The first day of the year

The Arts spire caught alight last night during the fireworks. I did not notice at the time and only realised when I read about it in the newspaper today. It seems it was not such a spectacular event but from my perch at the top of the hill overlooking the city we managed an excellent view of the fireworks as we do every year at midnight. From this distance I did not notice the flames.

We came out onto the street in the nick of time to greet our neighbours, as we do every year and this time they had company among them, one of whom Pandora introduced herself. She greeted me as sixthinline. My neighbour who follows Face Book and the like presumably alerted her to the connection.

What a surprise to greet a fellow blogger at midnight on New years Eve and she a friend of Kath’s, another blogger who has recently written about her experience of meeting a fellow blogger in person in Geneva of all places.

‘Pandora’ and I chatted briefly and then made our ways back into our respective lives, but for me at that moment half groggy with sleep – I had not been able to stay awake till midnight and had collapsed on the bed. My husband woke me minutes before the witching hour – I felt as if I had climbed into a still life painting on the wall or into a online version of the Sims game, which my daughters used to play in a bid to create imaginary lives.

And to think that next Saturday I shall meet another blogger, Isabel, in the flesh as it were, too spooky for words.

There are a couple of boggers I have known in real life before they started blogging and to me their identities are different. To me it’s as if they have dual identities, even so I learn more about them online than I would ever know through our shared lives.

There is a greater intimacy made possible in the blogosphere, however constructed, and for me it is as if I am reading a novel, only the characters are essentially ‘real’.

Later today my husband will collect our youngest daughter from her overnight party at Rye. I hope she is well enough. I dare not ring her yet. It is too early for young folks who must surely be sleeping in. She has just turned eighteen and has hit the world running.

Every Tuesday night many of the young folk around here go off to one of several of the local hotels and bars to drink and dance and converse and otherwise have what they consider to be a fun time.

I tend to wait up, and even after I’ve gone to bed I cannot sleep. I try not to worry but I do. Not until I hear the turning of the doorhandle and my daughter materialises do I stop my worrying.

You would think I’d be over if by now, after four such daughters, but somehow the worry only gets worse with my youngest. She seems more carefree than her older sisters who all behaved sensibly most of the time. As does my youngest, but just sometimes, the enthusiasm of her so-called freedom seems to get the better of her.

I remember myself at eighteen. I was the proverbial frump, or at least I saw myself that way. Though there was one night when I went to Canberra for my oldest brother’s wedding and at the reception met one of his friends who danced with me at the reception and then offered to give me a lift back to the caravan park where I had been staying over night with the rest of my family.

This brother, I might add, is ten years older than me. His friend was old in my mind, but ever so dashing and kind and attentive. He drove me to the top of Black mountain and we looked over the city lights. He dared not touch me, he told me then, out of resect for his friend, my brother, but he was tempted, or so he said, and for five minutes I fell in love.

All the way home to Melbourne driving down the dusty Hume Highway my heart throbbed for the love of him. I never saw the man again and have often wondered what became of him.

My brother’s marriage lasted little more than a year and he formed a new relationship. There are stories there, which are for others to tell.

My life is woven into the lives of my sisters and brothers, my early life that is, and these days it is woven into that of my children. Strangely, I feel freer by far telling the stories of my siblings than I do that of my children.

Born into such a crowd it is not surprising there are many stories to tell.

My children’s lives are in the here and now. I must respect their privacy. My siblings’ lives, or at least the ones I could describe, are in the distant past, built on memory and therefore to a large extent constructed.

I can bear to mention those. My husband is off limits too, which is why I refer to him as such and do not offer even a name.

All this disguise to protect the identities of those we love. It is necessary I suppose but there are days when I wish I could write more feely and yet in a strange way there is a freedom to this more obscure writing too, though not entirely fictional it has that quality. To me at least.

There are people like Kath, whom I mentioned earlier, who refers to her husband as ‘Love Chunks’ and gives her daughter the pseudonym, ‘Sapphire’. I suspect she does so for privacy too, but Kath writes in the here and now, with authenticity and therefore presumably in honesty.

She tempers everything with her marvellous and to me Australian sense of humour, made even more hilarious at the moment because the family have decamped to Geneva and no longer live in the suburbs of Melbourne.

How do others deal with this intractable problem within the blogosphere, I wonder, with this need to reveal and simultaneously to conceal?

Today is the first day of the year and I am determined not to let the year get the better of me. I have been so grumpy of late, I must revert to my usual tolerant and cheerful ways. Grumpiness has no inherent merit and it feeds on itself.

I have three quarters filled a skip with household rubbish collected over the past thirty years, stuff that is no longer useful to anyone, and useful stuff I have shipped off to St Vinnies and the Salvos.

It’s time for a space in my mind for my writing, once I’ve finished the tax preparations which may take me days.

From my seat here it seems to have been a quiet and understated New Years Eve, apart from the spire catching alight. I hope it is so for everyone. New Years Eve can be such a manic time.

I tend to imagine dreadful things happening with all the mad partying, so that when the day arrives, the first day of the year, there is a lull and a sense of relief that no one has died and nothing too dreadful has happened.

At least I hope so. I’ve yet to hear. And then the phone rings.

87 thoughts on “The first day of the year”

  1. I've had the pleasure of meeting a couple of blog friends, one of whom, from Scotland, was traveling the U.S. with daughter and spouse and we invited them, sight unseen, to stay the night with us last May. It turned into three days of laughter and much talk. My daughter worries about me meeting blog friends, like a fussy hen. I told her that one can sense the real person in the essays on a blog. I have made some very good friends of people whose voices I hear only in their written words.

    May there be laughter and sunshine in your New Year.

  2. i love how you celebrate there, all neighbours emerging, coming together. actually, tonight i took a picture of my neighbour's window. we are all holed up in our respective homes, most with family or friends.

    how do i manage with my identity? not very well, i think. i am as i say. i try to be somewhat vague about where i am, mostly for the safety of my children, but i trust easily. but i wonder how this is different then when i meet someone on the street. i trust them easily, as well.

    unfortunately i know of a few horror stories. i try to stay a little sober with them and find a balance with being myself.

    all the best in this new year, elisabeth.


  3. Elisabeth: Surely you made a decision about "this intractable problem" before you started this blog.
    Most people who blog choose anonymity: you didn't.
    The first post I read here referred me to a site that had your married name. I don't think that you have ever tried to disguise your identity, and more power to you because of this.

    Of course, tho, because of this, a quick google reveals not only your address in Hawthorn East, your husband's initials, and the unusual name of your family of origin. And your present surname, your daughters' surname, is …not all that common, either, is it? Easily identifiable.

    Choices. We all make them.

  4. One of the tenderest phrases ever: falling in love for five minutes.

    You really have such talent E.

    We watched the pyrotechnics on the Thames and from Big Ben at midnight. Must've cost many thousands of £s and no mistake!


  5. I completely forgot it was Hogmanay. It wasn’t till I decided to check Facebook at twenty past eleven and saw what people were on about that it came back to me and then I got distracted with something and the next thing I knew it was ten past twelve. I think this is the first year I’ve missed the bells. Carrie and I have never really established a New Year tradition. The TV is generally on—Jools Holland’s Hootenanny usually—and so we do stay up that extra hour but I don’t have a drink or anything and as far wandering the streets, well, sod that for a game of soldiers. And yet street gatherings in the likes of Edinburgh and London always attract big crowds. I’ve never been to one, not even when I was younger. In fact I’ve never been much of a partygoer. Hogmanay is a big deal in Scotland—not so much in England—so much so that we need an extra day’s holiday here to recover from the excesses of the celebrations.

    We’re also due a clear out. I don’t think we’ve thrown out anything since we moved into this flat about eight years ago. I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder, worried that we’ll run out of things. If I never bought another pen or paperclip or staple I probably have enough to last me for the rest of my life. I just tidied up my room—took all of five minutes which shows you just how messy I get—and I tossed a bookie’s pen I found in a shoebox (Christ knows where I got it because I’ve never been into a bookmaker’s in my life) and a part of me wanted to salvage it and stick it in a drawer just in case. I’ve got enough copies of SFX to fill two shelves and yet I can’t bear to toss them even though I’ve never looked at a single one once the next month’s drops through the letterbox. You’d think I’d had a deprived childhood but far from it. And yet the strange thing is that I don’t regard myself as a materialist.

    I’ve met a few people from online when I went to Marion McCready’s book release but that was it. I’ve met a handful of Carrie’s friends too but I have no desperate desire to meet anyone. I like the distance and safety that comes from being online. I have no problems socialising when I have to but I prefer not to. A part of me fears that I will disappoint. I don’t expect I ever have but who ever said fears needed to be rational? Since I’ve stopped working I have definitely become reclusive. It’s rather self-indulgent of me and I do actually feel a little guilty but then it doesn’t take much to make me feel guilty. I am a grump. I’m not intolerant but I do try and avoid having to tolerate things if they can possibly be avoided. I expect that comes from years of doing what I believed to be the right thing and yet resenting what I was doing.

    Anyway Carrie’s plane will be arriving in about ten minutes so time to do one last check of the flat before she arrives.

  6. How fortunate to bump into a fellow-blogger. Have not had the experience of such a moment for myself. (Maybe one day.)

    And I agree with the closing comments regarding the day after. I often let my mind wander into apocalyptic realms at close of the year– it is a miracle humans have survived on the planet this long… and it has not been that long of time if you think about it. 🙂

    Have a productive 2012!

  7. Identity is now more public than ever. The computer just link more of our info. The other day I google a friend's name and it cropped up in an obituary of a distant relative of hers. Who knew that would be coming ? How do the papers allow this? You are right about some bloggers sharing their past and some concealing things. All of us seem to have many concealed or hidden identies that we opt to have . Some we use at work, some at organized functions, some with various different friends. It's very complex, but it's so human. I'm looking forward to more of you posts . You wrote well.

  8. There is a lot of community and life in this New Year as described. Here in the North, there is a tendency to stay inside. Enjoyed the read as usual…Happy New Year.

  9. ha ha ha Francis, what a funny bird. Consistent.

    I know exactly where Lissie lives.
    She spelt it out, months ago.
    Work it out yourselves, I've
    no idea.

    Well never mind, life goes on (there's a philosophy for you!) and Jim has 549 words*.


    *I counted them.

  10. For the most part I don't talk about my family, and I believe I have hardly mentioned my son. He is an adult, but he still off-limits. I never made a conscious decision on this but it just feels inappropriate to me. If someone wanted they could find me, but I don't think they would know who I really am.

    Your neighborhood's ritual of coming out at midnight sounds so enjoyable with the opportunity to wish a good new year to the neighbors.

    I hope you find peace and everything else you may need in this coming year Elizabeth.

  11. Not having a blog, but following many, I often wonder if I maybe standing next to someone I 'know' in the supermarket queue or carrying out other every day activities. In fact, I suspect we may not live that far apart, Elisabeth – but never fear, I rather like the mystery of not knowing everything. Just a few hints you give now and then.
    I also had a 'grumpy' New Year – due to parental concerns. And yes, it was also my youngest, most carefree and most knowledgeable child who is off o'seas for 3 weeks having barely left his hospital bed following knee surgery.
    I think my parents (dec) are enjoying me parenting the child most like myself.
    Never made it to midnight. Dropped off at 11.40 having failed to find a few friends to drop by. That could have been embarrasing!
    PS could we have a guessing game this year to find a meaning for some of the word verifications that pop up? I'm sure many of them would inspire Lewis Carroll.
    Karen C

  12. And a peaceful new year to you, too, Steven. May it proceed with much joy and progress as well as all the other things that make a year good.

    Thanks, Steven.

  13. The skip is a great place for grumpiness, especially after my husband threw a half eaten by cats dead rat on it. He sealed it in a bag mind you, but with all the recent heat here, I think it stinks, or at least something in the atmosphere around here stinks, hopefully not my mood.

    Thanks Windsmoke, and Happy New Year to you.

  14. I agree with you, Chris, we can generally sense the person behind the blogger, unless someone is very good at subterfuge or we are totally gullible.

    Still I suppose it pays to be a little cautious. I admire your generosity in having your Scottish friends stay, but I expect you'd have had a strong sense that it would be well, as indeed it was, and by the sound of things, you all had a wonderful time together.

    Happy New Year, Chris, and thanks.

  15. Thanks for your kind words, Elizabeth and happy New Year, to you, too. May it all get easier in some way.

    If only we could put all those tough years behind us. Wishful thinking I know, but that's what happens at new year, we wish for better things. Thanks again, Elizabeth.

  16. It's those horror stories, erin, that put people off. I'm sure they are real but I think it is perhaps better to err on the side of trust unless something happens to sway us in another direction.

    It is something of a ritual this New Year's eve meeting on the street, but it is only with one set of neighbours. the others are generally away or elsewhere.

    Thanks erin, Happy New Year to you, and may it be generous and warm and productive.

  17. Well let's hope that whatever is 'essentially real' might be an inspiration for the arts, Unnowngnome. I hope so.

    Here we left New Year's eve and embarked upon an unseasonably hot burst for this time of year, over forty degrees Celsius.

    Hopefully tomorrow will bring a change. But as with all extremes of weather, hereabouts everyone is talking about it.

    Happy New Year to you Unknowngnome and thanks.

  18. I started to blog a long time ago now, Frances, and somehow at the time when I began I had little idea about the amazing octopus type tentacles of the Internet. Now I do.

    I could use a metaphor here: when I talk about concealing identity I mean more or less, locking the door. Everyone knows that this locking of the door is not enough to keep serious burglars at bay. If someone wants to break in they can, but hopefully, unless they are intent on breaking in, it is enough to lock the door as a deterrent.

    I have other friends, writers in the main, who are happy to use their full identity rather than in this half baked fashion of mine. But even they conceal much about their lives. We all do, even from those with whom we are closest.

    Thanks, Frances, and Happy New Year.

  19. As I wrote in my earlier post, Jim, I presume Carrie's home at last. Now you can stop fretting, not that you've been fretting, from what you've written, but it sounds as though you've been missing her.

    I miss my dear ones when they go away. It's understandable, and as much as I sometimes long for a bit of space, I like it to be limited. I'm not much good on my own for too long.

    Essentially I've finished the clean up here, or at least finished as much as I intend to get through. I've also nearly finished sorting out my tax. In a couple of days another of my daughters is off overseas for a couple of weeks. At the moment two of our children are away. The one who was away for three months returned in November. Now she's the one who's working while the others take off.

    I plan to write over the last several days of my holidays in so far as I am able. I'm in this strange space, waiting the results of the PhD, fearful of failure and generally unsettled having lost sight of my goal for the last seven years. But things will settle down soon I'm sure.

    I trust they'll settle down for you too now that Carrie's back.

    Happy New Year to you both, Jim, and thanks.

  20. 'Apocalyptic' is a good word, David-Glen. I think I've been into a bit of that myself lately, but hopefully post New Year it's settling.

    One day you too might encounter a fellow blogger in the real world. It sounds as though it won't phase you too much.

    It's amazing how strongly people can feel about mixing the online and off line. Some people freak, while others are cool.

    Have a wonderful New Year, David-Glen, and thanks.

  21. 'Apocalyptic' is a good word, David-Glen. I think I've been into a bit of that myself lately, but hopefully post New Year it's settling.

    One day you too might encounter a fellow blogger in the real world. It sounds as though it won't phase you too much.

    It's amazing how strongly people can feel about mixing the online and off line. Some people freak, while others are cool.

    Have a wonderful New Year, David-Glen, and thanks.

  22. You do have to wonder whether the cost of fireworks is worth it, Philip, and yet maybe it is important to mark the occasion in a big way.

    I'm struck by the terrible consequences of people being left to their own devices with fireworks. I read recently about the injury rate in the Philippines from fireworks where they are not restricted.

    It reminds me of how it used to be here in Australia on Guy Fawkes night when the Children's hospital was loaded with an intake of wounded children.

    It's perhaps better that the pyrotechnics be managed by those who might have a clue about how to deal with them, even though it's more costly.

    Thanks Philip, and Happy New Year to you.

  23. I agree with you, Kleinstemotte: in this brave new world the idea of absolute privacy is a bit of a fantasy. If you do anything outside – belong to a football club, sing in the local church choir, whatever -your name is likely to find itself up there online somewhere.

    But of course there are degrees of transparency that can unsettle some people, depending on what is revealed by whom and about whom.

    Thanks Kleinstemotte and Happy New Year to you.

  24. There is also a tendency to stay inside here in Melbourne, Anthony, over New Years Eve when the fantasy is that outside can be dangerous. On the other hand the authorities seek to encourage a family friendly atmosphere and the city is open to one and all, with free public transport and all drinking outside on the streets prohibited.

    We have a choice therefore whether we celebrate on the street, at least for a few minutes at midnight or whether we stay at home and watch the city revelers on the TV. In any case it can be fun.

    Thanks, Anthony. Happy New Year.

  25. I'm not in hiding, Robert, just wary of too much exposure.

    You, on the other hand, are harder to trace, perhaps because you don't blog like the rest of us.

    You seem to watch from somewhere nearby where ever that might be. You're like the proverbial fly on the wall. It gives you an advantage to some extent, but you also run the risk of missing out on the fun.

    Maybe you could follow Jim's example, stick out your neck, and write more. After all, you write well. I tend to hold my breath for an instant when your initials appear attached to a comment .

    I'd like to hear more of your story, independently of the lives of other bloggers.

    Happy New Year, Robert and once again thanks.

  26. Yes, I gather concealing your identity is important to you, Rubye Jack, certainly from what you've told me about your name changes over time.

    I sometimes toy with the idea of a completely false identity online, to enable me to write more openly, but at the same time I wonder what it would achieve, for me at least.

    For me I need to be flesh and blood, however much my identity on line is partially constructed.

    Thanks, Rubye Jack and Happy New Year.

  27. I dropped off before midnight, too, Karen but my husband woke me in time for the fireworks.

    I can only empathise with your parental concern about your youngest.

    It's the omnipotence that gets to me. And the frequency with which mine changes her mind. I've seen it all before, the way in which the young folk prefer to leave things to chance and to the last minute to decide but this time round it's more unsettling for me.

    I suspect you may be right about living nearby and I agree, Karen, the mystery adds a hint of pleasure. After all, no matter how much we come to know of one another, we still remain mysteries, even to ourselves.

    Happy New Year, and thanks.

  28. Well pardon me, I've never wanted to know, but you put up a post making it blatantly clear exactly where your house is. Why?
    Ask yourself.

    And oh yes, sure, you gasp an instant seeing RH initials, but a Jim comment requires an oxygen mask.


    (I might tell hubby)

  29. I hope that you have a good New Year. I keep my anonymity as much as possible. My wife does not know about my blog, just that I write. I think that it is good to keep this a private thing. After all, I do my best to focus on what I think and not what others are doing or thinking. Anyway, best to you.

  30. Here in NZ people are not so much party animals and because of the earthquake we don't have many pubs left anyway. That was different in Holland. We started partying from the age of 14, 15 and I stopped by the age of 29. On New Year the fireworks started first at 12.00 and than it was just going from house to house or having a private party at one of the pubs. Loved every minute of it. happy new year

  31. "locking the door" being half the saying that you quote, Elisabeth, the rest being "after the horse has bolted."
    Your response to me initially made me feel as if I were an intruder determined to force my way in. Whereas I felt that, in offering your whole name, you were opening the front door and inviting me and others in to your inner sanctums, and I still feel this to be the case.
    You know other writers who "conceal much about their lives". I know writers -and others – like that also: that's normal.
    Where you differ is how much you have revealed, how much you have put on permanent record for those who come after.
    Will it wound your grandbabies? Will it enable them? Will it enhance them, and enrich their lives to know of this incest? If not, why do it?
    Maintain the rage?

  32. Anonymity is a precious thing, Syd, if you can maintain it. My husband knows I blog but I don't think he reads it. My kids read my blog periodically. It's hard to find the right balance in those things. I suppose it's a personal matter. Not everyone follows the same rhythm.

    Thanks, Syd.

  33. Partying for New Years Eve between the ages of 15 and 30 sounds about the same for people here, Marja. As we get older we tend to slow down, but still it's always fun to celebrate the arrival of the new year in however subdued a manner as we choose.

    Once again, happy New Year, Marja and thanks.

  34. People get upset when others write about incest, Frances. It's very disturbing for all concerned.

    I grew up in a family surrounded by secrecy of the most pernicious kind and my writing might well be a response to that.

    I suspect all the motives you ascribe to my writing about these things and more could apply.

    Finally, I have no idea what my grand babes will make of my writing in the future, that is if they read it. It's possible they might appreciate it, just as it's possible they might resent it and all other possible responses in between.

    Please don't take my metaphors too literally. It's so easy to be misunderstood on the page and to misunderstand.

    Thanks, Frances.

  35. I have just joined as a follower and added you to my blogs I like list.I love the ability to give away a much or as little of self in the blog world being cautious with anyone close's activities, but my poetry does not desire this type of information.

  36. Thank you so much for your kind words, Elisabeth!

    In 2005 when I first started blogging, I was known as 'Millymoo' so that I too could stay fairly anonymous but when my book came out, it seemed like a silly idea.

    Keeping Love Chunks and Sapphire's pseudonyms was important. They may both support my blog and enjoy (mostly) what they read, but they did not ask to be instantly recognised or perhaps be directly associated with some of the darker topics I write about.

    Naturally it wouldn't take more than a minute to work out how they were if you wanted to, but it still surprises me how it enables me to remain honest and free in my writing. It also gives them – as real people and as blog characters – a step of 'removal' so that I am able to squeeze in a bit of 'creative' instead of just diary-style writing.

    And I love them both for it.

  37. hi elisabeth, i have been bumping along thru the holidays, dropping in and out, not saying too much. but, i just read through this whole chain, and i must say it is a riveting discussion, and the undercurrents of anxiety, anger, and support in the comments are as fascinating as your initial post. the issues of authenticity, truth-telling, and the process–what is it we need to do to allow memory to rise reasonably unfettered to the surface–interest me far more than worries about whether or not my identity is laid bare for all who wish to find it. it never occurred to me to google you; everything that is important to me to know about you i learn from reading what you write here. thank you for that.

  38. I suppose we all tend to write as we see fit, Robert, and it does not always suit everyone else. Thanks for supporting my right to write, however vexing it might be for some.

  39. Poetry can be so revealing, Cuby Poet, and yet it is always at one removed from the author simply by being read as poetry. Even the so-called confessional poetry can be read at one remove.

    I'm of the view that all creative writing is like this, but others are not. Hence the potential for conflict over fact and fiction, and respect for the privacy of others.

    It's lovely to follow you as a blog friend and to have you following me as a friend, too Thanks Cuby Poet.

  40. You're lucky, Kath, to have such an understanding family. My beloved family members are more ambivalent about my blog writing, I fear. But they also support me in my efforts, though only occasionally do any of them read my blog as far as I know.

    By referring to them as daughters, husband etc I enable a little of the license to which you allude in your comment here, but it doesn't offer much.

    Some bloggers write so seemingly openly about their immediate families I am surprised, but to each their own.

    Thanks, Kath.

  41. Those 'undercurrents of anxiety, anger, and support in the comments' arise often here, Susan. It must relate to some of the issues I raise. I suppose they tend to be conflictual at times and therefore attract a troubled response from time to time.

    I'm with you about the importance of authenticity and emotional truth To me they matter far more than some simple, limited and probably more often than not artificial or false view of one's identity.

    Thanks, Susan.

  42. Maybe you just need company on Tuesday nights Elisabeth. Something that you could keep your mind and body preoccupied with. Sometimes it just takes minor changes like that. And the next thing you know, instead feeling uneasy until your daughter returns you might find yourself cursing under your breath when you hear the door handle

  43. Happy New Year Elisabeth. I am writing a bit more, out of the blog actually, a kind of new work in a "strange" prose poetry style that is taking shape by itself…so I have time only in the evening to put something in my blog in the meantime and read David King's one whose daily poems are truly mesmerizing. Anyway I'll try to keep pace with your posts that I think could be put on print and become a memoir. I would be delighted to find it in bookshop… All my best,

  44. Yes, all that. Privacy and intimacy in equal measure. And meeting seems somehow to be stepping across a boundary – like breaking doctor-patient confidentiality without the legal complications.

    I hope it doesn't spoil things, but I am looking forward to the adventure – and then perhaps we can both write about it?

    Isabel x

  45. Sorry if I sound a bit cold-hearted here, but when I write my blog, I'm not, strictly speaking, writing for friends, but, rather, for readers, for an audience. Now, please don't get me wrong, I'm not OPPOSED to making friends through my blog. I certainly won't turn any would-be friends away. But, for the most part, friends and readers seem to require a different mind-set. I've always wanted to either write or do something in the "arts". A blog is finally my chance to do that. Making friends and maintaining friendships, on the other hand, is something I've always found a bit stressful, and thus have always kept at a minimum. Why bring such stress to my blog, and have it interfere with what in my more pretensious moments I think of as my artistic vision (as limited as that vision may actually be)?

    I don't advertise my blog to my friends and relatives. One, I don't want them to feel OBLIGATED to read it, but, second, while I rarely write about my personel life on my blog (and thus don't have the same problems that other, more autographical, bloggers may have) I unload all my quirks and eccentricities onto it. If I go to a party or get-together and start talking about the things I write about on my blog, even things that went over quite well with my readers, my audience, I just get a lot of strange looks. "There goes Kirk, acting weird again" I imagine them saying. Yeah, yeah, I know, if they're truly my friends, if they truly care for me, they'll accept my eccentricities. Well, all I can say is, the nice thing about writing on-line, is you can't see the strange looks. I guess that's what I mean by different mind-sets.

    Anyway, happy New Years, Elisabeth.

  46. Hi, it's me again. Something I wanted to add. You were talking about meeting bloggers away from the computer. I had kind of the opposite of that happen to me. A long-lost relative, someone who I haven't laid eyes on since I was a little boy, found me through my blog. He's since started a blog of his own, and that's basically how we communicate, when we communcate at all. I have reason to believe that this person may have a chip on his shoulder over something that occured in the family that I had nothing to do with, so that limited communication suits me just fine for the time being. But it's one reason I stoped using my last name (though my full name remains on my blog for copyright protection. I take my writing seriously, even if nobody else does.)

  47. Anonymity in blogging is very dependent on personal circumstances. I chose to be anonymous for various reasons, but obviously privacy is paramount. Blogging has enabled me to write about my personal circumstances, in my marriage and step-relationships in a way that could not have been possible if I had identified myself and the family into which I married. And although I tell the truth, there are many things about which it is best to remain silent. No lies, but not total disclosure. This must be a common thing with blogging.

    As for meeting other bloggers, I have met several and am very happy to have done so. When minds and emotions meet, as they do so often here, it is natural to want to know the whole person.

    In this year of change, loss, bereavement and solitude, those who comment on my blog have become very precious to me, and I want to reach out to them.

  48. You might be right, Dusty. Maybe I need a distraction on Tuesday nights, but I can't imagine any distraction large enough to take my mind off my concern about my daughter when she's 'out on the town', not now, not at her age. But maybe it's worth a try. Thanks, Dusty Who.

  49. Davide, I'd be interested to read your poem/prose when it's finished.

    In the meantime I can understand your being caught up in the evenings with your non-blog writing. I can also understand why you might dedicate what little time you have to David king's posts. He is masterful.

    Thanks, Davide, and happy New Year to you.

  50. Boundaries are funny things, Isabel, constructions that arise out of human anxiety. They have their place but not too rigidly. See you tomorrow. Thanks, Isabel.

  51. I don't advertise my blog to friends and relatives either, Kirk. I see blog friendships as rather different and my focus, too, within the blogosphere is largely on the writing, but writing and content can readily be confused.

    So I understand your need and wish to keep your blog separate from your friendships, and I agree friendships are much harder work within the so-called real world than within the blogosphere. Friendships are so easy to come by and to lose within the blogosphere they have that artificial quality as a rule, but equally the can seem so real and significant.

    I find both are important in different ways. Thanks, Kirk.

  52. I recognise the need to keep certain aspects of or identity private in the blogopsphere, Persiflage and I agree with you it's a personal and idiosyncratic matter. There are some things we could not say out in the open and other things that are best left unsaid.

    I'm glad you've found some blog meetings helpful and especially glad that in this difficult past year you've found our comments, mine and other bloggers' comments, helpful. I find them that way ,too.

    Thanks, Persiflage.

  53. hello Elisabeth & thank you for opening my world up to Australia.

    I love your style of writing. So unhurried and eloquent. Loved, too, the desription of the witching hour.

    About blogger identities – I agree that writing about our lives and the lives of our family & friends can be tricky business. I created the concept of India Banks NOT to hide any facts but to buy some freedom of speech as it were – I'm a teacher of tech saavy students who wants to write and connect with others in the world.

    So it's like when you meet someone and say My name is Jane but you can call me India –

    happy new year!!!

  54. It's lovely to see you here 'Jane aka India'.

    You put it so well, this business of identity created online in order to speak freely and in ways that might otherwise be impossible.

    The truth can come in many forms and can sometimes seem quite contradictory.

    Thanks, India Banks, and welcome to my part of the blog world.

  55. We are such multifaceted critters, us humans. I often use the metaphor of the 'mirrorball' to denote the multiple perspectives and lenses through which we all look, see and act.

    I try to maintain the privacy of those around me, particularly my family, unless they have granted direct permission. I have also deleted some posts because the thoughts therein were about extremely sensitive matters and could be misconstrued. Writing them though, assisted in my working them out.

    There is some amazing talent out there in the blogosphere.

  56. I agree with you about the talent within the blogosphere, Christine. It is amazing.

    And your mirror ball metaphor is apt for the multiplicity of perspectives that can be generated from one single scenario or issue.

    Thanks, Christine.

  57. I read this post and went away to think about a response and thought about it and then thought about it some more and of course you have long moved on.

    I began blogging in a discourse that was odd and ill-fitting but necessary because I was writing about recovery and found myself part of what could be called the recovery community of bloggers. It was helpful in some ways, talking about something I hadn't talked about before, but the discourse itself felt like a klutzy straitjacket.

    And I had started another blog while I was in Wales because I kept having these dreams and had some neo-pagan friends and so I wrote for them and found myself in the metaphorical hinterland of the neo-pagan discourse and community online. Another discourse with limitations and problems. How do we blog in different voices? Some friends/readers online recognise one voice but not the other, some liked both, some felt that blogging in different voices was inauthentic, some wondered why I didn't just writer from my daily reality.

    Not very different from my experience last year when I wrote a novella about a mermaid in the Karoo and my e-publisher said, 'You're writing genre fiction now not literary fiction,' Even though I was writing the same gritty kitchen sink stuff about betrayals and disappointment and economic motivations. This was speculative fiction and marketed as such. So there is a voice and there is discourse, what others perceive a blogger or author to be doing, the expectations, the level of disclosure, the tone.

    All protectiveness is perhaps ultimately self-protective and we try to outwit ourselves when we tell stories, when we let metaphor into the everyday. The trick is to get past the censor at the gate and that is the self who doesn't want the story told this way or that way.

  58. I have moved on fro this post, this first day o the year, Mary, but not so far that I am not pleased to see you here. I agree: 'How do we blog in different voices?' I've come up against those who prefer the strictly autobiographical and others who enjoy the fictional. Others who are pleased to read whatever comes up and if it resonates they might respond and others still who prefer that I declare myself up front: what are you writing about here? they might ask. Let's not have any surprises. But I prefer the surprise element, otherwise why bother.

    That's one of the problems with the fixed community of bloggers. There are expectations that you maintain one set identity and any deviation is frowned upon. I prefer multiple perspectives and it's clear to me from what you write here that you do, too.

    Have you been to one of Barbara Turner Vesselago's 'freefall' workshops? – that's not to label or constrain you. I ask because of the word freefall in your blog title and because of the quality of your writing.

    Thanks, Mary,

  59. I'd agree with these thoughts, Robert: that old demon self-censorship trips us up all the time, and yet…well we need some of it sometimes, otherwise we become like – what's that term? We become like those people who cannot hold back on unspoken thoughts. They can swear out of the blue uncontrollably.

    I've had a mental block here. I expect you'd know the word. I stumble on it all the time.

    Thanks, Robert.

  60. Tourette Syndrome. I've been accused of it. Mainly by blog ladies of matron vintage, latecomers to feminism. I'm a homophobe too, a racist, misogynist, and (how's this) a sociopath! Well poor old things, they've had to memorise these insults as part of the latte catechism. But their brains aren't sharp anymore. When you start dying your hair red and worrying about your middle-age spread rote is all you have left.

  61. My daughter is an adult now, and as sociable as ever. I kiss her on the forehead and really mean it. When she was about three years old we stayed in a caravan park at Venus Bay, right on the beach. She invited herself into a nearby caravan where there was a young couple with two kids, and an older woman who may have been an aunt or grannie. One day she (my daughter) went down to the beach with them and they should have checked with me because she told them I'd said it was okay but actually I didn't know a thing about it. Anyway they were leaving the next day, this crowd, and when they got back from the beach they all said goodbye to her. Then the older woman came forward, knelt and wrapped her arms around her. It lasted a while.
    I've seen people hug someone but never with that sort of feeling, an immense sadness and so much love.

  62. Hello? I repeat, the above comment concerning my daughter at Venus Bay was intended for your posting "The White Wall of the Refrigerator".
    Would you PLEASE put it there?
    Sorry for my mistake.

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