What’s in a Name?

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I am setting up a square space website because I want to be well-represented in the ether. It makes me feel like an adult. That’s not the point of this. Anyway, I’m clicking Yes I’ll try a free trial – which we all know isn’t actually free because who actually remembers to call and cancel, I mean, really – and it asks me to create an account. I sat staring at the first two fields, my thumbs poised and ready to fire: First and Last name. And I hover. Frozen. 

The cursor blinks at me. Tapping its foot. It warps and wiggles as it transforms into a cursor-sized girl. Let’s say 10 years old. Mary Janes and ruffle socks. A pink corduroy jumper and a headband holding heroism pigtails back. She leans against the field bar. Crosses her arms. 

-Hello!!! 

-First and Last name? Easy. Sam Callahan. 

-Whoa whoa whoa!! Sam Callahan??? This page is serious. This is It. You decided long ago that your SAG name would be Sam Callahan and your nom de plume would be Samantha Devon. 

-But what if this is It, also? The other It…?

-What other “it?”

-What if this is all I do. What if this is all I’m good at. Wouldn’t I want it to be my real name? My superstar name? This was all thought up when I was convinced I’d reach Golden Celebrity status before ever thinking of writing a book. Who wants to waste their Best Name on their secondary fame, that may not even come!

-You know that being a famous actor is way sexier than famous writer. And you know Sam Callahan is a sexier name. Samantha Devon is an intellectual and a poet. Sam Callahan is a–is a —

-Entertainer. 

-Entertainer! 

-But you are so proud of your family name, just like me. 

-I am…

-Wouldn’t you want to see that name – Your Name – on the lists of the New York Times? On the bestsellers’ section at  McNally Jackson’s?(~support local book stores!~)

-Yes…

-What’s the point of a pseudonym anyway?

-Lots of reasons… Protection, is one. 

-From whom?

beat. She scowls, takes a breath. She paces along the field box– Inner demons, I guess. Publishing anonymously tricks us into thinking no one will read it. If no one knows it’s you, it’s not as embarrassing.  

-It is terrifying, isn’t it?

-Mortifying.  –beat– Your name is your identity. For most of us. Our name = us. Our sense of self. You see your name written, you recognize it. Not in your mind. But in your fingertips. In your belly button and your ears. Little tugs and glows that remind us who we are. I am Sam Callahan. I’ve read it, heard it, said it, and embedded it for years and years and years… –takes a breath– …There’s a level of freedom that comes when you write under a Not-Your-Name name. You allow yourself to act rashly. To pursue vehemently. Explore reckl— –stops– you allow yourself… to be completely honest in the moment. Raw on the page. When you remove yourself – your Self; your Name – you remove the shame, guilt, and visceral fear. Perhaps most importantly, you remove The Pride. With The Pride out, you are more open to what makes for a well-rounded character and an interesting story: flaws, fuck ups, and failures. 

  So…should I use a nom de plume? Should I stick with what identifies me? Or don the mask?  

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intro v.3

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I was absolutely sure about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a writer. Then a psychologist. Then an actor. Then a director. Then a stage manager. Then a first assistant director in film. Then a personal assistant. Then a screenwriter. But the most important thing about all of this was, among these definitive and very possible career paths, there lived within me a million other lives I wanted to live. The simple farm girl who takes care of her father’s farm after he passes away, and nobody thinks she can do it. The city-girl-to-farm transplant who can’t cut it in the sticks until a heart-wrenching experience shows her what real work, love, and family actually means. A summer that teaches her about loyalty, love, and accomplishment. The wickedly-smart frou-frou California earth-loving, tree-hugging, hippie-type girl who hikes and climbs trees, composts, doesn’t mind getting dirty, rides her bike everywhere, knows everything about all the environmental wars in the world, and does mushrooms and LSD because: mind expansion.

The white-picket fence lady with a husband and a few children, the Kansas family, the Florida surfer, the Vermont snowboarding chick, the upper class Manhattanite who was Nanny’d since birth, sent to boarding school in Europe, has six houses all around the world, and has a business relationship with the parents whom she never sees.

Even the sweet white girl who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. The girl who is well-mannered, intelligent, studious, but vastly talented and quick, and understands everything she needs to know to survive on the streets and own her life – the kind of girl who does parcour and is a cheerleader, but also valedictorian. The girl who would be picked on until those assholes realized who it was they were really messing with –

I digress. The point I’m making with more than a few words here, is that I realized at some point that the main theme among all those career paths was Storytelling, and living every day with thousands of voices in my head, trying desperately to be heard, the only way I could – and can – find peace is by telling their stories. Each one of those voices belongs to a story, aching to be given life, and they’re rooted deep within my soul, something I only recently discovered. They won’t rest until they’re heard – meaning I won’t rest until I listen.

So, this is where their stories will be heard. This is the page onto which I’ll pour their lifeblood.
This will be raw, I warn you. I may edit or revise a few times, but consider this first draft work. You’ll be uncovering the secrets of these lives along with me. Typos, thoughts non-sequitur, lies and whole-hearted truths included. We’re in for a ride, here, hopefully, and we’re in it together!

[ i n d i g o ]

[glimpse]

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I have two jobs.  One of them is this glorious job as a sort-of assistant in a semi-fulltime-capacity, with a really, very cool person who does terrific work.  That’s all I’m allowed to say about that. 

 

The other job is a grimy position as a cleaning lady in Manhattan.  I don’t like to talk about it for obvious reasons, but this one night last week, I found myself in the offices of this other job – a place I avoid with all purpose.  But, there I am in this room with a bunch of fat Latina women with an attitude and a Bronx haircut , and the people who work there are children. All of them. My age, Harvard graduates – ALL WHITE and all beautiful – an office full of Sorority Girls and Frat Boys. As someone who fits more snugly within the grouping of the latter, I was quite uncomfortable.

 

 

[ i n d i g o ]