, did this person blog about their Very Important Encounter with me? I remember checking the blogs of every blogger I wrote about at The Chronicle and being disappointed that none of them wrote, Dear Diary, a supercool reporter called me today and I think she asked really insightful questions, or, here's an article about me, it's so well written. And of course I was relieved to see nothing at all rather than, "I did an interview with a complete moron today who just does not GET IT and besides get a look at her dorky glasses in her picture on the staff Web site."

And then you're like, I'm going to blog all about my 8-second phone call with a Famous Blogger. Will she read it? Will she like it? Will she decide not to do scheduled interview after all now that she has read this?

And suddenly, your life is a Gouldian nightmare. And really, this whole post is just a long lead-in to that link there. I stayed up late reading that whole NYT Magazine article, and realized at the end that I had gotten sucked into a juvenile boy/girl spat, thinking I was reading Something Important about the Internet. Well, ok, it was both, but that girl is disturbing. Anyone who walks the halls of junior high (there it is again) passing out comic books about herself, and (according to her ex) emails long-ago schoolmates to point them to her racy personal blog has some unusual issues that go beyond the average schmuck's urge to blog.

Edited to say: See, I AM mentioned in her blog today. I'm part of that "slew of phone calls, interruptions ..." I certainly hope I cannot take the blame for the "mild panic attack" as I was very calm and non-agitating in our brief phone call, despite the fact that I answered her return call in the bathroom area of the gym locker room, brazenly flouting the "no cell phones" rule and at point raising my voice of the sound of flushing.


Caitlin Murray Giles said...

Oh my God, I would be so nervous to call Dooce -- she was just on the Today Show AND Nightline in the same week!

I want to hear more about the story you ar working on.

Sara said...

i read her blog (i was introduced to it thru your "see good blogs!" link) and i love it. i'm so jealous that you got to interview her! kudos to you!

True Mama said...

I love Dooce! I totally get you on being nervous to call the "cool kid" though. I can't wait to read your article.

Patois42 said...

Dear "Slew," at least you're mentioned.

Swistle said...

Ha ha! I would be really nervous, too! I mean, the woman has her OWN VERB!