One problem with blogging rather anonymously is that sometimes it becomes difficult to impossible for me to have anything to say in this venue, when big things are happening in my job, or in some other aspect of my life about which I have chosen not to talk about here. So that’s the first thing on my mind right now, that big things have been going down, they have taken up a ton of my time in recent months, and there is very little I can say about it without giving away some of the details of my life that I have chosen to keep quiet. Let’s just say that this started with my moving house last summer, the first anniversary of which passed just last week. So 13 months of dealing with this thing has been rather annoying, every time I think I’ve sorted it all out something else happens, and I’m hoping for news later today that will let me see if and how this is going to get resolved in the future. And no, this is not something to do with my day job, which is very lovely and hunky-dory at the moment if a bit madcap busy. So there. The least informative update on the life of NFAH as there ever was.
(And don’t forget in the midst of this all I’m working through my permanent residency paperwork, which is another big thing keeping me busy. That’s something that I never really understood about living abroad until I actually did it: there is far more paperwork than if you lived in your home country. Taxes are complicated. Visas are complicated. Banking is complicated. Things that you would not normally think about living in your home country become huge time and energy sinks in a host country. So free time for blogging becomes a figment of your imagination!)
This does bring up an interesting point. I have, in the wake of the scandalous unveiling of a lesbian Syrian blogger as a married American man residing in Scotland, read various posts against anonymous blogging that have made me think about this quite a bit. I understand the point that if you are saying things that have political impact, it’s important to use your own identity. Similarly with science, medicine, and other such topics for which your background and position matter a great deal to your message. You might notice that, although I have a PhD and a Serious Scientific Job, I don’t often say much about the subject of science or medicine. If you know me and know what I do all day, you will also have noticed that I choose not to write much about the sector of the economy in which I work. Occasionally I can’t help myself, but I do actually try hard not to do so and certainly not to try and claim great expertise or authority in the subject since I am not revealing my face or position.
This makes things interesting. And I know people have varying view points on the subject. I don’t actually have a science or work blog, although I do have two Twitter accounts, one in my blog name and one in my real name. Most of the bloggers with whom I interact are using their own names and faces, although some do suppress some details (kids’ names, especially) in the interests of privacy and protection. I happen to know that if you desperately want to know who I am, there are enough identifying details floating around the four years of archives to figure it out, and I know that at least one person has. But I thought it might be worth revisiting the reasons for my standing behind the NFAH curtain. I wanted to talk about expat things without talking about my job. In my world of science, our names are very google-able and I wanted to keep this little expat blog project separate from that.
(As an aside, in the worst job interview I ever had for what turned out to be the worst job I’ve ever had, the person interviewing me had googled my name and came not just upon my various publications and things, but also on the website of my ex-husband all about pinball machines. At this point we had been divorced for five years and I was appalled to have him brought up in the interview!)
I’ve joked on more than one occasion that I have a grand plan that involves writing memoirs of my life in England at some distant point in the future when I’ve perhaps gone back to America (or not–but the memoirs would still be intended for an American audience). This blog is not actually likely to be much help with that, since there ARE so many things that relate to my job and my life over here that have NOT been recorded in any detail. I have tried hard to keep this about US-UK things and expat things, and other general life things that might interest someone who is interested in expat things (like my travels in interesting places like China and Australia). Yes, there are a few places where there are little hints to myself that may trigger my memory, especially in the very rant-y early years when things were a lot more difficult and lonely than they are now. But I’m quite interested in thoughts and feedback about choosing to be or not to be anonymous and pseudonymed in this context. I’ve clearly made my choice, and I’ve tried to explain why my real name is not plastered all over this blog. But I know lots of people have made the opposite choice, and I know plenty of people have negative views of my type of decision.