Friday, June 24th, 2011 • 2 Comments on Go Read Me at the Grip!
The theme this week is fathers, but my new column at Oh Get a Grip! has more to do with my complicated history and maybe helps explain why I’m so adamant about using my “real” name:
I wanted to go on the 6th grade trip to Mexico. That’s how it started. In order to go to Mexico, I needed a passport—which I didn’t have. In order to get a passport, I needed a birth certificate—which I did have. Problem was, the birth certificate I had did not bear the same name that I was using. If I got a passport under the name on the birth certificate, school officials would know I was using a different name. My friends would know. Their parents would know. It would have been scandalous, I guess.
This was back in the day when you didn’t have to show documentation to enroll your kid in school. Or maybe that was just life in Florida in the 70s—a nod to the migrant workers who weren’t in the country legally. You also didn’t have to have a Social Security card until you started working. I guess my mother assumed I wouldn’t have to prove who I was until I was at least a teenager and she’d deal with it then—but then I asked to go on the Mexico trip.
That was how I ended up in a courtroom at the age of 11, telling a judge about life with my parents so I could get my name changed. I ended up with a new birth certificate that bore the name I’d been using since I was 9 months old. Of course, to get there, I had to listen to my mother answer the judge’s question about who my birth father was: “I don’t know.”
It was a lie.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 • 4 Comments on Signs of Summer
Teenage girls in short-shorts, the last trimester of my pregnancy and real glasses for iced drinks at Starbucks. Ahhh… Happy Summer Solstice!
Saturday, June 18th, 2011 • 2 Comments on Bully, Bully
My column this week on Oh Get a Grip! is about bullies…
I have been knocked unconscious once in my life. It was a one-punch knockout, too. I guess I have a glass jaw. Of course, I was in the fourth grade at the time, so maybe I could take a punch now. I’m not keen on finding out.
My tale begins with an older, bigger boy. He was in fifth grade, but he had failed at least one grade, maybe two, so he towered over me and outweighed me by a lot. Our altercation actually had nothing to do with me. I was a pretty quiet kid—kept my head down, nose in a book, did well in school, had a few close friends—no one really noticed me. Not even the playground bully.
So what provoked my knockout? Ahh… well, you see, I’m very loyal to my friends. Like, mama bear loyal. On that particular day, the mild-mannered fourth grader in me turned into a defender of the helpless, which happened to be my best friend. The bully crossed paths with my friend and knocked her lunch money out of her hand. She began to cry and I came charging. Of course, I failed to acknowledge I wasn’t any better equipped to deal with the situation than she was, but that didn’t stop me. With Denise crying, I went toe-to-toe and nose-to-chest with her bully. The conversation went something like this:
Me: That was mean! Pick up her money.
Bully: No! It’s mine.
Me, picking up Denise’s lunch money: Oh no, it’s not!
Bully: Give it to me or you’ll be sorry!
Me: You’re nothing but a bully. I’m not afraid of you.
The next thing I remember, I was opening my eyes and staring at the blue sky. My first (and last) boxing match lasted one round and I never even got in one punch.
I just want to say what a pleasure it is to be a part of the OGG blog. It is truly inspiring me to take new directions in my writing and explore things I might not have otherwise.