Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Importance of the M. And Hemingway. And a note on Garage Sales.

Whenever I put my name on something, I always use my middle initial. There is a reason for this.

You see, I feel that the sum of all of one's origins, roots, and experiences is what makes that person who he or she is. So that means that you are who you are because of what happened that first day of high school, that last day of Kindergarten, your mixed heritage background, your Catholic mother and Buddhist father.

So even though my last name is a good solid German last name, and my father's family was likely 100% German (although to hear my grandmother tell it, she was German/French/Native American/Peruvian/Mexican/Estonian and, yes, even a little Asian and Black), I can't negate the fact that my mother's family is equally 100% Irish (aside from the Look of the Spaniard we've all got about us; the whole Spanish Armada/Iberian Myth thing which makes me Black Irish). So, not only do I have a solid German last name, I've got an equally if not even more solid Irish middle name. So I can't ignore it. Hence everything I write, and every time I sign my name, the M gets thrown in the middle.

Now some may ask (and some have asked) why I don't do the whole middle name. just takes up too much room. I mean, my first name already has six letters in it. Then there's eight for my last name. I don't really have room for seven more letters. All of a sudden, I'm taking up way too much room.

So the M is a compromise. It's a nod to where I've come from. To people who have supported me. To the grandfather I never met but whom I resemble (maybe I'll post a side-by-side some day, if I think of it). The M completes me. When I put the M, that means you're getting the whole of me.

From the whole of me, I go to the tip of the iceberg. Namely, Hemingway.

Have you ever read any Hemingway? I mean, really read it? If not, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of The Nick Adams Stories. Not only for your reading pleasure, but also for an introduction to Hemingway himself. The stories were written throughout his career, at different times and out of sequence. But when strung together they tell the story of Nick Adams, one of Hemingway's alter egos, from a young boy to a former WWI soldier. He writes stories about childhood, the war, fishing. The fishing stories are amazing, especially "Big Two-Hearted River." Think of it as a metaphor for writing and it becomes even more amazing. When you're done with that, pick up The Sun Also Rises for some of the best dialogue ever published.

Okay, and finally, this is kind of like an open letter to the Garage Sale crowd...if you're at a garage sale, please keep this in mind; if it doesn't have a price tag on it, it's probably not for sale. If all the stuff in front of the garage has price tags on it, and there's a table in the entrance to the garage that is hard to get around to get into the garage, where there are no price tags, it's likely that nothing in the garage is for sale. So, basically, take a look at the computer monitor and the bedframe and the light table and the ping-pong table outside the garage, but take your eyes off my lawnmower and don't ask me how much for my bicycle. It's NOT FOR SALE. That's why it's BEHIND ME IN THE GARAGE and DOES NOT HAVE A PRICE TAG. And even though the card table is sitting outside the garage, that's so I have some place to sit. It's not for sale either. And neither is my laptop. It's mine. Not for sale. No price tag. And I'm using it. Do you see me using the ping-pong table? No. That's because it's for sale. Do you see me reading those books over there? No. That's because they're for sale. The copy of The Sun Also Rises that I'm reading? Not for sale. The computer? NOT FOR SALE. Now go away.


bridget said...

why don't you close the garage door? and maybe you should bill it as a driveway sale or yard sale. i know...none of this will help...people will still ask if the card table and laptop are for sale.

Becca said...

LOL. I loved your garage sale rant.

Molly said...

Nice blog, EMR. You should be writing a column for somebody, somewhere. Would you please start submitting your work to everyone? You should be sharing this stuff with a larger audience.


notawritersfather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
notawritersfather said...

What your mother said.

Lisa said...

Ah, Elliot, I've been neglecting your blog lately...haven't gotten around to reading it while putting homework as a priority. That rant on garage sales...that made me realize how much I've missed it. :)

Annie said...

If my last name wasn't so darn long (trust me, 11 letters gets old), if I ever get married, I'd hyphenate. I'm one of those people who likes the tradition of taking the husband's last name, but I'm pretty head over heels for my own Irish last name. But unless I marry someone with a single letter last name like E, hyphenating just isn't going to happen!

Agreeing with you with the dialogue in the Sun Also Rises.

Christopher G said...

My mother had a garage sale a couple weeks ago, and she feels you. Her cashier station was set up on a table, and people kept asking if that said table was for sale.

Off-topic: I've decided the weekend of June 26 would be a great time for me to roadtrip down to St. Louis. Of course, any time would be a great time, but that weekend will be extra great. Take a look at your St. Louis Cardinals' 2009 schedule and you will know why.