First up is the woman who writes this blog and generally serves as my online personality. Everyone give a big hello to The Jester Queen. The Jester Queen is bluntly honest, sometimes funny, and always entirely too self-aware. The character originated in a short story and Halloween costume, and her name solidified after I got married. (It is a play off of my husband’s last name, Merriman). It really describes me quite well. See, I’ve always been the court jester, though rarely the class clown. Remember, back in the Elizabethan era, the court jester wasn’t just the funnyman. He was also something of a royal heckler, pointing out people’s flaws too loudly and annoying the nobility from a reasonably safe vantage point. He was the one person who could hope to speak truth to the king and get away with it, though there was no guarantee that doing so wouldn’t be a deadly mistake. I’m like that. Everyplace I work, I wind up in these hopeless crusades because of some perceived injustice. I launch my campaign of Truth, gaining and losing Followers as I go, and ultimately pushing the Powers That Be just One Step Too Far. I’ve never been fired, but I’ve been demoted, transferred, and soundly lectured. I’ve been lucky enough to have amazingly supportive immediate supervisors, and now that I teach English online, I’m trying very hard to just NOT CARE about the injustices that peeve me. But it’s getting harder.
And speaking of teaching English, let’s move on to Madame Syntax. If you ever take an English class with me, you’ll get to meet her. I try to keep her firmly in hand when I’m on Facebook or commenting on blogs, because she’s a real pain in the ass. She’s my inner grammarian, who was also in charge of the portion of my brain that did library cataloging. In addition to good grammar, she likes organization, appropriate attribution, and rules. The Jester Queen considers rules to be flexible guidelines, established in order to create a basis for comparison. While Madame Syntax grudgingly accepts that all rules must be interpreted, she does not deviate from interpretations that could be derived from the existing instruction. And she also writes sentences like that one. She did my technical writing, and when she gets out of the bag on Facebook, she embarrasses the hell out of me. The other day, she snuck in a post to my alma mater, Chatfield College, correcting “could of” to “could have” before I shut her up. She’s pretty controlling, but then I’m pretty controlling, so I guess it’s no surprise that my alter egos also like to have their own way. But I get a kick out of creative grammar. I love to watch the way language evolves, and I enjoy learning what things mean. It thrills me to no end to learn that “I’ma” is “I’m going to” or to hear the perfect double negative in an exaggerated statement. But if I let Madame Syntax too far off the leash, she starts correcting everything, including my grammar, even when my grammar “errors” are deliberate.
And that brings us to my final alter ego: The Bitch Who Lives in My Head. Madame Syntax got nuthin’ on this woman for controlling. She doesn’t emerge very often, but boy, when she does come out, I may as well just put up the gloves and go home before the match ever starts. Once The Bitch gets in the ring, there’s no winners left in the fight. Where The Jester Queen and Madame Syntax are both ultimately subservient to me (even if neither of them likes it), The Bitch accepts no master (or mistress). I have dialogue with the Jester Queen and Madame Syntax that ultimately boils down to me talking to myself while I figure something out. But The Bitch’s voice isn’t one I can engage. She speaks to me but has no interest in what I have to say in return. I have yet to disobey a direct edict from The Bitch, and I’m not sure if it’s physically possible for me to do so, because her orders are always Right, with a capital R. I guess I’m lucky she uses this power for good, because I’m serious, I have no idea how I would even go about countermanding her.
She’s the one who is looking out for the good of me and of my family. She’s the one who forces me to be a decent wife, mother, teacher, and writer. She made me finish both of my Master’s degrees, even though I was so burned out that I wanted to quit, so burned out that I still refer to them as my worthless degrees. She required me to breastfeed both of my children for eleven months, even though this meant sitting out in my car with my boobs hooked up to a double flow breast pump multiple times a day.
She demands that I maintain fulltime employment when I yearn to concentrate fulltime on my writing. And at the same time, she insists that I pour myself into everything I write. If I can’t commit myself, I can’t write it. Period. She made me throw out the last third of my novel after I had submitted the first two thirds to a publisher because it wasn’t “working” for her. I hated her for that one. But she was Right. The revision is better.
She’s the alter ego who scares me, because I don’t know when something that seems like A Good Idea to me will be an Imperative to her. I don’t know how to explain it to those around me. “I have to do this now, because the Bitch In My Head says so” just doesn’t work for most people. Where The Jester Queen skirts rules and Madame Syntax interprets them, The Bitch makes the rules. And I got no say in what she decides.
And there you have it. The three alter egos who make up my personality. Most of the time, you’ll see me in Jester Queen mode, though Madame Syntax gets her moments. But you’ll never get to meet The Bitch, as she doesn’t play with others at all (let alone well). She just delivers the ultimatums and leaves me to cope with the consequences. And now that I’ve introduced them all to you, I’ll ask you a favor. If you ever run into me at the local nuthatchery, arguing with myself in my padded room, just tell the lady at the door that Madame Syntax and the Jester Queen are having a battle royale and I’ll snap out of it if she can just trigger The Bitch long enough to knock their fool heads together. Kthnxbye.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.