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Names

“You’ve got to invest in the world, you’ve got to read, you’ve got to go to art galleries, you’ve to find out the names of plants. You’ve got to start to love the world and know about the whole genius of the human race. We’re amazing people.” — Vivienne Westwood.

The name of this butterfly is  orange sulfur alfalfa, and while I know that the flower (I don't like to think of them as weeds), I have no idea which of the 150 varieties of dandelions this is. Do you? -- Photo by Pat Bean

The name of this butterfly is orange sulfur alfalfa, and while I know that the flower is a dandelion (I don’t like to think of them as weeds), I have no idea which of the 150 varieties of dandelions this is. Do you? — Photo by Pat Bean

Mine Fits
One of  the traits of a good writer is that he or she quickly learns that a tree is not a tree. It’s a cypress or a live oak, and a bird is not a bird, it’s a red-tailed hawk or a black-capped chickadee. Such proper names paint clearer images for readers to add pictures to your go with your words.
I thought about this when the recent writing prompt for my Story Circle Network online writing group was to explain the meaning of our names.  I wondered if  my name explains me.  I think it does. This is what I wrote:
And this mountain, the tallest in North America, has two names: Denali and Mount McKinley.-- Wikimedia photo

And this mountain, the tallest in North America, has two names: Denali and Mount McKinley.– Wikimedia photo

I was named Patricia Lee Joseph, the last name being a gift from my great- great-grandfather, who was a Portuguese sailor who jumped ship in Connecticut. The choice of Patricia  was because it was the name my mother had randomly punched out on a once-popular raffle board. She paid a quarter for the punch in hopes of winning a small cedar box.

My mother, who was pregnant with me at the time, said if she won she would name me Patricia. She won, and that box was part of her possessions for as long as I knew her. My middle name is my mother’s maiden name. She used to say it was quite appropriate because I had inherited  my wanderlust from her father, and my grandfather, Charles Forest Lee.

I have never been called Patricia, however. Well, except for the few times my mother was extremely angry at me and yelled: Patricia Lee Joseph!!!

Growing up, I was called the very southern Patsy Lee, which was OK until my first-grade valentine day when someone wrote Pasty instead of Patsy on my card.  One kid noticed, and for the rest of the week, I was taunted by kids calling me Pasty. Usually they called me Cootie Brain.

I realize now how well that unkindly moniker fit. I was like Hermione in Harry Potter, the girl who was a know-it-all who constantly waved her hand in the air to answer every question posed by a teacher. And my hair was always tangled with knots in it that could easily have hidden cooties.

I laugh at the image these days, but back then the nickname was the source of daily tears.

I always wanted to be called Pat in school, but a popular classmate already had claimed that name. I wasn’t called Pat until the sixth grade, when my family moved and I attended another school. From that time forward, I’ve always been Pat — and I never uttered Cootie Brain again until I was almost 40 and the hurt of my younger years had vanished.

By the time I divorced my wrong choice of a mate, when I also was almost 40,  I was already published as Pat Bean, and I chose to keep Bean instead of reverting back to my maiden name. I think Pat Bean makes a great byline, and it feels like me.

Bean Pat: Brevity http://tinyurl.com/ot64fuz One of my very favorite writing blogs

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