Good heavens, I’ve just learned that the people at WordPress expect us all to choose avatars, or else they’re going to start putting a big fat question mark next to our names every time we leave a comment. I don’t know about you, but of the many things I am not, a question mark is at the top of my list. I feel I’m more of an exclamation mark, actually, or a lovely curvy comma. But I can’t digress into a discussion of which piece of punctuation best suits me, I’ve got bigger problems.
At first, I thought an avatar was a musical instrument played by an ex-Beatle, but I did some looking last night and learned that they actually were Hindi god-representatives (and yes, I am aware that’s probably terribly, embarrassingly inaccurate, but I’m going with it, not having time to do better — I’ve got to make myself an avatar after all.)
The avatar recently morphed into an internet term for a picture that’s going to go up along with every little comment you leave anywhere in the ether world. It was bad enough having to choose a name, but I have no idea how I’m going to choose a picture that acts like a kind of name.
Last night, I spent three hours — hours I should have been spending doing the work of justice for my job, in which the People of the Great State of California pay me to handle legal appeals — three hours, trying to find a picture that sums me up.
And I failed. How hard can it be? Well, it turns out it’s really, really hard if you, like me, have minimal computer skills, very little graphic sense, and a dislike for color pictures of lilies. That was my idea, a simple one really — I’d find a nice drawing of a lily to be my avatar. Trouble is, all the lilies out there that you can get for free are florid, sentimental, icky lilies, and that’s not me. And even if they were, they have to be the right size, or capable of being cropped to the right size. The closest I came was a very nice black and white botanical drawing of a lily of the valley from some university biology department in Florida, but when I tried to use it, it came out looking like a scary spidery creature. Not the sort of public persona I’d like to project.
And that’s the trouble — you don’t want to have to pick just one image to represent you. Some days, an elegant botanical drawing might be fine. Other days, you might want to go with something a little wilder.
I haven’t resolved this problem. Perhaps it will take several glasses of wine to restore my perspective. It’s not like I’m naming a child, after all. Not exactly. (I’m thinking, to tell you the truth, it’s a lot harder. You don’t have to find a picture to represent your child. And you can choose a name plenty of other people have chosen. In fact, I found it very simple to give my three children the names of English kings. You can’t go wrong there, since they’re common enough names, will never embarrass them, and when they ask you why you chose them you can say, oh, we just figured if it was good enough for a king, it’d be fine for you.)
It’ll have to be a work in progress, this whole avatar business. For now, I’ve gone with a bowl of cherries, which life really isn’t, at least not all the time.