Last Wednesday I shared with you that my semi-anonymous blogging cover had been blown and I was struggling with what to do about it.

On the one hand, I was very uncomfortable with the notion of my kids’ friends reading my blog. I definitely don’t want to have to censor myself, but I also don’t want to be responsible for teaching children about things like the most cost effective way to remove butt hair.

The other issue I’ve wrestled with for several years is how to write from the heart without getting my family ostracized by our community. We live in the quite provincial suburbs of Atlanta…a place where women call their vaginas their “down there” (while pointing at it and making the same face I make when I find a headless chipmunk on my back porch).

I mean, what if the good Christian mothers of my daughter’s scout troop discover my writing and conclude I’m unfit to lead their girls on an outing to the nursing home? Or what if my son’s preschool teachers don’t invite me for animal show-and-tell because they’re afraid I’ll say something inappropriate? Or worse, what if people treat my kids differently because of my opinions or drinking habits or odd hobbies?

I have to be honest with you, I was leaning toward something drastic like closing up shop per my motto: when the going gets tough, get drunk and cry.

But then I went to The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio last weekend.

And three very Erma-esque things happened:

1.) I was surrounded by my tribe of humor writers who embraced me, energized me, and gave me wonderful support, encouragement, and advice.

    Tricia, Nicole, Iris, and Ernie at our “Last Supper” of EBWW. (Photo credit: Kristen)

 

2.) I had the incredible fortune of hearing a number of inspirational keynote speakers like Dr. Gina Barreca, Adriana Trigiani, Connie Schultz, Ilene Beckerman, and Alan Zweibel who all resonated the same universal message: tell your truth without fear.

Iris with author Adriana Trigiani at her book signing Friday night.

 

“Don’t be afraid of what anyone thinks of your writing, EVER.” ~Adriana Trigiani

 

3.) And a first-time commenter named Kristen wrote this to me:

Iris,

In July of 2011 my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, since then our lives have been turned upside down. Some days I don’t know whether I am coming or going. He underwent a stem cell transplant in February 2012 at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the kids and I spent many, many hours at his bedside.

It was during this time of relentless hours spent trolling the internet that I saw a post my friend shared on Facebook. “DIY Feminine Hygiene Tips” was the heading, of course this sparked my curiosity, who wouldn’t have to see what this article consisted of?

I have to tell you that I laughed so loud that the nurses came in to see what was so funny, and I believe your blog now holds a spot on their board in the stem cell transplant unit. I do believe you have some faithful followers there as well.

The whole point to this story is to share with you the epiphany that you brought to me on that day. My 13 year old daughter started crying and said Mom, I haven’t seen you laugh in a long time. You, it was you Iris, that brought me back from the underworld. From that day on I vowed to smile every day and laugh at least once (which you so often help me do).

So I will SELFISHLY say D is my final answer. I can appreciate your predicament and completely understand if you should decide against it, I will follow you no matter where your jokes take me. You are my prozac!

 

Sorry – I know you like when I give you a tissue alert.

I swear I have read Kristen’s comment at least 50 times in the past 72 hours. I shared it with my friend Janet (Muffintop Mommy) while we were sitting next to each other in a stand-up comedy workshop and we were both blotting mascara off our cleavage. (No offense to the dude juggling mewling kittens and chainsaws, but we weren’t crying because of you.)

This comment perfectly illustrates another gem I heard this weekend at EBWW:

“Writing comedy is the greatest spiritual gift you can give to anybody anytime.” ~ Adriana Trigiani

I am so deeply humbled by the outpouring of love and support you – my regular readers –  gave me with your comments last week. My cup truly runneth over.

So instead of shutting down my blog and/or starting over anonymously, I think I’ll try a different approach.

“Bad girls are the only ones with stories to tell.” ~ Gina Barreca

Hello. My name is Leslie Jeanne Marinelli and I am a writer.

Leslie with EBWW roommate Nicole of By Word of Mouth Musings.