By way of introduction…

“Hi, I’m Tamara — rhymes with camera.” That’s how I’ve introduced myself for about the last ten years.

Tamara. Seems good. Seems to suit me. It’s the only name I’ve ever known after all, so I guess it seems familiar — my old friend, my name. (According to my folks, I could have been Veronica. That would have been cool, but my hair is not remotely luscious enough for that name. Hmmm, in another post, I will consider life as Veronica, my alter-ego-super-hero-persona.)

Like many others, I have one of those names with multiple pronunciations causing multiple confusions and multiple corrections and multiple discomforts as I cease correcting and surrender to being called by the wrong name. Some long-ago acquaintances still think I’m Tamara-sounds-like-Tomorrow because I didn’t have the heart to correct them again. It was weirdly embarrassing to me that they couldn’t get my name right, and embarrassment is my kryptonite.  I’m sure my inability to claim my name loudly, vigorously and repeatedly must signify a lack of some pivotal heroine-character-trait (Veronica-me would never be so cowardly!), but that’s how it was until I came up with the rhyme. Not Ta-MARE-ah or Ta-MAH-ra (or Tammy!) — just TAM-ah-ra like CAM-ah-ra (ok, it’s not an exact rhyme, since most people say CAM-er-ah, but it’s a guideline). And I know that in the scheme of things, this is not a big deal — really, you can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner!

I have a lot of anxiety around names. I can’t retain them. I second-guess myself. I re-name people in my head and then can’t remember which name is correct. For an entire semester in college, I alternated between calling my classmate Doug and Greg because I couldn’t remember which was his real name. Yikes, I still can’t. Of course, alternating names was a crap-choice because really I was just being rude and lazy. Sorry, Doug/Greg. You were a nice guy. Apparently, my college-self didn’t think it was worth my time to actually keep track of your real name. However, as it always does, the karma-machine sought retribution for that misbehavior. Good job, karma-machine!

However, be assured that I am working on my name-retaining-deficiency. Names are really important and there’s really no excuse for being a lazy-ass in the name department. And as you can see in the About Me section, I’m trying to become an all-around-better-person. I think I can, I hope I can…

So… If I haven’t met you yet, then know that when I do, I may chant your name in a whispery-magical-spell-casting voice under my breath. Or I will call you by name 5-10 times during our 20 second conversation (yes, saying things out loud helps me remember). I seem muttery, I seem odd, but now there’s a 40% chance that I have your name imprinted in my memory. Yes!

However, there’s also a chance that I might have missed your name entirely because I was obsessing about whether I had food in my teeth while smiling at you and shaking your hand and not listening at all to your name. Gosh, did you even tell me your name? What did we talk about? Were you looking at the phantom spinach in my teeth? Argh! When we say goodbye, I’ll slink away to find a friend who knows your nom. Sorry. Sigh.

Despite my anxiety about remembering names, I’ve always been rather obsessed with naming things/people/situations. As a child, I owned three Baby Name books. And I read them. A lot. Having a baby was wonderful for many reasons, but getting to name her was like hitting the jackpot. My darling husband and I read through all 100,000 names in our Baby Name book. It was paradise! So, you can bet your tail-feathers that you’ll see some more posting about names/naming/what’s-in-a-name.

Ok, back to the beginning….

Anyhoos, rhymeswithcamera seemed to be a logical name for this site for the reasons above, but also because I’ve been thinking recently about the snapshots that we take of our lives, and how we share them, how we use them to remember who we were in that moment, who we were with, and what occupied our hearts and minds. Somehow, I see this site (most sites, actually) as a series of snapshots that are compiled over time into one of those slow-motion flip books. Slowly, slowly, a story emerges of a person, a community, a time, a place — all in snail-forward-motion through a kalidescope-accumulation of words, images, and ideas. Real-life-slow-time story telling. Or story compiling. Or story building. Does that make sense? This is not the whole story, but it is a story. Aren’t we all just bits of stories bouncing around in this box called life? So now I wonder…how do we figure in each other’s stories? What is this story that I am telling? What story are you telling about yourself (intentional or not)? What is the story that we will tell together? I’m excited to find out!

Welcome to rhymeswithcamera. I’m Tamara.  I’m happy to meet you.

9 thoughts on “By way of introduction…

  1. Nice job, lady! Great to see you last week. P.S. I was almost named Jennifer. Phew! (not that it is a bad name – but I don’t think it suits me)

  2. Thanks for the comment, Janeen! You have a great name! It’s fun to think about what Jennifer-you could have been like…
    It was great seeing you too. I’m excited to hear about your new adventures.

  3. Great start to what I’m sure will be a great blog.

    Names are indeed a strange thing. In many stories that incorporate magic, having access to a being’s real name gives you total power over them.

    As a caricaturist, I can remember faces, and I usually remember at least one unusual fact about a person, but names… The problem with names is, like you said, we are saddled with them as soon as we pop out into the world and they’re pretty much a collections of sounds. There’s no real connection there, in most cases. I usually have to create a mnemonic, or some other mental relationship trigger, that is more complicated than the actual name to memorize it.

    I’ve had trouble with names to the point where I’d be so stressed out during a podcast interview, that I’d forget the name of the interview subject, even though I love their work so much that I invited them onto my podcast.

    If that happens in real life, or during a podcast, I’ll just play that up for laughs and call the subject all kinds of names. Real names, yes. Not anything like “@#$%-head”.

    Memory is a strange thing. Can’t wait to read more about yours.

    • Thanks, Mike! I love your comments and the wonderful podcast story. You are so smart to just roll with the ridiculousness of it. Like you mentioned, I’ve been in situations where I’ve asked to meet with a person or I’m trying to introduce someone and then totally blank on his/her name. Geez.
      I like the Rumpelstiltskin angle – having power over someone by knowing his real name. Hmmm, future post?
      Anyhow, many thanks and much appreciation to you!

  4. Ahhhh, Miss Tamara, It’s Tammy Harris. And only Tammy because I too share your pain of years of mispronunciation. I despised being called Ta-Mare-ah! So I gave in to the familiarity of the simplistic Tammy, loathing it almost as much. Especially when I was younger and had been referred to as Tammy Wynette and even Tammy Walnut. My father was hoping for a boy. I would have been named Michael. Now I’m married to a Michael with 8 children in all, names are very important to us as well. I have to admit I regret the traditional names. We have Breezy, Matthew, Riley (male), Isabella, Adan, Dasha, Ashley and Larkin (female)…

    • Tammy! So happy to see your comment here — thanks for responding! It’s amazing the liberties that we take with other people’s names, isn’t it? I give nicknames all the time without asking whether the person thinks that’s ok. The nickname that I’ve always liked is ‘Tam’ — I don’t know why, but it seems like a cool person would be called Tam. Being called ‘Aunt Tam’ by my nephew and niece is also super fun.
      I love your children’s names. They are beautiful names for beautiful kids. Congratulations to you, Mama! Wishing you all the best.

      • I prefer Tam as well. I used to anger the bejesus out of Mr. Butler by signing my papers with, “I am Tam, Tam I am.” My nieces and nephews call me “aunt Tea” cuz I’m so sweet, jk lol. Thank you for the gracious compliments. I love your daughter’s name. We had contemplated Norah and even Cora for one of our girls. ;) I didn’t realize you and I had so much in common. I loved the name Yasminda growing up. I had a thing for anything from India and still do and loved the stories. She was my alter ego. What is it with the hair!?

  5. Hola! What a pleasure to read your grown up thoughts after rememberin( like it was just yesterday) that you were once that small little girl yourself. Oh, how the sweet memories remain!

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