Wednesday, June 3, 2015

GrowingUP: A Rose is a Rose

What's in a name?

A question I have often pondered actually. I have a bit of a fascination with names. Where they come from. Why they rise and fall in popularity. How people choose names for their children. Why they choose names for their children when they know full well they will call them something else. I am not talking about nicknames. I mean naming a kid John Jacob knowing full well you will call him Jacob. Stuff like that.

I grew up with a nickname that has stuck with me for 45 years now. I don't mind. I have grown accustomed to it. It is Leli. As in jelly.  My given name is Leslie. I could not pronunce the 'S' when I was little and Leli stuck. Yes, I know it looks like Lee-Lie. I felt like using the spelling Lelly was not true to my name unless it had been spelled Leslly. I also felt like Lelie just looked like I forgot the 'S'. Also, I recently saw a store clerk whose name was Anjelyka. Go ahead, sound it out. I'll wait. Leli is looking pretty good huh?

Leslie was a long time family name, mostly male ancestors of course, but it is also my mother's middle name, so it was carefully chosen for me. My middle name? Not so much. My folks passed a liquor store on the way to the hospital. Cameron Liquor apparently. I am glad they went with just Cameron.

I searched a baby name book once when I was a kid to find the meaning of my given monikers. Leslie means "Dweller of the grey fortress." Adorable, right? Cameron references "a man with a crooked nose." Equally as lovely. I shall not mention Little Sister's given names but they mean "Epitome of femininity" and "Womanly." Have I mentioned I am saving for therapy?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

This implies that the name of something does not really affect who or what they are. I don't know. Can our names affect our personalities? Maybe. What do you think? I really want to know. For real.

Quote of the Day: “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” --Anne Shirley 











Thursday, May 28, 2015

WriteON!

"So, what do you do?" (Do? Golly. I DO a lot of things!)

"I am a mom and a yoga instructor and a writer."

"A writer? Really? What have you written?"

See, now that is the dreaded question. It says to the writer, "Unless I have heard of your writing, you are not a writer." Well screw you. I am a writer if I want to be one. I write stuff, therefore, I am a writer. No one questions your validity as a talker if you say, "I am a talker." Clearly you are made a talker simply by the act of talking. Why do we feel that we have to have validation of our work to be a writer? Because it is a profession. But that is different. "I am a professional writer" implies something different. That feels like, "I am a doctor." or "I am a lawyer." It feels like we have to have training or some sort of proof of our claim. But that is ridiculous. No one will be hurt by the amateur practice of authoring. It differs from medicine in that respect.

So,  make the declaration. I am a writer. Just BE one and then go on being one even if you have not put pen to paper in days or weeks. Have the mind and heart of a writer. Have the senses of a writer. Observe, daydream, live, try new things, eat new foods, go new places. These are writer things. Read. Read. Read. This is a writer thing. When a doctor is out of the operating room or a minister away from the pulpit he does not cease to be what he is. You are a writer without pen in hand. Writing is sometimes something you do, but it is always something you are. Be it. Be it unashamedly. Declare it today. I am a writer, and let yourself totally be a writer from now on.

Quote of the Day: "I am a writer."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Growing UP: Hell's Angels and Slurpees. (yes, you read that right)

I have mentioned several times, that the intention of this blog is to get down a few old family stories before everyone has either...um...moved on to greener pastures, or no longer able to remember the stories with any amount of accuracy. Now, keep in mind that my family has natural tendencies toward hyperbole as it is, old age and memory loss can only intensify this proclivity. I assure you, however, that the story I am about to relate is told with complete veracity. I am of course, the only one in my entire family without that tendency toward hyperbole.

Northern California in the 1970's was a magical place for me and my siblings and cousins. We spent many years living all together in our little neighborhood. Our family business was construction, and so there were always any number of homes under construction in the hood. We spent a lot of time on the home sites. We would roller-skate on the newly poured slabs the minute they were dry. Oh how smooth they were compared to the sidewalks! We collected the discarded nails that were still straight into little piles, cleared wood and trash from the job sites and helped keep the crew well hydrated. This is where this story begins...

The crew. 

Now of course, guys came and went, but there were some who were always on the job. Buffalo, Bitter, Coyote and Carl to name a few. All their real names, except Carl. All hard workers and fond of the seven of us Cowperthwaite kids. (That is the family name, yes. No, I am not kidding. Really. Thirteen. Sound it out.) We called ourselves the 7C's. During the summers, we were not really allowed to be indoors, so we spent a great deal of our time hounding entertaining the crew. They were good-natured and appeased us with conversation when they had time. I should mention here, that all of these good-natured framers, roofers and concrete guys were full-fledged members of the Hell's Angels. A little rough around the edges is putting it as nicely as I can. No one would want to meet any of them in the proverbial dark alley. But they were good to us. When the Friday afternoon whistle finally blew, all of us kids would climb, barefooted and fairly filthy from the day of playing in the dirt,  into the back of one of the pickup trucks and Carl and the gang would drive us to 7-Eleven for refreshments. Slurpees for the kids...alternative hydration for the adults. The sight of five, six or seven windblown, sunburnt, blue-lipped kids with smiles as wide as their faces was likely something to behold. The joy we felt from freedom mixed with blue icy refreshment was matched only by the horror felt by our school chums' moms who had happened to witness the outing. Their horror did not go unexpressed. At least one of our moms would be on the phone with an outraged concerned neighbor every time we arrived back home, Slurpees in hand, lips still blue and smiles still wide.

Quote of the Day: "Stupid is as stupid does." --Mrs. Gump




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Get It DOWN: The Artful Practice of Avoidance


I have been somewhat willfully practicing the art of avoidance. I have it nearly down to a science but the flair and showmanship with which I practice, keeps it in the realm of art, I believe. I have been avoiding writing. You see, my editor voice is powerful, so powerful that it eclipses my creative voice...you know, the one that actually puts pen to paper and well, writes stuff. The editor is constantly talking, "That stinks. Who told you to write? Your grammar is atrocious and you have quite a limited vocabulary. No one wants to read this junk...you have nothing to say." She is a little obnoxious but I have grown so accustomed to her nearly constant bullying that we are now BFF's. Of course, nothing gets done when she is around, but whatever. Except, Little Brother is also a rather strong voice in my head, and also my phone. He is constantly sending me texts and quotes reminding me to just do it. In an attempt to actually finish something...anything, I decided to write the world's shortest short story, just to have a beginning, middle and end. I am the queen of starting stuff that I never finish. In my defense, Little Sister and Little Brother are the prince and princess of this kingdom. We will get group therapy as soon as we can afford it.



Daily Standoff

Sally Buckley was nobody’s mother. She was nobody’s wife either. She had been once, but that was over. She was nobody’s anything. Sally Buckley simply was. And today, as usual, she was walking up Highland Street. She walked up Highland Street because down Highland Street was a dead end.

“Good marnin’ Ms. Buckley.”
“And to you, Alfred.”
“Shall I be gettin’ yer usual, Ma’am?”
“Aye. And I’ll be needin’ a roll of Polos as well.”
“Here you are, Ms. Buckley.”
“Obliged, Sir.”

She tucked the Daily Inquisitor under her arm and the mints into her brassiere.

Rube, he thought.
Dullard, she thought


Each smiled at the other. With that, Sally Buckley walked away from Alfred Buckley’s newsstand and down Highland Street. She walked down Highland Street because her flat was one block shy of the dead end.


Quote of the Day: "When it is your time to write, write." Natalie Goldberg writer