What’s in a Name?


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. 


-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 —



-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!~)


-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?  


Wanting to be heard.


I had the story brewing in my netherspheres (it’s what I call the back burners of my brain), and it was coming to me like laser tag blasts — BAM BAM ZAP ZIP (ok, pew! pew! pew!), and, naturally, i was in my car on a long drive from Ashland to the bay area on one of my breaks from school. This is the perfect time for the creative juices to flow because then they just spill all over my car and there is no way for me to really write them down. Every once in a while, I would pull over to try to type something up, but as fast as they came, so fast would they go. I tried different approaches — type faster, tell Siri (which was always a disaster, because, well, have you ever tried dictating to Siri? She’s useless. hilarious and entertaining, but completely useless.) Then I tried a voice recorder, only to find out I really had no idea how those worked. Again – the same result, every time: the second I started recording these amazing (so I thought) ideas, they would all go straight out the window. Apparently, my characters only want to be travelling at 80+ miles an hour on a freeway.

But this story is one that I’ve come back to a few times. I’ve written little bits of it – moments, really – conversations, or thoughts, fleeting, like a dream or a memory. The main girl, Emily, has had bits of her story already written down, but they’re so scattered around at this point, that I don’t even know where they are. I don’t know if they’re all the same story, but it’s something I’m willing to investigate. Something I want to discover. So here is this journey — through Meditative Writing, I will find out more about Emily and her former lover/ex-boyfriend/childhood crush (?), Adam – see? i don’t even remember if that’s his name – and we’ll unlock their secrets ….. together.

I’ve actually already shared a bit of their story on here. When she slips and almost falls off a cliff and he shows up to warn her that shit is going down. At that point, I didn’t know what that shit was, but I think I do now, finally.

It’s a beautiful process, finding out your characters’ stories as they do. For it’s my belief that their stories already exist. They’re happening – always happening – living within me, and all they need is for somebody to tell it. Their stories are aching to be told, aching to be heard. Screaming at me – following me around, trapped in my subconscious – trying to break through in dreams and fleeting thoughts.

They’re there. They’re ready. and so am I.

Laptop: my girlfriend.


It’s remarkable, the relationship between a human and his technology. Our phones, tablets, and laptops become like friends to us: able to console, entertain, and betray. They can frustrate us, stand us up, and even completely blow us off, and, just like any of our close friends, when betrayal strikes, trust is lost.

I’ve had my laptop since my sophomore year of college – I’ll let you guess how long ago that was; a lady never tells her age – and she has been on quite a few adventures with me. She was there for me during every lecture, through every paper I handed in (late), six seasons of Lost, seven seasons of Boy Meets World, and eight seasons of Doctor Who. She was my companion when I began my journey as a writer, ditching five paragraph essays for quirky poems and short stories and even the odd screenplay. Now, I have a Mac, so I’ve never had the constant fear of my computer crashing, getting sick, or going crazy. She was reliable and unwavering in her loyalty to me.

And then she crashed.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was one spreadsheet too many, but suddenly, my screen froze, I got the pinwheel of death and everything went black. She woke up after a few agonizing minutes, asking if I would like to send crash reports. No. No crash reports, I thought, solemnly. Nothing can make up for this level of betrayal. For, she didn’t crash in the middle of an episode. She didn’t crash while I was about to Complete Check Out on Amazon. She crashed when I was twenty pages in on a Meditative Writing stint I’d been on for two hours.

“What an idiot you are for not saving, if you’re writing for that long!” you may say. Well, I say that, too, but when you’re “meditative writing,” the point is, you’re not thinking about saving your work, getting up to pee, or grabbing a glass of water. You’re thinking about writing. only writing. non-stop writing. stream of consciousness. The only rules in Meditative Writing are 1. Tell the Truth and 2. Don’t Stop Writing. So, she crashed.

If you know anything about Macs, you know that this incident is not the end of the world because, most of the time, the product is saved or recoverable. Yes, it is, but though this was not the end of the world, it was absolutely the end of our relationship. I had no choice but to break up with my laptop after that. The trust was lost. gone. forever. irreparable. We tried to make it work for a few weeks, but the trust couldn’t be built back. I was saving my work every five minutes, thus interrupting my meditation, blocking me.

So I got an iPad.

My laptop is still here. She’s still in the picture, and I use her for my other work. Spreadsheets, bookkeeping, as a DVD player, but that’s it. Nothing more than a booty call.

The Lady at 525 W 25th St


At building number 525 on street 25 on the west side of Down, a small town in a small county in a small state, there lived a woman with particularly fluffy hair and a particular attitude toward “cleanliness, neatness, and organization!” as the neighbors would hear her snapping aloud often, and often not to anyone they could see.

She always had a frilly ribbon tied in the right side in the tangle of kinky hair, and her stoop was always pristine. The neighborhood boys would sneak up her steps and drop pieces of garbage on it, taking bets on how long until she’d notice. She had a sense for it – like a dog who hears the jingle of his leash before a walk. Out she’d scurry, robe pulled around her, kinky hair askew, ribbon dancing in the wind, mumbling sharply as she’d bend down to pick up the matchbook, the loose bandaid, or the breadcrumb.

“Cleanliness! Neatness! Organization!” she’d snap and slam the door.

in the works


I have quite a few books “in the works”. It’s quite a boastful sentence, that one, but the truth is, “in the works” Just means “in my head.” To be quite frank, it just means “I’ve thought of a cool title and maybe a premise. ”

People ask me what I do for a living, and my favorite thing to tell them is “I’m am writer,” because their head is suddenly filled with fanciful pictures of me sitting in gardens or coffee shops with my laptop – or typewriter because I’m that kind of cool – at book signings, having meetings with agents. Close friends have fantasies about my books becoming the next Harry Potter or Divergent series. When, honestly, I’m sitting on a plane with my wireless keyboard hooked against my iPad, two and a half hours into the flight with absolutely nothing to write. You’d think that being stuck in a one-meter-by-two-meter prison-of-an-airplane-seat is enough to motivate a writer to buckle down and “just write already!” … apparently, that’s not the case.

I’m just forced to watch stupid television on a minuscule screen, stare out the window at turbulent clouds, and try my best to steady my rapid breath – I’m not anxious, I swear. I’m pretty sure there is low oxygen in the cabin. Ok, maybe not – don’t want to panic anybody. (are you panicking??).

Anyway, so what do I do for a living? I fantasize about gardens, coffee shops, quaint little cottages in the meadows, mountain homes overlooking a foggy bluff (I think the word I’m looking for is “chalet”), meditative retreats, and more English breakfast tea than a woman should drink. I fantasize about a healthy, smart pup as a trusty companion, a cat who knows better than to sit on my keyboard (let’s be real – I wouldn’t mind.) and an agent who calls me every few days to be sure I’m doing okay and to ask for the pages I’ve been owing her, long overdue, because…aren’t they always?

I fantasize about a life where I can get rid of my smart phone and go back to my LG flip phone – do away with the e-mails at my fingertips, the incessant need for technological organization. I won’t need to worry about four schedules or syncing my iTunes or having enough storage for the latest update. I’ll have a few important phone numbers memorized, a heavy and comfortable rotary house phone (the phone is rotary, not the house), and an iPad and Apple TV for entertainment. I’ll lock myself away for the weekend and write and write and write, take walks, drink tea, feed the dog, sleep on the daybed, wake up with the sunrise, and not check my phone. not check my emails. not check my calendar.

So, here’s to the four books that are “in the works.”

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Overheard New York (1st Edition)


This is a collection I’ve started, and I’d like to call it “Overheard New York.” 

They’re bits and pieces of conversational gems I’ve collected over the last eight months living in New York. Enjoy.


Basket of apples in front of the register. Guy Walks up.
Guy: I’ll just take an apple.
Cashier: We don’t sell apples.
He picks one up and shows her
Guy: They’re right here.
Cashier: We don’t sell those.
Guy: Then why the fuck are they sitting here?
Another employee whispers to cashier. (“we do sell those”)
Cashier: That’ll be 75 cents, sir.       –  May 16, 2014, Chelsea


“I don’t know if I’m staying. I don’t have cash. I only have card.”
“We are a cash-only establishment, sir.”
“You know the presence of good cannot exist without the present of evil.” And he leaves.– Caffe Reggio, Greenwich Village


Patron: “What’s on tap?”
Bartender: “Me”
Patron: “Great. I’ll have 2 Merlots & a pitcher of you.” – Dec 6, 2013, Upper East Side


New Yorker: What am I saying? I grew up in NY. Idk what a lawn mower is. – Oct 14, 2013, Greenwich Village


“I mean, you’re so right. Everything’s, like, connected. The brain to the stomach, ya know, the heart, the brain … the stomach.” – May 9, 2014, West Village


“There’s someone for you. Like what you used to tell me when I was young: when I wanted the white pony with the blonde mane? ‘There’s someone out there for everyone.’” – bald middle-aged Russian man on a phone in Central Park (overheard NY)

“You don’t have to be congress to pass a bill.” – homeless man, panhandling, 6 train.


“Those girls? Nah, all the only recommendation I’d take from them is ice cream shops in Brooklyn.” – June 3, 2014, West Village


“The Path Train”
“The what?”
“The PATH train. It’s like the subway, but less glamorous.” May 21, 2014 (Brendan Comfort’s facebook)

intro v.3


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!

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