Awake again. Full of Denny’s… some kind of sugary hush-puppy bastardization drenched in high-fructose maple-flavored corn syrup. I’m in for a horrible 12 hours to follow, digestively speaking, but it was worth it.
One of my roommates told me that a woman came by the house recently looking for “Double-You”. I’ve never gone by “W” before, and no one I know would call me by the letter of my name. I’m not going to know who it was, but it’s fun to consider someone coming along with a letter for W garbed in a dress, sunglasses, and a voice, each one a little darker than the last.
I’ve gone by a few names, and I love playing with words. The meanings, sounds, and implications of them carry the weight of suns; and I’d like to think that, given the right magnifying glass and at the right time of day, they can burn a lot longer and stronger.
“William” was the first. Classic, proper, no room for nuance. A good place to start, and it’s how my family growing up knows me. There wasn’t any informal side to William, and he didn’t care a whole lot about making one. The gravity and orbit of words, even then, was magnificent. They seemed dangerous and alluring. I only later found out, through my Acting 1 class, that the best definition of communication was “the process by which we attempt to affect the behavior of others.” In short, it was the way to get what I wanted in a world where no one gets what they want. I believed this definition before even I knew what it was.
Now, I liked William. He seemed princely. He went to private school, and scored high in class, but had a hard time concentrating. He read at a 5th grade level in pre-school. He also tripped a teacher, inflicted himself with bite marks, and lived in a house where every pot in the house got used when it rained. William even tried going by his middle name in middle school. It seemed appropriate, but, Tom, Tommy, and Thomas didn’t stick around long enough to form into anyone real. He doodled in margins of math tests, which were the only redeeming parts for him, and avoided everyone’s eyes, which all seemed either persecutory or aggressive. In the end, William wasn’t sustainable.
Since then, there were a lot of other names. Sibling names that somehow annoy and endear at the same time like “Billy”, “Billy Bob”, or “Bilbo”. Given nicknames like “Will the Thrill” or “Wailin’ Will Whalen”. Pet names like “Bunny Bear” or “Easy”. Even a name I accidentally stepped in like so much gum: “Liam”. Each one a different label and a different set of ideas and experiences. Each one is a different person.
I chose, and continue to choose, Will. It’s familiar in the places “William” wasn’t, and it’s disciplined in the ways he was lax. It’s stronger and more certain. “Will” itself means to make something happen through one’s own volition. To propel with aim toward a goal with calm confidence and stoic certainty.
“William” means “protector of many; shield”, but I see “Will” as more of a spear. My struggle will probably always be between these two: who I want to be, and who I can easily be; between receiving damage, or dealing it.
“Thomas” means “twin” (or a double-you, if you like.)
“Whalen” is “little wolf” in the Irish Tradition
I had an assignment where I had to write a piece using only the letters in my name a while ago:
William Thomas Whalen
Name an intent with a hiss. What is it? Who? When will it hew into this tet-a-tet, into a latent haste, into this ana?
Now, an’ all the time.
Am I a mole with the wit to wist, twistin’ in its nest? Am I an ant on its hill, a white whale in its sea, a nit in a lion’s mane? The lion alone? A slow sloth with no sense to hasten, a salmon swimmin’ solo to Maine? I’ll wane, as I sense this lesson wants me to, as I animate me some anima in ethos, some emotions to show as inane as oats an’ wheat.
See, I’m tonal. I whit the when an’ how to listen. I am not Tom Waits. (I wish!) I am also not Owen, Leo, Helen, Noel, Sam, Mel, Emmitt, Nathan, an’ Tim. I am not Lot, not Satan, not Solomon, an’ not Moses. I am not Mae West, an’ I am not Einstein. At times, I was Tom, an’ I was Liam, too. Attention: this is the thesis, an’ the intent. Names an’ meanin’, names an’ meanin’. I am Wailin’ Will Whalen. The name is mine, as the will in me is, too. It is the will in the men an’ women that I mime.
All the while, I mean them all well an’ honest. We all see what imitation is.
Also, I am not Walt Whitman. That’s neat to me.
A hometown was mine one time. It’s a hellish stone toss into that mean, wet heat; it’s the most honest statement that it’s an “as is” town. Then, I went on a tale, lost inno—
—sent West to an alien mesa. It was time to wean the low, moist sea on a melanin tan with a soot heat, a lawless ash, almost too hot. It tells me still, lies in wait, listens to sell me a million watt shine to sail on an’ let this town lie. It smells with sweat in its sonnet while I stow me some solemn emotion. It hems an’ haws, it entwines at the waist with a motion, an’ with ease at the senses. It mates with a slit in the loins.
Then it slew me to the tallow. Now, I owe it one in a million. I was neonatal in a nonsense home.
I wasn’t an ill inmate with a neon tome.
It’s all nonsense. This ethos is swan shit. So I seal it with the whims an’ sass an’ waste with the sea-salt taste. It satiates me, in time.
These notes let me lie to the sweet miles in the soonest times.
Aloha as in hello.
Aloha as in to let lie.