Mom-101, International Woman of Mystery (Or maybe she just has a really big hairy mole)

A few years back, while listening to Kiss From a Rose for the 45,395th time, I opened the Seal CD case to try and determine whether the line was "kiss from the grave" or "kiss from the grey." Instead of clarity on the lyrics (dammit!) I found this bit of commentary:
One of the most popular questions people seem to ask is "Why don't you print your lyrics on the album?" Well, the answer to that is quite often, my songs mean one thing to me and another to the listener... How many times have you fallen in love with a lyric that you thought went, "Show me a day with Hilda Ogden and I'll despair," only to find that it went "Show me a way to solve your problems and I'll be there." I guess what I'm saying is that the song is always larger in the listeners' mind because with it they attach imagery which is relative to their own personal experience. So it is your perception of what I'm saying rather than what I actually say that is the key.
This gives me a perfect understanding of what Heidi Klum sees in Seal. It also rather aptly explains why there have been no photos of me on this blog to date.

Every time I consider posting a photo of Thalia and me together, I hesitate. Not for any sort of anonymity reasons--plenty of "real life" friends have this URL. The truth is, I like being a voice. Just a voice. A voice free from any preconceptions of what a person like me should be saying or how I should be saying it. A blank canvas onto which any reader can project his or her own imagery. It may be the one time in my life that this is possible.

For all you know, I'm mousey and invisible (I'm not). I have big hair, big nails, and a big Long Island accent to match (I don't). I'm a petite, pasty little thing with a black Theda Bara bob (nope) or a six-foot amazon tanning booth blonde with boobs that point to the sky (not even). I have a hump (hey!) or a full-grown moustache (watch it there...) with two curly chin hairs and a bald patch over my left ear. (Now that's enough! And just when I thought we were getting to be friends.)

And I wonder were I to actually be any of these things whether it would color your impression of what I have to say here each day.

It might. And maybe even in a good way.

I love having a picture of David Sedaris in my head, so I can place a face with his voice as we play the audio book of Barrel Fever on long car rides. In fact if David Sedaris looked less like David Sedaris and more like Viggo Mortensen, I'd find his memoirs less accessible. I'm equally glad I can picture Paul Krugman or Anna Quindlen when I read their editorials. Even Ann Coulter, if only so that when I see her in person, I can be sure to accidentally run into her while holding something sharp.

And God, do I love knowing what Sweetney and Amalah and Alice look like.; they all look exactly as they should.

But I also know that our impressions of writing can be skewed negatively based on our perception of the writer. My tenth grade English teacher, after reading my Julius Caesar analysis, wrote SEE ME. PLAGIARISM? over top of the essay and handed it back without a grade. Apparently something so coherent couldn't have possibly come from the attention-deficit case in the back wearing the army jacket and the rhinestone dog collar. (Ha! Coherent--that was one of the SAT words we studied in your class, Mrs. Archer, you old bat. See, I was paying attention. At least when I wasn't passing notes about your shameless flirting with Jimmy Glasheen.)

I admit to having my own biases about writers based on their looks. I'm less apt to read a business blog from a man who looks like he's never had a haircut costing more than $6; nor would I take fashion recommendations from woman in a scrunchie. I confess to a certain lack of interest in very young, very blonde bloggers, even before I realize they use no punctuation like this and write run on sentences like this and spell things rong like thiss and write i like i and not like I. Something about their snapshots (generally accompanied by three friends, each of them with that glassy-eyed, six-too-many-White Russians look) tells me move along, nothing to see here. Judgmental? You bet. Sorry about that.

So maybe you'll look at a picture of me and also invoke your biases. You'll think pfffft, she doesn't look funny at all. Or hmm, I thought she'd be skinnier/fatter/taller/prettier. Or harumph, I would never like her in real life because looks just like that loser whose ass I kicked in junior high.

But I'm realizing that that doesn't really matter. Even while I do occasionally cling to the fantasy of being all things to all people, I am what I am what I am. And so I'm unmasking. Less for you than for me.

It may seem counterintuitive in the blogworld, but I believe disclosure is liberating. It compels me to be as truthful as I possibly can. And this, as I see it, this is the first obligation of the memorist.

Besides, the BlogHer conference is coming up. Knowing me, I'll have too many Coronas and not enough mini quiches one night and end up on dozens of blogs as That Girl in That Photo, belting out Copacabana on the bar with a shoe for a microphone. I'm just trying to beat my snap-happy cohorts to the punch and manage the spin. First impressions go a long way.

I hope this doesn't change things between us.


Blogger Unknown said...

whoo hoo! you fabulous wench, you. and you hide that hump so well.

i have to say, this took my by surprise--as i read the post, i thought "me too, me too" (validation, validation) and then was slightly gobsmacked when you did a 360. nice job, lady.

and now i have even more of a yen to go to BlogHer (dammit).

in about 6 months perhaps i will find a fabulous picture of me at about 26 and say "here I am, world! don't hate me because i am 37";-)

3/27/06, 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, that's it, I am not going to read your blog anymore OH PLEASE!

You are beautiful and a fab writer! I am so glad to have a face that I can picture while reading your fabulous blog :)

3/27/06, 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiss from a rose? Shit. I have that guitar songbook. I used to play that all the time - and mainly, I bought it so I could figure out what the hell he was saying.

And the unmasking? I hear you about the mystery - but it's nice to know who's making us laugh our asses off, or think harding than we ever thunk before.

But now we can focus on what the hell Nate looks like. Cuz, we're shallow like that, and that's what crazed fans do.

3/27/06, 9:44 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

You look exactly like the sort of person that I would have wanted to be friends with in high school (although I suppose that you wouldn't have been wearing an adorable baby as fashion accessory, but I'd like to think that if you had been, she would have had a rhinestone dog collar on, too.)

You've got me all inspired to *consider* posting my own picture (even though there's no Blogher incentive, as I am - unnecessary confession alert! - too new/shy/ insecure to consider going this year.) If I can find a recent pic of me that does not feature ratty sweatpants, it may go up...

And can I just say that I think that the real question about Seal is, why is he with Heidi Klum? No? OK, never mind...

3/27/06, 9:54 AM  
Blogger Carolyn S. said...

So excited to see your picture! I imagined you to look like Lisa Loeb (I have no f'in clue why) The true you appears to be an edgy, young, hip mom with great hair.

Liberating indeed. Beautiful pic.

3/27/06, 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang, you ruined my response of "yeah, but I'll be stalking you at blogher and will take pics". *sigh* At least this makes the stalking easier.

And - I'm not the blonde who looks too white-russianed, am I? Because you're wrong...it was tequila.

3/27/06, 10:15 AM  
Blogger zinalasvegas said...

I thought the winking woman was a picture of you, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. You confused me.

And this made me spit out my Diet Coke on my keyboard--thanks for that: Even Ann Coulter, if only so that when I see her in person, I can be sure to accidentally run into her while holding something sharp.--that horrendabitch. Find her.

Adorable pic of you and your babe!

3/27/06, 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too funny! You totally had me going. And then? A complete 360! Totally brilliant. And with a Seal analogy no less!

Thanks for sharing the photo though. You look so nice and normal! And young! Who knew that underneath that pretty facade lies a witty, talented writer with a great sense of humor and a love of acerbic wit. Fantastic!

By the way, do I even need to mention how cute baby girl is also?

3/27/06, 10:35 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

awesome. thanks for sharing!

3/27/06, 10:47 AM  
Blogger J said...

You write so well...and you look younger than I expected, probably because you understand spelling and punctuation. :) I decided awhile ago to put my picture on my blog, but it had more to do with coming to terms with not looking like Julia Roberts or Princess Di, less to do with matching a voice with a face.

You look like a nice person, though. :)

I'll send you sharp objects, if you wish, for the poking of Ann Coulter.

3/27/06, 11:21 AM  
Blogger Lauri said...

I think I like you even more. You look more normal and approachable than my midwestern stereotypes of NY women initially allowed me to think. Beautiful photo.

You could so take Ann Coultier, even without something sharp.

3/27/06, 11:23 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

MegaMom: I've never been called timid in my life. (Although I'm not always center of attention either.) I suppose this is another pitfall of photographs - it just captures a moment in time, nothing before and nothing after.

Which is why I hate that tabloid sort of "analysis" of celeb couples based on their body language in a photo. Brad and Angie are obviously on the rocks; see how he's turned away from her at dinner?, Um yeah, maybe he's trying to get the check too.

Thanks for all the nice words, friends. Unexpected and kind.

3/27/06, 11:24 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Funny, great writer, pretty and a cute baby too?!?!

Your blog is fabulous and I loved the 360 in this post. It is so true about imagining a face with a voice -- but I think yours fit perfectly.

3/27/06, 11:35 AM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I applaud your bravery, lady. I have yet to post a "real" picture of myself where I wasn't shielding a part of my face.

Now, I too, want to go to Blogher. If only to see if your hair color is that fabulous in person! And if it will look that good when someone is holding it back for you when you're hunched over a toilet. LOL

3/27/06, 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally would have outted you as a hot mama if you hadn't posted the pic.
Christina and I are going to see David Sedaris in May. He makes us smile.
Hope you guys make a trip up to see us this summer!
I'm enjoying your blog...you. go. girl.

3/27/06, 11:49 AM  
Blogger Movin Mom said...

OKAY You were talking about me weren't you and the whole spelling punctuation thing....the run ons and ons and ons...
I've mentioned before that I have this imaginary list of the ultimate dinner party, guests who are people that intrigue me. MOM-101 and SEAL you are on the list.

I am that way about posting my kids- I blog about them all the time and teach them not to put their mug shots online so I can't get myself to show them. They argue that mine is out there in cyber space and I said if someone puts my face on a playboy model...would that be so bad-NO- but put my face on a 500 pound women and I'll be looking for that sharp object you used.

I was visualizing a Carrie Bradshaw look for you but I like you much better now.

3/27/06, 11:58 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well done, and nice pic!

I guess we now know you're not actually some 50-something fat balding guy posing as a young mom to lure other moms into meeting with you, eh? Or could that be a false picture? ;)

3/27/06, 12:31 PM  
Blogger tracey clark said...

YAY! i love the pic! mostly because i feel like i could be there with you, baby on my hip, stolling along talking everyday mom stuff;
and my goodness, that baby! she's beyond precious!
thanks for sharing!

3/27/06, 12:31 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Now we can see where Thalia gets her good looks!

Very cool of you to share a glimpse of yourself with those of us who'd already decided a long time ago that you're pretty fabulous, with or without the army jacket and rhinestone dog collar.

3/27/06, 12:32 PM  
Blogger ms blue said...

Oh great! Now I can be jealous of your witty humor, talent with words, celebrity sightings AND natural beauty.

I'd paid big money to hear your Barry Manilow set.

3/27/06, 1:10 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I'm so glad to be able to put a face with a name, er, blog. In fact, you look just the way I imagined - a fabulous, intelligent working mom that looks totally hip in a pair of shades. You wouldn't be able to make multiple trips to LA if you didn't. They might ban you or something.

3/27/06, 1:32 PM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

You look exactly like you should look. I luv ya! No more or no less now that I know what you look like.

And ... isn't it "180" and not "360" cuz 360 would mean you were standing in the same place you started but 180 means you would be facing a different direction ... I dunno but now I'm wondering if people think I'm an idiot for saying 180 when I should be saying 360 ...

3/27/06, 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a great post. But I don't know if I can continuing reading anymore. I mean, sheesh, is that a baby bjorn? Just kidding. ;) I think I like being a voice too. My reason for posting a picture is completely different. I have a no blog part in my contract. It's a confidentiality thing at work. Although you did give me something to think about.

3/27/06, 1:51 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

You and your little girl are GORGEOUS! I debated the very same thing and have only put up pics of my daughter for now.

3/27/06, 2:11 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Great post. I relate to and agree with so much of what you said for reasons too numerous to go into. But you articulated very well the way misconceptions and false impressions can adversely affect our opinions of people. In that respect, I think the internet is incredbily freeing. Course, it allows crazy creepy people to hide behind perfectly normal words, but that happens in real life too.

Great picture. You look younger than I pictured you. Adorable baby too ;?)

3/27/06, 2:14 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

HA! You are purty! I figured as much. Anybody that could make a girl as beautiful as Thalia couldn't be anything less. :)
Nice to meet you!

3/27/06, 2:45 PM  
Blogger Marcie said...

If David Sedaris looked like Viggo I'd have to rethink my stance on stalking. You look exactly like I pictured you....Smart and SASSY!I'd tell you your pretty, but I know it would go straight to your head.

3/27/06, 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're beautiful and I really related to this post - the Kiss from a Rose lyrical question pulled me in (i have ALWAYS wondered about that line too!) but boy, you hit the nail on the head. We all have biases whether we admit it or not. You seem like someone I would love to have a cocktail and with and shoot the shit..

3/27/06, 3:37 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Wow, how cool to see the great un-masking of Mom101! You look so young and hip. Such a sweet picture of you both. I had a pretty good idea of how you DIDN'T look (and it turns out my instincts were right on), but I wasn't sure how you DID look. Nice to see you!

3/27/06, 4:48 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Ugh...now I can never read you again. I only read blogs of 6ft4 blondes with 34DDD breasts and tats of sea creatures on their foreheads. I am so upset....

Great post, (cutie).

3/27/06, 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I think I need a real haircut at the very least before I can come even close to looking as awesome (do people use that word anymore?) as you do with your adorable daughter. I'm pretty sure my son sucked all the cuteness out of me while I was pregnant : )

As far as the words of a song, I am one of those people who used to tape the song in high school and play it over and over until I knew every word. Then, when I would find out that I had misheard a lyric, I would be crushed that it meant something entirely different. As my husband would say, "Sometimes it's good to be the happy idiot."

3/27/06, 5:03 PM  
Blogger the stefanie formerly known as stefanierj said...

Damn, girl, *I* wouldn't kick you out of bed.

If you just had high-waisted jeans, older-looking skin, a bad short haircut and more arm fat, we'd look a little alike.

Thanks for the lovely surprise-at-the-end-of-this-post. Now I just have to figure out a way to get to biogher. Mwah.

3/27/06, 5:32 PM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

All this *gesturing grandly around your blog* and she's good lookin' too!

(And Thalia is pretty dang cute, too)

I do so much understand about how knowing what someone looks like colors your interpretations of what they write. And I also understand the disclosure aspect, which is why I planned to publish some photos of myself taken over the weekend. I'm in baseball hat and jeans, looking chunky and weird. But that's who I am 99% of the time. Love me or don't...

But you look terribly sophisticated and cool and I look forward to meeting you and watching you sing with a shoe.

3/27/06, 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not imagine the authors...I love the stories too much. However it is always a treat to see the woman behind the words! Great lead up to the big reveal!

3/27/06, 6:14 PM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

Nicely done Mom-101. Hard to see you really, as I am blinded by the cuteness of Thalia. Just picture yourself with one nostril flaming red and a small green crystal in that sea of red, as well as some blonde streaks and voila! You look a lot like me! Nice that you have unveiled yourself. But I would read you even if you had chin hair and a hump.

3/27/06, 6:22 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I vote that we take series of photos at blog her and Don't name anyone and see if people can guess who is who. Or - simply line up drinks on tables and guess who is drinking what.

And darlin' you look Sooooo young. I feel like a bona fide old lady now!

3/27/06, 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too expected you to look like the illustration at the top of the page - short hair, sensible dress. You would think for a designer I'd have more imagination than that.

But you're much more beautiful than your header. (Words that could only be spoken between bloggers. Can you imagine hearing that in a bar, "Hey baby, you're much FINER than your header there.")

And of course it goes without saying - Thalia is gorgeous.

3/27/06, 7:06 PM  
Blogger Cristina said...

You are awesome. Enough said. Your blog is the best and so are you! Thanks for unmasking!

3/27/06, 7:29 PM  
Blogger Wendy Boucher said...

Well, I picked a good day to stop by for the first time.

Nice pic.

3/27/06, 7:57 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

Having been through the whole what-does-she-really-look-like dance with my PIMs, I never even thought to consciously refrain from posting pics of myself on my blog.

That said, I understand the desire for anonymity and a voice independent of a face, but I'm glad that you shared your picture (and Thalia's) with us. You're both gorgeous.

3/27/06, 8:18 PM  
Blogger Wendy Boucher said...

Hi again. Thanks for your visit to my site. I meant to thank you for reminding me about the Blogher conference in this post. I'm all signed up now -- see you there!

3/27/06, 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so you all know, I know Mom 101 personally (actually from even before the rhinestone collar). And that photo doesn't do her justice. If you could see her in person, you would know how her eyes sparkle...

And that baby is definitely the 2nd cutest girl I have ever seen (after Eliza). Wow is she adorable.

3/27/06, 8:44 PM  
Blogger cmhl said...

what a great picture!!

3/27/06, 9:08 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

I see I am fashionably late to this party. Thank you for pic sharing. Beautiful photo and hooray for posting. I know what you mean about anonyminity but why hide a pretty face? and a pretty baby face? and cute sunglasses? Plus, this way I will be able to spot you on the patio of the Chateau Marmont or the Dianetics Center when you come to town. Wait, you are here are you not?

3/27/06, 9:15 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

You actually look exactly like I figured you would.

Love your hair color.

3/27/06, 10:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh and your little girl is so very beauitful. Awww.

3/27/06, 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah...perhaps the only thing worse than that conjured image of blond 20-somethings writing i as i instead of I, in an endless stream of run-on sentences, is a middle-aged-lazy-tv-producer/mom/dog-lover doin' the same dang thing! (yikes!)

exactly as i pictured you both! beautiful mommy/beautiful baby! (looks like some of that thar "good quality time" goin' on to me!)

hope ya have a happy/productive week!! : D

3/27/06, 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job with the unmasking!

Now we know where Thalia gets her looks...lucky girl!

(you look just like I thought you would, you hipster you)

Now that the bar has been set so high for the big reveal I think I'll have to remain anonymous forever!


3/28/06, 11:06 AM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

I went from "Oh crap, maybe I shouldn't have a photo of me on my blog" to "yaaaaay!" in the space of three seconds. Yaaaaay, you unmasked! You're fabulous, baby. If we cheer loud enough will you take off the sunglasses? :)

(Your daughter is simply adorable. She has melted my leaden rock of a heart into a puddle.)

3/28/06, 12:14 PM  
Blogger Table4Five said...

I had no preconceived notion of what you looked like, so I'll just say cute glasses, cute jacket, beautiful baby! I love pictures taken with fall leaves in the background.

3/28/06, 5:31 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

I design web sites and I almost always recommend that clients put their photo on the site (unless, of course, they're butt-ugly or scary looking.) It gives people some comfort to put a face to a name and makes the site a little more personal and inviting.

You look fabulous dahlink!

3/28/06, 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phew, you look like exactly the kind of person I would like to meet.

I have a weird confession though. I'm a person who is singularly unswayed by physical appearance. I'm not attracted to people based on how they look - my various lovers have been wonderfully diverse in the physical sense, and have ranged from GORGEOUS to people who others might describe as "ugly". I don't care. I want to know whether they make me laugh, and think. I want to make eye contact and drown - which is about connecting, and unrelated to eye size or colour.


I spend an awful lot of time on the internet, and have made several friends online, who I've then gone on to meet in person. And I find the weirdest thing happening. My initial impression, which it can take a few repeated meetings to get over, is often, "But you're not beautiful!"

I'm so ashamed to even admit this. My most charitable explanation is that physical presence is such an important part of human connection that when it is lacking, we make up for it with our imaginations. And when you think somebody's spirit is beautiful, you imagine a body to match. And then get disoriented when reality doesn't match up.

But it's not even though I have any conscious images of these people in my heads. Ask me what they look like, and I'll say I haven't a clue.

So maybe I'm just a hideous superficial judgemental bitch masquerading as an intelligent deep and sensitive soul.


(You are beautiful though. Phew.)

(And I really hope no bloggers I am likely to meet are reading this, or at least that if they are they are also beautiful)

3/29/06, 2:53 AM  
Blogger Chaotic Mom said...

No, lady, I'm hooked on your blog, now. I LOVED your thoughts and picture at the end.

I finally got up the courage to post recent pics of myself yesterday, too.

As far as song lyrics? I feel the need to understand, too. I lookup lyrics on the web, especially for those songs I can't get out of my head. ;)

3/29/06, 7:05 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

You look exactly as I imagined - a mom with her baby! Guess the army jacket and rhinestone choker are gone now, eh?

3/29/06, 1:20 PM  
Blogger vasilisa said...

You look young, happy and fun. And you have an absolutely adorable kid.

3/30/06, 1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be late to this unmasking...

Great to see you. You and Thalia are both beautiful ladies. Can't wait to have drinks and chat with you in person at BlogHer!

3/30/06, 9:21 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

What Seal says is also exactly why books are better than TV!

As to pics on blogs, I fall on the cautious side, so I instead posted a pic of the cat I took my screen name after. She's cute, and all, too.

4/1/06, 9:03 PM  
Blogger scarbie doll said...

I think I like you more. Good on ya!

4/3/06, 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, I am slowly going through your archives .. still looking for that one post I have been told about, in which we read how Nate deals with the question 'so, what are you doing all day' ...

Anyways .. seeing this photo made me laugh because we used the very same baby bjoern for Julius ... probably it is the closest to the mandatory new york black they could come up with? Here probably the last image of Julius in his Bjoern http://nacken.com/?p=1452

8/1/06, 3:06 AM  

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