Five Things You Might Not Know About Me

Dick Richards, the author of Come Gather Round, tagged me for a meme. I’m to write about five things you might not know about me.

  1. Although I go exclusively by the name Kathryn now, everyone called me Kathy for 25 years (unless I was in trouble with my parents). At age 12, I wanted to make my name (and myself) more special, so I changed the spelling to Kathie. In 1980 I was a finalist in a regional poetry contest, and I went to Wells College in Aurora, New York, to spend the weekend learning about poetry from Bruce Bennett and Dan Masterson (who had recently published On Earth As It Is). The workshop was populated by upper class, privately educated girls from Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. This was my first opportunity to be away from home alone, so I experimented and introduced myself as Kate. I was Kate for three full days; I liked it, but it didn’t stick. I remained Kathie until my mid-twenties.

    When I was about 24, I gave serious consideration to legally changing my name to Kathie. It was a time in my life where I struggled to define myself; I was working in a job that felt too small, living a life that was too tight, still overly concerned with what others thought of me. I’d read an article arguing that women with names ending in “y” or “ie” might be taken less seriously in their professions, and it made sense. It’s a diminutive. I wanted to be substantial. I came to a conclusion: my name is Kathryn. It is on my birth certificate. It is a lovely name with a particularly pretty spelling. Those with the same spelling know that the pronunciation is slightly different. It’s “Kath-ryn” and not “Kath-er-ine.” So I decided to be the name I was given, and I made this known. My family, bless them, accommodated this. I expected them to be the slowest to change, since those who’ve known you longest have the hardest time changing. But in fairly short order that’s how they referred to me and continue to this day. Sometimes they call me Kath — but never Kathie. And you know what? I’m not a Kathy, however it is spelled. I am Kathryn. It suits me.

    One intense pet peeve is when people, upon meeting a person, ignore the name given and shorten it into a nickname. I will correct people who call me Kathy after I’ve introduced myself as Kathryn. And though I do prefer my spelling, I am forgiving of other versions, as there are about 2,000 ways to spell my name (slight exaggeration).

  2. When I was nine years old, I had a love affair with Christmas — in July! Seriously. One summer I filled a composition book — you know, the one with the black and white marbled cover — with drawing after drawing in pencil of various Christmas-related scenes. I drew a manger, scene. I drew me sitting in my pjs on the sofa by our tree. I drew wreathes, ornaments, and bells. I wrote out a wish list for Santa. And I even, that summer, made Christmas decorations from construction paper. I still have all this packed somewhere in a box. Yep, I’ve loved the Yule season since very early on.
  3. The summer I was five we camped near the Sault Ste. Marie river. My father brought us to the beach. My two older sisters (11 and 12 years old) were in the river farther out. They were jumping up and down and waving at an enormous tanker that was heading for the Soo Locks. That ship created quite an undertow. I was mimicking my sisters, waving madly, and was unaware of the undertow until is swept me into a drop-off. Suddenly I was under water, and I could not swim. Everything happened fast and all is a memory of confusion. I remember the sunlit water, feeling surprised at where I ended up. Maybe I breathed in once. But before long — seconds really — I was yanked up by my eldest sister. The next thing I remember is standing at the edge of the beach crying, feeling scared, wanting my father and mother. Just think… you might never have encountered this here weblog, if my sisters hadn’t noticed what happened. The next summer I learned to swim, and guess what? I learned first by swimming underwater. Most kids fear that and learn it last. But I wanted to control whether I went under water, so I chose to learn underwater so I could do that.
  4. I was raised a Roman Catholic. I was a sincere believer and very diligent in attending church. I even thought about becoming a nun. I wanted to be a priest for about five seconds until I killed that thought, seeing as how it had no chance in coming true. But still, I wanted to be more involved in mass, so I became a lay reader of scripture. In Catholic mass, the lay readings are usually a passage from the Old Testament and one passage from the New Testament, but never a gospel. Gospels are reserved for priests only to read. In any case, at age 14 I was tired of listening to old white men droning as they read. I wanted the scripture to come alive to the listeners. So I became one, and I felt that when I read I made a contribution, however small.
  5. I’ve eaten a dog biscuit. It was a game of truth or dare with three girlfriends. I was in my late 30s and had never played truth or dare. It was a sleep-over with these other women, who were all in their mid-20s. (We’d become friends through work, and not long after we parted ways.) I was a reluctant participant. There was a question asked of me that I felt was just nobody’s business, so I took the dare. Let me tell you this: dog biscuits are dry and tasteless, much as I think sawdust would taste. I ate the whole damn thing and choked down a glass of water, and yes, I kept it down. Ugh. After that I decided I was way too old for such games; give me Trivial Pursuit any day.

And there you have it. Now you know five things you probably didn’t know before. You are welcome to play along if you like. Leave a link in the comments if you do. There are some folks I’d like to know more about, though: Laurel, Shirley, Leah, Gerry, and Donna. But the more the merrier!

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8 Comments on “Five Things You Might Not Know About Me”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Hi My name is Kathy 🙂 and i love my name. nice meeting you Kathryn and learning more about you today.

  2. gerry rosser Says:

    If you were referring to me, see my blog.
    It’s nice to learn this stuff about you.

  3. cicada Says:

    You never cease to surprise me, Kathryn! Thanks for sharing these things about you. 🙂

  4. Kim Says:

    Thank you for letting me learn more about you. 🙂

    I have a cousin who, when we were kids, loved dog biscuits. She ate them as snacks. I remember one year for Christmas, that was what I gave her: a box of dog biscuits all wrapped up.

  5. acm Says:

    aren’t people amazing about names? my husband’s name is Rob, and frequently people hear that and then decide for themselves to call him Bob, which is a totally different name to me. strange.

    my full name is Andrea, and I’ve battled those who want to call me “Andy” at several stages. I ignored a calculus teacher until he quit it. I found alternatives for some college friends (Dray is pretty spiff). now I find that almost nobody around me ever says my name at all, which is intriguing in itself…

  6. leah Says:

    teehee, these were fun! thanks for the tag!!

  7. Alex Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    name or a word or a label cannot describe a living entity.It is beyond words :).

  8. Pat Says:

    Ah, the Catholic thing.

    I also am nominally a Catholic. But I keep having more and more trouble with it. Approx. 1500 priests were tainted in the molestation scandal. I just have trouble getting my that.

    I sit in the church and watch the priest read the Gospel and wonder about his private life.

    It is hard for me — for some reason — to attend another denomination. So mainly I just don’t attend much anymore.

    Instead of donating money to the Church I give it to the World Wildlife Fund, a local cat rescue shelter, and a number of other secular charities.

    How about you?