Why My Name is Sam

Just to note, I’m not usually in favor of blogging. I think it’s incredibly narcissistic to talk about your life. However, this problem arose because I don’t speak up enough, and I let people define me. 

I’m sitting here at about 5:30 AM writing this. What am I doing up at 5:30 AM. you ask? Well, I am currently living in an apartment, which in a week will lose power, and I don’t care, because I don’t intend to stay. I’m living with some new roommates/unwelcome guests, making the kitchen filled with dishes (given up on cleaning), the house extremely cramped, and because I’ve all but completely unpacked my room, I’m sleeping downstairs, as there are not even pillowcases anymore. I intend the take the sheets too, and finally pull clothes from the hanger of my closet. I don’t live here anymore, not really. I intend to live with my parents, as I’ve had enough of this place. I plan to help my folks out and try to earn money, which I can spend on electrolysis and that I can use to travel to visit my friends and family who live in Richmond. These things have value to me, but not the value of an apartment. What I value, is a steady home, to be able to choose my friends, and to have people accept me as myself, not define me. But more on that later, why am I up at 5:30 AM? Well, because at 3 AM, a combination of an uncomfortable couch, and serious nagging concerns woke me up. At 3:10 AM, I turned on my computer because I wanted to blog about it. At 3:30 AM, I found this free site, hosted by Google (there was some issue with the first) and logged in, only to find the words “Welcome, Thomas.” At 5:20 or so, I finally managed after realizing that Google absolutely will not allow you to change your Youtube URL (which over time, due to doing things in the absolute wrong order, and a series) or name on any of its products, that I could conceivably remove the entire account, and create a new one. (Edit. Now it’s 8 AM, because I realized Blogger doesn’t work on Facebook)

All this inconvenience, for a new name. Why would you do that? Why would someone willingly subject themselves to repeat trips to the DMV, the Social Security offices, and other such places to change their name (and I’m still not sure I got everywhere)?

My dad knew someone from college who used to be known as Norman Mal. Of course, his name was pretty much a perfectly respectable European name, but after college, it got changed to Dirk Bogartes Mal, and then to Dirk Vermeer Mal. My dad couldn’t fathom why he changed his name. Isn’t it obvious? He was “NormMal” he was “NormMal” all the time, and he got sick of being normal.

Some years back, I saw an anti-drug commercial. This guy hung out with all these these friends, and they dictated his clothing, his hair, his drug use basically. It was a sort of high speed video but incredibly provocative. Ultimately, the guy just made this “push away” motion, kept his hair (which had gone from normal, to permed, to, mohawk, to shaved and now he couldn’t do much with it), stuck with whatever clothes he liked, and walked away. This shouldn’t have made the impression it did, but unfortunately, everyone, from my family (nagging me about how I’m underemployed, don’t seem to care about my purpose (I’ll get to that later), my hair is too long, or my clothes kinda dirty, how I’m not successful enough. I kinda wish they’d nag me about what I actually care about, which is getting married and somehow raising children), schools, work (one of the last straws at Walmart was being told I “stunk” when I felt like I had zero time to shower or especially wash clothes because I could never count on their schedule enough to wash until the work week ended, Amazon just told me I was too slow not for the shuttle-run style Picker but for Stower where I sat in place and tried to figure out where I was supposed to shelve items with contradictory rules and demands), or even in some cases, friends. Mind your own damn business, please.

I don’t want to alienate everyone I love, so let me be clear.

I’m not letting people introduce me. When I was a kid, my parents would walk up to random people at church functions, they’d say “This is my son Tom.” Let’s think about that, at a young age, continuing on up to adulthood, my entire being is defined – not my anything I might have done – but by you, by being related to you. There was no point in that, these people don’t know me. And because I never caught their name, just “This is my son Tom” I don’t know them either. To them, I’m an extra, a +1 of my parent’s life, a kid that didn’t bother to introduce themselves, because the words were taken away before they could be said. “This is Wall Street, my investment banker.” “Oh hi, I’m their son Thomas/daughter Samantha/child Sam.” Nope, no opportunity, because before I can even open my mouth someone tells me who they think I am.

And I’m not letting other people define me. I’m not your son. I’m your child. I’m not Tom, although because of familiarity I’ve tolerated that name, I don’t like it. Nor do I like “Sir.” Sir is “male person I don’t know, but I’m gonna try formality instead of asking your name or how you want to be addressed.” It’s a pathetic excuse for intimacy, done mainly by customers and people at places like the grocery and the DMV. Ask my name, get to know me. You’ll find while I’m okay with “Miss”, I dislike honorifics entirely. I’ll take Tom if you must. But I’m not Uncle Tom (pffft), nor am I Aunt Samantha. Just the name.

Why don’t I like the name Tom? Well personally, I guess it’s just a name, like any other. Romeo and Juliet could probably agree with this sentiment. But it’s the idea behind it. My full name was Thomas Fitzalan Hooker, before I changed it. Okay, let’s look at this. Thomas Hooker is a sort of Puritanical type (dunno his belief set fully, but it was kinda not what I’d like to emulate) who founded the state of Connecticut. My middle name Fitzalan literally meant “son of Alan.” Not only am I named after some old Reverend, but I get to live my life entirely in your shadow, every day, forced to wonder if I measure up or I’m just embarrassing my dad. One day, I got tired of looking in the mirror after yet another job that I couldn’t hold because of one reason or another (maybe it was my fault, maybe it wasn’t but in either case, I felt like a burden to my parents because I couldn’t be successful), and given my dad’s interest for newspaper jumbles, I made a jumble of my own, this time an anagram of my own name.

Thomas Fitzalan Hooker

My name was originally going to be Samantha (N.M.I.) Rook. Then at the Clerk of Court, I had a long thought about it, and realized I do love my family, but I didn’t like what I had been named. I wasn’t sure about the Rook part either, but preferred the softer R to the “F is for Failure” that I currently felt. So, Samantha R Hooker it was. Then, I brainstormed basically for close to an hour, probably using a few copies of the form. I settled on the middle name “Rinne”, because of the following:

  • It was a name that I came up with, without assistance or urging from others.
  • It was a name that seemed not to have duplicates online, offline, or wherever else.
  • It was a name linked with the Buddhist Desire Realm concept, Rinne refers to “Six Paths” or the Six Paths of rebirth. I am not a Buddhist, I’m a syncretic Christian with some Taoist, Shinto, Buddhist (et cetera) influence, but I liked the sense that I was becoming a new person.
  • It was a pleasant name.

Since I changed it, very few people have been cool with calling me Samantha, so I went with Sam. Sam is androgynous, it can be Samuel or Samantha, both of which mean the same thing. Sam in its male and female varients means “Listen, the Voice of God.” Interestingly enough, in the book of Samuel, that’s the original point, Samuel is hearing God talk to him, and eventually says “Here I am, Lord.”

What is God saying to me? When I was a child, I thought that God was an angry judgemental type that if He (and by extension, other people) knew who I saw inside when I looked in the mirror, that He would be disgusted with me. I never outright believed that, but in the back of my mind, I had a sense that God was much like an abusive “friend” that two days before this post told me I was a lazy bum and a loser for mooching off my parents. Well, maybe I don’t measure up to those standards, but if my parents ask for help, I usually want to do it. The only thing I really want besides being able to travel and complete my transition, is for them to be okay with me. But God isn’t that person. I’ve come to realize in the past year, that God is more like that voice in my heart, that shows me what is truly inside of me, not just what seems bad to me, but what I truly love about myself. Every week, I have gone in Richmond to church, as a woman. If I move back, and my folks aren’t okay with that, if they can’t adjust to the fact that to me, God is the one who loves me as I am, then I’m going to another church.

I talked about purpose above. Is my purpose to become a successful businessman, to make alot of money, to be independent, to follow the “unique” same path of everyone else in US society? No, that’s the “American Dream” but it’s not my dream. My dream, is to freelance. To part-time, to have hobbies, to have friends, that my job allows me to visit. Those friends may change over time, those goals may evolve, but I want to have a balance between social time, work time, and other time. And my purpose? To be a living example of the change I want to see in the world. I want a world where people are treated as human, whether LGBT people are seen as equals to straight, where people don’t have to manipulate other people because they are insecure over their own lives, where abuse is a thing of the past, and where people can live their lives without fear. The God I love demands justice. Justice isn’t vengeance, as early people thought. It’s fairness. I do not care about being independent, getting an apartment, getting a “good” job, but I do care about this. This is my vision, help me with it.