I have just returned from a talk by Frank Warren, author of PostSecret.com at the Meridian Ballroom at SIUE. He has been called “The Most Trusted Stranger in America”, and for a good reason. He collects postcards from strangers all over the country who post them to him anonymously with their deeply held secrets written on them like an artwork. PostSecret.com is described as a community arts project. He has published four books, and another one is upcoming.

scan0045The highlight of the talk was a chance for audience members to express themselves back to the speaker, and many used the medium to tell secrets never before revealed. It was such an emotional moment, listening to the women especially, who mostly couldn’t complete their confessions without bursting into tears. A student confessed that she blamed herself for the death of a baby boy because she couldn’t get to him on time. Another one confessed to having felt better after sharing an earlier secret about sleeping disorders. The one that got the most laugh and applause was from a confessed kleptomaniac who confessed to having obtained all of Frank’s books by thieving. One other student confessed to having used a fake ID to come to the event, while another one came out just to express his deepest wonder at why God would spare his life from a horrible car accident and take that of a friend of his who died in a similar but different accident. In a response to a question about whether he ever thought that some of the secrets sent to him are untrue, sent only to manipulate, the visiting author replied that he saw all the postcards on which the secrets were written first as artworks, then later as medium of communication.It was a nice show, which I’m glad I attended. I got one of his books, titled “The Secret Lives of Men and Women”, and I also got it signed.

Here are some of the secrets from the book:

  • Every time I’m alone in an elevator, I take the opportunity to pass gas, pick my nose, and adjust my bra.
  • I long to go fishing with my ex-husband
  • When I was young I used to hate my body… Now that I’m older, I know better. I’m HOT!
  • I should have been more of a slut while I still had the chance.
  • Every day I contemplate suicide. And if you knew why, you’d want me dead too.

However I did not make it up to the microphone to ask my questions, or share any deeply held secret to a crowd of almost a thousand students. Why? Well, let that be the secret: because I was afraid that even though I didn’t need the applause, I might feel awkward if the applause for me was less than for the other guys who had more juicy tales to tell the crowd, and more tears to shed. However, I will send Frank an email tonight to let him have my secret. Had I gone up the mic, I could also have asked this question, among others: how does he sleep at night?

PS: According to Wikipedia, “with permission from Frank Warren, a French version of PostSecret was launched in October 2007 under the name PostSecretFrance and in February 2008, a German version was started as PostSecret auf Deutsch. There is also one in Spanish called Los Secretos Dominicales and now a Chinese version 邮寄你的秘密 PostSecretChina. The Chinese blog is not officially affiliated with PostSecret.”

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