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Results 1 - 25 of 33
1. YA Book Blast: Boy Red by Shanta Everington

Blurb:

Boy Red is a story about identity, about where you come from and where you belong.
The day after his sixteenth birthday, Red discovers that the man he calls Dadis not his biological father. Will Red be able to track down the anonymous sperm donor who gave him life? What will he learn about himself along the way? And just what else are his parents hiding?

Excerpt:

It was Saturday night, and Mum was up on the makeshift stage doing a classy numberthat is to say Tina Turner complete with big h air and five-inch red heels. The booths were taken by the karaoke regulars clutching their song sheets and medallions. A throng of studded students drank cheap German beer at the bar, disappearing outside every few minutes for a smoke. Tourists dripping with backpacks chatted in a zillion different languages.
A few weeks ago, I told Mum I wanted low key, meaning a night out down the Lock with Sino wigs, microphones, or other parental contributions in sight. But she would have none of it.
Red, baby, you only turn sixteen once,shed said. Youve got to mark it in style. Youve got to have a party.
My names actually Jed, but everyone calls me Red. I share two things with Mick Hucknall: mad orange hair and a slightly odd face. Sadly, I dont have his musical talents. Not like Mum. She wins a lot of prizes. Its embarrassing to see her in her Cher wig and polka dot dress, but it could be worse. She could be something really boring like an accountant. Dads an academic. Hes a professor of science. They make for a strange combo, but Camden caters for all sorts. The posh and the rough rub shoulders every day. Not that Im saying Mums rough or anything, but her Madonna impersonations can make for scary viewing.
So there I was down at the local pub, staring at the purple swirly carpet, starting to feel nauseous. My sixteenth birthday party. It may as well have been musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. It was that bad. My six-year-old brother, Freddie, sat smirking in the corner while Mum warbled out her rendition of City Limits. Dave, the karaoke organiser, all burly biceps in a frilly pink shirt, tapped his right foot in time to the music. Dad smiled amiably at the bar as he downed an orange juice. That man lacked the capacity for embarrassment. He must have a gene missing or something.
Your mums reading the lines off a television. Wheres the harm in it?he reasoned. He could be so rational, it was maddening.
Si was chatting up a pair of Asian twins whod just finished their version of The Cheeky Girls Touch My Bum. He winked at me to join him, while Mum carried on gyrating in red polyester as she reached the climax.
Dad. Dad! Freddie tugged at Dads jeans.
Dad checked his watch, stood up, and cleared his throat. Uh-oh.
Oh, yes. Thank you, Freddie. Gaye!
Uh-oh. Uh-oh.
Mum smiled at Dave as she gripped the microphone. Thank you, everybody. I have a little announcement to make, she said. The shrieks and applause died down, leaving a low hum of conversation. The Cheeky Girls stopped drinking their Barcardi Breezers and looked expectantly at Mum. They wore white PVC hot pants and matching kneehigh boots. They were hot all right. Not the type of girls I wanted around to witness this kind of embarrassment. I looked on in horror and considered my options. This would have been a good time to escape to the bog, but Dad had already covered that one by asking Daves brother, Stu, to keep guard. Dads best mate, Phil, stood to my right, smiling inanely at me. There was nowhere to run. So I downed half of Stus pint instead. He didnt seem to mind. Just winked.
Okay, guys and girls, continued Mum, running her hands through her wig. I hope youll all join me in wishing our Red a very happy sixteenth birthday.
Id never get served alcohol in here after that. It was all right for girls, they always got served. The Cheeky Girls couldnt have been much older than I was, and they were knocking them back.
Stu waved manically over my head for the benefit of anyone who might not know who the lucky boy was. The Cheeky Girls whispered to each other and raised their collective eyebrows as I fixed a boomerang smile on my face.
Ha-a-a-a-ppy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you…”Mum had gone into Marilyn Monroe mode, all silly girly voice, while Dave brought out a blue football cake fit for a five year old, complete with sixteen flaming candles. It was excruciating.
When the humiliation was over, Mum came over and kissed me on the forehead and ruffled my already wild hair, just to add insult to injury.
I think that needs a cut, mister, she said.
I looked at Freddies smooth pudding basin cut performed by Mum the day before and shuddered. I didnt think so.
Id always been the odd one out with my orange mane. Jokes about the milkman were rife.
I blew out my candles and cut the cake as a million digital cameras flashed in my face. Another one for the family album.
It was all so normal. Well, normal as far as my family went anyway.
There were even napkins. 

Want to know more about S. D. Everingtion? You can find her at http://www.shantaeverington.co.uk/or on Twitter @ShantaEverAfter. 

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2. Working with Dream Themes: The Loss of Identity

Okau Road tunnel

Passing Through a Tight Place

One of the messages that Edgar Cayce had to say about dreams is that they point out the difference between how my higher self sees me and how my ego self sees me.  Dreams are always trying to get us to let go of ego and grow into our higher selves.   Nightmares are often caused by this clash between these two parts in each of us.   The ego just doesn’t want to let go to that higher self and the results show in fear, anger or depression!  Loss of identity dreams especially seem to be related to this issue of ego letting go.  When we worry too much about things like money, status, job opportunities and people loving us, “loss of identity” dreams often kick in, reminding us that there is more to us than our ego identity.

How we think of ourselves is something that seems to be very important in dreamtime.  I say this because so many of my dreams and those of my friends, students and colleagues who have shared their dreams with me note the theme of personal identity, or the loss of it, showing up in dreams—especially when we come to recognize our unique symbols or the commonly occurring symbols for this event.

I have to admit it was a long time before I recognized the symbol for what it meant in my dreams, even though I had the dream repeatedly over many years.   In the dream I would lose my purse or have it stolen, usually by a bunch of bratty kids.  I was aware enough to realize these nightmares usually occurred when I was worried about finances so I just assumed that’s all there was to it.   Having the dream repeat over a period of time should have clued me in that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the dream.  Here is a typical dream:

Dream:
I go through a tight place but make it through.  I realize I don’t have my purse.  I go back to the tight place and see a lot of women have left their purses here going through this tight place.

Reflection:
Going through a tight place evokes the feeling of going through the birth canal, the transition to a new level of being or awareness.  At the time of this dream I was just about to undergo a major spiritual event, a kundalini awakening.  After doing this, I would realize I don’t have my purse.  At the time, I had just come into an inheritance so money wasn’t an issue.  So what did the purse mean?  Sandra A. Thomson in Cloud Nine: A Dreamer’s Dictionary notes that it is related to identity. The purse holds one’s identity in the form of ID cards such as a driver’s license or passport.  Going through such a major transition would cause me to lose the way I look at myself, my identity—which indeed happened to an enormous degree.  The kundalini awakening had me undergo such physical, emotional and spiritual changes that I no longer recognized my “old self” on any of these dimensions.  However, eventually I was led to  experience the fact that at the core I am a being of energy and light, able to receive and transmit healing energy.   I was being transformed.  What a new spiritual identity!  The dream was telling me that it wasn’t just me but there are many other women who experience this loss of identity when undergoing major transitions.  The many women could be other women or other parts of myself.  As it turned out, I ended up making many changes which totally changed my waking life identity as well.  I left my career in IT consulting, moved to Hawaii, and became a writer, educator and life coach.


1 Comments on Working with Dream Themes: The Loss of Identity, last added: 8/6/2014
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3. The Secret Hum of a Daisy Blog Tour and Giveaway


Thanks to Tracy Holczer for including us on The Secret Hum of a Daisy Blog Tour! 

Blog Tour Schedule

May 9: AuthorOf


We have something a little different for you -- a guide to planning your own book club, literacy cafe, or party centered around her debut middle grade novel. I recently had the privilege of attending Tracy's launch party and her friend threw her a beautiful, daisy-filled one. Your own event might not be as star-studded (a ton of our friendly neighborhood YA and MG authors were there) but that doesn't mean it can't be just as fun! Read on for our ideas, info about the book and author, as well as a giveaway!




About The Secret Hum of a Daisy

After the sudden death of her mother, twelve-year-old Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met in a small town she's never heard of. A town Mama left years before--with Grace in her belly and a bus ticket in her pocket--and never looked back. It doesn't take long before Grace desperately wants to leave, too.

Until she finds the first crane.

A mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on, takes Grace on a journey to find home. And it might just be closer than she thinks.

The Literacy Cafe

My good friend Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy and I are in an adult YA book club that meets every month. Sure, we get together because we love discussing books, but we also get together because we love to hang out with friends and eat delicious food. Usually we theme the menu around the book we have read. You can do that with this book, too! You would be surprised how often food helps spark discussion and recall of what happened in the book. This is part of what makes a literacy cafe such an interesting event to host and to attend.

Alyson usually does literacy cafes at schools, and to help students engage with the books they are reading and discussing, they sometimes do a writing exercise or craft activity related to the book. This helps make it not just memorable, but also creative and fun. (Note: I was planning to have photos of all the examples I was going to give, but this week just got away from me! I will add them into the post when I can get around to it.)

For resources, I have linked to websites I think might be helpful in case you want to find out more, or actually want to make my suggestion happen for yourself. If I wrote out all of the info here, this would be a very long post! 

Menu

There are lots of foods mentioned in The Secret Hum of a Daisy. Part of Grace's search for home involves some basic needs: food and shelter. (This would be a great lead-in to a discussion of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.) Here are just a few:


  • Soup (p. 119) - The Spoons Souperie is the diner in the town where Grace's mother grew up. Grace meets and gets to know various people here. Their menu has the usual: corn chowder, matzo ball, and split pea, but you can serve your favorite soup. Mine is beef and cabbage, with lots of pepper! You could also make it a potluck and have everyone bring their own soup to share. Just make sure someone brings some fresh-baked, crusty bread for dipping.
  • Brownies (p. 146) Grace and her neighbor Jo have to bake brownies in the book, but they're not allowed to eat any! You can, though. Here is a basic recipe for brownies, but you can make them how you like: out of the box, with nuts or without, cakelike or fudgy. Blondies instead? I'm an edges kind of girl, myself. Once you know why they bake brownies in the book, you can talk about the choices Grace makes and how they lead up to brownies!
  • Chocolate Toast (p. 210) I know the other one already has chocolate, but someone makes this for Grace. It has something chocolatey (Nutella? Cookie Butter Swirl? It's up to you to choose) and slices of banana on top. This is definitely a "Live to Eat" moment rather than an "Eat to Live" one. While you eat it, you might want to discuss what your favorite comfort food is. Does it remind you of a certain place where you are from, or where you felt at home? Does it remind you of a person who used to make it for you? 
Activities

Poetry and writing figure quite centrally in the story. There are lots of different things you can do depending on the interests your students/guests/group members have.
  • Snippets Guessing Game - Have everyone bring in snippets of their favorite poetry to read out loud, and see if anyone else recognizes the poem or poet.
  • Unsent Letters - Not everyone might want to share this with the group, and that's ok. Bring pens or pencils, paper, and envelopes to the event and have everyone write a short letter to someone else that they have wanted to write, but couldn't write before now. They can choose to share the letter, or keep it to themselves. They can choose to send the letter -- though it won't be unsent anymore!
  • Answer Jars - Late in the story, someone shows Grace their answer jars -- Mason or canning jars filled with bits of words and phrases. When they can't decide on something, they reach into the jars for some answers. You can recycle jars or containers and use magazines or small pieces of paper to add your own answers. 
Art and sculpture also are pivotal to the story. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment, just found objects, scratch paper, and the usual materials (scissors, Mod Podge or Gorilla glue depending on what you're working on, writing/painting utensils).

  • Origami Cranes - The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a story about grief, but it is also about hope. Grace sees origami cranes as clues in a scavenger hunt like the ones her mom used to put together for her. You can learn to fold origami cranes with some patience and some perfectly square paper. While you're folding, discuss: where do you hope your cranes would lead you? (link to instructions
  • Found Objects - Grace's mom sculpts birds out of odds and ends. Maybe birds are not your thing, but what is? What's your power animal? Collect some bits and pieces, odds and ends, things that look interesting but maybe incomplete on their own. Get some Gorilla Glue if you're gluing smooth objects like plastic or metal and sculpt your penguin, bear, meerkat, or whatever you come up with.
  • Self-Portrait - Grace isn't just searching for home, she's searching for her identity. She's trying to define the people around her, and trying to define herself now that her mother is gone. There are some great self-portrait ideas in the book. Try composing a shadow box: what would you put inside? 
  • Another Self-Portrait - Alternatively, start with a sturdy cardboard or masonite surface, then draw an outline or silhouette of your head. Now brainstorm some words that describe you... write, letter, or paste them onto the back half of your head (um, the illustration of it, not your actual head). Now go back to your stash of found objects and compose your face out of items that might fit. Glue them on, then stand back and admire your handiwork. It doesn't have to be perfect, but hopefully it's thoughtful and expressive, which is sometimes the most we can get out of life :)


I hope you enjoyed my ideas for hosting a literacy cafe or book club meeting with The Secret Hum of a Daisy. If you've read the book and would like to share more ideas, please leave a comment. Don't post any spoilers, please! I left out some of my ideas since they might give away some later plot points in the story that are better discovered by the reader on their own.

If you do host one, please take photos and share them! I'm sure Tracy would love to see them, too.




About The Author

Tracy Holczer lives in Southern California with her husband, three daughters, and two rather fluffy dogs named Buster and Molly. She has a deep love for the mountains where she grew up so she writes them into her stories.

A 2014 ABA Indies Introduce New Voices pick, her debut middle grade, The Secret Hum of a Daisy, was written in praise of both nature and family, and all that can be found if you're willing to hunt for treasure. It will be also be published by Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany, fall 2015.

Find out more:
Follow @tracyholczer on Twitter
Blogging on the 30th of each month at http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com

Buy the book:
Autographed copies (note request on the order or they won't know it needs to be autographed!) available at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, CA

Giveaway
US only, ends May 20

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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4. Face

face design

Face. is an international design agency with a global perspective and a focus on branding. Founded in 2006, Face. has already created some impressive designs that showcase their modernist flair. Although many of their pieces are done in a straightforward style, they keep it fresh with fun color palettes and intriguing typography.  Having already created multiple offices across North America in their short life span, keep an eye on Face. for their next move.


face design

face design

face design

——————–

Also worth viewing:
Laura Cattaneo aka Half Past Twelve
Colorcubic
Sanna Annukka Shop

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Featured Book: Irving Harper: Works in Paper.

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5. Secession: let the battle commence

By James Ker-Lindsay


There has rarely been a more interesting time to study secession. It is not just that the number of separatist movements appears to be growing, particularly in Europe, it is the fact that the international debate on the rights of people to determine their future, and pursue independence, seems to be on the verge of a many change. The calm debate over Scotland’s future, which builds on Canada’s approach towards Quebec, is a testament to the fact that a peaceful and democratic debate over separatism is possible. It may yet be the case that other European governments choose to adopt a similar approach; the most obvious cases being Spain and Belgium towards Catalonia and Flanders.

However, for the meanwhile, the British and Canadian examples remain very much the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, states still do everything possible to prevent parts of their territory from breaking away, often using force if necessary.

It is hardly surprising that most states have a deep aversion to secession. In part, this is driven by a sense of geographical and symbolic identity. A state has an image of itself, and the geographic boundaries of the state are seared onto the consciousness of the citizenry. For example, from an early age school pupils draw maps of their country. But the quest to preserve the borders of a country is rooted in a range of other factors. In some cases, the territory seeking to break away may hold mineral wealth, or historical and cultural riches. Sometimes secession is opposed because of fears that if one area is allowed to go its own way, other will follow.

For the most part, states are aided in their campaign to tackle separatism by international law and norms of international politics. While much has been made of the right to self-determination, the reality is that its application is extremely limited. Outside the context of decolonisation, this idea has almost always taken a backseat to the principle of the territorial integrity of states. This gives a country fighting a secessionist movement a massive advantage. Other countries rarely want to be seen to break ranks and recognise a state that has unilaterally seceded.

When a decision is taken to recognise unilateral declarations of independence, it is usually done by a state with close ethnic, political or strategic ties to the breakaway territory.Turkey’s recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are obvious examples. Even when other factors shape the decision, as happened in the case of Kosovo, which has been recognised by the United States and most of the European Union, considerable effort has been made by recognising states to present this as a unique case that should be seen as sitting outside of the accepted boundaries of established practice.

However, states facing a secessionist challenge cannot afford to be complacent. While there is a deep aversion to secession, there is always the danger that the passage of time will lead to the gradual acceptance of the situation on the ground. It is therefore important to wage a concerted campaign to reinforce a claim to sovereignty over the territory and prevent countries from recognising – or merely even unofficially engaging with – the breakaway territory.

At the same time, international organisations are also crucial battlegrounds. Membership of the United Nations, for example, has come to be seen as the ultimate proof that a state has been accepted by the wider international community. To a lesser extent, participation in other international and regional bodies, and even in sporting and cultural activities, can send the same message concerning international acceptance.

The British government’s decision to accept a referendum over Scotland’s future is still a rather unusual approach to the question of secession. Governments rarely accept the democratic right of a group of people living within its borders to pursue the creation of a new state. In most cases, the central authority seeks to keep the state together; and in doing so choosing to fight what can often be a prolonged campaign to prevent recognition or legitimisation by the wider international community.

James Ker-Lindsay is Eurobank EFG Senior Research Fellow on the Politics of South East Europe at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of The Foreign Policy of Counter Secession: Preventing the Recognition of Contested States (2012) and The Cyprus Problem: What Everyone Needs to Know (2011), and a number of other books on conflict, peace and security in the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean.

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6. My Name is Rebecca Romm, Named after My Mother’s Mom by Rachel Levy Lesser

3 Stars My Name is Rebecca Romm, Named after My Mother’s Mom Rachel Levy Lesser No. Pages: 32     Ages: 4 to  8 …………… …………………. Back Cover:   Rebecca Elizabeth Romm was named after her late grandmother Rebecca. She is annoyed when everyone compares her to her mother’s mom, because all she wants is a name of [...]

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7. Dear Elizabeth Warren: I know kids who would ask their parents for proof of their identity

Yesterday (September 24, 2012), Elizabeth Warren responded to Scott Brown's attack on her heritage by putting out an ad in which she rhetorically asks "What kid would?" ask her parents for documentation of her Native heritage.

Ms. Warren? Here's my answer. A Native kid who is part of her Nation would, that's who!

From her childhood, my kid knew what it meant to be Native, not in a "family lore" way like Elizabeth Warren, but in a day-in-and-day-out way where being a member or citizen of Nambe carries a responsibility to the Native community.

Several hundred years ago, our ancestors fought for our rights as nations. They prevailed in the face of enormous onslaughts of military might, but, they prevailed.

Our responsibility is to continue that fight.

Will you join us in that fight? Right now, your statements undermine our sovereignty.

And, by the way, since you have no idea what it means to be a citizen of a Native Nation, your outrage at Scott Brown's staff for their war whoops and tomahawk chops is superficial.

I'm a Democrat who makes phone calls and knocks on doors. I supported you until I learned of your claims. No more, Ms. Warren. My strongest allegiance is to my ancestors and the status of Native Nations. There are things you could do to regain my support and maybe the support of other Native people who have questioned what you are doing. And you know what sucks (pardon my use of that word)? Democrats need you to win your race so that things we care about are more attainable.

Scott Brown? You're as ignorant and racist as they come. You don't know what Native Americans look like.




5 Comments on Dear Elizabeth Warren: I know kids who would ask their parents for proof of their identity, last added: 10/3/2012
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8. New packaging and identity for Nuts.com (formerly “Nuts...



New packaging and identity for Nuts.com (formerly “Nuts Online”) …designed by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut… [with a] logo and type based on his own hand-drawn alphabet, digitized by Jeremy Mickel. The identity is complemented with nut character illustrations by Christoph Niemann. (via Brand New: Nuts.fun)



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9. The myths of monogamy

By Eric Anderson


Sexual taboos are falling in Western cultures. Largely due to the Internet, today’s youth take a much more sex-positive view to what comes naturally. They have shed the fear and misconception of masturbation. They enjoy a hook-up culture, where sex is easier to come by; there is less of a double standard for women who also enjoying these freedoms. Pornography is commonplace, with most boys seeking it out around 11. It has withered from moralistic Victorian ideals of heterosexual, missionary ‘sex’ to LGBT pornography, which youth today view, demystifying what their parents so feared. This has even opened the development of heterosexual men receiving anal pleasuring.

Despite all of this social-sexual progress, our pornified culture has yet to erode the sexual taboo of engaging in — or even admitting to desperately wanting — sex with someone other than one’s monogamous partner. Monogamy is so esteemed it remains virtually compulsory in our relationships.

But despite its cultural esteem, there are faults with the practice; problems covered by a culture unwilling to ask critical questions about it. Monogamy’s regard is maintained through multiple, robust cultural myths in the forms of both a carrot and a stick.

Young men entering into romantic/sexual relationships are misled into thinking that monogamy is capable of providing them with a lifetime of sexual fulfilment and that if they truly loved their partners they would not desire others. This, we are told, is because monogamy is healthy, proper, moral, and natural. Anyone deviating from or challenging this script is stigmatized.

We must hold monogamy, not only cheating, to a critical light. We must expose the myths supporting monogamy, especially for young men who have grown up with easier access to sex, a panoply of pornography, and a greater number of sexual partners before finding love. Let us examine the stages of a monogamous relationship:

(1) Young men enter into romantic relationships believing in the myths of monogamy. Many men have come from families broken by cheating, and they don’t want to be ‘that guy.’ They believe that if they love their partners, they will be sexually satisfied with them in perpetuity.

(2) Despite this belief, sexual habituation sets in quickly. Attempts to spice-up one’s sex life normally occur about the time a couple enters into the emotional storming stage of a relationship: three months. But despite these attempts, the veracity and frequency of sex declines within a few months.

(3) The relentless urge to have sex with someone else grows stronger as the emotional strength of the relationship develops. Young men who fail to love their girlfriends or boyfriends aren’t compelled to stay with their partners. Instead, they are culturally free to leave their partners. But men don’t leave their partners because of waning sexual desires alone; they love their partners and do not wish to leave them. They simply want sex with someone else to fulfill their somatic desires while keeping their emotional relationships intact.

(4) Men begin to resent their partners. When every cell in their body is craving sex with someone else, monogamy begins to feel like sexual incarceration. Men want to escape, and, to some extent, their inability to do so is taken out on their partner, who is viewed as keeping them sexually incarcerated.

(5) Men must decide. Do they break up with their partners so they can have sex elsewhere? Tell their partners that they desire a sexually-open relationship? Discuss their sexual desires with their partners but not ask for an open-relation

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10. Choice


Keguro:

Those who “choose to be gay” offer the disturbing possibility that attachments and affiliations can be chosen outside of state-sanctioned norms. That there are ways of living not envisioned in school textbooks. That how we choose to live matters just as much, if not more, than how we are supposed to live.

To choose what one “likes” over one’s “duty.”

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11. American Empire, Writing

At The Kenyon Review website, Hilary Plum has been doing some excellent blogging about questions of empire, writing, canonicity, etc. I left a comment on one post that was mostly just me giving a short version of my canonical nationalism schtick, not because I thought the post was bad, but because the article Plum used as a basis for her thoughts annoyed me. (I wish I had made my gratitude for her own thinking clearer, but I was in a hurry, and it's internet, so...)

Most recently, she wrote a post titled "Writing American Empire" that collects a nice range of ideas about U.S. novelists and the lands the U.S. has been occupying, invading, bombing, etc. recently. Trying to summarize the different points of view would likely distort them, so I'll just exhort you to head over to the KR blog to see what it's all about. If you've ever felt either excited or queasy about the phrase "cultural appropriation", this is a discussion you should read.

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12. Cybils Nominee: Can I See Your ID: True Stories of False Identities

It's that time of year again--Cybils time! I'm a little late getting this plug in (you know--life and stuff interfering with my writing) but I wanted to mention it all the same. This will be my fourth year with the Cybils. After a year as a Round Two judge, I am back as a Round One panelist, which means a whole lot of reading and hopefully lots of great recommendations for this blog. I am

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13. Identify Yourself!

Screen shot 2011-01-19 at 10.33.50 PM The hideous attempt at a PicassoHead of myself is at left.  In the past, my students have absolutely loved this kooky web tool, so when it was suggested to make an avatar using it, I thought I'd have fun. Well, sure, it's fun when you want to make something weird and wild, but making an avatar for oneself?  More like humiliating.  Just to clarify, I don't look like that.

    But in creating this (Teacher Challenge Activity #4), I started thinking about how I identify myself on the web.  Sometimes, my avatar is a stack of books.  Other times, I use the shield of my school.  And then there are the times when I use a picture of all the cute guys from "The Outsiders" movie.  Oh, and on Tweetdeck, I use an actual picture of myself (a terrible mistake that I addressed in an earlier post). That error in judgement aside, I can say that I generally identify myself as a book lover, a proud member of The Columbus Academy community (even more proud if we have a snow day tomorrow), and someone who has been kind of obsessed with The Outsiders for about 20 years.

    Now, I'm not going to say that those three things tell you everything about me, not even close.  I am also a great mom, a fabulous wife, a cancer survivor, an art aficionado, a writer, and a teacher.  But those three things- books, the CA shield, and The Outsiders, are a good place to start if you're trying to understand me.  My avatars are a metaphor for my identity.  I am not just one thing, but an amalgamation of lots of things.  Some days, I am that book lover, and I feel that being a librarian is the complete embodiment of who I am. Sometimes, I am my school. It is my home, a place of love and true joy for me. And then there are the times when I am just a nostalgic 80s girl.  One who still, yes, still has a chance to nab Rob Lowe.

    So, pay no attention to the picture at top left.  That's not my avatar.  That's not how I would ever identify myself.  Instead, I present myself to you as:

Home_Photo_books  


Ca shield

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14. Wanting to Be Liked vs. Being Respected

My little granddaughter is twelve years old right now and entering her teenage years. She already has a group of girl friends that mean the world to her. I remember raising my own girls and learning that when in the full bloom of adolescence, their friends meant more to them than their parents.

I got to thinking about the fact that most people want to be liked … throughout their lifetime. But the intensity of that desire seems to change in a bell-shaped curve during a person’s life span.

Think about kids in nursery school who relate to one another in terms of playing with a toy or fighting over the possession of a toy. They ususally want to have things going their way … at all costs without worrying about how the other might feel about them. Forget about being liked.

As the years pass, they begin to start wanting to be both liked and respected. They want their classmates to think of them as “nice” or “smart” or “good athletes” or “good at the trombone,” etc. etc. In adolescence being liked is linked to being “cute,” “beautiful,” “a hunk,” “popular,” and “part of the in-group.” Being respected has not yet become a big deal. The most brilliant kid in the class could be a “nerd.”

Then in adulthood, being respected is as important as being liked. It involves ones success in whatever career they may have, as a breadwinner or homemaker/stay-at-home-mom. One alone is not enough to achieve happiness. The most brilliant, respected doctor who is disliked by his patients isn’t going to get very far. And the “nicest” guy in the neighborhood who can’t keep a job to support his family also has a problem.

Then there is old age. Of course, if you haven’t enough money to retire and take care of yourself, you aren’t in very good shape, no matter how “nice” you are. But if you are are okay financially, you probably don’t give a hoot if people like you or not. Take a look at all the “grumpy old men” out there who are forgiven their behavior because of their age. Or, the “old biddies” who are accepted as they are.

I guess the lesson learned is that if you are lucky enough to make it into old age, it doesn’t really matter if others like you or not. Hope I get there someday!


Filed under: Identity, Personalities Tagged: Respect, self confidence, self-esteem, success 0 Comments on Wanting to Be Liked vs. Being Respected as of 1/1/1900
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15. the mystery of zingerline

Recently on NPR's Science Friday there was a piece on how our many online social media opportunities raise a question about the multiple identities we all inhabit and how we present ourselves to the world. I think I'm what you might call a "casual user" of this technology, but even I am splintered across this blog and my static website, two accounts on facebook, LinkedIn and twitter (as yet unused), three email addresses (personal,"writer" and teacher), about a dozen listservs (three different usernames) and a charter school identity. And who knows how many sites (Evite, Groupon, amazon.com to name a few) think they know who I am and what kind of cookies I like?

But long ago--ten whole years and then some--before any of this, when most of us were pretty cutting-edge in having any email address at all, I considered redefining my poet self by writing under a pen name instead of under the same old scary-looking, mispronounceable Mordhorst (which, by the way, is spelled just the way it sounds and pronounced just the way it's spelled, so please don't say MordhUrst). I came back to poetry almost the minute my daughter was born (talk about identity crisis: "You are now Mommy"), and while taking workshops at the wonderful Writers' Center here in Bethesda, I started signing my drafts "Heidi Zingerline."

The new surname choice was totally legit and even served a historical purpose, I thought. My mother's maiden name is Zingerline and with only one set of cousins on her side of the family, both girls, the name is in danger of disappearing from use. Plus, how perfect is that for a poet--zinger-line? Get it?

Then I realized that there was no way to communicate all that information in a byline, and that anyone who didn't know that Zingerline was a real name, mine to use by rights, might see it as a cheesy joke. I briefly considered "Heidi Zingerline Mordhorst," but it's not like "Heidi Mordhorst" needs any further distinguishing feature--maybe, if I had been Lisa Smith my whole life, Lisa Zingerline Smith might have made some sense.

But what really changed my mind was a poem written by a fellow workshopper and instant friend from the Writers' Center. He arrived at a critique group meeting one week in 2000 with this to share, and now the only vestige of my flirtation with Zingerline is in my writer email address, zingerline@gmail.com. Thank you, Lawrence, for your faith in Mordhorst.


Nom de plume
For "Heidi Zingerline," newly named

Mordhorst.
A commanding sound -- so majestic!
It could be a painting
by Vermeer: View of
Mordhorst.

Or a short
story, no? One of Edgar Allan Poe's
more fearsome inventions --
"The Fall of the House of
Mordhorst."

O

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16. Phone-Hacking, Muck-Raking, and the Future of Surveillance

By Simon Chesterman


The ongoing police investigation into phone-hacking in Britain by the tabloid News of the World has revealed the widespread use of surveillance techniques by private actors, with predictable outrage expressed at the violations of privacy. Yet the recent inquiries only began in earnest after a major story in the New York Times.

This is the paradox of today’s media: investigative journalism is often key to revealing abuses of surveillance powers, yet the commercial reality of today’s market drives unscrupulous journalists themselves towards ever more dubious methods.

That market has been radically altered by the “new media”, with WikiLeaks as its poster-child — ably exploiting the Internet’s capacity for widespread dissemination of data, but at the expense of credible efforts at analysis or minimizing the potential harm to named individuals. It is “journalism” by quantity rather than quality.

These two trends — muck-raking and unfiltered dissemination — become all the more serious when linked to the extraordinary tools of surveillance available to government and, increasingly, private actors.

The spread of surveillance powers through Britain has long puzzled outside observers. On the one hand, Britain is a rare example of a country that developed a comprehensive identity card regime during the Second World War and then dismantled it after the conclusion of hostilities — apparently to the dismay of many in law enforcement circles. Later in the century, however, the absence of constitutional protections of rights, a general belief in the benevolence of government, and episodes like the 1993 James Bulger murder encouraged the growth of a sophisticated surveillance state.

Britain now enjoys the highest concentration of CCTV cameras in the world, manages the London Congestion Charge by recording details of every car entering and leaving the capital, and stores DNA samples from an ever growing proportion of the population.

In the 2010 general election, Britain’s Conservative Party campaigned on a platform of scrapping plans for an identity card that would have been linked to a National Identity Register. Interestingly, the arguments that resonated with the public had less to do with privacy concerns than the expense involved, doubts about government competence to manage the data, and a general wariness that the whole enterprise looked a little too “European”.

Does this mean that Britons do not care about privacy? Certainly not. But as in many other countries it is hard to reconcile the apparent sincerity of individuals claiming to be concerned about their privacy with the nonchalant behaviour of those same individuals in revealing personal information voluntarily or engaging in activities where there is manifestly no reasonable expectation to privacy.

This is not limited to teenagers. The current head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, was embarrassed by photos that his wife posted on Facebook in 2009 revealing the location of their London flat and the whereabouts of their three adult children. Last October his daughter uploaded a suggestive photograph of herself holding a golden Kalashnikov — quickly cut and pasted from Facebook to the Mirror.

There is, however, a generational element to attit

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17. The Cardturner - Guest Review

Publication date: 11 May 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13:  0385736622 / 9780385736626


I turn you over once again to KimberlyBuggie, who is saving my life, one review at a time. If you want the blurb, click on the cover image above.


Kimberly's review: Growing up, I was a big fan of Louis Sachar. The Boy Who Lost His Face, There's A Boy In The Girl's Bathroom and all the stories from Wayside School.
Years later, (many, but I won't say how many), I'm happy to find that Mr. Sachar has still kept his sense of humor, good writing and sharp observations.

I'm not going to lie. The Cardturner does have A LOT of information about the game of bridge, which some may find boring. I don't know how to play bridge, nor do I have any interest in learning. And for all that information, it really is just a vehicle used to move the story. Sachar does a fun trick where he'll show you a whale, you'll have to read it to find out why, and what follows is a particularly long scene about bridge. At the end, he'll summarize it for you. (Thank you for realizing that I do not necessarily want to learn how to play bridge.)

But the story is about a boy and his search for his own identity. About his Uncle, a loner and a mysterious figure who may have more in common with him than he thought.

The story is filled with wonderful characters. (Toni, Gloria, and of course Lester) And while it's not a page turner, a thriller, a stay up late all night--it is a charming story about finding some friends, interests and yourself, in unexpected places.




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18. Bosses-On the Good to Bad Scale

I still have Bosses, Leaders, and Power in my mind. How could I avoid thinking about it? Every day that I put CNN on for the latest news, I see the kind of Leadership, the kind of Boss, and the Use of Power that the Lybian leader, Ghadafi offers his people. This also effects the rest of the world actually. Just go and fill up your tank at any USA service station and you’ll see how his every move impacts all of us. Ghadafi is a tyrant, for sure, but what I want to know is how there are so many Lybians who support him, who fly his plane and tanks and kill their fellow citizens. Have they been so crippled by having their own ability to think taken away from them for many years that when they are finally given a chance to exert themselves, they are unable to do so? Is this the same kind of brainwashing that we had seen among Hitler’s “judend namely the German children, who cheered for him blindly? This is all very scary stuff, as far as I’m concerned.

But I’m also worried about the leadership of the countries in the rest of the world that stand by lamely and don’t use the power in their hands to stop the Hitlers and Ghadafis and Mubaraks and … and … and …

Is this also a problem on a much smaller scale? For example, how many parents dominate their children, how many husbands and wives dominate their spouses, how many siblings dominate one another, how many bosses dominate their employees to the point that they are unable to express their own free will? Not a small number, I would imagine. I think leadership qualities can be identified in childern as early a nursery school. Perhaps we should find a way for those who are being bossed around to learn early on how to deal with those who rule over other in negative ways.


Filed under: Culture, Dominance, Identity, Personalities Tagged: cultural change, Dominance, Personalities, relationships

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19. Writing Racy

You may have noticed from my little avatar, but just in case you didn't, I'll let you in on a secret: I'm not white.

Sorry if it came as a surprise. It's so much a part of me that I don't think about it on a daily basis. I certainly don't stop to point it out, at least not until today. Even when I look in the mirror I don't notice the color of my skin or the slant to my eyes. It's just me. I've been mistaken for Filipino, Hawaiian, Black, Latina... I am all of that, and none of it. (Oddly enough, no one has ever mistaken me for English or Scottish, even though I'm also that and only God knows what else!)

Every once in a while someone will ask me where I'm from. My answer? Ohio. That is where I was born after all. Sometimes they'll laugh, they think I'm toying with them. But originally, they'll say, where are your parents from? Um, Nicaragua and Jamaica. Oooohhhh... Like that explains it.

The thing is, I've never claimed to be anything other than a first-generation American. My parents are both mixed race so in my opinion, there's not enough of any one nationality in me to claim one race. That would be shortchanging part of who I am. When I fill out those forms that ask for ethnicity, I check every box except Eskimo. As far as I know, that's the only one that doesn't apply. But honestly, if an Alaskan native shows up on my doorstep and claims to be related, I'm not going to faint from surprise. I've got everything else. Why not that too?

But as a writer, what is my responsibility to represent people like me in the pages of my books?

I've been blogging for two years and never felt the need to talk about my race. People either like reading my posts or they don't. I don't think my race has anything to do with it.

In my books, I imagine characters who are not white, but I never say what any of them are. I don't think I even mention skin color except in one story. And every reader thought from my description that the kid just had a tan. *sigh* In many of the stories I've read where they do mention skin color, it often sounds contrived. Sometimes through language or situations or names, you realize that the character isn't white. That, to me, is the most natural way to integrate it.

Or through the cover. But that's a whole other can of worms that I'm not even going to get into. Not today at least.

Because there are a lot of people like me. We were born in America, we see ourselves as American. We don't have ethnic names, we just speak English (okay, yes, I speak Spanish as well, but ignore that for the moment!).

Do I have a responsibility as a writer to find a way to represent people like me on the page?

(And btw, sorry if you were expecting a different type of racy discussion, but I write middle grade. You can visit Stina if you want a more sexy topic :P )

29 Comments on Writing Racy, last added: 3/26/2011
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20. Saying I’m Sorry

I’ve often wondered why so many of the public figures in our society say “I take full responsibility for this problem.” These public figures may be congressmen, evangelests, actors, businessmen, and the list goes on. Their actions may be to abuse power, steal funds, or take part in unacceptable, and sometimes perverse, sexual behavior. Currently the inspectors of the nuclear plants in Japan admitted they haven’t done it right for years. The air traffic controller at the Reagan National Airport fell asleep, leaving two incoming planes to fend for themselves. Luckily no one was hurt. Where was the FAA in all of this? They haven’t taken “full responsibility” for the incident either, except to say there will be a “full investigation.” The controller has been fired, but we haven’t heard a word out of him.

I wonder why no one has ever come out and said, “I’m sorry.” It must be that saying I’m sorry means that you admit you have done something wrong. It implies that you must feel some guilt about what you have done. It makes you look bad. In Japan you will “lose face.” But if you say, “I take full responsibility for this catastrophe or problem,” it implies that the problem may have been caused by some other person, perhaps an employee, a spouse (for a failed marriage), an adolescent (whom you haven’t monitered closely,) a neighbor, a colleague, anyone else other than yourself.

I have always thought saying I’m sorry showed strength of character. It shows a person is confident enough in himself to admit to others his mistakes and feels he can overcome the problem and still be accepted. Perhaps I feel so strongly about the importance of saying, “I’m sorry” because my father never, ever in his whole life admitted he was wrong or had made a mistake about anything. That is, not until he was ninety-seven years old and was caught red handed in a mistake he’d made. I am so glad that happened. I can now remember him better for all the positive characteristics he had, and they were many.


Filed under: Becoming Alice, Identity, Personalities Tagged: Guilt, Personalities, self confidence, self-esteem, strength of character 0 Comments on Saying I’m Sorry as of 3/25/2011 1:31:00 PM
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21. "Multiracial" identity and American Indians

The US Census released 2010 demographic data a few days ago. Among the data being pointed to in articles and essays is that "...American Indians and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are the most likely to report being of more than once race. Blacks and whites are the least likely." That excerpt appears in the New York Times, in the March 24, 2011 article by Susan Saulny.

It suggests that more American Indians claim more than one race than was the case in the past, that there is more mixing than ever before. I don't doubt that, but let's hit the pause button...

I'm tribally enrolled with Nambe Pueblo. I grew up there. My daughter and I, like my parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, etc., live our identity as Indians of Nambe Pueblo.

I teach at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. In every class I teach, I've got a handful of students who say they have a great grandparent who was Native. They don't know what tribe that ancestor was, and, they usually have only a vague idea of what it might mean to be Native. Most of them have no idea of Native Nations, of Native sovereignty, of being on a tribal census, what treaties mean, that dances might be sacred...   A great many of them romanticize an Indian identity based on popular culture and (sadly) biased teachings in school. Some of them manufacture that identity, putting it on in the form of, for example, a bone choker. They mean no harm. In fact, they wear such things with great pride. But! They don't live a specific Native Nation identity.

Yet, many of them check a box on school enrollment forms, and, likely on the U.S. Census, that says they're part Indian. And so, the statistics are kind of... skewed.

A few months ago, the Times ran another article in which college students reported being mixed, some of them with Native heritage, but that none of those distinct identities mattered.

Identity matters for those of us who are raised Indian. We work very hard at maintaining our nationhood and our sovereignty, and, we work to protect the integrity of our traditions from being exploited by people who don't understand them... 

The students interviewed for that Times article mean no harm when they say their Indian identity doesn't matter. It doesn't matter---to them. But it does to me, and it does to Native Nations. The students' well-meaning embrace of a mixed identity, in effect, obscures a lot, and in that obscurity, it does do harm. It contributes to the lack of understanding of who American Indians are...  And it takes the US down a merry melting pod road where we all hold hands and smile in ignorance.

Ignorance is not bliss. It is ignorance.

You don't have to be ignorant. You can learn a lot about American Indians, and know us---and maybe your own ancestry---for who we were and are, rather than some abstract stereotypical notion you've been carrying around. 

Spend some time on American Indians in Children's Literature, learning about who we are and what we care about. Read our newspapers! Check out Indian Country Today. Read Mark Trahant's columns there, and see how ICT covers mascot stories. Listen to our radio stations! Start with National Native News. Did you know we have Tribal Colleges? And a journal called Tribal College Journal that you can read online? There's a lot to know!

15 Comments on "Multiracial" identity and American Indians, last added: 4/1/2011
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22. I Like You Because ….

I was in the beauty shop last week getting a haircut. It was on a Friday and the business was booming; every one of the half dozen chairs was occupied with customers and operators working as fast as they could to process as many clients as possible. I often enjoy looking at the costumes of beauty shop operators because I think that they think they must be in punker garb to be successful. Purple and orange hair. Rings in noses, earlobes, belly buttons. You get the picture.

My beautician is dressed normal. She is fifty years old and perhaps that makes a difference. I don’t know. During a lull in my conversation with her, I overheard a customer at the other end of the row of chairs speak to her beautician. I couldn’t see either one of them since my head was tilted down so that we could cut around my neckline, but I heard, “I met this guy and he’s great. He owns his own business and he’s a Republican.”

It made me laugh and I said to my own beautician, “Never mind that he’s divorced because he beat his wife and cheats on his taxes, but he’s a Republican!

Of course, I know many people who have different formulas for whom they like. For example, mothers who don’t want their daughters to go out with anyone other than Jewish men, Mormon men, Catholic men, Armenian men, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and, of course, Democrats or Republicans. Need I go on?

What has happened to the time when we decided to like someone who was kind to others, ambitious for their families, charitable, intelligent, hard-working, lovimg, open to new ideas, or just simply nice.?


Filed under: Culture, Identity, Personalities Tagged: Acceptance, Charisma, Dating, Judgement, Personalities, relationships

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23. Hampus Jageland

hampus jageland

Very sharp, intelligent identity work from Swedish-Australian-Parisian art director Hampus Jageland. It’s delightful to see work that combines striking minimalism with smart thinking. It’s one of those skills that is easy to identify but difficult to imitate.

Jageland’s work is witty and entertaining. I love the ease in which he communicates the essence of a concept — there’s a distinct visual payoff you receive when the mark does register.

hampus jageland

hampus jageland

hampus jageland

hampus jageland

hampus jageland

hampus jageland

hampus jageland

Via Justin and FFFFOUND.

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24. What’s in a Name

Last night I went to a meeting of a book club which I have been invited to join. I have known some of its members, but not all. In being introduced, I learned that there is another woman in the group whose name is Alice. My head bobbed back a bit in surprise. Alice! Nobody I know, or have ever known, has been named Alice.

The lady I met was as shocked as I to meet another Alice. Well of course there are others: Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, Alice B. Toklas, member of the Parisian avant-garde of the early twentieth century, or Alice Paul, associated with furthering the suffrage movement for women, to name a few. The one thing we have in common is that we all are of a certain age and older.

It makes one realize that names are fashions of an era, just like the clothes we wear, the music to which we listen, the art we admire, the way we raise our kids, the values we hold, and the list goes on.

In my day girls had names like Nancy, Barbara, Elaine, Patricia, or Anne. Fast forward a couple of decades and you get names like Linda, Laura, Bonnie, Sue, or Kathy. Fast forward again to the names of today’s kids and you get Ashley, Laura, Bridget, and Emma.

As you probably read in Becoming Alice, I actually chose the name of Alice for myself. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. I chose it because my brother was dating a girl named Alys. In today’s world that name would be Allison. I don’t fit that name.

Most people don’t ever veer from choosing the names of the time for their babies. That’s why I have so much admiration for the young couple I know who had the courage to name their son Oscar.


Filed under: Becoming Alice, Culture, Identity Tagged: Courage, Dating oneself, Names, Styles

2 Comments on What’s in a Name, last added: 7/12/2011
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25. Self-Image

Sometimes I wonder if there is a connection between self-image and reality. When I reflect back to my childhood, there was a very strong connection between my self-image and the child that I was in reality. I thought I was not like other children and I wasn’t. I was this scared, funny-looking European kid going to school with a lot of happy American kids. I wrote about that in my memoir, Becoming Alice. Imagine how aweful these poor kids have it who suffer from anorexia when what they see in the mirror, a perfectly normal child, is percieved as a fat kid.

As time went on, my self-image and the person I was in real life became closer. I became an American adult. And the feelings of inferiority and lack of self-confidence went away. I was pretty much the person that I thought I was. It would be up to somebody else to tell me otherwise.

But now a chunk of years have gone by and I think that misconnect between self-image and reality is creeping up again. I still think of myself as a pretty average, normal, American adult. But now I often am reminded that I fall into another category. This incident made me become aware of that fact: I am sitting around at my athletic club having coffee with a group of girls/women (why is it that the older you get, the more likely it is that older women are called girls?) talking about this and that, nothing of great significance. I did notice, however, that most of these ladies with whom I play tennis are much younger than I am. I looked at one of them and was reminded that she wrote me a very nice note telling me how much she enjoyed reading Becoming Alice and that she figured I must be her mother’s age. Okay. And then the cute young thing sitting next to me remarked that she thinks it wonderful that I still play tennis … and she hopes she will be able to do the same thing when she is older.

There it is. There is that word older that doesn’t fit with my self-image. I don’t know what to do. What behaviors should I undertake to fit into that category of old. There is a glitch between my self-image and what other people think of me. I know what I must do. I think I shall just ignore them and keep my self-image as an average American adult.


Filed under: Becoming Alice, Identity Tagged: reality, self confidence, Self-image

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