Saturday, December 30, 2006


Like the vast, unwritten continent that our forebears found when they followed the elk across Beringia,cyber space offers abundance and pursuit.

Abundance for shoppers, scholars, lonely hearts, entrepeneurs and pirates, but also for us writers cyber space offers the possibility of pursuit of wild, roving imagination. Which brings me to my re:solution for the New Year:

To create a space where new writers feel safe to set down their words, follow a line of thought through uncharted territory, meet other literary pilgirms along the way.

This idea came from an exchange with Diana, a good friend and creative thinker from Vermont, who revealed that she too has a book knocking about in her head. I suggested to Diana and another budding author from Brooklyn that we limber up for our larger literary treks by writing in response to a question posed by one of us each week.

Others are free to read and post, with only the stipulation that if you do publish your thoughts on this blog, read and respond to the posts of other writers.

The first question of the New Year sprung from a cyber conversation with Diana of Vermont: How do you feel about your name?


At 9:42 PM , Blogger Sheela Wolford said...

My name is Sheela Doreen Hastings Wolford. My father named all four of his kids. Sheela is the Arabic spelling and his middle name is Reed so he really got into the double e thing as you can see. I really believe my middle name comes from one of the dopes from the Mouseketeers and it is a name I really have never folded into me. Poor middle name - totally neglected. My maiden name - Hastings - ahhh, I love it. I fought with everyone when I married for three months before I legally changed it to Wolford. I hated the name Wolford from the minute I heard it. Loved the man, hated the name. My kids love their last name and it helps me to bear it. They equate it to Wolford hosiery and that does improve its acceptance for me a bit, but not much. Hastings is the name I love but even now I don't feel its attraction anymore. With it I just see patriarchy. My mother's maiden name is Powell and for that I feel no - o- o- thing. The only part of my name that I feel pride for other than complete acceptance that I am Sheela Doreen Hastings Wolford is the fact that my relative, Thomas Hastings co-designed the New York Public Library and his father or grandfather wrote The Rock of Ages. Those thing resonate with me and make me a Hastings for life. Wolford. I hope I can grow to love it as I do my vibrant daughters.

At 11:56 AM , Blogger Eben Reilly said...


So you have a library builder and songwriter in your closet.

Nice bones, nice name...Hastings.

Why did you buckle in and change the name that you shared with these beloved skeletons?

At 5:19 PM , Blogger Sheela Wolford said...

It was 1983 and all the women at the bank where I worked insisted! I was four months pregnant with Leila and yep, I buckled. I really was repulsed filing for a name change with social security. Then, when I divorced in 1988, I decided my kids were stuck with it and I had earned it, by God, so I kept it. Now Hastings looks foreign to me. Mainly I am Sheela Wolford now. I've adopted it; my daughters adore it, so as I said before, I make it, as a result, mine. The name lives on because of them...They are the last of the Wolfords....the Hastings's name sits with me. I want it...but I don't know who that is anymore. Sad. But I like who I am now, too. Wolstings? Hasford? Wolfstings? Hastord?

At 9:44 AM , Blogger Sheela Wolford said...

I think what I love most about Thomas Hasings was his enormous heart and philanthropic attitude. He co-designed the NYPL but designed the Manhattan bridge, along with a summer home, I believe, for the Rockefellers (need to bone up on his bio, I'm not quite sure) and a building or two in DC as well as a big church Uptown. I stare at the Manhattan Bridge when I walk the Brooklyn one and that is a place where I completely connect. I ask for strength to do what I need to do while on Earth. I see his bust inside NYPL and see my father and it's all good. Names aside, I know I have something to contribute and who I am rides in that. As Eve Ensler says, I try to summon the courage and not wonder or even try to see the outcome; just to start. In that, I carry the DNA of my relatives and past. In that, I am able to go forward.

At 11:19 AM , Blogger Jasmine said...

My name is Jasmine Alowan McElroy, formerly Jasmine Alowan Rotmil, soon to be Jasmine Alowan, and shortly thereafter Jasmine Alowan Haas. The short version is that I am divorced, but kept my married name, then decided to get rid of my last name altogether (and filled out my graduation paperwork for May 2007 accordingly), shortly before planning to marry again in June 2007. The long version is far too complex to subject a blog audience to.

In any case, I love my first name, despite the fact that, thanks to Disney, it's gone from being an uncommon flower reference (hippie parents) to a synonym for cartoon Arabian princess. Jasmine is sultry and mysterious. It's feminine, edgy, and nearly unforgettable. If I'd been a boy,I would have been named Kona, and ever associated with Hawaiian coffee beans. On the whole, I'm grateful.

My middle name, Alowan, is a Native American name meaning "song of praise". It's quite beautiful, and no one has ever heard of it before-- you see how it lends itself to the aforementioned mysterious quality rendered by my first name. I've signed all of my work "Jasmine Alowan" for several years (in part because I hate my maiden name and wouldn't want to smite my work with my ex-husband's last name).

My maiden name, Rotmil, is a corrupted, Americanized version of what was once a lovely-sounding French name of the same spelling. This was once a German name, "Roshmeil", meaning literally "red windmill". You see why I'm opposed to it.

As for my new married name, Haas, which will take effect in June... it's nice. I'm still up in the air as to how well it goes with Jasmine, but I think it will work. And despite the patriarchal, I like the idea of having the same name as my husband. Also, not being attached to any of my former names, it's an easy transition.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home