Names, I Want Names…

February 22, 2007|Posted in: Uncategorized

OK, it’s official. The guppies have been named!

Two of the chilluns put their heads together and named the fish, all 16 of them (we think — they move too fast to count). We got a new fish tank off Freecycle the other day, with blue rock and some keen Harry Potter stickers on it, and the guppies have moved out of the fishbowl and into the tank. And that’s a good thing.

Their names are: Johnny, Waffle, Claire, Swimmy, Pancake, Taco, Shaant, Rasputin, Pastulio, El Tigre, Silver, Chocolate, Fluffy, Banana, Timmy and Bopper.

We think Timmy and Swimmy are twins.

We think naming them for foods is probably damaging to their psyches.

We think we may be able to tell them apart.

We think Shaant is a cool name, even though it is spelled oddly and sounds vaguely obscene. Apparently it’s also a rock star’s name? I sha’n’t ever know…

When I moved them from the little bowl to the tank, I almost lost one down the drain. Luckily, it hadn’t been named yet or we might have had to memorialize him/her. But we managed to grab it and put it back in water before it went down. (Whew!)

I picked two of the names — can you guess? No, don’t bother. I’ll tell you: Silver (well, obviously) and Swimmy. Why Swimmy? What? Have you never read Leo Leonni’s lovely book of the same name? (Click here for a look.) It’s the same author who wrote Frederick, about the poet-mouse.

Writers, if you do not own or have never read Frederick, DO SO NOW. This is an order, not a suggestion. You’ll never look at the world in the same way again. The next time you are leaning against the back of your chair daydreaming or collecting threads of poetry in your brain like dandelions, and someone says, “What are you doing? Get to work!” take Frederick’s advice and you’ll know what to say.

I’m all about children’s books with lovely deep messages — or poetry — and I don’t mean Mother Goose. Or that horrible, horrible, terrible, never-to-be-cracked-open-in-my-presence-ever-again trash, Love You Forever. It’s fine when the baby is being rocked on mom’s lap, but as he grows older, she grows obsessed — and we’re supposed to think it’s, um, cute? Sweet? Normal? I quote from the Amazon description: “When her son grows up and leaves home, she takes to driving across town with a ladder on the car roof, climbing through her grown son’s window, and rocking the sleeping man in the same way. Then, inevitably, the day comes when she’s too old and sick to hold him, and the roles are at last reversed.” What a sick message. Yuck. Talk about psycho-obsession…and then, guess what, you get old and sickly and die. Lovely stuff for a child to hear at bedtime. Nah, don’t get me started.

But delicious, de-lovely children’s books like Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. All the Little House books. Goodnight Moon. The Runaway Bunny. Fly High, Fly Low. This is San Francisco. And so many more…we’ll return to this topic again soon.

I could go on, become a lotus-eater with a big pile of children’s books. But there’s this thing called work. Gotta get to it. Or maybe I should take Frederick’s advice today…

Read like you care. Swim like you mean it. Write some poetry. Enjoy the rain.

Peace out —

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.

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