living out loud

Babushka DollsWhen I did the first post on the russian-doll aspect of life, I knew I’d read it somewhere else too, but I couldn’t find it. This morning I came across the words in some underlining of mine (in a black pen, surprisingly) from january of 2001 in Anna Quindlen’s Living Out Loud, which was published in 1988.

In one of the short essays, entitled “At the Beach,” Quindlen returns to the place she had vacationed as a child.

“There is something about this place that makes me aware of the Russian-doll aspect of personality, the little round papier-mache woman in the babushka inside another, and another, and another, the child inside the girl inside the woman.”

It’s the self at the core, covered by layers and layers of becoming. OR is it? Perhaps we add more and moIMG_2058re layers in an attempt to discover who we really are.

In a related (if only in my mind) essay in the same book, “Hemlines,” Quindlen writes about all the different personas lurking inside her closet. “The worst part about cleaning it is chucking unsuccessful past lives…” She then goes on to write, “I know there are people who will contend that how you look has nothing to do with who you are.”


For years I’ve preferred black as the color of choice for my clothes. But because some color chart years ago decreed that black did nothing for me and because my husband agrees and because I’m such a positive person, for many years, I’ve continued to make an effort for color. On a recent trip, however, for which I hopefully bought a bright green sweater, I decided conclusively that’s just not who I am. In a scarf or earrings, okay. Otherwise, not.

To know this feels good. What I don’t know is whether I’ve added a layer or sloughed one off.

Other posts in this series:  russian dolls on 2-14-09 and Fitzgerald finale, part 2 on 4-27-09.

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4 thoughts on “living out loud

  1. I am going to miss Anna Quindlen now that she’s no longer writing her column on the back page of Newsweek. Any suggestions on which writers from the next generation can so wonderfully write about the personal and the political in 500 words or less?


    • I know. I am always amazed at the breadth of her knowledge. And she seems to be such a normal person as well. The short length of her essays makes them so accessible. I loved Thinking Out Loud too.

      I bet there’s someone at but no suggestions at the moment…


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