What’s in a name?

Name tag

So, you’ve all seen it.  I know you have.

My name.

It’s right there on the cover of my book.

I’ve gone from anonymous blogger to author who shall be named.

Note: Middle-age Butch is not my real name.

I’ve enjoyed blogging anonymously for the past two years.  It allowed me to open up and write about whatever I wanted.  And be more flannel-y and cool than I really am.

But now the jig is up.  And I’m not even Irish.

When I was a kid, I used to hate my name.  It was seven letters long and contained every vowel except “u.”  It rhymed with “Crayola,” kinda.  It was French.  These things do not make for a cool name.

In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ruth Dixon, shortened my name to Rae.

I'm like this but butchier

I’m like this but butchier

At about the same time, my grandmother started calling me Rae.  Her favorite movie was The Sound of Music.  I was Rae, or “re,” her drop of golden sun.  So yeah, I’m like a butch Julie Andrews.

And it stuck. Rae.

Not a bad name for someone who gets called “sir.”

It’s one letter away from Ray.

I think I’m just feeling exposed these days, what with my memoir less than three months away from its premiere.

I’ve never had to worry about my family reading my blog.  It was something I did privately.  Under a pseudonym.

I worry about what they will think about the book.

More specifically, I worry that they will be embarrassed by the book.  Not so much by how they are portrayed (this isn’t the lesbian version of Running with Scissors … which would be Running While Scissoring, I believe).  But just by the fact that they have a daughter who sometimes gets mistaken for a man.  Or young boy.  Or Boy Scout.

ElephantWe don’t talk about anything in our family.  I have this great line that didn’t make it into the book: The elephant in the room was our family pet.

So having a book published is like airing our dirty laundry in public.  Even though it’s my dirty laundry.  And yes, those are my boxer briefs thank you very much.

I had thought about publishing the book under a pen name.  Maybe Girl-Who-Hasn’t-Worn-Skirt-Since-Grade-School.  Or Little Flower Stamen-Pistil.  Did I mention that I’m part Cherokee?  But couldn’t come up with a suitable moniker.

I guess I need to adjust to being a little more open and honest.  To putting myself out there.  Not so much with the rest of the world.  But with those who claim to know me best.

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15 responses to “What’s in a name?

  1. I SO understand this, except if I ever publish a memoir, I’m sure family would object to how I portrayed them, because I (mostly subconsciously) make things dramatic to explain my points and others see that as unfair exaggerations.

    • I write under the category of Creative Nonfiction, which gives me creative license to tweak elements of a story for literary effect.

      • Well, yes, license by the literary genre gods, but if I write about someone named Mom in a way that my mother doesn’t recognize or feels hurt by….that’s what I fear. Hell, I fear it even with an anonymous blog because even though I haven’t told my family about it, I have told friends….who later I have written about in a way they’d recognize, if they read the blog, which I don’t think they do. Given that the blog is a relatively safe place to meditate on personal interactions, it’s dangerous to do that if I haven’t told the person I’m writing about that I have had those concerns….but if I learned nothing from the 9 month relationship with gf, it was that my worries about personal interactions should go unvoiced most of the time, but I still need to process them so I don’t obsess about them.

      • I certainly understand. This book is about me. About what it’s like to be different growing up. About what it’s like to be a woman who gets mistaken for a man. What that feels like. These are my experiences. Told from my point of view. They are not meant to hurt anyone or embarrass anyone. They are my stories and I feel I have a right to tell them.

  2. A butch Julie Andrews!!! … ROFL … 😀 … she was my first girl crush ever.

  3. Do they have to know about the book? I could write a book and my family would never find out about it unless I told them. They just don’t run in the same internet circles as I do. I applaud you for using your real name and completely understand how you’re feeling vulnerable now. Maybe it will help them understand you better even if it does make them a bit uncomfortable for a while. Good luck.

    • Well, they already know because I told them. I’m a 48-year-old woman still looking for approval from my parents. We don’t run in the same Internet circles, but there would have been a chance of them finding out from someone else.

      Thanks for your well wishes. I just need to remember to breathe.

  4. Let’s hope that it does really well and you get invited to talk about it on Fresh Air with Terry Gross or some other “semi-mainstream” media. Let’s hope that you get a Lambda Literary Award. Let’s hope that people come up to your mother and ask her to autograph a copy….

    • Ok, I see what you did there. Took all of my negative thinking and turned it around. Of course, you’re right. So many things to be thankful for and to wish for.

      I think I’m just feeling a little insecure. Putting myself out there for the world to see. It probably has very little to do with my parents/family. And at the end of the day, I can only worry about myself. It’s exhausting worrying about the rest of the world.

      So, yes, mainstream interviews, awards, all of that stuff.

  5. Congratulations on the book! You have given me much to think about with your thoughts on the “exposure” aspect of things. I know my family doesn’t necessarily run in the same internet circles, but I do know some of them do read me occasionally. And living in a smaller town, things can “get-around” pretty easily via the local coffee shop gossip circuit. Hey, give them something to think about besides the fact that it snowed AGAIN last night and it’s mid April! ugh….I think the line above about your mom autographing the book is great…spot on! 🙂 Good luck with the release! ~MB

    • Thanks, MB. It’s much easier to write as Middle-age Butch than under my real name. Well, actually, the writing is the same. It’s the what-comes-after part that feels much different. I guess that’s a memoir writer’s life.

  6. Congrats on the book!!!

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