m wood pen

freelance illustrator: have pen, will travel


03/16/2012

happy birthday cwi

 is it the chicken or the egg?  the horse before the cart?  a self-fulfilling prophecy?  some kharmic, intuitively accurate label making?  an obsession with hollywood that just went too far?

when it came time to come up with a name for our third child, there was the requisite digging through family trees, flipping through baby name books (never did it for me), staring at maps of the faraway lands of our ancestors….searching, searching & searching some more for just the right moniker.

the previous two carried mantles that did come straight from family names, almost pre-determined during the courtship of their parents.  but this third one…this final work of art…this brand new promise…what was his or her name supposed to be?

okay, so it’s true that my kids have unusual, if not complicated or confusing names.  the boy has a girl name that means christmas and is constantly pronounced incorrectly.  don’t people speak french?  and the girl, well, it seems simple to us, but the world inexplicably has decided that her name is really a different one.  and to complicate matters entirely, they all have an alsatian last name which our entire orbit of people mispronounces, misspells, and butchers.

so when it came down to my absolute final choice, i had to call on my savvy marketing skills to convince the baby daddy (and to foist more importance on the toddler boy, we gave him a vote, too).

you see, the name that this baby, should she be a girl, needed to have, at least according to hormonal me, came right out of a movie. it wasn’t just the movie, it was the character and all that she was, that so inspired and delighted me, and i knew to my core (pun intended) that this little person yet to arrive was the spitting image, energy-verve-hilarious-passionate-bubbly-adorable-kookie-wise, of the cinemascope gal.

but now, to rock the vote and entice my people to agree with me.

back in 1995, the wonderful world of movies was at our fingertips, as long as you didn’t mind loading the red volvo sedan with a four year old blue eyed boy and his sublimely sweet blond little sister, drive off to the library, scour the shelves for the vhs in mind, stop at the bakery for a couple of donuts (our friday tradition), swing by the po box to see if there was a check (our daily tradition), then back home to fill the remaining hours until daddy came home with some romping and napping.

tucking little hallie to bed and popping a big batch of popcorn, i made my p.r. move to win the vote of the gents of the house.

as the movie began, i, for one, was swept away with the theme song and image of the white carriage gliding through the busy circa 1968 streets of new york.  noel seemed pulled in the second he tasted the popcorn and saw the white horse!

but i knew, the vote that i needed, the 50-50 deal that was on the table back then, was going to need a bit more convincing. he looked dubious.  he looked unattached.  he seemed uncertain!

but, happily, as the plot thickened, and jane fonda, robert redford, charles boyer assembled in that hilarious scene involving a ferry to staten island, belly dancing and too much unidentified liquor, mildred natwick cooed, “corey, darling…”

and then it happened.  i saw the connect, i saw the approval, i saw the delight.

we had a name.

so, the story veered wildly off course a little bit after this cherubic firecracker landed in our lives.  our nuclear family was suddenly way off course, as though that horse and carriage trotting through central park was suddenly caught in a storm that whipped the reins and drove us all into a maniacally uncertain and frenetic future.

the landscape for this baby became a patchwork; a nontraditional world that would become her childhood, her foundation, the beginning of her story.

others would have withered, but this outrageously expressive, optimistic, determined, passionate, strong gal grabbed a hold of the bucking bronco that life presented her and rode like a rodeo star.

at one point, i had a little nickname for her, simply: “trigger”:  she makes things happen, she knows what she wants, she cajoles and loves stronger than anyone, she fights for what’s right and isn’t afraid to get bruised along the way.  she nourishes and delights, feels and gives warming affection, calculates the next few steps ahead to avoid those often unpredictable bumps in the road, grabs a hold of a problem and vanquishes it to dust.  and, like her namesake, will do anything for the people she loves.

so the chicken and egg, the whole thing.  did she grow to match this plucky persona, or was this baby growing and poised to join our lives,  already armed with the fortitude, strength, courage, heart and perseverance that she knew she was going to need.

yep, that’s my 17 year old birthday girl.

of course, to keep her as moniker-challenged as her big brother and sister, we spelled her name the boy way (who knew?)…oops!  as the cornelius brothers and sister rose sing, “it’s too late, to turn back now…”

next time you have movie night, pop in “barefoot in the park” and take a look at the kind of daughter i lucked out with.

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