In America, we often define ourselves by what we do. I am told by people here in Amsterdam that it is uniquely American to introduce yourself to someone and then to ask, “What do you do?”
At home, it took me years to respond to that question with “I am an artist.” Mostly because I have had so many other careers in my life, but also because being an artist is not considered a profession by most, at least in America. It is often followed by the question “What do you do for money?”
With respect to my project, I can only imagine what it must be like to be able to make a good living, to be able to pay your bills and buy nice things, only to be asked “What do you do?” and the answer be “I’m a prostitute”, or worse to have to lie about it. Of course, in America, at least in Los Angeles, saying you are a prostitute would probably make you very popular, like in the way porn stars get popular, and some actresses, and in the way that some people like to collect interesting friends, or populate a cocktail party.
I have been thinking a lot about how I define myself. I have certain titles, daughter, mother, sister, niece, friend, and lover. I guess I can also say I am an ex-wife, ex-agent, ex-actress, ex-lover and in some cases, ex-friend.
So who am I?
I identify myself as a businesswoman and as an artist. I do not believe you can only be one or the other. I embody them both. I seek to be paid for my time and my objects.
Other ways I define myself are:
Historically – I am an American whose great-grandparents and grandparents, immigrated from Norway, Germany, Italy and England. I am living at a time in the history of the United States when a woman has the most rights and privileges.
Anthropologically –I was born in New Jersey. Both of my parents are from New Jersey. I have a younger sister who lives in New Jersey and a younger brother who lives in Pennsylvania.
Physically – I am five foot, three inches tall. I weigh 120 lbs. I have ash blonde hair that is dyed with no less than five different shades of color in order to cover up, or blend in, my grey hair. I have green eyes that need corrective lenses to see clearly. I have scars from two C-sections, one laparoscopy, an abdominal hernia repair and a small intestine resection. I have a gunpowder burn on my left hand index finger from shooting myself with a starter pistol at point blank range when I was eleven. I am insanely healthy by all Western medicine standards. I have low blood pressure and low cholesterol and I have actually been told by my doctor to eat more salt and more eggs. My body is in proportion, though my head is on the large side. (Literally and metaphorically!) The left side of my face goes up and the right side droops down. I have fallen arches and a sway back.
Sociologically – I am an upper middle class single mother of two boys who lives in an affluent neighborhood in Santa Monica, CA. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but I do not practice or believe in that religion. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Business & Design, and I recently completed my Masters in Fine Art.
Political Indoctrination – I was raised by a Democratic mother and a Republican father. I have always identified the most with the Republicans businesswise, however I am registered as a Democrat because I believe in a women’s right over her own body. I am equally comfortable in a room of blue-collar workers and in a room of white-collar lawyers.
Economically – I made $1,600 /1,200 Euros last year. My highest salary so far in my life has been $230,000 /174,000 Euros a year. I am currently unemployed.
Epistemologically – I take in the world intuitively, emotionally, and with much investigation and “fact” gathering.
Temporaneously – I run with a constant ticking of time in my head. I never feel like I have enough of it, yet I am almost never late and I am almost always prepared.
Critically – I am not an intellectual, but I am smart and extremely resourceful. I can also be judgmental and I can lack compassion.
Personality– I am gregarious with periods of insecurity. I appear together and capable. I am forceful. I bounce back between extreme confidence and the total lack of any.
Who I am is who I want to be. Who I am is defined by all of my actions, not just the ones that earn me money.