Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

My blogging doppelganger


Let me in
Originally uploaded by Whatknot.
Though some people blog under their own name, many do not. The reasons are legion, and in my case not to be revealed. No, I'm not a criminal on the run from the thought-police. Though some of my reasons are purely practical, I've also found that having an alter-ego has helped to boost my ...um...real ego as well.

Some people post pictures of themselves on their blogs, which is cool too, especially if they're photogenic. I am not photogenic, and refuse to believe that the typical picture of me looks anything like me at all. The camera not only doesn't love me, but seems intent on mortifying me as well.

In any case, many moons ago when I finally figured out how to post a profile "photo" to my blog, I asked my beloved, albeit blog-phobic "BG" to do a sketch I could use that would properly showcase my new blog-persona of Elvira Black.

BG, being a portrait artist, at first tried for verisimilitude. He produced a portrait of me that I hated because it looked too much like the real me. One of the banes of being a portrait artist is that when you are commissioned to do a piece, the client will sometimes be appalled at the results because it looks a little too much like them for their liking. Moreover, they may not even realize that they really do look that way. The truth, as they say, often hurts.

So I filed away BG's "realistic" picture of me, and insisted that he portray me more along the lines of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Some of you may not be familiar with this horror film hostess of yore, but she resembles a rather sexy vampire chick with long black hair and very big boobs. And so Elvira Black was born.

When it comes to writers and bloggers, I have to say that I'm usually more than content to simply imagine what they look like. Everyone wants to know what their favorite musician looks like, and I can't think of too many examples of rock stars who don't show their real, albeit glammed up faces and toned bodies to the world at large. But writers don't have to do music videos or concerts, for which most are eternally grateful. Writing is a much more solitary and cerebral (not to mention sedentary) pursuit, so adding a face to the writing is, to my mind, not only superfluous but sometimes detrimental as well.

And so it is that the more I read a "masked" writer's work, the more I imagine I know them, and I compose my own private portrait of them to match. This picture can become so entrenched that if I later see a photo of the real writer, I am sometimes gravely disappointed. Not necessarily because they're ungainly, but simply because they don't fit into the image I've created in my mind for them.

In my case, my blog doppelganger has morphed into a persona quite separate from the real me, which I'll refer to as "Ms. X." A few examples:

Elvira now has lots of friends in the blogosphere.
Ms. X has few "live" friends at present--in part because she can't seem to find too many people to her liking, and in part because she almost never leaves the apartment anymore--too busy blogging, don't you know.

Elvira has a sweet, melodious voice.
Ms. X is given to occasional screeching and kvetching, revealing her New York Jew-girl accent, especailly under duress.

Elvira has the body of a 24 year old.
Ms. X has the body of a 48 year old.

Elvira gets to speak her mind.
Ms. X has to listen to blowhards and bores speak their mind.

Elvira is vivacious and outgoing.
Ms. X is tentative and shy.

Elvira reveals intimate details about herself--up to a point.
Ms. X keeps herself to herself.

Elvira is a blatant blog and comment whore.
Ms. X, being ladylike and modest, does not promote herself, and only a few folks near and dear to her know she has a blog, or even that she is a writer.

Elvira writes for herself.
Ms. X wrote for the Man.

But come to think of it, Elvira is not really a "fake." She merely represents a different side of me--the writer's side. My brain simply works differently when I'm writing, and Elvira's brain (along with the computer) becomes one with mine. Plus which, rather than having those "what made me say that" or "I wish I'd said this instead" moments of mortification so frequent in real life, I can always edit myself so that I can (hopefully) say what I mean and mean what I say, and look good doing it.

Perhaps this is why, in the immortal words of Johnny Cash, I "haven't seen the sunshine since I don't know when." Elvira has, in a very real sense, hijacked Ms. X and consigned her to the shadows. Now Ms. X need only come out when she has to take a trip to the grocery store.

And sad though it may sound, up until recently this was just fine with me.

43 Comments:

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Crazy.Spoiled.bLitch. said...

Wow! I think you crawled inside my head with this paragraph:

"Elvira now has lots of friends in the blogosphere.
Ms. X has few "live" friends at present--in part because she can't seem to find too many people to her liking, and in part because she almost never leaves the apartment anymore--too busy blogging, don't you know."

 
At 8:50 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

crazyspoiledblitch:

I have to say I've really enjoy blogging, but it's biting me in the ass now. Because of my lack of moderation, it's nearly become the ruination of me. But I don't intend to stop--no freaking way! Just maybe try to cobble together a "life" again beyond the mighty blogosphere.

 
At 10:33 AM, Anonymous brink craven said...

Hi E--

Where you aware that Elvira is also a character in Mozarts, Don Giovanni? Im going to see it in a couple of weeks. I'll tell ya what she looks like...

 
At 12:24 PM, Blogger artdetective said...

I enjoyed reading this -- parts of it really made me laugh. I also love the relative anonymity of blogging and my new, very supportive blogpals. And the fact that I can edit my internal monologue so that it comes out *just right*.

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Brink:

Cool! I have the feeling she may have the low cut dress and heaving bosoms, but maybe not the goth persona--lol...

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

artdetective:

Thanks so much! Yeah, I love the fact that there are people out there that I can actually e-mail just to see what's going on or if I want to kvetch. I can't think of too many offline people I can do that with nowadays. Though BG and I have a good relationship of course, I did make the remark the other night that there's a whole side of me--a whole world, so to speak--that he knows little about, since he doesn't read my blog. Now and then I'll read a post or some comments to him, but he sees how the blogging has overtaken my life and so he doesn't want to encourage me too much.

 
At 12:31 AM, Blogger !ce said...

I think that the two are very similar for me. I feel that express a more intimate part of myself when writing. The same thing is true of my lyrics. I have the same viewpoints and opinions when I'm not writing, though, and I do express them. In public, I do tend to make sure that I have my hair a certain way, that I'm dressed a certain way, and I use language differently, which I've started incorporating a little in posts.

 
At 4:37 AM, Blogger Skye said...

Very well said.

I started off very similarly, but in my pre-blog world of backgammon rooms. My two persona's were similar in a couple ways, but soooooo different in many others (very outgoing and witty). I liked who I was online, and slowly over time, I started becoming that person even in real life.

I like to think that it was just the inner me who had been trying to come out for years, but the exit was barred. The internet held the key that opened it.

(over from walker's)

 
At 2:21 AM, Blogger Sage said...

Well put. I couldn't say it better myself. 1st visit, now you are bookmarked daily.

 
At 5:21 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Ice:

I still find your blog persona to be somewhat mysterious, as you sometimes don't reveal certain details, or so it seems to me. But I have an image of you in my mind which partly involves you singing and dancing along to Cyndi Lauper et al unabashedly--perhaps it's a moments like that when you feel your happiest.

 
At 5:25 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Skye:

Awhile back, I went with my boyfriend to AA for 14 months. I'm not an alcoholic, but gradually it helped me open up and even have the confidence to speak in front of a group, which had always petrified me.

However, most of the folks there really had no interest in the "real me," and some of them loved to hear themselves talk and would simply interrupt me when I attempted to get a word in edgewise.

Here on the blogosphere, things are indeed different. I feel like I'm interacting with like-minded, literate people and it does help bring out more of the "real" me even in this virtual world.

Thanks so much for visiting--any friend of Walker's is definitely cool!

 
At 5:27 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Sage:

Thanks so much--it's always good to meet another fellow BP "traveller"--lol. What a trip, huh?

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger jessie said...

I find that i am actually more reserved when i write. I don't quite understand why. I guess most would see me as ms. happy homemaker, maybe wearing a nice dress or something, very conservative like. I can say i am not that way at all. I am very loud and opinionated, bossy, demanding, and an adrenaline junkie. I like my dark make up, my trendy clothes, getting my nails done and i love my vans. I prefer listening to loud rock music rather than something soft or country and i even sit and watch Jackass and Viva la Bam with my kids. My blogging personality is more laid back, easy going and conservative. Strange how my persona changes so much with blogging that i actually become quite the different person. The only thing that doesn't change about me is that i am quite pro active about issues that are important to me and my honesty. How strange it is indeed.

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger dan said...

My choice to use my real name (but not my last name so I retain some anonymity) and a real picture (albeit that shows very little) is because it reinforces the idea of honesty in what I write.

Ish. Symbolism. I should be in a 10th grade literature class. :)

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Hmmmmm
Who am I?
I think I am Walker, Liquid, and Ace.
Our blog personnas do not truly represent who we are in real life because lets face it. What people see here is a condenced one sided version of what we truly experience and beleive.
Our thoughts and beliefs are yours but our loud speaker is who we are on our blogs.
I don't use my name for personal reasons and I dont post recent pix for the same.
I find the security of my annonymity gives me the freedom to let loose and say it as I want.
I know I am not unapproachable, the 87 people on my msn can atest to that.
But I do like my privacy and this is the only way I feel comfortable saying what I want and not having to worry about who wants to kill me.
Yeah Yeah, I know how to piss people off lol.
Walker is what I do in my life, Darth is my shadow and sword.
But the bottom line is we are who we pretend to be but a condenced version of the real person.
More intense, full of concentrated thought and beleif.

Psssssssst the Lady ( a blonde)that plays Elvira is really someone else pretending to be who she really is inside.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Don said...

You know Elvira, for once I'm going to keep it short.

You're streets ahead of most other bloggers out there, simply because you can write... boy can you fucking write. And if you hadn't told me you were bi-polar, I would never have known. You're writing is sharp, very perceptive, and balanced.

So why am I saying all of this? Well, who cares about how you look? Through your writing you're a beaut. Just thought I'd let you know.

Woot!

 
At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Neil said...

"And sad though it may sound, up until recently this was just fine with me."

And what instigated this change?

 
At 12:55 AM, Blogger !ce said...

Elvira, I'm more likely to sing than dance. I find it quite cathartic. If there's a particular phrase, line, or verse that I relate to in a song, I sing it aggressively or dramatically as if I were screaming at or crying to whomever or whatever is bothering me. I like to do this in the car while I'm commuting.
Lately, I have been thinking that bluegrass, metal, and blues belong on the same album. Emotionally, they belong together. In the last several years, Dolly has similarly noticed the connections between bluegrass, folk, Celtic, and country, and chosen to merge them. I wouldn't put country in the mix myself, but I can totally see why she did.

 
At 1:31 AM, Blogger Sage said...

Please allow us to decide whether you are photogenic or not. usually those that claim not, are. And vice versa. If you liked AA, you'll love CODA, thats for Co-Dependants. Hell, I thought I fell into the worlds biggest pity party!!! Whewww...............

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Justine said...

Yeah, Don. I'll second that.

By the way Elvira, I never imagined you with a quiet soft voice. But I never really imagined you doing that dance with tassles, either (you know the one I mean).

 
At 5:14 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Jessie:

I can relate to what you're saying about being more "subdued" in your writing persona than in "real" life. Writing is generally more formal than speaking, but it's taken me a long time to "loosen up" my style and try to make it as conversational and informal as possible, because in my case my writing voice was really stiff. But that's not the case with you by any means (stiff writing, I mean), and it is fascinating to know that you have that "wild" side too!

 
At 5:18 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Dan:

I love that picture of you...walking contemplatively through the woods. It suits you very well. But hey, you've also revealed your sexy self in pix as I remember awhile back--woo hoo! No, not nude shots (unless you've got some in your archives I don't know about...if so, give it up!)

It's weird, but I've just become so used to being Elvira in cyberspace that it seems "honest" in a very real way to me. Go figure.

 
At 5:23 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Walker:

Brilliantly put as always, esp. when you said "we are who we pretend to be." It's kind of like the notion (sometimes used in therapy) of acting "as if." If one acts brave or brilliant or clever or anything else one can imagine, one can indeed "become" that--I guess because the potential exists there inside you. So I think that the condensed version that blogging represents is both "artificial" (in the same way art is, because it is a condensed representation of the real) and deeply genuine as well.

 
At 5:26 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Don:

Wow.

That was one of the nicest things anyone's ever said about my writing. Thank you so much for the compliment. You really made my week! And I'm so glad you're back blogging again!

 
At 5:30 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Neil:

Although I love blogging, it's taken over my "real" life to such a degree that I've slowly but surely become a virtual shut-in; a recluse. It's just so easy to climb into the warm bath of cyberspace and neglect everything else. Plus, "Elvira" smokes even more cigs than "I" do, which is giving me an alarming hack. And Elvira doesn't seem to think fresh air and exercise are all that important either. Bad influence!

 
At 5:33 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Ice:

I'm glad that singing is cathartic for you, because I know you have a lot of emotions that need to find a vehicle, and you've been going through some frustrating times.

I love when musicians mix genres too. To me, Celtic is the English version of "country," and it's particularly beautiful in pop music. And I love when metal is mixed with gentler genres. Actually Led Zep did that quite effectively, though I doubt you like them.

 
At 5:37 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Sage:

Yes, if truth be told, I'm just one of those people who hates to get her picture taken. I'm always afraid it will be unflattering, but that's not always the case. I find that digital cameras tend to "love" me more though.

Oh yeah--I know an Al-anon junkie. She lives with a truly hopeless alcoholic, but I think she just goes to the Al-anon conventions and such as a social outlet. I don't think it's done her or her significant other a whole heck of a lot of good. But then again, it does probably help her at least get away from him for awhile, and believe me, she needs to.

 
At 5:41 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Justine:

Many thanks! Usually my voice is agreeable enough (or so I like to think) but when I get aggravated I imagine I revert to something less melodious.

As far as tassles, well, I do have a story (possibly) brewing about the time I worked for about a week as a waitress at a topless bar...(I wasn't topless, though my friend took the plunge. I just wore a cute little leotard. Boy, did that ever suck)...

 
At 12:26 AM, Blogger !ce said...

I also have other ways that are equally cathartic, but less nice. I'm going to seek revenge via artistic expression. There will not be enough black paint in the world.

I do not like Led Zeppelin. However, Dolly did a nice bluegrass version of "Stairway to Heaven" on her Halos & Horns CD.

 
At 3:47 PM, Blogger Nikky Egland said...

LOL I loved this post!

 
At 5:49 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Ice:

I think artistic expression is one of the coolest ways to obtain catharsis. To me, that's part of what art is all about.

It's interesting how other artists can do covers that transform a song into something totally "different"--though I can't imagine Dolly Parton covering "Whole Lotta Love" anytime soon.

 
At 5:51 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Nikky:

Thanks so much..I'm glad you liked it!

 
At 6:04 AM, Blogger !ce said...

Her latest album is a collection of songs from back in the day. Nice bluegrass version of "Blowin' In The Wind."

I have updated my website. I would like to add a footnote. As long as I wear black, I can shield them from reading my thoughts or killing me.

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger jane said...

I always imagine you look like Elvira! I mean, who else? But you are prettier than Elvira, well at least your eyeliner isn't as drastic & your hair isn't ratted on the top.
I don't use my real name while blogging. If I did, I wouldn't blog about what I do.
I agree with you, I like the idea of this other persona taking over cuz she can eat all the chocolate in the world & never gain a pound or get a zit! ;)

 
At 5:04 AM, Blogger Justine said...

Elvira - I wanted to let you know that New Yorkers generally, but you especially, are in my thoughts today.
I would assume that having this Moussoui guy finally sentenced today would bring up a lot of stuff. If nothing else, it means seeing those horrifying films of the twin towers replayed over and over.
I hope all the people who have been victims of this in some way, find it in themselves to string the pieces back together.

 
At 4:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:07 PM, Blogger Sage said...

Time to update (((smile)))

I LINKed this one from mine

 
At 1:17 AM, Blogger Walker said...

Tap Tap Tap

ok I miss you now

 
At 4:40 AM, Blogger Sage said...

OK, time to post anew, my friend.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Ice:

You are truly one of a kind!

 
At 10:28 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Jane:

If only Elvira could eat all the chocolate with impunity, but somehow that kind of indulgence tends to "weigh in" on Ms. X as well--lol.

I've been struggling with the notion of revealing more about myself here, but even under the guise of Elvira I'm a little hesitant to take it "too far." Something to ponder--it would make it a lot easier for me to write right now if I let more out.

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Justine:

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. As far as the Moussouli trail, the ending was almost anticlimactic, since the coverage of the trail was very painful indeed. The guy was as monstrous in court as Saddam Hussein, and the testimony of loved ones was heartwrenching, even in short news reports. I hear now he's asking for a new trial. Can you believe it? In any case, I think it's probably for the best that he didn't get the death penalty--let him rot in jail and not get to be a martyr.

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Sage and Walker:

Thanks for the nooge (lol)--I've given it my best shot in the latest post, which isn't a lot right now.

 

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