Home > Random Musings > Calling Me Danielle — and Other Observations

Calling Me Danielle — and Other Observations


For those of you who don’t know, I have my MA in English Literature. I nearly went for a MA in Creative writing (due in no small part to a poem inspired by Clare from Michelle Cliff’s Abeng – there’s a link to an audio version below. My accent’s a little dodgy since it’s been a while since I’ve done that one), but I didn’t.

For my last semester of classes (I spent the last year doing Independent Studies, which was beyond awesome), I took a Slave Narrative class (as such, Octavia Butler has my undying appreciation. Sheer brilliance). It was a good course – challenging to the gills, though. It was the only time in my graduate career I received a C on a paper (I was then given the option to rewrite, which I did, because a C might as well be an F). That was, I should point out, only the second C I’ve ever gotten on an English paper. Not that it matters, except for vanity’s sake.

So, that class had an interesting mix of people in it. Most of them weren’t people I really knew. We might’ve had other classes together, but sat far away. The classes were small, no more than 20 people, if that. But you could sit clear across the room and never smile at someone twice.

One classmate was a girl I’d had a falling out with the semester before. We did a presentation together, and it was a debacle. Let’s leave it at that. Another was a girl who I was quickly becoming friends with, since we both were snarky, sarcastic, and completely unable to tolerate bullshit.

It was a crazy semester. I was teaching at a community college. The professor for this class once harbored a little kitten in her office. And on the very last day of class, this classmate of mine did something funny. We’ll call him Guy for anonymity.

Guy was a high school teacher who’d had a few short stories published. This caused Ohhhhhs and Ahhhhhs throughout the semester. But his academic work left a little bit to be desired. Read: I had no idea what he was talking every time he opened his mouth. Neither did the professor. Granted, it wasn’t quite as bad as Lawyer Guy (oh, the stories I could tell!).

Anyway, it was the last class of the semester, and the professor had left. We were all saying goodbye to each other. It was like leaving old friends. Or so I thought.

Now, Guy and I had many conversations throughout the semester. MANY. You can imagine my surprise when, as he was leaving the room, he looked at me and said, “Bye, Danielle!” And shut the door.

The rest of us sat there in silence. Finally, I said, “Did he just…call me Danielle?” Everyone nodded. Then, I laughed. There was a Danielle in our class, but she wasn’t there that day – and she was blonde. I am most certainly not blonde.

I couldn’t understand how on earth this guy got my name so wrong. Sure, it was probably just an in-the-moment oops. But it seemed so strange. And I was thinking about that incident this morning, although I don’t know why it occurred to me.

It made me think about how often we’re just…not present. How often we get the little details wrong. How we can see someone every week, or every day, but not really see them. I see people. (No, not dead people, Shyamalan.) I can’t help it. If you’re smiling at me, but it doesn’t reach your eyes, I’ll notice. I might not say something, but I see it. If you mention something in passing conversation, I might understand that you want me to ask more about it – and I usually will. If you suddenly stop calling me by a nickname, I’ll see that as well. I might not want to, and I might try to ignore it, but I’ll see it.

It can be difficult to see things that are hard on us. But it’s more difficult to run through life like a mole loose in the world. Because you miss out on so much. I would rather hurt like hell that not feel anything. I would rather see the terrible shadows, instead of thinking the world is full of kittens and rainbows having picnics on clouds. I would rather say the things that make me uncomfortable, simply because they need to be said.

It’s time to say the things that haunt us. Let the ghosts got that way. Call ourselves out, so that we really see each other – and, hopefully, no one mistakenly calls anyone Danielle.

Of course, the circumstances of that could’ve been worse. *wink*

E’vryt’ing Gonna Be

  1. Bit
    June 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    How true. Sometimes we’re so caught up in our own heads and just plain distracted that we miss the important details. It’s the little things that count, and while that may seem cliche – dammit, it’s the truth.

    Here’s to seeing things the way they truly are, for being meticulous, and for refusing to glaze over the truth in favor of a more palatable lie. Cheers.

    • Ali
      June 3, 2011 at 7:31 am

      Yay! You’re here! I’m really glad. I’ve missed your blogging, chica.

      Anyway, yes, we do get so distracted sometimes that we miss the important details. Little things DO count, cliche — but true. *raises coffee mug* Cheers! I will drink to that. 🙂

  2. Jessica
    June 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I think there’s something to be said for the ability to be absolutely present in a moment. It’s a much more difficult task than one might think. Between the endless distractions we come across in our day to day life (which are terribly amplified by the technology that allows us to distract ourselves every minute of every hour of every day) and the distractions of getting temporarily lost in our own minds, it can be very difficult to simply commit to the moment you’re in and appreciate it as such.

    I’m definitely more partial to the “lost in thought” distraction than the “there is so god damn much going on in the universe” distraction. There’s something peaceful about being so lost in thought that you’re able to ignore what is going on around you, especially when compared to the inherently violent feeling of being ripped from one distraction to the next through ringing phones and blaring TVs and radios and bright lights and honking car horns (or maybe all this comes from too much time in Manhattan…) Just this morning, I very nearly missed my stop on the train because I was thinking SO intently about something that I wasn’t paying attention to where I was. It wasn’t until the conductor blared over the speakers to stand clear of the doors that I jumped up from my seat and dashed out the door.

    I think sometimes we get so busy and caught up in making sure we’re getting everything done that being present in a moment and catching all the details is something that gets swept under the rug, or that flies past as we walk down the street.

    Kinda sad…

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