Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Are You? Who who! Who who!...

Identity seems like such a simple thing, but today I'm pondering it. Just this morning, I have identified my Self as Sparklefish, Joni the Barbarian, Mrs. Soandso, and Mr. Soandso's wife with no first name. Then the pharmacist called me Ms. Soandso and had to revert back to calling me Toni to get my attention.

Who the hell am I? Who are you? Who ar-are you, who who who who, I really wanna know!!! Seriously. First I was Bill and Jean's daughter, the youngest. This is Joni-in-training wearing brother, Glenn's combat boots.

Then, suddenly there I stood, eight years old, in the pink crepe paper skirt with the shiny face smiling innocently at the camera. The time in between was just time, and now excellent blog fodder. Years fly.

At twenty-one, I became Mr. Premature-ejaculator's wife, Mrs. Premature-ejaculator. You think this looks bad written here? You should have seen it printed on checks and in azure embroidery on an L.L. Bean bag for Christ's sake. What a four year stretch THAT was. Phew-whee! He very quickly became someone else's problem, having strayed to another's bed before officially leaving mine. (I hope it was the best ninety second sex she ever had...) Some years later my former wedding photographer gleefully informed me that ol' P-E's new bride was sick all through the pre-wedding pics. She then puked down the front of her wedding dress at the reception. Bad omen, anyone? (By the way, this is the only pic I saved with both me and P-E in it because I loved the expression on my face, the crumple and flow of the antique Irish slipper satin, and the joy with which Great Aunt Whozadingy was tossing the rice. And you can't see P-E's face.)

Okay, so then I'm just Bill and Jean's kid again, little Miss Nobody, until the guys at the Great Falls Post Office in Auburn come up with the nickname, "Toni the Ten." I was such a rube I even challenged them on it, questioning them about their sanity. They stood "firm," as it were. I was so innocent, even at 25 years old, I just passed it off as nothing, but these guys were jonesing for me bad. Men = penises with cars and money? I still haven't decided how to define them as a species and it's been a lifetime. My husband says "Even a hundred year old man wants to f--k." He's such a poet. Brings a tear to your eye doesn't it? I think he's channeling James Joyce...although James would proffer,

"Men are governed by lines of intellect - women: by curves of emotion."

(Right. "Lines of intellect" is man-code for "their peckers." That's how Jimmy rolled, dawg!)

Friedrich Nietzsche said, "The 'doer' is merely fiction added to the deed - the deed is everything." That reminds of Stephen King's repeating incessantly that "only story is about story." People, like books, are all about the story they create from what they're given; what they make of themselves by what is accomplished in the very short span of less than a hundred years. Status, wealth, and beauty fade into obscurity and vanish forever, but story remains.

Bit by bit, you're getting me unbound, funny and unfunny. What may seem blithe is measured well, unlike my earlier work. The comments I receive about being brave in sharing my pain, shock me a little because I don't feel brave or even honest writing about my life. It's my story, that's all. As my guts spill, I get stronger and lighter; my writing life becomes more and more real.

So who am I? I guess we'll find out together.

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