When I first joined grad school (I was like 10, yes I was, such a precocious genius), I attended a few seminars with someone who later became a friend, and then not (but that's another story, for another blog). And she told me in somewhat shocked tones, "gosh, well, I am a bit surprised. I thought you were rather frivolous when I fist met you."
Hmmmm....now I did like girly clothes and bright lipstick and cool, chunky jewelry. But frivolous? Really? I processed that in my 20-something brain and filed it away, not sure how to respond except with a rather idiotic grin and a quick subject change.
Then, earlier this year I spent three weeks at the Chateau de Lavigny, we had a public reading mid-way through the session. There were five of us and we had a great time that evening, discovering each other's work in a more public setting and supporting each other. It was awesome. One of the writers while making a toast at dinner that evening said a lot of complimentary things and then added, looking at me, "And you...I never realized you were do deep."
There have been at least 12 years between these two comments but they stick in my mind as book-ends. And no, I was not insulted or unhappy, just bemused. I mean I can't really police how people perceive me or perceive my writing for that matter. And perhaps, because I write of such darkness, it's not so bad if I am perceived as being sort of surfacey (is that word?).
It gets more complicated when I come against that other perception of me, as being either remote and somewhat snobbish or quiet and shy, even retiring. I know that I am a very situational person, so I probably come across as different to different people.
And how do I feel at being perceived as shallow or frivolous? I don't know. I guess I'd rather be that than an in your face deep person who makes people run for cover. I find juvenile humor funny (including the scatalogical), I still like bright lipstick and chunky jewelry though I am older than I was in grad school.
Perhaps it validates my desire to be a woman of mystery. Perhaps I am like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get...well, unless you can read and just refer to the chocolate chart on the box. Do I want a chocolate chart for myself?
I guess I really don't mind any of these perceptions. Once someone gets to know me, the chart gets more muddled I am sure, but these initial perceptions do remain. You know what? I may not be a girl any more but I do love girly things, I adore pink and cute puppies. But I also wear a lot of black, can laugh helplesly at fart jokes, and look with more than my share of cynicism at most things and yes, write of the dark nature of things. In fact, I start light-hearted stories and they take a left turn somewhere, and it again becomes a tale of sadness or molestation or rape or death or murder or something uplifting like the messy end of relationships. Cheery no? Perhaps my different parts balance me...like one perfect nut encased within caramel, enrobed in rich chocolate.
Damn! Now I gotta go find some chocky for myself. How frivolously girly is that? Ta ta!