Monday, July 21, 2008

Secret messages

Every week I read Noel's Popless column for his insights and his eloquent prose. But I also read it to see what he's said about me and the kids -- to catch a glimpse of the life we live with him, filtered through the read-by-millions website and reflected back to me through all those eyes.

I appear in Popless -- and in Noel's occasional other posts on the A.V. blog -- in two ways. Sometimes I'm referenced directly, usually as "my wife" although sometimes by name. And sometimes I appear in a ghostly way, unseen by readers other than close friends and family, in the music Noel writes about -- music that I particularly love, music that he might not have chosen to highlight were in not for the fact that I would miss its absence.

Noel's written about Archer's autism before (and probably will again), and he sometimes can't resist a cute Cady Gray story. More often, the kids are set dressing for the world he's weaving with words, a way to remind the readers that he's not a teenager anymore and that parenthood has changed the way he relates to media past and present.

When I run across a reference to the kids in Noel's work, I feel a glow of pride. (I also feel a bit superior for knowing how wonderful and beautiful they are, in a way that the A.V. Club readers never will.) When I find myself in something he's written, I feel a flush, a prickle, as if everybody's looking at me. That's odd, because most of the time when Noel writes "my wife," people don't know it's me -- fellow A.V. Club writer. I'm the anonymous woman behind the phrase, a label into which readers can either pour a brief, indulgent bit of imagination (what's she like?) or, more likely, blip over without any thought or hesitation, the way Linus does with Russian names in Dostoevsky.

Every so often a commenter stumbles onto the knowledge that these two writers with different names are linked. I was amused by a vanity Google alert which informed me that somebody had blogged about that fact a few weeks back. If my media experience is any indication, that kind of contextual, real-world information is a bit intrusive for readers. We'd like to imagine that writers live in some Cloud-Cuckoo-Land from which they produce their work, unhindered by relationships except to the extent that such figures provide color or dramatic foils or a sense of humanity. But maybe in the new media age, when bloggers can become the axes around which communities gather and revolve, readers are more interested in writers as people -- in their lives, their minds, their struggles, their tastes, their opinions.

I know there are a couple of commenters who regularly visit the A.V. Club site who know Noel and me in real life, and I can tell by their comments that they feel pride in that -- as if they have an inside track in the little group who collect around our work online. It's almost like having fans. And being on the inside in Noel's life, the one that he writes about for thousands of unknown eyes, makes me feel like a superfan.


Eric Grubbs said...

I don't remember when I realized you and Noel were married. Maybe Kyle told me? Anyway, I think it's great you two cross-reference each other in your posts.

Eric Grubbs said...

PS: Now that Noel mentioned the LaBrea Stompers in a Popless column, how's about some reflections about your time in the band? The PG stuff of course. :-)