Friday, February 27, 2015

What's in a name?

I have artistic ambitions. I draw, paint, photograph and write. Not as much as I should but it is a way to reconnect with myself. It calms the voices in my head, you know, the voices that doubt. Every time I make time to write, draw, paint, or photograph, I immediately feel better and a little more in control. I feel confident and sometimes I even feel proud of something. For example, I drew a woman lying down based off a picture and I felt pretty good about the outcome. I felt like it was instantly recognizable and pretty similar to the picture. It is by no means perfect. Some lines are too long or too straight and the shading is terrible. The thing is I am self taught. My only class was an online perspectives course. I learned by reading and watching. I learned by constantly trying, erasing and trying again.

I am getting sidetracked. The point is my artistic side sometimes has incredible ego, where I imagine myself showing my work or doing a reading (unfortunately a lot of the time I feel super self conscious about my creations). During these times I imagine my work, whatever it is, up in a museum or on a bookshelf. This is where I start wondering about my very generic name and how it would fit in. Rembrandt, Picasso, Kahlo, Michael Williams..... it doesn't work. Don't get me wrong, I do not think I produce work anywhere on the caliber of these artists but please indulge in this fantasy with me. Can you imagine it?

I can't. I can't imagine my name being attached to something someone else finds extraordinary enough to put in a museum. Maybe this tells you too much about me and my demons. Oh well, the thing I am talking about here is the name (so stop delving below the surface). My name is pretty common here in the US. There are countless numbers of Michael Williams in the world. I know some have been star athletes, entrepreneurs and all sorts of things but the name seems a bit ordinary. A name lacking in the requisite shine to compete in the arts. So, as I was driving one day, I began to entertain the thoughts of changing my name. Something that would really shine. That would be intriguing and captivating. You know, something that would look okay in all those museums I was destined for....

Then I thought about the name again and I remembered a few things. Some things that point to my own duality. Perhaps the astrological sign I fall under is a little accurate after all. You see I love my name at the same time that I find it completely ordinary and a touch boring. Here are some stories about my relationship with my name.

One of my earliest memories of my name being cool is when my family called me "Michael Michael Motorcycle". Maybe that should be my new artist name.... Michael Motorcycle. Or Michael F'N Motorcycle. Sounds pretty good to me.

The first time I ever realized my name was not unique was a shock. I met a kid named Michael one day when I went to my cousin's house to play. I instantly hated him. How dare this kid usurp my name! That devious devil. I kept my eye on him from then on. Never really warming to him and not having any other reason to not like him than he had my name. In reality, he was a nice kid. After all I should have been pissed at his parents. In fact, I am pissed at every parent of a Michael. HOW DARE YOU???? IT IS MY NAME NOT YOUR PRECIOUS POOKIE'S NAME! EVEN IF YOU ARE OLDER THEN ME, YOUR PARENTS WERE WRONG! Maybe I have a few issues to work on.

It was a few years later and a parade of other people named Michael had come through my life. I was getting used to it. I think I was in 4th grade by this time and I had learned how to be friends with name thieves. My teacher was out, thank the lord because I hated my 4th grade teacher. Except that my substitute would almost unseat her as Queen of All Villainy. During roll call she mispronounced my name and asked for a "Michelle Williams". Michelle? It isn't even spelled close. If you think it is, you would be wrong! The other kids teased me until about lunch when they forgot about it but I never have. I probably never will. I hope that sub died in a fiery explosion.... maybe from an over abundance of gas caused by an unhealthy diet.

That mispronunciation prompts me to tell you something else, perhaps we should call it a public service announcement. The only way to spell Michael is M I C H A E L. It is not Micheal, stop screwing my name up! If you are somebody out there who had stupid parents that misspelled my name and gave it to you please alter your spelling or choose another name. In fact, knock it off with the multiple spellings of all names. Can't we choose one and stick with it? I mean aren't they all pronounced the same? That is all, now back to our regular random ravings of a slightly insane individual.

I was horrified when I went to college and found that on the same dorm floor as me another Michael Williams resided. I never met him because I moved out of that dorm shortly after but I am sure he was an upstanding citizen, that I probably should have shoved off a cliff..... name thief...

As I grew up I started to accumulate lazy friends who called me Mike and I allowed it; even embraced it. I also started a pen name in high school that some people know and other college friends know some variation of. I had a nickname that I was largely responsible for. It was not until recently that I have been introducing myself as Michael again. My new friends know me as Michael and probably think I prefer it because they apologize for calling me Mike. Which is unnecessary, I answer to old nicknames and Mike (As long as it isn't Michelle). I just kind of realized one day that I liked the sound of the whole name. Even if it is not exactly a unique name.

Speaking of not being unique... could all the other Michael Williams stop getting tickets and not paying them? Every time I get a new drivers license I have to go through a laundry list of offenses that I have never done. Especially a certain Michael Williams in New Jersey... cut it out man! Speaking of that, why the hell do they show up on my record check with the DMV? Shouldn't they research you by social security number or the driver's license number? What the holy heck do I have personal identification numbers for? PLEASE LEARN HOW TO DO YOUR JOBS PROPERLY!

So as much as I might wish for a more unique and individual name I still really want to keep my name. I also must accept that my name will always be given to other people and I will do so gracefully (ish). In order to cover the bases for my possible canonization after my death, I might be working on a few new pen names and artist monikers.

No matter how you know me feel free to use the name you have always used for me. Hey! That was rude! I do not need you cussing like that. I hope you don't cuss like that in front of your mother!

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