Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blogging: Hello, my name is...

I'm thinking of calling myself Martha.

No, I'm not picking a name out of a baby book--that's my real name. And it's always been findable if you click here and click there and follow one profile to another profile. When I created this blog, I made a conscious decision that I wasn't going to hide my identity. But because my name was hidden behind a couple of clicking-around layers, I had the comfy feeling of kindasorta anonymity.

I'm a shy person. Anonymity, even the very thinnest kindasorta layer, has often worked for me. Writing this, I remember a grade-school teacher on whom I had a sustained crush. At show-and-tell, my mumbling nervous real self was quite unable to lure him in to look at my rock collection. But on Halloween, when I wore my green-faced witch mask to school, I remember being delighted (and puzzled) at his amused (and puzzled) response to my "role" self.

Did I play the fairy tale witch, cackling and making finger claws? I wish I could remember. But I know that I've felt a freeing excitement at every opportunity to play a role, in childhood or adulthood. Even the thin veil of the workplace role allows me to make scary phone calls. And my many online roles say things that I suspect I'd never have been able to say in real life. Once they're said, I seem to be able to keep talking as myself, but I needed the virtual costumes and masks in order to get started.

Why ChickenFreak? It's not a name that defines my very core being, except in a purely joking Cookie Monster-ish way. ("C is for chicken....") I chose it when I started this blog, typing handle after handle into Blogger to find that they were all taken. My first blog post was going to be about fried chicken, my very favorite food and my defining dish as a cook, so chicken was on my mind. Chicken is usually on my mind, when I'm hungry or depressed or happy or in any way defined by appetite or emotions. So ChickenFreak it was.

But it's a weird name. It has issues. And circling back around, what's my problem with using my real name? The problems with renaming my blog and its URL--I expect I'll do that next--are moderately obvious, but what's the issue with changing my name?

It would, of course, help if I liked my real name. Martha. Bleah. I was named after nice people, and if I'd known those nice people, I might like the name better. As it is, it feels like a name for a well-behaved churchgoing girl of my grandmother's generation.  And that's not--well, no, maybe that is too much me. I'm not churchgoing, but I am well-behaved, irritatingly so. At least, it irritates me.

Remember the scene in Buffy where the Scooby gang, all seniors now, were leaving campus for lunch, and they had to drag Willow along with them? ("What if they're lying in wait to arrest me and throw me in detention and mar my unblemished record?"). That's me. Rule-abiding and a bit cranky about it. Going back to the Biblical Martha, I can certainly imagine myself griping about having to do all the work while Mary bogarted all the time with the visiting celebrity. And in fact, I still struggle to see exactly how Martha was wrong in that story--yeah, yeah, all that trivial feminine work is unimportant; are you still going to say so when there's nothing to eat? (You may see why I'm not churchgoing.)

So using my own name on this blog may be the first time that I'm (1) eliminating even the kindasorta veil of anonymity while (2) playing no role in a situation where (3) I really want to feel comfortable expressing myself.

Sounds scary. But I guess I am ready to use my real name. Though I still wish that name were something else.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Aha! So that's why it says Martha/Chickenfreak in your comment on my blog. :) I was wondering what's up with that.
    I admit, I never understood the need to hide my name online. I hope I am the kind of person who can stand behind my words so I don't feel the need to hide them behind a differently named persona without the possibility of discovering who is behind it.
    Btw, I think your name is really lovely. :)

  2. I absolutely love your name! In fact, it was on my list of baby names when I was younger and thought perhaps I'd have another child.

  3. Well, I think your name is lovely. And I know Martha is a Beatles song, admittedly about Paul's love for his sheepdog Martha, but none the less lovely for it!

  4. I should add that the song is actually 'Martha My Dear', from the White Album. For what its worth.

  5. Howdy, Ines! Yeah, I'm the nervous type; it's not so much that I wouldn't stand behind my words as getting up the nerve to say them in the first place. A mask seems to be useful for that. :)

    And thank you! about my name.

  6. Hey, Carol! It's nice to know that you like the name enough that you considered using it. :)

  7. Yo, Michael! Hee. I'd forgotten that song; I do remember that I liked it, even knowing who it was about. :)

  8. Oh, I'm so glad your name is Martha and not Chickenfreak.;) I love that name. My youngest sister is a Martha - so beautiful.

  9. Hey, Cymbaline! Thanks! With all these people liking the name, surely I can learn to like it to. Surely. Maybe. I hope.

  10. Hi Martha,

    I think your name is very retro, and as such, totally in keeping with the spirit of the times. The latest baby to be born to anyone I know is called Mabel. Just saying!

  11. Yay! Thanks! "Retro" is a really good view-changing word. :)