Identity

Richmond, Virginia – November 2018

Someone, somewhere, I am sure, has analyzed the social-political (if not economic) ramifications that, as we march assiduously toward the mid-21st century, our identities are determined more from the words “domain already taken” rather than the showing of a mere driver’s license, passport, or recent electricity bill with our name on it. At the least, it causes us to be more imaginative as domains are taken at a rate of somewhere close to a zillion a minute.  My first attempt was a clever, I thought, but now with hindsight, paltry, “midcentury – modern?.com,” stymied not only by the lack of imagination but the announcement that such “domain which describes you perfectly is already taken.” The punctuation mark did not count toward my possible uniqueness since, it turns out, punctuation other than dots are not acceptable anyway. It wasn’t so long ago in history that we could any of us be a McDonald, but now only the corporation can be McDonald’s, and so we must be much more clever or succumb to the domain suggestions: McDonald.me or McDonald2938, numbers of which have no bearing whatsoever with my identity but which indicate at least 2937 other McDonalds approached the same problem. Not that I’m a McDonald.

So, disappointed in my attempt to register midcentury – modern? by lack of cleverness as much as illegal use of punctuation, I decided I was too tired to mull over the matter and turned to my nightly reading which happened at that time to be the Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Sympathizer. Now, a Pulitzer prize winning book should encourage insight, and this one does, it’s beautifully written. I am already considering adding it to my top 10 ever best books list though I am just beginning chapter 4, but tonight, after a full day of working on the house, I was too tired to read more than a few pages. They were an inspiring four pages, however, because after I put the book aside and curled up in our new Saatva online-ordered mattress with my sore legs, hips, and knees, my mind kept racing even as my large muscles rested. I was mulling over the protagonist’s description of being called an Orientalist, and it reminded me of a day, long ago, when I was working in the G-2 of a military base that I won’t mention here (for no pertinent reason) and I called myself a Latin Americanist in describing myself to some very junior enlisted young men and women whose job it was to put briefings together for the general and with whom I was working due to a series of flukes that are also too complicated to go into here. I had, after all, spent several years in Latin America, far more time than any of them had. Something had just happened in Cuba, I don’t remember what now – Fidel was still running the joint and the U.S. still cared about what Fidel might do – and suddenly I found myself put up at a podium expected to brief the general about this latest happenstance in Cuba, and this with only the availability of the NOFORN intelligence that had been made available to me. I was introduced as a Latin Americanist and the general asked a question worthy of a Latin Americanist, I don’t remember what it was, but I had no idea of the answer and worthy of any government official, I think I may have successfully faked it because the briefing thankfully went on in a different direction. The lesson learned was not to call oneself an -ist unless one actually merits it.

But, then one night, you run into “domain taken,” a truly great book, and a restless mind with the light off, and suddenly a good idea, or at least so it seems, is born. Surely, though I hadn’t checked it yet, no one has taken the domain, “the Cape Codist.” The visual of the domain name in the thought bubble that appears in my mind doesn’t look right. So perhaps a slight revision to “Codist” is in order? And, if I fall asleep now, will I forget these brilliant ideas by morning? The imagined spelling of the proposed title is far less impressive than the idea in my head, and frankly, for a few minutes, I was even unsure of the -ist vice -est ness of it, only feeling more assured when I sat up in bed, asked my husband who was still, perhaps we might say, Cape Codding, if he wouldn’t mind bringing my laptop so I could write some notes up? And while waiting, I picked up the Kindle and looked at the last page I’d read of that wonderful book to see “orientalist,” not “orientalest,” so at least that part is refined and what remains only is the question of a single or double d. Actually, that is not the only remaining question. With my previous experience of falsely claiming an -ist level of expertise, one might also ask whether I am even Cape Coddist worthy. And beyond that, even, one must even ask whether I am talking about the region in Massachusetts or the architectural style. To settle that question, let me clarify that in addition to the Cape Coddist domain, or rather thecapecoddist domain, that I will seek in the morning when my head is clearer and I am not operating under the influence of exhaustion accompanied by a second wind, I will also seek to register, and therefore forever monopolize, therichmondcapecoddist. That should clear the matter up: I am claiming a narrower expertise (which, by the way, I do not have) on Richmond houses of the Cape Cod style, Richmond being Richmond, Virginia. To be perfectly transparent, I am only an expert in the sense that I bought a Richmond Cape Cod yesterday. Perhaps I should give my husband credit and say we bought one yesterday, but it is only I who have come up with this idea of writing a blog about our adventures with it; in fact, though he has now also joined me in our new king-sized bed that is only slightly smaller than the state of Alaska (the fit of which was one of the criteria for the house purchase we just made) and I am now sitting up on the Saatva, squinting at my Mac laptop, with my mind fully engaged in all the problems so soon-ago raised, he has no idea that I have come up with this exhaustion-second-wind-induced scheme to blog about our days moving forward. I anticipate it to be a story of love for Cape Cod architecture, of new beginnings, and of retirement adventures, though we haven’t officially retired yet, to be honest.

But back to domains, while the existence of domains causes us to be emanative (I was going to say imaginative, but I butchered the spelling as I half lay in bed, and spell check suggested emanative, which I feel might in fact be a better descriptor though I’m not 100% of the meaning) and singular in describing ourselves, they also create an existential crisis: should I seek to be broad and inclusive to all things Cape Cod (though, again, I have to again emphasize we are talking about architecture, not the place in Massachusetts) or do I narrow in to Richmond which has a wealth of these houses, just waiting, (I hope) for someone to blog about them. Oh, my goodness, the thought occurs to me to use the name of the street we are located in, and that provides even a better nomenclature “the(streetname)capecoddist.” But that may be too limiting, and anyway, too revealing, and I’d rather be less specific about where I am right now. Perhaps the big brother who dispenses domain names will be the decider in the morning.

Could it be, surely not, that thecapecoddist is already taken, or even therichmondcapecoddist? Say it ain’t so!

(As it turned out, it indeed ain’t so — welcome to therichmondcapecoddist!)

Postscript: It is almost two years later, and therichmondcapecoddist, though it briefly lived, succumbed to the better and more broad idea of RichmondNarratives.com — and that only because Unbeknownst.com, which I would truly love to have instead, is already taken but not used, and the owners want more than $8,000 for its purchase.

This may not be the end of the saga of domain names, but rather a mere chapter. And my plan to regularly blog about our adventures with this Cape Cod? Well, you just read it.

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