Tuesday, January 22, 2008

disguise



For one summer in college I traveled Europe with a teen outreach ministry that would put on performances for tourists. There were many parts to the performance: music, drama, puppets and clowns. I was a clown.

In clown school we learned how to apply clown make-up, how to make balloon animals and the most important rule: once you are dressed as the clown, you are the clown. No one should see the transformation. The in-between part. You are either you, or the clown.

I loved being a clown. I made a little clown costume in the weeks before the trip and my costume was sort of for a baby-clown. I had black and white check bloomers, a colorful handprint pinafore and a huge red bow for my hair. I would paint large, weepy eyelashes on my cheeks and make wide-eyed baby faces.

What I noticed about the whole clown thing, was that the transformation was real. I could be having a terrible day, be grumpy and sleepy and completely anti-clown. Then, when it would be time to dress, I would put on the costume, paint my face and I'd feel all clown-y. All of a sudden. I'd be the happy baby clown. I would skip and laugh loudly and do all kinds of silly things that I would never normally do in front of strangers. The costume gave me a sense of freedom. I was allowed to hide behind a few props and be different and a little wild for a bit before washing it all off.

Lately I have wondered if this blog is my adult clown costume. I say things in a more thoughtful, clever way than I actually speak. I use phrases like 'yikes' and make the winky colon face when I rarely say yikes or actually wink. ;) I often feel spunky and silly when I write, when in real life it takes good friends or good news or a really good mood to pull out the spunk. I've wondered, is the Robyn of 3Peas the real deal?

Well, what I have noticed is all of this writing and crafting and communing with people I care about has really given me a greater sense of confidence. I feel more comfortable writing. I feel more comfortable with me. And all this is not just show. This medium has given a hidden Robyn a place to come out and wink and say 'yikes'...among other things.

I think that when I dressed as a clown and performed as a clown, I was letting out lots of silly that was really there. It's hard to contrive silly. And I think, similarly, as I write, I see and show off bits of me that really only get revealed to close friends. But they are there. It's not contrived.

I don't really have a point to this analogy. I just wanted to share what I had been thinking about. and to tell you:

I still have the costume. ;)

14 comments:

Melissa said...

It's funny that you feel that way- more confident with writing. I've found that blogging has been especially interesting for Chris and I. After reading a couple of my blogs, he has said things like, "That was funny. I didn't know you were funny!"

Your blogs is one of my favorite ones out there. Except they always make me hungry for the sugar I'm trying to give up and it's making it hard to lose these pregnancy pounds. (-:

Robyn said...

Sorry about the sugar thing...you really should post about that like you promised. I wonder why anyone would say goodbye to sugar. Though, it is about time for my glucose pregnancy test and they might find the sugar skeletons hiding in my closet....

after I started my blog Dave said it was much better than he thought it would be. ;)

thedanceofthegates said...

Such an interesting post, Robyn.

Firefly said...

A while back, I was talking with thedanceofthegates about various blogs. I told her that something about yours reminded me of a burlesque or a vaudeville act where you came out on stage with that slightly-larger-than-life stage presence and flirted with your audience from behind a mask--every now and again peeking out and winking teasingly. This seems similar to clowning. I imagined the whole thing in tap shoes. I told her that her blog reminded me more of a modern dance performance.

I agree with you about effective stage presence being authentic, not contrived. Or, I could say I don't think it's any more contrived than ordinary life. Just meaning that we are all trying to figure out ways to "perform" or manifest true bits and pieces of who we are--so we can feel seen and known by others. I am really glad blogging does that for you.

Holly said...

I like this post a lot. I can relate...blogging has been therapeutic. It's a place where you can write about silly things or serious things and be more reflective. We don't usually have time to be reflective as we're living daily life, but writing allows us a little time out-and it's fun to know that others read what you write and are generally interested in what your thoughts are. Like melissa, my husband has read my posts and said things like "I didn't realize you felt that way." or "that was a really nice story." It feels nice to let your inner self come out without having to really talk. Writing is much easier...

Robyn said...

I wonder what kind of blog is yours, Firefly. Maybe like a community meeting. Or a support group. If I were to put yours in these terms I see you at the podium and us in desks or at tables and you presenting a topic. Then you come down from the podium as we "discuss it amongst ourselves".

It's good stuff yo. Funny how the same medium looks so differently when different people try it on. I do want to entertain because I want people to come back and I think entertainment will do that. But, I also want to connect and say stuff too...which can totally be done while entertaining.

It just makes me think how much everybody to offer in their own way.

Robyn said...

Holly, I totally agree!

Firefly said...

I don't think I have a consistent voice on my blog yet like you do. But I agree that the part of my blog I like most is very communal. I think the best writing happens in the comment section and is very relationally improvisational. I like that. It reminds me a little bit of the singing that happen at Christmas at my Grandma's house. I pass out the music sheets and start singing solo, not because I want to perform but because I am dying for a sing-along. I am a terrible singer and I know it--the worst in my family, in fact. But if I start singing with a specific open and inviting intention, it will usually get a sing-along going eventually. That's sort of how I blog, too, I suppose.

Firefly said...

No, I don't think the sing-along idea is right.

Yours was the first blog I ever read. Remember how the first time I left a comment it was on a post from months earlier and you teased me because it was, in your words, "at least a foot long"? I am so happy when people leave foot-long comments on my blog in which they are working through their ideas about something in response to mine or someone else's. I think it is the depth of exchange that I like. The more times the idea gets reserved and reworked in the comment section, the more interested I get. I really miss those intense, probing discussions from college days--getting to hear people's minds grapple. Maybe that's where the podium image comes from that you mentioned.

I would like to try to make an effort to polish up a "performance" like you do more often. I try now and again, because I think it is creative and good. But you're right that generally I am happiest with generating group discussion.

It is interesting how differently everyone does it.

Robyn said...

no, Firefly, I said it was 3 feet long! It was awesome. I like long comments too. I loved the 3 footer. Sorry if I made you feel self conscious about it! I have been in a long comment habit lately. I like it, and I hope the bloggers themselves like it too.

It really was such a nice comment. I should put a link so people can see what a nice comment it was...

Susan said...

Just so you know, Firefly, Robyn e-mailed me when you left that comment and told me to go back to that post and read the 3-foot comment from her friend because she thought I'd like it. I do. This might sound weird, but I actually think about that comment all the time . . .

Robyn said...

sorry, firefly...

in case anyone is interesting in reading the 3 footer you can find it here.

http://3peasinbrooklyn.blogspot.com/2007/06/so-i-am-not-catholic.html

Totally inspiring to homemakers...so if you are one that dusts or does laundry or cooks and you need a little hug, check it out.

Firefly said...

Susan, I love my Grandma so much and it makes me happy for people to find meaning in a description of her life.

Robyn, it's funny but when I went back and read that comment, I had this wierd cross-eyed moment and I realized that my perception of you has split between the blog-Robyn and the at-home-Robyn. Both are super-great, and like you said in this post, both are authentic manifestations of who you are. But the blog-Robyn is a little more like Martha Stuart (her good parts--meaning you're blessed with a photographer's eye, crafting wizardry, an appreciation of tasteful beauty in your home--with a whimsical streak of extravagance). And the home-Robyn is more like I described in the comment--practical, efficient, resourceful, down to earth. Reading that comment made me miss walking into a kitchen somewhat chaotically filled with drying clothes, perhaps even while you're cooking in it, a living room strewn with two-year old toys, a chore list lined up for the day. I wrote that comment before I'd become a daily reader of your blog and so my perceptions were solely shaped by firsthand experience. It was wierd to re-read it and realize that my perceptions have shifted having read your blog. Now, I think of you as much more fancy. I think your fancy side is swell, but boy that comment made me wish I got to come visit your ordinary reality on a much more regular basis.

I know you have a wide readership to please, but maybe every once in a while you could post a photo of something like, I don't know, a wet dishrag in a mesh onion-bag? Maybe it'd be all the rage . . .

Melissa said...

I've gotten to the point w/ this blogging thing, because I have such limited time to be on the computer, that I read blogs instead of doing things like checking my email. I'm convinced that if I go back to work, I am going to have to ditch my blogging habit. I still can't do much more than skim all that I want to read, though.

I don't know if you really want to hear what I've learned about sugar, Robyn. If you really insist, I'll tell you what I've learned about it, and there are also a bunch of books out there. In the meantime, enjoy your sugar!

Good luck on the glucose test. I HATE that test completely. The first time was such a miserable experience, so the second time I cooked lots of protein and veggies ahead of time to try to help my body deal with that disgusting drink!