My sorta-secret side job.

I like to claim that I have no secrets.

About a month ago, I was talking to my mother on the phone about how open I am about certain things. In fact we were probably talking about this blog.

“Mom,” I said, proudly. “I have no secrets.”

Maybe it’s my background in journalism that makes me not want to have secrets. I’ve seen secretive people suffer for hiding parts of their lives. As a sort of defense, I’ve tried to be open about just about everything. But of course, that’s impossible, even for a big-mouth with Internet access. Everyone keeps some secrets. I knew I must have some.

I just couldn’t think what they could be.

Until this past weekend, when I had to travel for business, and I found myself reluctant to explain to those who asked where I was going and what I was doing for all of Saturday and Sunday. I never really thought of this sideline as a secret, because plenty of people  – especially people I’ve known for a long time – know that I do this.

I started doing this thing as a teenager. In fact, when I was younger, I was very proud of this job and talked about it often. I advertised it, actually, because it brings with it a certain kind of attention. But as I’ve gotten older and taken more responsible jobs in different fields,  I’ve stopped doing this. I’ve also stopped telling people about it because I’m worried that this job will affect the way they will view me in other areas of my life. More unfortunately, this job also causes people to want or expect certain things from me, and the things that those people want and expect can be draining.

But shame and fear are never a good thing. So last week, when someone asked me if I was going to be around on Saturday, and I began a complicated throat-clearing campaign in an attempt to stall until someone else changed the subject, I knew I was going to have to start being open about my sorta-secret side job once again.

Where better to do this than on the world wide web, where everyone can see? So what is this thing that I do that causes me so much angst?

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Obama is in town.

It is a strange thing to look out your back window and see hundreds of people. It’s a very strange thing to take out the compost and hear crowd

The line was like this for a good hour.

noises. You’d think I’d be used to it. I live in Bridgeport’s South End. Once a year thousands of hippies and deadheads camp out for the weekend at the end of my street. I once got stuck in a traffic jam almost completely made up of VW buses that were trying to get onto the camp grounds. And the Puerto Rican Day Parade completely fills up our neighborhood each July. But this is different. President Barack Obama is speaking at a rally that’s taking place up the block at the Harbor Yard arena, so we have lines of people who are hoping to get into the free event, very large red helicopters flying low over the house, roadblocks and all sorts of other exciting things happening.

We went out and checked out the line earlier, and it was cool – as it always is – to see lots and lots of people on a block can otherwise be pretty desolate.

Still, seeing strangers out my window, helicopters rattling my home and suspicions about just how tight security gets when the President comes to town has me feeling a mite paranoid.

Which is cool, because, as I said in my last post, that’s what we’re celebrating this weekend: Fear.

Still scared.

If I were Alice, the sight of this guy would have sent me shrieking and clawing back up the rabbit hole.

I thought I was over it.  I appeared to have outgrown it. I was sure that it was gone and would never trouble me again. Unfortunately, like so many other things from the ’80s that should be gone forever, my fear of caterpillars has returned.


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The fretter

As a sixteen-year-old, this was terrifying to me.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I’m concerned about the Fairfield University student reading that’s happening this evening.

It’ll most definitely go well, but I’m gonna worry a little anyhow, ’cause that’s how I roll. I’m a world-class fretter. I worry about ridiculous things.

Here’s an example. When I was a teenager, I thought the Immaculate Conception was the most terrifying thing in the world. Continue reading