Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I deleted yesterday's post because - well, it didn't feel like me.  It felt contrived.  I mean, I believed what I wrote, but who are we kidding?  This is a blog about me, as egotistical as that may be, not about interior decorating.  If you're here for how I plan to decorate my new flat in the fall, welcome!  I will share all of the trials and tribulations of flat hunting and flat decorating alongside three boys as my partners in crime.  But if you're here for tips on how to decorate your house, you need to be redirected to somewhere - anywhere - else.

A dear friend began a blog recently, and in an early post she mused that she was reconsidering her take on food blogs.  "A few months ago," she writes, "I might’ve hailed food blogs as the be-all, end-all in online procrastination entertainment. Today, at the wizened age of 24-and-five-months, I am here to say: not so! Food blogs are a dime a dozen, and seem to inspire an obsessive, gnawing urge to either a) cook b) eat or c) define yourself by your interpretation and inspiration with regards to a and b."  I don't disagree with her. I really don't.  And I have to admit to reading food blogs and succumbing to a, b, and c.  But whereas El Bruns seems to frown on c, I don't think that there's anything wrong with it.  The issue is what you do with said interpretation and inspiration.

I've been thinking a lot about personal identity recently, in part because of a book I'm reading called The English: A Portrait of a People by Jeremy Paxman.  The questions he seeks to answer in this book - which I am not finished reading and thus cannot yet provide you with the answer(s) - are these: "Who are the English?  How do we define them?  How do they define themselves?"  He prefaces the book with the complaint that "Being English used to be so easy…  It is all so much more complicated now."  The chapter I just finished, "Funny Foreigners," makes the point that, due in large part to their insular island mentality, "It is hard to escape the conclusion that, deep down, the English don't really care for foreigners."

I took a class on power and identity in the Middle Ages (called, funnily enough, Power and Identity in the Middle Ages) in grad school in which we discussed "the other" as a point of reference in defining the people about whom we were learning; essentially, the class agreed, we define ourselves in relation to those around us.  Therefore, we define ourselves by defining others; for instance, she is tall, I am taller.  However, I also think that we define ourselves by our reaction to the environment around us - or, as my friend El Bruns would say, by our interpretation and inspiration in regard to the environment around us. There's nothing wrong with this; in fact, I don't think we can help it.  It's not second nature, it is nature.  We react to everything and everyone around us - it's a Darwinian thing.  That doesn't make self definition good or bad or true or false.  It just makes it our own.

So how does this relate to blogging and the deletion of yesterday’s post?  Here’s how: I have to admit that I read other blogs and define myself in relation to them.  Now, I know I’m no Apartment Therapy or Tiny-Ass Apartment, but I read those sites and ones like them and I think, "I could do that."  And, honestly, maybe I could.  But it's not who I am - it's not how I define myself.  I define myself as many things, and I like most of them.  But what I don't like is me demanding I define myself competitively.  Just because they do it - whatever it is - doesn't mean that I have to do it.

In posting yesterday I challenged myself to rethink my own self-definition.  I liked it for a while - or maybe I made myself like it for a while.  But, after a good night's sleep, I realized that it's not me, and it's not this blog.  I want this blog to be a projection of how I define myself, not a projection of how I want others to define me.  You take this blog and you make whatever definition you want for me - go ahead, it's natural.  But for my own piece of mind, I need this blog to be me, to be my definition of myself.

So I delete yesterday's post - and I give you an essay.  That's much more my style!

1 comment:

  1. Delightful post, Betsy. I know precisely what you're thinking/feeling/regurgitating, and think your 'published musings' (ie, blogge) is a great example of a self-defined-identity. Mary Morgan made me a mixxed tape our senior year called, "A Veritable Pastiche." One of those post-SAT-word-conglomerates, but a good one nonetheless. All these online diaries are just people putting forward their vertibale (not false) pastiche (hodge-podge) of interests. Yours is the same thing, but with awareness.

    Now, on to the important thing. More garden parties.


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