I got an email from a new reader last week. He sent me a list. (There are boys — list-making boys — reading this blog? How strange. And how nice!) It was a very sweet list. I wasted no time filing all eight bullet points under For Whenever You’re Having a Bad Day.
He just had one gentle critique, and it came in the form of a postscript:
P.S. Your “about” page does a very good job of not telling us much about you at all.
To be honest, I read 10-20 blogs pretty religiously every day, and I re-visit their bio pages all the time. I’ve always been really interested in how people present themselves. (You know, outside of LinkedIn.) So how come I haven’t distilled myself down into something clever, something cute, something concise?
Well, for one, because the word concise isn’t really in my vocabulary. If I started telling you that I make a brilliant rendition of burnt toast, then I would also have to tell you that I have dreams of a beautiful desk space, a gnocchi-making boyfriend, and a long life at the base of a mountain. (Without much snow on top.)
And then I’d feel compelled to tell you, in all fairness, that I’ve decided (and then un-decided) on two perfectly wonderful people. That my current track record says I’m a big fan of the edit undo. That I fall asleep the instant the heat goes on in the car, and that I’m secretly wildly afraid that I exhibit agoraphobic tendencies. (When left to my own devices.)
And then — since we went there — I would also feel obligated to inform you that there’s often a big gap between the way I see myself and the way things really are. And that this gap has gotten me into trouble, and that I often think of other people as moderating forces.
I would admit that there is an irresistibly warm chocolate-caramel-walnut turtle pie from Fleming’s that currently has my heart. (Terrible lighting aside.) And that I like a good chain, as much as I love a little local place.
I would tell you that there are precious few people I can be around without feeling like I have to perform. I would tell you that I’m very confused by how I can be so introverted, and yet so lonely, too. I would tell you that I love kissing, but that’s really all I want to do — for what would probably seem like a really ridiculous number of weeks, to you.
I would tell you that I keep teapots on my bedside table. That I hardly ever wear any jewelry that’s mine. That my journals are purely decorative. That I have a new infatuation with maps (providing they’re not in the passenger seat with me). That the words “far, far away” sound so good, all of a sudden.
And still, I wouldn’t have told you what you want to know. I wouldn’t have told you that I spent the first 20 years of my life saying I was from Boston, when I really came from a small suburban town just outside. You wouldn’t have known that I called the coast of Maine home, for a few years after that — even when most of my things were sitting under a pile of books in upstate New York.
You wouldn’t have had any way of knowing that I spent 11 months trying valiantly to think of New York City as home, too.
And you wouldn’t have known that I thought I wanted to be a corporate climber, at first. Then a teacher (French or English). And, um, quite possibly a wife.
You wouldn’t have known that that was only the beginning. That I thought, briefly, about opening my own bed and breakfast. That I seriously considered becoming a recipe developer, once. And a nutritionist. And/or a personal trainer.
Or a culinary student?
You wouldn’t have known that sometimes it feels like all I’ve done is start working my way through the list. Dreaming, researching, testing, shaking my head no. Often rather emphatically, no.
Therapist. Restaurant critic. Food writer. Buyer for a kitchen/speciality food shop?
Curator for a bookstore. Copywriter. Journalist. Editor. Photographer. Stylist. Contributor, of some kind. Personal assistant. Event planner. Food entrepreneur. Baker. Graphic designer. Social media marketer. Brand consultant. Full-time blogger. Author.
It would have been enough to make your head spin. And mine, too. There are only a few titles that I’m sure about. I can keep it succinct: Daughter, Friend, Sister. And one more, which I keep working in and moving around: Writer. Maybe one day I’ll be able to find a way to make it fit.