I hate writing my bio. Boasting about myself in the third person just seems wrong, like I’m writing my own obituary. Plus, thanks to my Catholic upbringing, it feels sinful. Like I’m engaging in excessive pride, and pride, as you all know, is one of the seven deadly sins.
What does a bio tell you about a person anyway? That they can render a list of their accomplishments into awkward prose? Big whoop.
Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of my accomplishments: proud of the degrees I’ve earned (DMA, University of Michigan); proud of performances I’ve given (Apollo’s Fire in collaboration with Opera Columbus); proud of where I’ve taught (Montclair State University, Friends Music Camp, Brevard Music Center.) But just listing these things tells you nothing about me. It just reduces me to things I’ve done.
But I’m so much more. I’m like Shrek. I have many layers. Let me pull back a layer for you now. Here’s why some people call me Franny:
Most people assume Francis is a female name. Francis also has the misfortune, when people say it fast with no care for enunciation, of sounding like Princess. You see where I’m going with this? It also didn’t help that a Home Ec. teacher (needed an easy A in high school) kept calling me Fran despite my insistence that she stop doing so (she was old and in her mind all Francises [Franci?] were Frans, regardless of gender.) Talk about fodder for bullies.
Throughout high school, people called me Fran or Franny or, worst of all, Princess Franni. It bothered me. A lot. Until one day, and I don’t even remember making a conscious decision about this, it just stopped bothering me. My name could easily be made feminine. So what? That didn’t make me a woman. And what’s so bad about being called a woman anyway? Down with the patriarchy!
Besides, I’ve been called worse things, often by my mother.
Suddenly, the power of the names was gone. People stopped calling me Fran or Franny or Princess Franni. It came to a point where only I would refer to myself as Franny, usually when I did something clumsy. Like, “Franny, why you so stupid?” or “Franny tripped again,” or “Franny fail.” My friends were amused by it and eventually Franny became a term of endearment. Now, only my closest friends (and Jeannette) call me Franny and that’s just fine with me.
Also, that Home Ec. teacher?
She’s dead now.
Ok, that might not be true, but it made a hell of a punchline.