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  • Matt Sparacino

Who I Am

Updated: Oct 8, 2020


In college, my friends and I spread lots of rumors about our professors.  This was usually done in good fun, at least in my experience.  I had relatively positive relationships with my teachers, and poking fun at them was good for morale while navigating a major that was often terrible for the self-esteem of myself and my peers.


Hold on, sorry.  I literally always do this.  I'm getting ahead of myself, let me backup - I went to the University of Maryland, where I studied Theatre.  My major focused on performance, so when I say my professors what I really mean is the four folks who taught me the art of acting onstage.  These four people were exactly as eccentric as you might imagine tenured acting professors to be.  They could be brilliant and revelatory, but also sometimes vain and punishing.  They were unpredictable, often vacillating between kindness and cruelty in a single lesson.  They forced us to be vulnerable at a time of self-discovery, an act that created significant tension and pressure.  All that said, I believe my teachers to be genuinely Good People who were doing their best to teach self-awareness and openness to college students, a task that was Herculean at least and impossible at times.  For the most part though, in our classes they didn't demonstrate the one thing that is at the center of theatre, right there in the name of the narratives we create onstage: Play.  Jokes and silly rumors among my peers filled the void. 


One teacher in particular has been on my mind lately, and awhile back one specific Story came to the forefront. I have no idea if this rumor was or is true, and I couldn't tell you who I first heard it from. The gossip went as follows:  whenever this person acted, they had a pre-show ritual. Immediately before going onstage, they would look themselves in the mirror and ask one, simple question:


"Who Am I?"


And then they'd answer back by stating their full name to the mirror. 


Just to show how shaky this rumor is, as I write this I'm already starting to doubt my own Story; talk about an unreliable narrator. I think it might've been a ritual that happened immediately after a show, rather than before.  Or maybe it was both?  Either way, my friends and I found this hilarious.  Was this artist so serious about acting that they truly needed to remind themselves of their own name?  Were they so ‘method’ that they needed to pull themselves out of character by grounding in front of a mirror?  Did they literally believe themself to be a different person when onstage?


Today, I'm asking myself something different:  what if I take this at face value?  What if I ask myself a very simple but very tricky question:  Who Am I?  If I’m asking you to read the Stories I write, the least I can do is answer this question.  I have to be honest, though. . . I don’t know how to define my Self.  





Who Am I? 


I'm an actor.  I'm an artist.  I'm an activist.


Who Am I?


I'm a partner.  I'm a brother.  I'm a son.


Who Am I?


I'm a cousin.  I'm an uncle.  I'm a nephew.


Who Am I?


I'm a friend.  


Who Am I?


I'm a good friend.


Who Am I?


I'm a best friend.


Who Am I?


I'm a man on a mission.  But what’s my mission?  I feel so clear-headed and full of purpose, but I can't answer that question until I can answer this one.


Who Am I?


I'm also a fraud.  I'm not lots of things I tell myself I am.  I've spent months trying to prove that I can be a leader and a hero, someone worth admiring.  I see so much pain and hurt in my community, and I so desperately want to be part of the solution.  I see pain most of all in my own country, something I never would've thought possible growing up in ‘90s America. 


Who Am I?


I'm Italian.  I'm American.  I'm Italian-American.


Who Am I?


I'm the Godfather.


Who Am I? 


I mean that literally; for one person in the world, I'm the Godfather.  It's one of the greatest honors of my entire life. 


Who Am I?


Why is it so hard to sum up my Self in a single word, or even a single sentence? Why has it taken me so long to get these thoughts down on a page?  I'm a fast writer when motivated, and I feel extremely motivated.  But these words have been so slippery.


Who Am I?


I'm a writer.  I've been afraid to say this for a long time, but it's true. 


Who Am I?


I'm also a poet.  


Who Am I?


Someone who likes to make noise. I'm soft-spoken but my voice can carry when I want it to.  I also used to be a drummer.


Who Am I?


Fuck that, I'm still a drummer.  If you hand me a drum, I'll make some noise with it.


Who Am I?

I'm a lover of music, sports, movies, television, art.  I hate this term, but I'm a lover of pop culture.  Can we just call this stuff culture from now on?  Is that term already taken or something?


Who Am I?


I'm a traveler through Time and Space.  If you’ve been on a video call lately, you are too.


Who Am I?


I’m not someone who will lecture you on politics. I have tried and I have failed, over and over again.  I am not an expert, on politics or anything else.


Who Am I?


I also won't claim to be apolitical. I've followed politics obsessively for the last five years. I have strong feelings about Our President. I have strong feelings about his challenger. I have strong feelings about Congress, the Supreme Court, my local government, and all the other topics that dominate our media.  But I am so, so sick of that conversation.  If you don't believe me, I have the doctor's note to prove it. 


Who Am I? 


I’m someone who believes there are other people sick of that conversation, people who want to see more compassion and empathy in our politics and in our world.  They are welcome in this Space;  in fact, all are welcome, no doctor’s note required.


Who Am I?


As I said, I'm a lover of sports, so if I may paraphrase a college basketball coach with bad hair:  Barack Obama is not walking through that door.  Ronald Reagan is not walking through that door, either.  And even if they did, it wouldn't matter. Our leaders and idols will not save us. In a democracy, the People must save themselves. 


Who Am I?


I'm walking through that door. Don't worry, I won't save us either; all I'm doing is walking through a door.  Trust me, I'm an actor - learning how to walk through doors was literally part of my college education. 


Who Am I?


I'm here to have a different kind of conversation.  I'm here to have a discussion, a chat, a Dialogue.  Our country is overstuffed with monologues, and monologues get boring fast. Trust me, I'm an actor. 


Who Am I?


I'm looking forward to Our Dialogue. You don't have to say any words, but you can.  I welcome it.  Either way, there's an exchange of energy just from you reading these words. If we add listening to that mix, true Listening on both sides, we have a Dialogue.  Trust me, I'm an actor. 


Who Am I?


I'm one person.


Who are We?


We the People.


Who Am I?


. . . shit, you know what?  I messed this whole thing up.  I got carried away with this Big Idea about starting with my Self that I didn't even start with myself.  Since my Good Friend Frank was nice enough to share his Space with me, and since I’m looking forward to sharing my Stories with you, I should take a Moment for a proper introduction:



Hi.  My name's Matt.  It's nice to finally meet you.



Follow The Frank Page on Instagram @The.Frank.Page to stay up to date with the latest posts and pods. Artwork by Kyra Corradin.


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