Crossroads, My Novel-in-Process

CHAPTER 1: Change

Today is, absolutely, a turning point in my life. I have decided after much contemplation that I am going to officially change my name from Katie to Kate. Now this might come as a shock to some people because in general people do not like change. Also, most of my family and friends and teachers have known me as Katie ever since they met me. And for my parents, that is eleven years…

I have thought this whole thing over during the last six nights at bedtime right before I fell asleep. This is what I like to call my personal think time. At first when this idea popped up, I ignored it completely, and thought it was pretty stupid. Then, I realized that I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. And, believe me, I know that something is important when it keeps me awake at night for more than a half an hour. This idea started taking up every second of my think time. This is fairly unusual for me because my mind is typically bouncing around like one of those light-up pinball machines that I love to play with at O’Malley’s Pub when we go there for a fish-fry.

Yes, this idea of the name change has been a constant thought on the back burner of my mind all week, and since I can only imagine the amount of confusion and alarm that could be caused over this, I have come up with an excellent strategy in how to deal with it down to every single mingle detail. I understand that there are different components of this name change decision: signing my new name, responding to my new name and other people’s reacting to and remembering my new name.

First things first. I know from my experience that when a person who actually makes a decision feels comfortable and confident about it, then usually the other people around them will feel more comfortable too. So, when Mrs. Shiffron gave us some extra time to finish up our comprehensive reading section questions yesterday afternoon, I quietly ripped a piece of lined paper out of my speckled spelling notebook and started to practice. I had no clue what it would be like to write Katie without the “I,” and I figured that I had better get used to it and make it look smooth. I looked at the blank page and concentrated really hard. Then I wrote Kate ten times really fast and made sure no one saw me:

Kate

Kate

Kate

Kate

Kate

Kate

Kate

Kate

Kate 
Kate

Then of course I checked back to make sure that it looked right. That there wasn’t a noticeable break between the “T” and the “E” of my cursive. At first when I examined the page, it just didn’t look right to me at all. Kate. It wasn’t that there was a break or anything, actually it looked pretty good, but the name just looked so very short… Kate.

            I mean the fact that my name will now only have one syllable instead of two is going to change everything. At the same time, and this is a huge realization: I think that this one syllable, shortness thing might just be one of the exact qualities that subconsciously drew me to this idea in the first place. One syllable definitely sounds more mature and to the point. Direct. And after the latest events around here, I know that I am one of the most mature people that I know, especially within my family.

The way I figure it is like this – if I am now referred to as Kate, other people will start to notice my maturity as well. Once that starts to really take effect, then a lot of things will be able to happen. Just like dominoes… One, I will be allowed to make more decisions, similar to this one, on my own. Two, I will be asked my opinion on certain matters that are important around here, such as how chores should be best distributed and what the time bedtimes should be for everyone in the household. And most essential, number three: that I will not, from now on, in any way, be left out of what my Father calls “conversations of major consequence.” This I understand.

For example, last week I called my brother “Sammy Stutterer” by complete accident because he would not leave me alone in my room while I was trying to concentrate on my latest art project. It just slipped out. But I understand that even though this might have been an accident on my part (even though he was being totally annoying) my action still had and then needed a consequence. The first was that Sammy immediately broke into his seven year-old tears like he does and ran down to my mom. The second being that my mom decided that for punishment, I had to sit in a big, wooden chair in the dining room for thirty minutes quietly thinking about what I had done and how I wouldn’t ever under any circumstance do it again.

Now, my hypothesis is that if my mom had yelled “Kate!” up the stairs instead of “Katie,” she might have realized that I am, in fact, too old to still be sitting on chairs. She would also see that it is possible to simply just sit on the stairs with me and discuss this action of mine like civil adults, while Sammy, completely unaware as usual, got over it and played with his weird trucks.

See, I truly think that one less letter and one less syllable little by little (because that’s the way everything works around here) will eventually change everything. It is like the idea of a “paradigm shift” that we learned about at school in history and in science class this year. That is crazy though. It actually takes decades for that sort of shift to fully settle. The big name change will be like a mini one of those for this household, and it shouldn’t take that long at all if everyone cooperates.

I can imagine the possibilities. Let’s say that my friend Veronica calls on the phone in the kitchen, asking to talk to “Kate” during dinner. Instead of not answering or hanging up on her, my mom would realize that it is probably an important call. I would gently fold my napkin and put it on the table, before calmly getting up, pushing my chair in, and going to the phone. When I got there I would clear my throat and say, “Yes, this is Kate. Who is speaking please?” Of course I would have to tell her (even if it was one of my best friends and she really needed something) that she would “have to excuse me but it is very impolite to talk on the phone in front of other people, let alone while eating dinner together.” I would then proceed to hang up the phone and return to my seat and napkin and food in order to finish my meal in peace. A much better situation for all those involved. Everyone would be happy, except for maybe Veronica, but I would call her back later and she would respect me more anyway.

This is the plan. I will nicely ask people to call me by the name Kate from now on. Because I know that this will be hard for some people to remember at first (especially some of my classmates at school and the kid on the bus who loves to make fun of everyone for their names), I promise that however difficult and awkward it may be, I will correct these people when they call me Katie. I will clearly state to them: “My name is now Kate, thank you.” And I will be sure to pronounce the “t” particularly loud and in turn showing my teeth with a smile. I will also point my finger up in the air when I get to the “t” to give it some extra oomph, and because I know that some people just need some sort of visual thing to go along with what they are learning in order to really understand and remember it (at least I am that way).

I will also call myself Kate – instead of the formerly childish name Katie – in my own head when I talk to myself or stop myself from doing something wrong. “Stop that, Kate!” In addition, when my alarm goes off in the morning, I will whisper out loud “Good morning, Kate” even before I open my eyes. That way my day will automatically be off to a good start, and I will have reminded myself that I am a completely different person now than I was before.

One thing at a time, the removal of the “i” (which is all this really is when you boil it down) will definitely be one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life. Here goes. From this moment on, without looking back, I am and will be none other than Kate Thompson.

  1 comment for “Crossroads, My Novel-in-Process

  1. jodi
    October 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    loving this

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