The Married Name Game

I read this article a while back and got to thinking about my own name change situation. I have worked in television since the mid-1990s, well before my wedding in 2004. Which means as a production tech, I had amassed a good number of on-air credits under my maiden name. It didn’t hurt that I had a less than usual maiden name that would definitely prove memorable. So it was a given for me that I would use both names after my wedding. My quandary was with how I would do it: hyphenation seemed pretentious (apologies to my sister) for some reason, almost like the hyphen would take away the inherent value of both family names. So maiden as middle seemed to be fine. Occasionally, I do get tired of the large mouthful that is my new legal name, so I just drop my maiden name–particularly in certain phone conversations and transactions (where my maiden and married names get blended sans hyphen without their prior consent).

I just don’t see the big deal with the arguments–choosing to drop or keep one’s maiden name does not seem to be an affront to the other partner; just an amalgam of two identities to identify the one new individual balancing both family heritages. In my case, at least, it makes it easier for the graphics people. 😉

…and Katrina takes more of my childhood

This week as I was driving out to my parents’ house I caught sight of a building being torn down. It was an old, long-closed shopping mall that once housed a grocery store and several retail units I visited in my childhood. It was beautiful–looked like a Spanish hacienda/mission down to the stucco and roof tiles. I would drive past it, thinking one day I would get the money to buy it and restore it for use and bring some much needed commerce to my old neighborhood.

Now it’s gone, as in halfway down to the slab gone. The hardest thing about this experience is living with all of the change that 2005 Event That Shall Not Be Named has brought. Sure, it doesn’t affect my day-to-day existence, but seeing old landmarks somehow comforts me as I move through the city. I wish I’d known could’ve taken a picture. It’s a silly thing, resisting change. My parents were able to renovate my childhood home, but except for the brick exterior everything looks vastly different from when I grow up. I only have the mental pictures since any photos we had of the old exterior were destroyed…but even the mental pictures are shaky in the face of these new additions and renovations. I’m losing my sense of home and it makes me uncomfortable. It was bad enough feeling like a nomad in the months immediately following; the only comfort was focusing on a return to the familiar. And while intellectually I accept that progress and rebuilding are necessary, that kid inside is mourning her old haunts.

UPDATE: Found a pic–not the greatest, but it’s a piece of memory….

Lin-Manuel, my muse (or Boy crushes part 2)

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Every day I get up and wonder how I’m going to do all of the things I want to do–and whether or not my dreams are not only possible, but worthwhile. And occasionally I get down and lean toward the negative. It’s usually around this time I am reminded of my gifts and possibilities by a stray Tweet, Facebook or YouTube post from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Not since Michael Jackson have I had such a kinship with an artist I’ve never met. Lin-Manuel Miranda, among other things, is the creator and original lead of the Broadway musical In The Heights. And he, as well as the show, is awesome beyond words. Though I have yet to see the entire show in person (hint: if anyone can put a bug in the ears of TPTB at Broadway Across America about starting another tour and bringing it to, say, New Orleans, handle that for a sista, wouldja?), it is one of the most amazing pieces of art I have ever seen and listened to. The blending of traditional theater, hip-hop and Latin flavor is just captivating.

Lin himself appears to be this crazy, nerdy bundle of energy that has all kinds of things to say–basically, my type of guy. I watch his YouTube vids from his childhood and there, but for the lack of a videocamera, is my life. It’s also a plus that much of his humor and expression is highly cerebral–got a BIG heart-on for smart guys. 😉 Doesn’t hurt that he shows up on Electric Company occasionally, either….

One has to be a mad artistic genius to craft a realistic picture of Latino life, an intelligent but hip recital of the life of Alexander Hamilton and the virtues of hard and soft G. But I think it’s the heart of that 9-year-old little boy that really makes me love him (don’t worry–my husband, his wife and the fact that theoretically I’m old enough to be his mother keeps that at simple hero worship). Clearly a fan of social media and nurturing talent, he found a young man named Nicholas Dayton (aka BroadwayKidd…a very cool and extremely talented young man, BTW) on YouTube performing song from the ITH soundtrack. A typical response one might expect is some show merch and some autographs….

This is SO next level–who DOES stuff like this?!? I don’t know if he reminds me of Willie Wonka or the Wizard–fan and mastermind and mad genius all in one person. Yet somehow he seems to remain so humble and honest and REAL…. *sigh* I sound like a stalker. I can’t help it–he’s just so amazing. He could ask to burn down my house and I’d hand him the matches and can of gasoline and watch in fascination.

My world is much brighter because his star blazes through it…..can’t wait for the next nugget of genius.

mirandawrites (Blog)
usnavi Channel on YouTube
Lin_Manuel on Twitter

Black Ribbon Reflections, part 2

It’s so difficult to start these–it’s a weighty subject that is no laughing matter, so my usual brands of snark and sarcasm stay firmly under lock and key. I’d had two cases on my mind that didn’t fit well into the first of this series: the case of a young mother killing herself and her three daughters, and a man dismembering his girlfriend’s special needs son. Horrific and tragic all at the same time, and it raises questions about the availability of mental health services or even the choices one makes concerning who comes into contact with their children. I want to feel complete outrage–and on the Jori Lirette case I certainly do–but I know there was more going on in those households than I could ever understand. I can only offer my own outside perspective. It is easier to feel pure outrage and little compassion in the Jori Lirette case because the situation seems like it was preventable–the mother had filed a restraining order against the boyfriend, but decided to “let it lapse.” I still believe in some cases that counseling can rehabilitate an abusive personality, but judging from this guy’s rationale to put Jori’s head in the front yard so upon seeing it the girlfriend “would feel stupid,” this is a level of sickness that can’t be treated. I’m sure somewhere in his warped mind he thought that death was kinder for a child with such severe challenges–and while still unforgivable I *might* have understood this had Jori been much younger. OK, that’s a lie…I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around this one. He BEHEADED that baby–disturbed or not, it was clearly on his mind for a long time to selfishly take this child’s life. And while I feel for the mother, she knew this man was a danger and left her child in his care anyway. Security and companionship are not good enough reasons for me to stay with someone you feared enough to petition the law to keep away from you. I hope she can find some peace somewhere. As for young Nadia Braxton. it’s always hard to figure out the level of despair and mental anguish one that would drive someone to such drastic action. One of her last reported actions before the tragedy was to call her pastor, who was not available to answer at that time. Knowing from personal experience how hard it is to remain in a positive space when you feel there is no one there to reach out to, I can imagine to some small degree the pain she was struggling with. I don’t know what she thought taking her children with her would accomplish, though…putting myself in her shoes, I would not want to hurt my own children. Part of the reason I’m still here now is because I don’t want the children in my life to have to ask themselves why I checked out. It doesn’t dull the personal pain, but I think it’s selfish of me to expect them to live with my actions. Not to mention that I can’t imagine those beautiful souls I love so much not being a part of this world. We will never know if any of this was Nadia’s thinking; I wish with all my heart she’d felt she had someone else to help her out of the darkness.

And as if these tragic stories weren’t enough, I come around this headline regarding Topeka’s “downgrading” the severity of domestic crimes. Most of the aggressors know exactly how to get around the law already–they certainly don’t need the government’s help. Anytime a woman can get beaten with a CROWBAR and have the attack classified as a misdemeanor is disturbing enough, but to have your local government effectively say that because of budget constraints said attack (and others like it) aren’t important enough to prosecute is just WRONG–or as my eighth grade math teacher Mr. Williams would say, “LOUD, LONG, COUNTRY AND WRONG!” (caps definitely needed for emphasis) Crazy may figure into some of them, but history has shown that some of these buggers are just plain mean. I guess it’s going to take some legislator’s mother, sister or daughter getting knocked around before these issues start to become important….

Maybe one day I’ll be more coherent and less disjointed in writing these. I’d much prefer, however, that the day comes when I don’t have to.

Sir Fonzie, if you please…..

Henry Winkler...Sir Fonzie has a nice ring to it.....

I have been in love with Henry Winkler for a very long time. This clinches it:

Henry Winkler officially Most Excellent, receives honorary OBE

Regardless of whether or not the official press release mentions the iconic Happy Days character, the mere fact that the honor centers primarily on Winkler’s work championing dyslexia (a trait diagnosed in Winkler himself AND later written onto Arthur Fonzarelli) is mention enough. Yes, he’s an accomplished children’s author, producer, actor and comedian….but that leather jacket wearing cool guy will always get the thumbs up from me. Sir Fonzie….AAAAAAAYYYYY!

I really AM funny…I swear…..

So I’ve been going through my blog and looking over my previous posts and drafts in progress, and I’ve come to the realization that except for maybe two or three posts, I have been heavier than a boulder dropped on Wile E. Coyote’s head in pursuit of the Road Runner. My tagline says “from the intellectual to the irreverent,” and I have clearly been in my head WAY too much. Still got a few deep thoughts in the pipeline, but I promise you that I will lighten up a little. 😉

Black Ribbon Reflections

I don’t really know how to start this one….on Friday, August 19 I passed through the visitation for an old classmate who had tragically died the week before. It was surreal–one day I’m chatting and trading Farmville items on Facebook with her, and the next her cousin is asking me if I’d heard the tragic news. She was found strangled to death by one of her children. Worse is that the suspected killer, her husband, was found dead in a hotel room in another state–a suspected suicide. I have since been thinking a lot about the nature of relationship violence, the roles anger and depression play in these cases, and whether or not counseling and compassion or zero tolerance is the best solution for handling things.

There are two related subjects I had saved to blog–the controversy and aftermath of the Chris Brown/Rihanna relationship, and the sad case of a mother in my area killing her three young daughters and then herself (I’ll broach the latter in a follow-up blog). I have definitive opinions on the subject of what is termed domestic violence, and they don’t always line up with what others say I’m supposed to think. In the matter of Chris Brown v. Rihanna, I agree that whatever happened, Chris should not have lost his temper to the point of striking or striking back at a woman. I disagree, however, on my understanding of his justification–there’s never a reason for someone to hit someone else, but I feel that if you are bold enough to lay the first hand you should not be surprised if there is an in-kind response. I also feel that both parties have an equal share of blame and responsibility to manage their negative impulses through counseling and self-control. The youth especially have this quick-reactive mentality but with proper education and due diligence on their part, attitudes and mindsets can be changed.

But then I see the cases where women (and often their friends and family members) are tortured mercilessly by the men who supposedly love them–shot, smothered, suffocated…I even read about a case where the woman’s mother went to throw the boyfriend out and got beaten, had a garbage bag tied around her head and was set on fire. These animals are beyond help and deserve the harshest punishment imaginable–but does this mean that NO abuser is capable of change?

I don’t suppose that it helps that in Chris Brown’s case, he reminds me a great deal of my nephew–they are about the same age and seem to have similar personalities, and both were raised by strong, single mothers. To my knowledge the influence (and fear) of my sister seems to have molded my nephew into a respectful young man despite any peer influences…or maybe he just found the right set of peers. I truly hope and believe that Chris Brown can find a similar positive force in his life to counter any anger issues and relationship misconceptions that may be the leading influences on how he currently lives his life.

But it is tragedies like my friend’s death that make me wonder if I should be so compassionate. While I don’t know all of the stressors that may have existed in that home either, this was just senseless. I have a fiery and not so pretty temper of my own, and even that has never driven any of my former boyfriends or my husband to fatal or near-fatal violence. So I can’t even imagine anything she could have said or done to have brought this about. Blind rage and unconscious actions are too common of excuses for “bad behavior,” and few face up to their guilt, either by denying they did anything wrong, blaming their partner or taking the coward’s way out by ending their own lives. I see both sides of the issue and know that there are valid points and flawed arguments on both sides; how can I know where to stand?

At present, it will have to be in front of that stark white coffin, wondering what could have been done….