Friday, August 31, 2012

Name Game

Mostly people will say, "What a pretty name!" when they meet me because my first name is unusual. It's also pronounced differently than it's spelled, so there is an issue virtually every time someone reads my name aloud.

I've had a man argue with me that I'm pronouncing my own name wrong. It's my name. I know how it's pronounced. If you really have an issue, take it up with my mother.

If I introduce myself to people, then I'll generally have to repeat the correct pronunciation because they'll either shorten it, or have heard it as Maria or Brianna or a more common-sounding version of my name.

It's an issue for me. I won't even go into the intense teasing I endured in school. Based on my experience, I cringe when someone names their children something that is difficult to pronounce or spelled exotically because it has been such a hassle. My daughter's name is uncommon, but I'll be damned if it's not easy to read or pronounce.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Same As It Ever Was

When I was in high school, I was invited to participate in a peer development program called The Media Project. We were a group of kids from different backgrounds and ages who wrote, directed and helped produce our own scripts about the day in the life of a teenager and the pressures that kids face. Think The Breakfast Club - but on a shoe-string budget.

We also included footage of us sitting around in a group, talking about our lives. It was reality TV...before there was reality TV. The show earned local awards and national attention; I was featured in a segment on Good Morning America (is that even a show anymore?!). It aired on the local access channel, and was so well received from the community that the producers received funding to run the project a second year. The second installment was much different. Instead of writing scenes, it featured lots of group dialogue where we talked candidly and included a spotlight on several kids, including me. I talked about my recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.

One of the adults involved in the program was friends with David Bryne of the Talking Heads. He agreed to be interviewed by two people about his experiences as a teenager and a young adult. Since I had been involved for the entire two years, I was voted to be one of the the interviewers. I was very honored to be chosen; the Talking Heads song This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) is one of my favorite songs written and I loved his quirky movie, Stop Making Sense. We spent a full day in Los Angeles for the interview. David had invited us to his home and we conducted the interview on the outdoor patio of his house. My impression was that David didn't spend much time there. Other than having a sound studio set up in one of the bedrooms, he had very little furniture or personal possessions at his house.

If you've seen videos of David Bryne and wondered if his twitchy persona was just part of an act, I can tell you with certainty that it is not. He is, in a word, bizarre.  During the taping, David would suddenly lurch forward and the camera man would momentarily lose him in the shot. The interview was so painfully awkward that that aside from an intro to our video, we were unable to use any of the footage. But he was incredibly gracious and kind; I had stupidly stubbed my big toe while I was there and it bled profusely. He was very concerned and had asked if I needed anything - band-aids or some hydrogen peroxide?

David signed several autographs for the crew but I was too shy to ask for one. I ended up receiving one anyway and it's carefully tucked into one of my photo albums. I wish I had a link to a copy of the video to share on my blog, but I find nothing when I do an internet search. Qu'est-ce que c'est?