Saturday, April 08, 2006

Life as a Small Town Blogger

Last week, a blog lurker came into my office. She was working on a class project. Sounds innocent enough, right?

Ah. But here's the catch - I'm the project. Actually, this web-based alter-ego, The ZenFo Pro, was the project.

Should've figured. According to my Internet statistics, somebody went through every single post I've ever written - twice - in the last month.

First, I am not my blog. I'd like to think I'm so much more than a string of HTML on a computer screen. I answered some questions about the blogging experience - after I received assurances that my real name, title, and employer's name would not be used.

I had an opportunity to ask a few of my own questions. The answers, well, were...interesting. I'm debating, at this point, whether or not it might have been wiser to simply stay ignorant. I live, work, and generally play in a town that houses app. 22,000 over a six square-mile area. Oxford is an almost suffocating place as it is without the knowledge that there are people watching you.

I'm apparently popular locally amongst women; I'm still trying to figure that one out. The lurker showed me a few Facebook accounts of friends of hers who think I'm hot. Trust me, I'm not hot. I'm nowhere near hot. It's quite terrifying, actually, to be told that there are women - very attractive women - checking you out while you're at the store, at work, or grabbing a cup of coffee.

Who would want to date a dork? I'm a probably one of the dorkiest people in the Greater Cincinnati area. I readily admit it. I've never read the De Vinci Code, but I have read a lot of Elaine Pagels. Desperate Housewives? 24? Lost? No fucking clue, so don't ask me about them. But I own two different Star Trek DVD boxsets and both seasons of the new Battlestar Galactica.

The final damning evidence of my dorkiness? I have a frigging BLOG.

The lurker interviewing me said she was worried I might not talk to her because she wasn't pretty. This woman was frigging gorgeous... why the flying fuck would a 21-year-old who looks like a damned supermodel be worried about what a frigging librarian thinks? There are no words to describe how surreal of an experience it is to be a male librarian and to be told by a woman that she felt the need to choose the right outfit to meet you.

Maybe I should be flattered, but it makes me feel a bit awkward. Last weekend, while at a hardware store, I had a group of female college students wave at me. Then I had a high school student blow me a kiss in the grocery store - that's kinda creepy. Is it tied to this site? Lord, I hope not.

I learned a few other things from the interview. Apparently, my often cryptic writing comes across as mysterious, which has added to my supposed sex appeal. Having a profile picture doesn't help much, either. Personally, the only thing I notice is my big mellon and that I need to clean my office.

There's also this perception that some of the rather harmless "blog flirting" that goes on between bloggers somehow translates into something in the real world. Did you know that there are three female bloggers that comment regularly - two of whom are married with children, BTW - who have been confused with people I know in the real world? Neither did I.

A rather brilliant student at an East Coast university (who, under the circumstances, I'm choosing not to hotlink) has even been confused with a local real-world ex. Why? Because she posted a comment once or twice about having a relative who attends Miami and I guess some signals got crossed. Take my word for it - the blogger I'm talking about has nothing in common with Danno (no sense in using an alias here, apparently).

For the record, I read her blog because she's never posted, to my knowledge, anything on her addiction to Chanel, her perfect nose, or how she's in love with the Olsen Twins - that was basically all I heard about from said ex.

Instead, the blog friend in question posts about the Sudan crisis, the rape culture, Costa Rican getaways, and blowjob queens. She's been getting quite a bit of heat lately on her blog for speaking her mind, for daring to be herself. If she intimidates local college students simply by posting comments on my site, she must be doing something right.

To be completely honest, I debated shutting the ol' ZenFo Pro site down several times since that interview but decided against it. I think I do a damned fine job separating my blog life from my work life. If people want to stare, well, why should I give a shit? If patrons think I'm cute, well, there are worse things they could be thinking.

The experience did, however, sink in that there probably is no separating who I am in the real world from who I am in Cyberspace. That's both fascinating as an information professional and terrifying as a human being. I caught 12 women staring at work this week; one was staring at my crotch. Was Jason the Librarian being checked out? Or was the ZenFo Pro recognized from black-and-white profile pic?

This is why I refuse to take the Blogosphere too seriously and why I treat the perceptions of the bloggers behind the curtain like a rabid wolverine in a nursery. After talking with me, the lurker decided to not focus in on me for her class assignment; instead, she'll be investigating the Blog Culture.

I ran into her in Uptown Oxford this morning. She's going to e-mail me a transcript of her interview with me. Apparently, she decided to not use anything about me because, I guess, she now better understands some of my concerns.

See...who says being a small town blogger isn't interesting?


Ogbuefi Stephi said...

gee, j, life as a well-known blogger must be hard... girls thinking you're hot, people coming to interview you all the time... how on earth do you go on?

just joking. but that is really disconcerting. i don't know what that must be like. i've luckily been able to maintain a fairly under-the-radar readership so far.

and i didn't put any pictures of myself up on the site, prefering to use an avatar for my profile pic for a long time, for this very reason: that someone might judge me (negatively), based on my appearance.

silly, perhaps, but i've taken enough psych classes and lived long enough to know that physical attractiveness, sadly, is an important factor in forming judgments. i'd hate to think that my opinions and perspectives were evaluated by anything other than my words.


The ZenFo Pro said...

Aha! You are still alive! does sound kinda silly, doesn't it? Maybe I'm having a blogger diva moment :P

You've seen my office. You've gone to coffee with me...see, you know I'm a dork. It's facinating though that most MU students even bother. This lurker has actually interviewed me before for my day job, then made the connection when she noticed the new avatar. Strangely, all Main Campus - no Western folks...hmmm... maybe that's because you guys are busy with more important things ;)

For me, that's potentially explosive - hence why she decided to kill the project (I know her prof. and one of her roommates, too.) Let's just say I'd hate to change the name of the blog to the Zenformation Unemployable ;) Not so much because I'd get into hot water because of what I write about, but because of the potential work-related problems...likepeople randomly showing up at my office to ask about my love life...

Be warned, chica - watch your site meter carefully around the second-third week of the semester. might not be as under the radar locally as you think...'re aparently not the only local reader this afternoon, Kofenya right now. Crotch-staring girl? She keeps looking up from her laptop, and I'm getting a rather different look now.

Lol...if she's reading this....tag, you're it :)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Yo...blonde girl...redhawks hoodie...capri pants...I see Stephi's jumping Chinese American in the reflection!

IM me.

Cowgirl said...

A "blogger diva moment?" ROFLMAO

Coop is doing something right.

Oh, the life of the Zenfo Pro.

Anonymous said...


The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol, I can be a bit of a cheeky fellow at times :D

Hi yourself ;) If you're the blonde girl from earlier, I hope that wasn't too rude of me. I apologize. You're the first person I've ever caught reading while I'm writing. That's kinda cool.

Sar said...
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Sar said...

It's nice to offically meet you Zenfro! I'm sure we've bumped into each other frequently as your blogroll screams of familiarity - hey, there I am, how cool! :)

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your sweet birthday greeting over on Belle.

(Btw, that was a nice nod to our friend Cooper in your post.)

Lupe said...

lol awww i wasn't linked to ya? damn homes.

hate to be a bitch but isn't the crack on last year's fling with that chick a bit cold? the olson twins chanel and nose thing sounds familiar. did she ever call you for coffee or is she still hiding when she sees you?

just asking don't be mad.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Hey! It's nice to formally meet you as well! I figured I'd better leave a

You're very welcome!

Lol, but I'm starting to understand why you don't blog, chica.

Not being a bitch at all. Actually, that was a bit harsh, huh? Ran into her three times in one day last week. I almost vented here, but I won't. Basically, she's now no longer acknowledging I even exist whenever she sees me, so now I gave up on even saying hi. that's annoying as hell, because, honestly, I didn't mind hanging out with her when she wasn't playing Miss Princess. No problem being just friends.

And yeah, she's pulled the "I'll hide behind a column or dive behind a wall" routine a couple of times and never called to get a cup of coffee. Hell, if ya don't want to do it, don't agree to it. Fuck, life's too damned short to waste with kid stuff. She did, however, make it well-known that, despite her supposed ignorance of blogs, she made it clear she hated them. I'm thinking I may be the cause of that, which is part of the reason I don't use names anymore. I found a few early posts that dealt with our relationship a few weeks ago, and I noticed a few other people had, too.

Lol...guess I'm venting a bit. If there's one thing more frustrating than blogging in a small town, it's dating in a small town. I decided a while ago that if I get into another relationship here, I'd probably need to have a blog discussion and set some boundaries about what I can post about and what I can't. I already have a few (no blogging about internal work stuff or things that betray patron privacy, no talking about celebrities I've known, etc.)

No, not mad at all. Thanks, actually, for bringing that up. I've been meaning to think that out. An earlier version of this post did vent a bit, then I took it back down and revised it.

Let said...

It's definitely an interesting experience to keep a blog. The in-fighting on ours trickles into real life at times. I am very passionate about my views, and live every aspect of my life that way so anyone that knows me in person, knows there is a fine line separating the two.

Professionally, it would kill me to be "Let" all the time. I probably would have to become a full-time blogger because I couldn't keep my client list and my kids would starve.

Personally, I engage in a lot more self-deprecating humor on my blog than I do in real life. And frankly, there is something about doing that which draws me to other people who also engage in it. This is probably why women are drawn to you. It's what keeps me checking out your blog as often as I can, anyway. Your writing style often reflects self-awareness and painful honesty that some of us don't find in the men around us but we do share with other women. Of course, the other men I see that in are gay but that's another thread.

Curiously, someone in my area also figured out I am that "Let", even though my hair is shorter now and darker. My face is slimmer. All he said was that "it was nice to watch Let have coffee and laugh it up with friends". Apparently he was concerned that my acerbic responses were a reflection of a hermit-like existence. Nothing could be further from the truth but it was nice to know people who read your thoughts daily worry that much about your social life.

Miz BoheMia said...

Wait! Cooper likes the Olsen twins! WHAT? ;-P Actually, I am a freak in that I could sit for hours and just stare at identical twins... they fascinate me! Yep, I know, call me a dork too (which by the way, you called us all when citing blogging as a reason for you're being a dork! Gee! Gracias???) ;-P

Here, no one knows me as a blogger so I am safe. But when out and about without the hubby and kids, ever since I ws 21, I keep being confused with a Spanish singer called Rosario, whom I look NOTHING like (but our bodies are similar and our hair is dark and curly) and as a result people always laugh and point or stare... some have followed me for about 15 minutes to a half hour trying to "convince me to confess" that yes, I am Rosario... children sing her songs to me when I walk by and yell that they are "my" biggest fans... Ay! I feel like an impostor and going out alone is not always fun! The fact that I wear large sunglasses gives me an incognitoish look that probably doesn't help!!! (and yes, Cooper, they are Chanels but I got the for about $100 less than retail price on eBay... Woooohooo!)...

So I can relate and know how it can be weird and surreal in that sense... and the whole blogging thing... it's true that we have an online persona that is not the real us... If I "Ooooweeed" and "Wooohoooed" in real life and acted like Miz B I would be in trouble... well, more than I already tend to get into!!! ;-P

I loved this post! Sorry but yes, it was funny at your expense!

The ZenFo Pro said...

Haven't ya figured out that the in-fighting is part of the reason I stop by? You guys o'er at the Lobby are more representative of what I call a "Grassroots Progress" blog...unlike the so-called "grassroots" group blogs, you folks actually fight it out, take risks, and respect the plethora of ideas. That's what makes The Lobby a good read.

Full-time blogger? Lord, I'd shoot myself first. Kinda like being a "freelance journalist." Both are just fancy ways of saying you're mostly unemployed :)

Q. What's the difference between a professional blogger and a large pizza?
A: The large pizza can feed a family of four.

As for women readership, lol, just realized that most of the commenters the last two days are...gulp...female. Thanks for a bit of insight.

Recognition,I think, is probably more dangerous for women than for male bloggers. The girl I caught yesterday simply slapped her notebook shut and snuck out of the coffee shop. That was innocent enough and I REALLY hope I didn't upset her too much. But if the situation had been reversed, and I were a female blogger finding out that I had bunch of guys reading, yeah, that might be creepy. Esp. if you knew some of the guys around these parts.

MizB: you're not getting Coop confused with my ex, are you? I added an extra line to clear up the Chanel/Olsen Twins thing, just in case :) The local ex has those fetishes. The Olsen Twins thing always creeped me out a bit. I never understood guys who got excited about them, actually.

Cooper? Lol...I hope not, though Chanel No. 5 is actually one of the few perfumes I can tolerate...

It's funny, but, you know, I was just looking at Cooper's Costa Rican pic...hmmm...nope, they don't look anything alike, either. Not even close. Both brunettes. 'Bout it.

Besides, Cooper's, well, sane. Normal. Non-homicidal. A decent, studious, hardworking All-American sweetheart. Um...none of those words have ever been used to describe the majority of my exes. If I had exes like that, I probably wouldn't be the proud emotional cripple I am today... ;P I have had a grand total of two known exes actually comment before, though. I REALLY hope they both quit reading a long time ago.

You know, you could make a lot of money posing as a Spanish singer :) If ya need an agent...

Feel free to laugh. I did when somebody pointed out that I was being a bit paranoid about the whole thing. It is pretty funny. Lol...should've posted a survey. BTW, I wouldn't laugh too hard.

You know those two married women with


The ZenFo Pro said...


If you're offended in any way, please drop me a line and I'll modify/delete the post. I just realized I may have been a bit of an ass in posting this and may have been better off keeping my mouth shut about some things.


Well, if you're offended, you're going to have to actually come up and ask me in person. Honestly, I hate to sound cold, but I more worried about hurting Cooper's feelings (and other blog friends' feelings) than yours at this point. Or ya can keep hidin' behind furniture everytime I walk into a room. Your call...

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...
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Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

haha those dangerous blog lurkers.....

I was sure you were your blog.

Many people prefer to date dorks when they realize in the end they are smarter than the testosteone laden " I'm a male model types" and much more likely to really like women.

Many non dorks have blogs the problems is they basically contain pictures of paris hilton or the latest fashion trend.

Big Melon?

I refuse to take it seriously as well ( which is why I link to blogg'd and refuse to take the link down despite having someone tell me once that I should), but it is usefull for many things and so to not take advantage would be wrong.

Besides my nose rather sucks as it looks different from the front than it does from the side but my ass is spectaclar ( especially in Chanel panties) and I have noted ( more times than people really want to read) in my blog.

Let said...

Well thanks Zen... being pounced on daily by my fellow contributors is a workout. But it's fun, I have to admit. Can't imagine having to stop.

And yes, I think I may have to pull the picture following this incident. But I always said I wouldn't. Just something about having people post who aren't brave enough to show who they are that irritates me. So easy to hide behind an avatar and rage in print.

shayna said...

You mean you are not your blog??? WTF... and here I thought I knew you!!! LOL!!!

Kind of weird...

After posting a pic of me I usually take it down within a few days...

So am I a dork too? Only the cool bloggers are dorks, right?


The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol...the way I've been posting lately, I'm sure there are a lot of folks who think I have nothing better to do than work on the ol' blog. day, I'm sure I'll have a life again ;)

I don't think there's anything wrong with being testosterone-filled, but yeah, not a big fan of the male-model wannabes myself. There are way too many guys who walk around dressing like Ken dolls. I'm sure some folks find them entertaining to look at, but, lord, but when is having a brain gonna become fashionable?

Lol...I have a big head. When I was wighed in the 230s-240s, it wasnt as noticable. Bu for some reason I look in the mirror first thing in the morning and realize I look a bit like a brown Blow-Pop...;)That, or a chichuaua.

Your nose, while you may not think it, is probably more cute than you give it credit for. As for your ass...? Lol...I'm going to go with "no comment" here ;)

Um...Chanel panties...?

You're welcome, chica.

That's kind of where I am with my profile. Seriously, I could care less and I refuse to go back to an earlier avatar (I stuck Star Wars' Boba Fett inside the Library of Congress...horrible PhotoShopping. )

The anon. posting is another one of those things that's a Catch-22 for me. I debated turning offf the anon. commenting, but then there's the issue of cutting off people's ability to speak their mind freely without risk of retribution. With blogging, there's the same issue - people should be able to speak thir mind without risk; the problem is when bloggers are irresponsible with that privilege.

Well, I was married to my blog for a brief period. We eloped in Vegas. But then the ZenFo Pro moved on and is currently married to Kevin Federline ;)

Of course you're a dork, chica! We all are! Haven't you heard of Geek-chic? We're all part of that club... ;) All the cool people are doing it.

Come to think about it, blogging is a bit like electronic cocaine ;)

Smurf said...

Wow. Who would have thought? This seems like it hit you pretty hard. I am sorry if my posting about knowing you for real has caused any problems J. And you aren't a dork. I remember feeling a little silly at not knowing a lot of the things you did when I met you like about B Arthur and stuff! d: lol, but sweety, you are far from a dork. You will always view yourself differently than others view you and I admire the fact that you stay humble. Honey, you are an amazing person on the inside and you are looking really good on the outside. (I know my comments aren't really helping right now.) For a second reading this I thought you were shutting this down and I am very happy that you aren't. **hugs**

The ZenFo Pro said...

Smurf:, just got a bit of culture shock I guess. Nope, haven't caused me any problems. I don't get embarrassed about my past - it's who I am.

Hmmm.... Bea Arthur...yes...Snyder Hall...good times.

And, yeas, I am a dork. Proud to be one, actually. But thanks anyways :)

Feel free to comment about anything at anytime. That's what keeps me humble ;)

Anonymous said...

i just wanted to say i'm so sorry OMG i hope i havent caused any problem either. i am using some of your stuff for my project. hope noone gets mad about it. i really appreciate the fact that you even took the time to like talk. That was awesome!

and you're not a dork. you're probably the sweetest guy in oxford. i know i'm not all that pretty but i definitely like the compliment, esp coming from a cute guy. yea you are cute and you should probably find a nice girl. there are way too many selfabsorbed bitches on campus so stay away from them. i always feel pressure to look like them to dress like them to try to be perfect miss sorority girl and being a girl here is not easy.

The guys are like you hinted at almost all assholes. Alice cooper's comment is right-on about not wanting testosterone filled shitheads.

I'm in class right now but wanted to chime in before you moved on to something else. i'm so sorry for putting you in such an awkward spot but i love it that you're going to keep writing. you're a million times better than the miami student. i owe you a beer or maybe five :)

~ K.

Bob Patterson said...

Oh I think you're hot. Very hot. In fact I have pictures and video to prove it.

Call me old fashioned but I keep your picture next to my collection of hobo pants and mannequin heads.

Faithfully yours,


The ZenFo Pro said...

Hey! Thanks for commenting! Not mad at all, chica! Feel free, as long as there's no identifying stuff. Feel free to stop by any ahead first, though ;)

Um...I gave you a compliment because, well, you do look like a frigging supermodel. I felt honored to have a bonafide hot girl interviewing me ;)

Don't be preasured into looking or acting like anybody else. That's fucking pointless. Be yourself.

Not all guys are assholes.

I'll take the five beers.

Oh, well, now that's a compliment ;) least it's not next to your collection of hobo heads and mannequin pants LMAO.

Cowgirl said...

Five beers trumps just one anyday. I find it impossible to have just one anyway.

Not ALL mean are asshole shit-heads, but too many are. Sometimes I think they are overpopulated like the deer around here.

I think you have several hotties that follow your blog (not in Oxford).

Deb S. said...

This is hilarious. Face it: You're a babe. Live with it. ;-)

Cowgirl said...

Geesh, I meant men not mean.

There's some alliteration...

The ZenFo Pro said...

You mean there are more hotties watching...out cyberspace...?


I am seriously fucked... lol

Lol...I'm starting to feel like a frigging backstreet boy :) Thanks for the compliment. I still think I'm funky looking, but...

Cowgirl:, think you had it right the first time.

Let said...

What exactly constitutes a "hottie"? The term drives me insane.

WDL said...


It is sooo not confined to small towns. I am a "big city" blogger, and have been discovered. It may have something to do with the fact that there is a large library school (tm) population living in my big city - my blog hit headlines at work back in January when I took my much needed break.

Seriously, of all the gin joints... I was amazed I'd been discovered.

Much like you, my blog is not me. I am persnickity, and precious in my own way, but by no means am I the dainty footed fairy-brarian I come off being on my blog. People looked at me differently....

Be glad she asked you about it and not other coworkers!

(who is blogging again)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Hmmm...that's a good question. No clue. A generic version of various other less-polite terms, perhaps? Lol

Hey, great to see you're still alive. Welcome back to Cyberspace, man!

Yeah, I have a few coworkers who read, at least the ones I know about. They're actually pretty cool with it, though I'm sure they wish I were less profane ;) Hey, at least it gives them something to talk about.

I'm actually glad SHE had a different set of people she thought I was dating than the ones I hear gossip about at work. At least, hers were people I'd probably consider dating - fun people. I've hadseveral folks try to play matchmaker at work - lord...if I dated who library folk thought I should date... would probably eat glass first...