Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Identity theft.

My last name. I’ve gone through three and half of them so far. I’m pretty sure I’ve settled permanently on this last one.
I was born into my first last name. I had it for such a brief period of time that I cannot honestly remember classifying myself as such.
My mother and biological father divorced when I was very young, around two years old. My mother married into my second last name, but I stole it. Legally, I never had a name change; I was never adopted by my step-father. Instead, I fiercely chose that moniker as means of belonging to my new family structure. My first last name became a thing of revulsion to me. At four years of age I consciously denied my ancestry. It was not so hard. My birth father chose to have little or no contact with me, and I chose to have little or no thought about him. I was so believable in this new identity that I even managed to procure legal documentation stating that it really was my last name - my driver’s license bore record of this untruth. Such are the subtle manipulations of law that exist in small town living. Unfortunately, I grew to detest my second last name as well, for somewhat similar reasons as the first.
My second and a half last name came by means of the Provincial and Federal Government. Whilst applying for student loans I was faced with the dilemma of how to fill in the line that asked for my legal last name. Legally, it was the first, but I had legal documentation of the second. I aimed for sanctuary by adding both, but with a parenthesized explanation of why. When my loan was approved, I was surprised to find that I had been renamed thusly: first last name hyphen second last name. And with that small dash, I had yet another incarnation of myself to add to my repertoire.
So many versions of myself, yet none of them belonged to me. I longed for a name to call my own.
I am now on my third last name, otherwise known as my last last name. I chose it for two reasons. It identifies me with my husband, as it is his. It also separates me from my past plethora of convoluted surnames. It represents my good choices, my bright future. I am loved, I belong, I am finally me.
I am Jessy B.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why I don't write.

Originally written April 2003.

Let me tell you why I don’t write. The yellow folder is to blame. It is symbolic of my ambition and failure to put pen to paper. I’ve had the yellow folder for three years. How I came to acquire it clarifies how it has held me back.

Since childhood I’ve loved to read. Enchantment with reading accompanied me past my graduation from high school and into my new life away from home. Until then I hadn’t considered writing an option. It was what authors did, not ordinary people like me. I had never thought otherwise until I met my friend F. He wrote not only as required for his major in English, but for sheer enjoyment. He kept copies in his computer of everything he wrote. His files contained not only compulsory compositions for his degree. They also held thought provoking essays, published letters to the editor of the local paper in defense of his views, short stories of various topics, and more. I was both fascinated and jealous of his scholarly talent.

I so enjoyed his writing style that I would often visit him and read his latest efforts. One particular night I read over his shoulder. His computer screen emitted a soft glow through the dim lighting of his basement bedroom. The room was too chilly for my liking but it was worth my discomfort since I was entranced by his skill and had to read on. As I finished his essay I was struck with the desire to understand what it meant to be a writer. Why did he write? Why did anyone write, for that matter? I was certain that if I could pour over his words at my leisure I would come to know not only why others wrote, but how I might learn to as well. Would he mind if I had copies of some of his work? Flattered, he started up his printer and soon the collection was mine. He handed me a folder for safe-keeping.

The folder was made of rutted, uneven yellow paper the texture of leather. Within lay two pockets, one on each side. They were bulging with ordinary sheets of white paper. Upon the pages were written compositions that, I felt, were anything but ordinary. I’ve read and reread the contents of the yellow folder, endeavoring to transcend my perceived mediocrity. I hoped that it would be my key to unlocking the secrets of superior writing. Instead of finding answers, I’ve ended up comparing myself to its author and to writers in general. I have no degree in English, no published works to my name. All I have are words that dance in my thoughts. They form phrases, sparked by everyday moments. These fragments are imaginary literary achievements; they are books that I’ve never written.

The words in my head are constant, yet constantly I deny them formation into existence. They flit about my mind like butterflies, so hard to catch. Do I dare to seize the words? Do I dare to write them down? This course of action seems so daunting. I fear I am not up to the challenge. The yellow folder proves my inadequacy. Its contents are my evidence that words can be caught and pinned down. It is a stinging reminder of all that I have not done. Even though I own it, it does not truly belong to me. It is a testament of those who are able to grasp words and hold them together in print, unashamed.

I cannot continue to be afraid to try. For this reason, I am using writing to explain why I don’t write. If this method manages to render the topic invalid, then perhaps this is a promising beginning. As I catch my thoughts and hold them down just long enough to fasten them to paper, I am freeing myself of my need for the yellow folder. I am no longer searching for excuses to fail. I am not holding back.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A model life.

My foray into the high-stakes world of modeling began at five years of age. My parents signed me up with the local agency. I’d like to think that I learned something other than how to pose but, according to my recollect, being a total poser is the only skill that has carried over into my adult life.

Childhood modeling lasted only for a few years before I had to give up my career for Grade 3. They couldn’t hold me back for long. Twenty three years later, I returned. How did this occur? I’m still trying to figure that out. I do recall attending a casting call in the spring. However, when I got a call back this summer for a photo shoot, it was difficult to put two and two together. 

Perhaps I can explain it like this. It was like getting asked out by that guy that’s too hot to be true. You’re really excited, flattered, and can’t believe its really happening. That’s when panic sets in. When is he going to figure out that, well, he’s way hotter than you, and he could do so much better? You hope that day never comes, but you’re certain it will. Plus, you hate the thought of being one of those un-matching couples. You know, where one is clearly way out of the other’s league and everyone secretly wonders how the heck that happened?

Even though I got the call back that was too good to be true, even though I was excited, flattered, and could not believe it was really happening, panic set in. When were they going to figure out that they could do so much better? Seriously, if I was hiring for a shoot, I wouldn’t hire myself. Not to say that I don’t find myself attractive. (On the contrary, I’m really rather vain.) It’s just that some people have features that don’t transfer well into 2D. I’m one of those people. That’s ok. This fact is balanced by the fact that some people who photograph really well don’t have features that transfer well into 3D (aka real life). I like to believe that I’m attractive in person and...interesting on film. Interesting being a euphemism for not so attractive. And yet I was getting paid to be transferred into 2D. Hence, the panic.

So, now what? I’m not asking for sympathy. I know I was paid to get taken photos of. Shut up and stop my whining already. The fact is, this experience is less about my insecurities regarding modeling, and more about my insecurities in general. I presume I’m a product of my adolescence. After I quit modeling the first time, I entered into a long and painful period of...interesting. Perhaps a part of my mentality has never quite recovered. I suppose we all have moments of an un-matching couple within ourselves. Sometimes you feel like the hot and sometimes you feel like the not. Maybe this is simply a way to put two and two together and realize that you are resplendent, flaws and all, and that’s what makes you beautiful. 

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ice cream as external motivation.

You embody the perfect blend of sweetness and seduction. You personality is just as luscious and irresistible as chocolate ice cream. You have a flirty, melty attitude that's easygoing and delicious. You appreciate luxurious, extravagant things, like the way ultra-soft fabrics feel against your skin. Some people want to hog you all to themselves, but you find ways to make everyone feel special.

An ice cream personality quiz? Sure, why not? Thanks, internet. 

When I first started this blog (was it really two years ago?), I did so with the intent of producing tangible evidence of the odd creativity constantly swirling around in my brain. As mentioned in my very first post, I have a slight problem with procrastination and slobbish perfectionism. There is a certain terrifying freedom in the expose of my innermost musings - the power of the written word is very concrete and yet easily misconstrued. The lack of facial expression, body language, and vocal intones create a wide path for interpretation of meaning. Therein lies my intoxication of words, and therein also lies the danger.

My dangerous liaison with words equals exposing my inner crazy, a risk that I feel compelled to undertake. I feel similar in relation to people. I often feel detached, an observer of social constructions but not a subscriber. Though I don't easily find true connections with people, and count my close friends as far and few between, I love people in general. Fascinated by them actually. I love to be charming and gracious, yet I also love to be alone. I don't have to be alone to feel lonely. I want everyone around me to feel good about themselves. I want everyone to feel joy and be happy. I love to cry. I am a paradox. I suppose I oft times find myself to be sweet, cold, and dark. Chocolate ice cream, anyone?