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Would the Real Me Please Step Forward?

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I recently discovered a thing that is perhaps known to the rest of mankind but was previously unknown to me, which is that we are never just one self, but rather we are an amalgam of selves. Oh, yes, I knew we all had different aspects of our selves – our social side, our good side, our sweet side, that temper we try to keep under wraps, and other undesirable traits that we ascribe to “sides” – but what I realized is that all of these sides are not traits, per se, but are all part of our true, authentic self.

That it is the sum total of the good and the bad, the desirable and undesirable that make us who we really are at the end of the day. For those of us that are shy, we learn to put on a good social facade, and that's important.

But who am I really? As I was sitting being interviewed again, a process I’ve been through many times in my life now, I wondered which side of me the reporter was going to see. Would she want the writer/journalist side? The person who ran Lumen Editions and was the enfant terrible of publishing for a time? Would she want the teacherly side, the person who could offer her sage advice about publishing and how to go about securing a good job, and hey, if she strikes a good chord with me, might even score a reference or an inside tip? After all, I've come to realize just recently that I have become the very thing or person I once used to hunt and pursue – that is, the mentor, the reference, the touchstone, the person who I look at and say I Want To Be Like Her When I Grow Up.

That anybody would want to be like me is a mystery in itself and I’m not sure that this reporter was after that, though in the past, certainly I have had the experience of being interviewed and then over the next several months, watching the person morph from themselves into version 1.0 of me. I’ve seen the same syndrome when I’ve run other companies – the younger women and interns begin as themselves and over the course of time, begin to emulate, just as I once emulated my mentor, only this time it is me whom they emulate. Which is just damn weird…

How odd to see other women whom even I would admire — smart, beautiful, talented women — who want to be like me. It’s a strange phenomenon to watch as over the course of several months or years, they take on various traits: suddenly they wear dance shoes with a t-strap and ankle socks. The hair is thrown into a hasty bun and held with a red editing pencil. The skirts lengthen and become darker; the tops are camisoles with a white oxford on top if in the office and nothing if not in the office. They become very Prada – because we all know The Devil Wears Prada and lord knows that it’s my favorite and I love the simplicity of Prada. Even my face is Prada: simple, plain, freckled, and surrounded by straight, wheat-colored hair.

Selves – who we are, who we are at different times and who I am at this moment is part of a great mesh of characteristics and life experiences. There are those aspects of our personality we choose to reveal and others we keep locked, as Tom Ripley would say, in the basement. We do all have our basement; I believe that, though perhaps I would hope that none are as heavy with luggage as Tom Ripley’s. Certainly, I have little to hide, but there are things about me that I absolutely do not want to discuss.

My trick was always to throw out a story that seemed personal or was personal but that didn’t matter much to me. It gave the illusion of a very personal and deep connection when really, all I was doing was handing out the same story to everyone and yes, the story may be true, but it was not one that had any deep emotional resonance anymore. It may have at one time, but now, now that I can speak it and say it, the depth of resonance has lessened. What this means, what we say when we say this or write this is that I can tell you this story because there is nothing here you can hurt me with anymore. It is a protective device and one that works well for all of us at various times. We may not all put up such a front, but let’s not kid ourselves — we all put up a front or façade, and some are prettier or more elaborate than others.

Mine just happens to be, for the most part, pretty convincing and looks like a great old house by the beach that you might want to explore. I imagine my façade as an old Victorian, right on the waterfront and overlooking the twilight with many, many rooms and a little garret in which I sit overlooking everything. The truth, though, is that for this great big house with all of its rooms and all of its interesting features, what I reveal here is that it is only the one room I occupy – the garret. I see myself there, drinking tea and overlooking it all and wondering about my neighbors and which room they are in.

The truth is – we own the whole grounds. This earth is ours, this land is ours, the way we maintain our garden is telling of who we are and how we keep up our house is telling of who we are. As for this metaphorical house I speak of, even a dear friend recently noted that I was like “a mansion with many rooms” and I was honored and flattered and it got me to thinking what was in those rooms if they even existed. Yes, I decided. Those rooms do exist and there are many treasures and many light things too, but to be clear, there are rooms that are darker, that have things that I have yet to sift through and those rooms are locked solid for the time being.

Perhaps one day I will sort through. I will sort through and I will get rid of the junk and find the one jewel in the room – the crystal chandelier with the blue stones that glitters in the room. Maybe something wonderful like that, or my old, antique silver spoons with the handles that are engraved with the word “Happy.” Who knows. For now, I stand with this front, the paint slightly peeling, a grand old Victorian on the boardwalk.

I may not be much, but come inside and see that from any room, the view is like nowhere else, and it’s really the view you offer – the vantage points that can be seen from your land more than it is you yourself. I can tell you, from where I stand, the view is changeable, beautiful, forever twilight.

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About Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti

  • http://chantalstone.wordpress.com/ Chantal Stone

    Beautiful Sadi…..I love the metaphor of the mansion or old Victorian…..we are complex, yet still very simple. Such an interesting paradox to explore in each other, and especially within ourselves.

  • http://www.tantmieux.squarespace.com sadi ranson-polizzotti

    chantal – Hi!~ – it’s so nice to hear from you.

    I haven’t been writing much because i’ve been busy, but that’s no excuse. just life, etc. but that’s everyone, so again… lots of illness going around with us these days, unfortunately and other hard things, but life is nothing if not flux.

    oddly, we are looking at buying a Victorian house right by the water, so this article is timely. I wrote the article before i found the house…. precient, i suppose in some way (or is that prescient, i think). But in any case, it’s odd… i’m glad you like this piece.

    It’s unusual – but i felt like writing it – just a meandering thought. one of those …. i have some new songs for an actual List, wow! i must put together over next few days…

    maybe you’ll stop by?

    my very best you, Chantal,

    s.

  • Steve

    Hmm, Sadi, your article about mansions reminded me about what Jesus said the day before his crucifixion in the Gospel of John 14:2 – “In my father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you.” (KJV)

    I hope you find a nice place to live, it’s been over 13 years since I’ve moved. Don’t think I’d want to live in an old house, Victorian or otherwise, I like bright, clean, modern homes too much lol. When I think of Victorian homes, I think of black cast iron stair railings, and dark wood furniture, not my cup of tea I’m afraid lol.

  • http://www.tantmieux.squarespace.com sadi ranson-polizzotti

    hey steve!

    Victorians – this one – is so bright and sunny – it’s not at all what you imagine. The wood is light and the floors are wood and original (light pine wood and shiny). The windows let in a ton of light – it has a garret (turret? not sure in this country which or both it is called) – which makes (will make) a great writing area for me.

    But it is compltely modern in most ways – the important ways – wiring etc etc – (we had a home inspection already, by a very good inspector who took four hours (some only take a half hour, believe it or not. We chose a tough guy because we want to be dead sure we’re getting a house on which the roof does not suddenly leak or the wiring blows or other catastrophe!) but all looks good so far except the burner, but that’s not a big deal to replace.

    But the house, gosh, it’s so light and airy and a half block from the ocean (i’ve always lived near the ocean and love it, so we get a beautiful sea breeze…. i wish i could show you photos.

    Maybe i’ll put some up and send you a link here… that’s a thought! let me do that…. then you can see. Just know that the inside is not our style, so we like really MODERN, actually, my style is Shaker, sort of Amish/Shaker style – the current owner’s have a very different style as you’ll see with lots of other stuff, but try to imagine the house without. I’ll just post a few pics and send a link and then take it down. You should see!

    great to see you! hey, i’m teaching etc., so time is a bitch, but i’m working up a great list. It’s a lot of new stuff – but i want you to try it out (don’t be skeptical!). For example, i found a great cover by OMD and stuff like that. Also, do you know Big Audio Dynamite?

    Write back – amitees..

    sade

  • Steve

    Oh, Sadi, that’s very sweet of you.

    Re. garret vs. turret, I’ve never heard of garret before, so I think turret may be the British (and Canadian?) term. Could be wrong though.

    You like the ocean eh?? I lived close to the ocean for about 14 years, but that was almost 20 years ago now, and I can’t honestly say I miss it.

    Of course, not all oceans are quite the same I suppose, I was on the coast of the North Sea in the UK, and I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. The air stank of seaweed, the sea air was very damp, the water was always cold, even in summer, and the gale force winds that you would often get were horrible if you had to go out anywhere, even indoors you could hear your house being buffeted by the wind.

    I live close to Lake Ontario now, but I have no desire to go down to the shore about a mile away or whatever it is. However, other than the fact that it gets very humid here in the summer, a placid lake is more agreeable to me than the ocean (quieter, not as smelly, winds not so bad, etc.).

    Re. music, I have about 92 OMD songs, so I know of 2 OMD cover songs that were written by Lou Reed, and one by Kraftwerk, and another inspired by Barry White/the Love Unlimited Orchestra. Would the one you’re thinking of be any of these??

    I actually have a ‘best of’ CD by Big Audio Dynamite, plus their first two albums on cassette. They had some interesting stuff (weak vocals aside), with the band containing a former member or two of The Clash, if I recall correctly.

  • http://www.tantmieux.squarespace.com sadi ranson-polizzotti

    nope – none of the songs by OMD that you were thinking of,although, maybe it’s original? i think it’s a cover… i’m sure it is…..

    garret turret maybe i’m thinking different things. They look the same in any event on this house, but i’d have to look it up in a dictionary and see (not a bad idea).

    yes, BAD with lead signer formerly of The Clash is right (Mick Jones, right? – wrong? – i’m not looking at the album right now… but in any event, this is where i’m heading.)

    I have class tomorrow – so between now and then is impossible. But after that, it should be do-able and gawd, i want to just do a list, it’s been too long and i have some new good stuff…

    i know what you mean about the ocean, but i still love it; i even like the smell of low-tide, if it’s a clean smell. I like the scent of the ocean, actually – it’s fresh. The winds, yes, lashing rain, yes, i could do without all…. but hey… i still like the beachfront. I just pray if this deal goes through, we don’t wind up with a flooded basement, tho the inspection shows no signs of such things.

    cheers – s.

  • Steve

    Hmm, I’m really curious about that OMD tune, looking forward to your next List, Sadi (as always!).

    My niece has a good view of the Pacific Ocean where she is, but her house is on top of a steep hill, a good 15 minute walk to the beach I think. With it being earthquake country there (California), I kinda wondered if she was anticpating any tsunamis, given the location of the house!! (I’m sure you wouldn’t have to be concerned about it as much on the North Atlantic seaboard so much).