Thursday, May 8, 2008

Who's That Baby in the Picture?

There was a Golden Book I liked when I was very small called Who's That Baby In the Picture. It was about a little girl who, dressed in her mother's finest Sunday hat, explores a closet in her house and finds pictures of a baby she does not know, a baby who turns out to be her when she was a baby. Because she is so tiny and just understanding her own self, she doesn't recognize herself as anything other than they way she looks then and now.

Though I am much older, I feel the same way. I look at the above photo, taken just last night before another filmed spanking, and I ask myself the same question as the little girl in the book. I look at that photo and see a beautiful girl. Who is that? I ask myself. I don't see myself like that. How is it that the camera, an entity that has always been cruel to me, sees the real me, when I can barely see myself?

This morning, I read a blog entry by novelist Rabih Alameddine , who wrote about the nature of writers primarily being that of liars. Alameddine writes, "When I write, I fabricate. Art, after all, comes from 'artifice.' I've always considered novelists to be grifters, charlatans, the greatest of them marvelously proficient liars." I was once shocked by this same sentiment in college, when a man, a writer, whom I loved solely through letters and online conversations, told me the same thing. There are two phrases for which I will always remember him. One was simply, "You are like remembering dreams." The other: "Writers are liars." I have long sinced ceased worrying about the dissidence. The latter I somehow always knew to be true.

Now that my true self is revealed through words, and my false self, my bill-paying self, my actual self of artifice, is the one revealed during the course of the day, I can't help but wonder if a phrase I have long believed to be true, "Writers are liars," is a falsehood of the utmost degree. What if it's not that we are liars, but we have so disguised ourselves from ourselves that we express truth and claim it to be false because we can no longer tell the difference? With the exception of when I am solely with my husband, I am the most myself when I am here, or communicating with others I have met through this blog. You, reader, know me better than the people who see me a straight nine hours a day. That does not Abby a liar make. Rather, it makes the woman you know as Abby a liar. The real me, a falsehood. The falsehood, the truth.

Small pieces come out during the day. I handed a Papermate pen to my new boss this morning and remembered to remove the paperclip I had wrapped around it at the last moment. "You don't need to use a martyr pen," I said offhandedly. "Martyr pen?" he asked. "Like the monks who wear a cilice around their thighs? I had this paperclip around the pen and it kept poking me, but I don't know why I didn't remove it before now." "Ah, a penitent," he said, and he said it in the most lovely Australian accent, but he's my boss, and I can't exactly reveal the whole of myself to him.

I would tell everyone, if I could. I told my best friend from high school shortly after writing my last post about what I'm up to these days, and she applauded me whole-heartedly. A few people at work do know. The one friend from Southern California who has remained in contact with me found out this week as well, and received the information with grace and interest. Strangely, though, I still occasionally feel estranged from myself, as if this alter ego has separated herself from me, has declared the daytime me unworthy of her evening activities. Who is that baby in the picture? I wish I had the freedom to be myself. The baby in the picture, the woman staring directly into my eyes--that's me.


  1. To desire to be desired is not to be a liar.

  2. Abby, that's a beautiful picture of you. And thinking about what's going to be done to you very soon, well! Shivers!

    My true self is revealed through words, and my false self, my bill-paying self, my actual self of artifice, is the one revealed during the course of the day I feel that way most of the time too. In fact, I feel a twin moment with most of what you said. I am very much more 'real' in the blogosphere than in vanilla life.

    Life feels surreal a lot of the time now. I feel detached from the day-to-day stuff. I just came back from an office group lunch. I happened to be sitting across from a mirror and from time to time glanced at my reflection, and wondered about the real me inside that person that everyone else saw.

    Blogging can be scary! And wonderful.


  3. And your riding crop-gasm is on Chross today!

    Congratulations, Abby!

    Hugs again,

  4. Jim, if there is one thing that is true about me, it is that I desire to be desired. So you are very right in this. We even used to joke that my theme song should be "I Want You To Want Me." No wonder I ended up nearly naked on my blog!

    Hermione, thank you for both the kind words and informing me about Chross. I wish I'd managed to get that "Cropgasm" up on the other site before tonight. Oh well, better late than never! *hugs* And you know, the more I think about it, as long as you were able to see you when you looked in the mirror, you're in good shape. I only know you through text, but you are beautiful too!


  5. Abby,

    The real you is sexy and beautiful. Your eyes alone speak volumes.

    I've written about the duality inherent in blogging. My real world friends know a little bit about most of me. My blogging friends know nearly everything about a small part of me. In both cases, it's sometimes difficult to just be myself.

    You seem to have broken through this barrier, at least partially, and I salute you for your wonderful candor. The fact that you're enjoying every minute makes your triumph so much sweeter.


  6. You look so beautiful in these pictures. I'm very, very glad that you can see and appreciate that beauty yourself - learning to appreciate honestly, without ego, the ways in which you're beautiful is one of the best things about doing what we do.

    These are poignant, lovely, pleasing photos, and thankyou for posting them. I'm not sure how much I can empathise with the sense that your only true self is textual - my own identity is more dual than that; both (all) of my selves are true. But your thoughts on why and how this looking glass is so revealing, so affirming, so compelling, are fascinating, and they do resonate with me.

    I love how you tie this into the childhood book. The image is so perfect. I think you're right: this is your true self. Or at least, through this medium, you can see things truly. There's more I could comment on this, but I'll save it for your letter :)

    (Edited for typos... I'm tired today.)


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