Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Creative Writing

I am in a creative writing class and so I think I will occasionally put stuff I write on my blog; hopefully to receive criticism of how I can become a better writer.

I actually think this piece is pretty entertaining. If you want to read something amazing, similar, and better written read the vingette titled "My Name" by Sandra Cisneros found in her novella House on Mango Street.

Sarah (with an H) no middle name Orme

To quote my mother, “can you believe they named their kid Abcde? How in the world will any of her teachers ever know how to say their name or spell it? I feel so bad for kids that get weird names.” This conversation of weird names rolls around every fall when the smell of sharpened pencils and new clothes are flowing through the neighborhoods as children ready themselves for school. My mom, a kindergarten teacher, joins the ranks of many educators who look with disgust on names that have difficult or weird spellings and bizarre pronunciations. Every year a select few of her students are chosen as victims of the conversation of weird names, followed by the discussion of how inconsiderate it is of parents to tag their children with titles that seem more fit for a suitcase in Switzerland than an American name. This, being the background of my own personal name giver, explains why each of the Orme children has names that are located within the rankings of the most popular names through the ages. The children in our family are named Chris, Nick, Matt and I follow the litter with the well-known, over-exploited, Mormon name Sarah (with an H of course).

I dare you to sit in a public classroom in Provo, Ut and call the name Sarah. Guaranteed three girls will look of at you. Ok, it’s probable that the name Sarah does not have this dense of a population but it often feels like it. Rarely do I find myself in a world of being the only Sarah. There are many of us around. For many, a shared name is not that big of a deal considering you have a middle name. Well, I don’t. It is possible that I am currently the disappointment of my father because I have yet to marry-completing his claim that girls don’t need middle names because their last names feel that gap. My gap of a “no-middle-namer” is currently larger than ever. And to be honest, it is bizarre that the culture I have grown up in makes it seem like women don’t need a middle name because they get a new name eventually. I fear to continue with this thread of thought because it may turn into a “women deserve the same thing as men” and as not to let this topic deluge into that, I will just make mention again that I have an empty line, an absence on a page, where many fill in their middle name.

To recap—I have an all to common first name and I lack a middle name. Optimistically you would believe that the fates would grace me with a unique last name. One in which I can own as a unique part of my identity. Well, this reliance on fate, karma, or good-will is falsely put. My last name is Orme. The history is that there was a Welch rock named the rock d’orme…a rock that looks like a snake. After living in poverty in Europe we came to America searching for our fortunes and wound up in Provo, Ut, snuggled next to an all-familiar city. The neighboring city is named Orem. Seriously. This wanna-be-Provo city has confused anyone asking about my last name like platypuses are confused about what type of animal they are. Anyone who pronounces my last name will automatically ask if it is like the city, or ask if I own the city, or inquire if I know that there is a city like my last name. To complete this picture of confusion with the city, as I was student teaching last semester I heard giggling from the back. Finally, I asked the boys what they were talking about and they replied, “I think it’s so funny that you go by your title. Maybe you can bring your sash and crown next time.” The students address me as Miss Orme and had for a week legitimately believed I went by a “scholarship fund” award; a beauty pageant winner. Laughing, I took this as a compliment to my beauty and talents and explained to them why the city I hail from, Provo, is better than Orem.

To commoners without the name Sarah Orme, it may appear that though the name has seemingly common elements it makes up what is probably an uncommon name. That is what I used to think until a BYU student named Sarah Orme started working for my dad in the ASB. Call her a doppelganger, call her a replacement child for my father, or call her a BYU-I student who transferred to Provo, only to stay here for a semester before she got married and moved away. We became commonly confused.

What is in a name? To some it becomes more than an arbitrary title but a part of an inherent identity. This mentality, I believe, is wrong. Though there may be cities with my name, 785,170 women with the first name of Sarah in the United States, and a former BYU student with my exact name I have developed a relationship with my name, which I have come to love. Though I was named after a courageous women who crossed the plains, evading death in the Willie Martin Handcart Company, and though there is a book written about Sarah plain and tall, and though there is a women sitting with the sash of Miss Orem proudly portrayed, I am not one of them.

I am Sarah (with an H), who lacks a middle name, and who almost shares a surname with a neighboring city. I am a woman who is excited to meet those with similar and different names and to know them not for a tag, title, or need of identification for the U.S. census bureau, but for who they are. For people are people, names are just a way of helping them to remember which person is being referenced. A name is not an identity; it is a representation of the human need for separation and categorization. Happy for those with unique names, happy for those who like their names, and congratulations to those who paid $200.00 to the state to change their names. For me, I will keep my name and look expectantly to the future for confusion that my name will, without question, produce.