Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Identity Crisis

A few months ago, a friend and mentor asked why I don’t use my name or have any pictures of myself on my blog. I explained that doing so would make me feel too exposed; that I don’t like the idea of revealing too many of those everyday personal details, because I don’t like the idea of developing a persona that can be picked apart. If I share my stories and struggles without revealing who I am, I am insulated by anonymity.

He challenged me to think about it from another angle. He explained that people need to see a writer who writes about “real life” as a “real person.” If they can’t do that, they can’t easily connect with the author or truly identify with her. He asked me to consider that my messages might not be as powerful or helpful when delivered by an anonymous woman.

This past weekend, I was reminded of conversation when a friend was complimenting my blog and applauded me for having the courage to “put myself out there.”

As soon as he spoke of courage, I realized remaining anonymous and telling hardly anyone about my blog is far from courageous. If anything - in light of the fact that I challenge women to be more honest, transparent, and forthcoming - I’m being a bit hypocritical.

So, who am I?

  • I am a writer.
  • I am a strong woman.
  • I am a weak woman.
  • I am a good sister, daughter, friend and lover. I wonder sometimes if I am tough enough to be a good mother.
  • I was born in Ireland, raised in Connecticut, went to college in Boston and now live in San Francisco.
  • I am 28 years old.
  • I put too much thought and energy into everything I do.
  • One of my absolute favorite things to do is read in bed next to B when he’s reading something funny, the room dimly lit by lamps, dark brown curtains drawn with the breeze poking through, down covers pulled up under my chin, bed shaking occasionally from his guttural chuckles. His laugh makes me warm.
  • I can be judgmental and a harsh critic and I’m selectively compassionate – but I work on those faults every day.
  • I operate at 90 mph for months at a time until I’ve got nothing left and then crash and operate on autopilot for a few days.
  • My idea of a perfect (dream) daily routine: wake up after 8 hours of sleep, eat some steel cut oatmeal in my sunny living room while reading the newspaper or catching up with family over the phone, head off to a vinyasa yoga or Bar Method class, stop at the farmers market on the way home, write and work on my website for 6 hours, experiment with a new recipe with B or try a new restaurant with friends, write for a few more hours, finish the day with some quality time with B.
  • People are what make me feel whole, fulfilled. I think life is all about the people you share it with. I get to share mine with a wonderful man who has a huge heart; two amazing sisters; very loving parents; a kind, accepting best friend, and some very remarkable people from my childhood, college years and life in San Francisco.
  • Exercise is what keeps me sane. I start to go a little crazy if I don’t work out at least 4 times/week. I cry more; lose my temper more and I’m not nearly as nice or patient. And I’m not that patient to begin with.
  • My hair is naturally a mousy, dirty blond on top and fades to a darker mousy brown on bottom. I get blond highlights every 6-8 weeks.
  • I love candy. It makes me happy. Until I swallow it.
  • I have exceedingly high expectations of myself. I have similarly unrealistic expectations of my partner, my colleagues and my friends, which can be unfair and unreasonable.
  • If I don’t remind myself of who I am and what I’m made of, I start to feel like I’m not smart/thin/well dressed/disciplined/athletic/classy enough in new environments and/or certain social circles.
  • When I close my eyes and think of what makes me happy, I picture laughing. Laughing with B, my sisters, my friends, my buddies at work, my uncles B and K…Just laughing.
  • I don’t care much for modern art, minimalist design or post modern architecture. I suppose I’m too much of a romantic, too complicated emotionally to appreciate the simplicity in those things. I like to see struggle, triumph, energy, heart and soul when I look at a painting/sculpture/building.
  • I hate feeling like the fat kind in gym class when I can’t do something (physical) as well as the people I’m with. It happens a lot.
  • I’m not athletic or coordinated by any means, but I am flexible, strong and in the best shape of my life.
  • I miss my Dad a lot.
  • I love music so much – classical, jazz, blues, indie rock, classic rock, etc. I think music gives meaning to otherwise mostly vapid film and television.
  • I will start playing the piano again. I played for years as a child and quit as a teenager. My father promised me I would regret quitting. He was very right, as usual.
  • I also want to learn to play slide guitar. I will learn to play slide guitar.
  • I would like to start singing in a choir again.
  • I don’t have a good singing voice.
  • I don’t regret much in life, but one of my biggest regrets is failing to recognize the value in a close relationship with my older sister earlier on in life. She brings so much to my life now - I wonder what strength we could have brought each other as we grew into teenagers and women, had we had each other’s company and counsel then.
  • I enjoy being alone, as long as it is on my own terms. I want to choose when, where and why I am alone - otherwise I find solitude unsettling. 
  • If I could hold still long enough, I would read for at least an hour a day.
  • I want to learn to sail. I love sailboats. They look like music on water to me. 
  • I adore traveling. B loves to travel too. We’ll go on sabbatical and travel around the US and Europe someday, hopefully soon.
  • I would love to experience agritourism in Italy.
  • I never buy things full price and I try not to spend money on things that aren’t well made and wont last. The more I understand how financially draining having a house, car, family and well balanced social life is, the harder time I have spending money on myself.
  • I can’t get enough of big, floppy, dopey dogs. I especially like ones with very big heads. I think it’s funny when animals have extremities that are entirely out of proportion.
  • I want a Smart car. Only because I know I would laugh every time I got in or out of it.
  • I’ve lived in a city since I was 18. It’s hard for me to imagine a life outside of the city, unless it was on a vineyard in northern Sonoma County, or a ranch in Montana or Colorado. But someone else has to feed the animals at 5 am.
  • I am always sore. To me, a good therapeutic massage is priceless.
  • I prefer feeling hungry over feeling full. I am downright uncomfortable when I am too full.
  • I don’t currently read any newspapers. Not one. Not online, not in print. Very shameful.
  • I love maps. Somehow, my geography is still pathetic.
  • I would have a bunny with floppy ears, if bunnies didn’t poop everywhere.
  • I buy 90% of my clothes and everyday jewelry at J. Crew. Yes, I am that boring.
  • I wish I had a chef to prepare my fruits and vegetables every day. It takes a long time to inspect, wash, chop and prepare as many as I try to eat.
  • If I think I need to change something, I work on it. And I change it. Even if it takes me 10 years.
  • I have no desire to go to Las Vegas – I think there are a million better ways to spend the kind of money you inevitably spend there.
  • I love pizza and ice cream, but preferably on the weekends so I don’t feel guilty.
  • I loved James Frey’s books and I think Oprah was too hard on him. She’s a liar if she claims she has never embellished the truth or passed something off for something it wasn’t.
  • I tend not to enjoy highly acclaimed films – the kind you’re “supposed” to love. I still see them all sooner or later. Because I’m “supposed” to.
  • I’m slowly learning to be a good cook. I’ve always been an excellent baker. My forte is scraping the bowl.
  • On average, I do 5-7 things at once while at work, and 3-5 at once while at home.
  • I spend too much time at the farmers market. I love the colors and smells and energy of the place.
  • I like really bad TV. We’re talking the old 90210, the new 90210 and Keeping up with the Kardashians. Yeah, that’s right. I make time for that, but I don’t read the newspapers. Shameful.
  • My favorite places in the world are the Belizean cayes, Tuscany, Eastern Australia and San Francisco.

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