i. the beginning of my ridiculous name
it was like bhumibol adulyadej, the king of thailand
muhammad bin nayef bin abdulaziz al saud, deputy crown prince of saudi arabia
or the full name of pablo picasso: pablo diego jos? francisco de paula juan etc
except the name was given to
a skinny little baby in an incubator,
the first child.
born in chicago illinois,
the third child to be born into the new year, 1:52, jan 1
and the only child with that name in the entire hospital
ii. learning to SPEAK
i could say my own name
by the age of two
my parents would say it to me,
and i would repeat
it was so easy!
i didn't know other people didn't think so
until i went to preschool
and none of the other kids
could say my name!
i didn't correct them
but i knew i was much smarter
because i was the only one,
who could say my name right.
iii. learning to s-p-e-l-l
i could spell my own name
by the age of three
and i was delighted by it
i would spell it out all over the walls
on everything i owned
when i started preschool
i told everyone proudly
how to spell my name
and when i started
kindergarten, the teacher asked me, perplexed
i s-p-e-l-l-e-d it out for her happily but
she got it wrong every single time
so i came to see her as a stupid woman
incompetent of that simple task
because how could a grown lady
not know how to do something i had known
since age three.
iv. first grade
i began first grade
wearing two tightly wrapped hair buns
a poofy pink dress
and a painful smile,
my head still hurting from my hairstyle.
when we arrived,
the first thing we did was make name tags
i saw that there were 2 Michaels, 2 Brians, and 1 Caitlyn and 1 Katelyn
my name was written in big bold letters
the teacher asked me how to say it!
so i did.
"how exotic," she noted.
throughout the rest of first grade they just called me
a nickname that wasn't mine.
no one wanted to give my "exotic" name a try.
and i also saw, the second most exotic name, they said
carlos, a dumb boring name! you could pronounce in
just two syllables.
v. the big kids
one day the big kids
came up and saw that i was lonely,
standing on the far side of the playground
braiding my hair
so they said, "what's your name?"
i replied, and they looked surprised
"what kind of name is that?!"
so i knew, i am weird to them.
so i told them, if they did not like it--
they could put their heads in a place where
the sun didn't shine! (which i learned from my dad)
they looked angry!
i felt triumph and from that day on,
the big kids never talked to me again!
except they told everyone,
that little girl
has a very weird name
no one can pronounce
probably from a weird country like turkmenistan or panama
in a weird language like laotian or swedish
so it became that i had no
and it became that i knew:
my name is far too strange.