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What’s My Name

March 8, 2011

On the one hand, I’m a writer. The kind of stuff I write includes:

  • serious poetry
  • serious prose
  • serious prose poetry
  • humourous poetry
  • humourous prose
  • satire and parody
  • profanity-soaked rap lyrics
  • memoir
  • essays
  • translations
  • profanity-soaked satirical essays
  • translations of serious poetry into profanity-soaked rap lyrics

I can sit here doing more and more permutations, or you can just trust me that the list continues long into the night. Basically I’ll do anything with words, or to them. No boundaries. No judgment. I’m just immeasurably and obsessively in love with the English language and language in general and if I had to describe the essence of myself in one sentence, maybe it would be this one, although I would consider editing it first because between you and me I have a tendency to use too much polysyndeton when I get excited. I started this blog on a writing seminar high a year and a half ago and now it’s this beyond-weird collection of literary (well, sometimes) experiments. I’m fond of it, and I guess I’m not the only one.

On the other hand, I’m in school (again), givin’ ‘er toward a TESOL diploma, and my whole reason for doing this is to get a real job for the first time in…let’s not even finish that sentence, actually. Almost halfway through my classes, I’m working on a strategy for setting up as a tutor and volunteer, and putting together a resume that highlights my six years of teaching experience instead of deleting half of them and back-seating the other half so I can instead stress my ability to make change for twenties, show up to work on time, and engage in basic, redundant conversations with people. More and more every day I’m determined to do whatever I need to do to be an effing effective and creative ESL teacher. I’m in a position to really do something useful for people, I think. Not just to teach them to speak English but to teach them to love it.

I want to make a name for myself as a writer. (I mean in a respect-from-the-community kind of way, not in a pockets-exploding-with-cash kind of way.) I also want to make a name for myself as a teacher. The question is, can I have the same name in both contexts. And the answer is, possibly not.

I.e., when potential employers Google my name, I don’t want the first item in the results to be a blog post called “Not Your Grandmother’s Anal Beads” (irregardless of the fact that that post has nothing to do with GILFs or anal beads). It’s not that I am in any way ashamed to have written that post, or anything else that I’ve posted on here. I’m damn proud of my writing and I work at it incessantly in every way that I can. But I don’t want to be denied a teaching job interview because someone who doesn’t know me at all comes across one of my rap parodies and draws various conclusions.

I’m two different people. The gap between them is widening. (That’s what she said?)

Ergo, therefore, accordingly, I have just spent a silly amount of time eliminating my real name from my blog. Those of you who know who I am know who I am, so it won’t matter. For those interested, Kate Strayer is my alias in my nonfiction manuscript. Kate is my middle name and I actually prefer it. Strayer is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name.

Why I’ve been so stubbornly insistent about having my name all over my blog from the beginning despite its, uh, broad spectrum of content is that I don’t want someone to meet me or see me read and not be able to easily find more of my stuff. It’s becoming very important for a writer to have a website, preferably a good one, which I believe this one is. Going forward I’ll probably start reading and submitting and (deo volente) publishing as Kate Strayer. Which weirds me out, kind of–this business of having to split my identity in half just because I write in a certain way. But so be it, though. It’s the only compromise I can put up with. Obviously I’d rather stop living than stop writing and obviously I need a career with an income. If I can’t do that as one person then I’ll do it as two.

This morning I found that the greatest loss was eradicating a certain anagrammatical nickname from certain rap lyrics. Parting from my actual first name was generally pretty unbothersome but it hurt to have to delete one of my finest, least appropriate gangsta couplets. I’d hoped to figure out a way to just modify it, but it turns out that very few things rhyme with “beanbag”…

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