A Tiny Taste of Fame (Just small enough to choke on)

“So this area is called the ‘Dashboard’ and this is where you pull all of the strings to create the pages that people see.” I explained to my mother who knew very little about blogging and cared even less. Then I showed her around my blog and eventually over to the WordPress homepage and the Freshly Pressed section.

Pausing ever-so-reverently on the Freshly Pressed area. My eyes glazed over like Homer Simpson’s when he sees a beer or a donut and I dramatically drew a circle in the air around The Page with my index finger and with an equal amount of drama said to her: “Mother, THIS is where I can only hope to end up some day. THIS is the goal. THIS would be THE place to be.”

A day or two later, I did the same thing to my boyfriend.

I can be a bit of a drama queen.

My fledgling web log was just 10 days old. I had 13 subscribers and anywhere from 40 to 80 hits a day. And then last Friday something amazing happened. Going to my blog to check the stats (as I had begun doing religiously) hoping each day that the numbers would climb, I told myself not to expect much. I literally SAID to myself: “Don’t be disappointed if the numbers are low. You are NEW at this and it will take time for people to discover it.”

But the numbers weren’t low. They were skyrocketing! And I immediately thought there must be something wrong with WordPress and that this had to be a mistake of some kind. I knew enough to be able to check where the majority of hits were coming from and I saw that it was the WordPress homepage. So naturally I went there. And that’s when I saw it. My baby. My blog… right there in the middle of the page. The picture, the name…  I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was actually seeing what I thought I was seeing.

It was for real.

I called my boyfriend. I called my parents. I emailed my friends. I wanted to run yelling through the streets: I’ve been Freshly Pressed!! I’ve been Freshly Pressed!! I did refrain, however, for fear of looking like a lunatic since I’m pretty sure that a large slice of society probably would assume that “Freshly Pressed” is something akin to water-boarding. But on the inside I WAS running and yelling.

Since it was a Friday, I was fortunate that my blog stayed on FP for 3 whole days (plus one more if you count the day that it slides back to the “earlier” site). Four whole days of extra exposure to the world and readers and hits and comments and spiking stat charts and emails and “likes” and subscribers! I had never experienced anything remotely like the rush I got from it. By the end of the 4th day, I was exhausted. I looked like a junkie in desperate need of a fix. My eyes were red, I was cranky from very little sleep and I just generally looked like shit. It was then that I realized how HARD it is to stand under the white-hot light of overnight celebrity. No wonder so many people crack under the pressure.

It was going to be short-lived and I was aware of it every second of every day. And it was wearing me out. Staying up late to watch the numbers, answer comments and emails, read other people’s blogs and nurture new virtual friendships. I kept thinking: I’ve got to stay after this or it will all slip away! Soon the clock will strike midnight and my carriage will turn back into a pumpkin, my gown to rags and my fine white horses to rats… I will be the little-ol’-graphic-designer-from-Ohio-who-writes-for-a-hobby once again. I will be just another regular gal doing the 8 to 5, eating frozen Lean Cuisines and watching Hoarders with my cat.

What can I say? I did the best I could for 4 days. My family and boyfriend—God love ‘em—did their best too. My boyfriend asked me daily what my numbers were and whether or not I was getting enough sleep. He and my parents reiterated how proud they were of me. They graciously listened as I told them about some of my new online connections. My parents showed their friends my blog while at a dinner party instead of passing around pictures of grandkids.

On Tuesday morning I logged on to my computer and  much to my chagrin, the numbers were abysmal compared to the day before. Back to normal I guess. My moment in the spotlight had expired. Like the rollercoaster that is 60 seconds of sheer unpredictable terror and thrill and then comes screeching to a halt… The ride was over. I then glanced at the clock: 15 ‘til 8… I grabbed my purse, my keys, my coffee … and headed to the office.

As I pulled out of my driveway I heard the faintest voice as though over a muffled loudspeaker say: Please exit quickly to your left in order to make room for the next passenger.

Fending Off Crazy Cat Woman

I could feel the stranger’s eyes boring into the back of my skull and the heat from his stare on my neck. “Don’t judge me.” I thought to myself as I set the groceries on the conveyor and glanced over my shoulder at the man standing behind me with his filled-to-the-brim shopping cart.

I put the plastic divider in place after pulling the remaining items from the cart and reviewed my impending purchases… A quart of skim milk, two containers of flavored coffee creamer, a bottle of OJ, one box of cereal, a loaf of bread, a brick of cheddar, three Lean Cuisines and 10 cans of cat food.

My tiny bundle of staples barely covered a third of the checkout counter. And it occurred to me that the aforementioned items probably screamed: “CRAZY, SINGLE, CAT WOMAN!!” to anyone who cared to investigate what it was I was buying. I wondered if he felt pity toward me… “Poor woman.” He probably thought. “Mid-thirties. Obviously purchasing dinner for one. Clearly companioned by one or more cats. Poor thing. She’ll probably go home, microwave her dinner and watch Lifetime all by herself.”

It’s what I would have thought. I judge people based on what they buy at the grocery store all the time.

Sensing his judgment and pity I smoothed my skirt and stood a little taller trying to act all nonchalant, confident and indifferent as to what anyone thought of me and my two-cans-shy-of-a-dozen cat food collection. I interacted with the checkout girl by enthusiastically chatting her up about the weather and the upcoming weekend to illustrate that I do, indeed, have social skills and some semblance of a life. She rang me up, we bagged it up and I strutted out of the store like I owned it.

“I am not a crazy, sad, sorry, single, cat woman. I do have a boyfriend. I am a perfectly happy, successful, well-adjusted, strong woman. ” I said with my body language. “You don’t know me.”

Perhaps my affinity for TV shows that delve into the intricacies of the human psyche is to blame for my hyperactive-grocery-store-paranoia. Consistently watching CSI, Criminal Minds and House might be the reason I ask such questions as: What do these purchases say about me? What would an FBI profiler glean from the ratio of human to feline food in my pantry? If someone murdered me in my home while I slept, would the cops feel sorry for me when they processed the crime scene?

Then again… maybe I just watch too much TV… with my cat.