The Worst Kept Secret
Taking stock, I have counted twenty-one blogging (includes emeriti and guest) law professors that I have come out to as the Real Life Alter Ego. Add about 10 more for a few non-blogging law profs, fellow disgruntled law/grad students, and a few lawyers.
I still think this is a relatively modest number though. Most of the people I have come out to contacted me first. Snide comments about how one who calls herself "Belle Lettre" must be a wallflower or shy violet may ensue. I always extract a promise not to out me in the blogosphere (at the dinner table is up to you), and would only come out if there's a back-and-forth dialogue. At least a couple of emails or so. I get randomly emailed often, but do not answer every email (sorry), or if I do, only to say "thanks for reading!" I'm much more likely to respond to a substantive email, and enjoy the dialogue that results from follow-up link posts.
I come out to friendly types who seem to like my writing and express a mentorlike, solicitous interest in my career. I especially like dialogues about academia and literature. I used to be a lot more reticent about coming out, but now I like to maximize the social networking aspect of the blog, which gives me a lot of good advice, food for thought, and mentors and friends.
One thing I didn't really think about is that my future students may eventually figure out that their prof used to be Belle Lettre. I don't know how many college students read my blog--but if indeed that by the time they go to law school and I start teaching, if they did read enough and read carefully between the lines (or heck, my demographic details are enough of a giveaway as there aren't a lot of Vietnamese American women law profs writing in employment law)--yes, they may figure out that their prof and this weird blogger are one and the same.
I expect that I will retire this blog completely when I 1) Go on the market; or 2) file my dissertation and graduate. These are two different temporal points--I will go on the market a year before I file, so likely Fall 2009. But I will graduate Spring 2010. I guess it depends on when I start working. But I do plan to stop blogging as Belle Lettre one day--even if I never come out publicly. I like the idea of blogging away, taking off a year or so, and reemerging as The Real Life Alter Ego. It would be like Clark Kent taking off his glasses permantly (dude, was Lois an idiot?) and saving the world in his pinstriped suit. I will not be saving the world, but I will be writing about it. That's the myth of the armchair academic right, that we conflate the two?