Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



A friend recently asked How do you feel about your name? Do you think it suits you? Do you think of yourself by some other name, or as the one you tell other people? She sparked the following answer from me:

Nicoles were a dime a dozen in the 70s and I always had many in my classes in school. My best friend for the first 6 or so years of my life was another Nicole. My family all called me "Nikki" but my mom gave me the goofy spelling of "Nici" which was constantly mispronounced by people seeing it in writing as "Nicey" or Niece-y". For years I demanded that people call me Nici and learn it, never Nicole. Halfway through school (in yet another new school with yet more Nicoles) I changed to Nicole to avoid confusion (much as Kate has converted to Katherine outside of the house) but never really saw it as "me".

I dubbed myself "Nikchick" to my high school pen pals and took it as my online handle over 15 years ago. Most people don't call me Nicole outside of formally introducing me at a convention or something. I'm most often "Nik" to friends and co-workers. Chris calls me "Finn" (for my Finnish heritage) or "Chick" as often as he calls me "Nik" I think. Nik suits me fine. Being known online as Nikchick is also comfortable. I'm never Nici and it even looks odd to me to see it anymore, though I did sign my grandpa's birthday card that way.

Lindroos, on the other hand, is part of me. I became Nicole Frein in my first marriage and regretted it immediately. I tried billing myself as Nicole Lindroos Frein but that never felt right either. The first thing I did in my divorce was reclaim my last name, which I love. As a kid I wished for a name that was easier to pronounce, as once the substitute teacher had mangled Nici she inevitably moved on to mangle Lindroos as well with its two Os and one S. I wished for a name that was more recognizably Finnish like Heikkinen or Makela or better yet, Finnish but simple like Lahti or Maki. Even the officials in Ely who agreed to name the road to my grandpa's lake house Lindroos Road misspelled the name on the sign as Lindross the first time around. Lindroos is my name, given and in my blood. After almost 40 years, Nicole has settled around me, familiar if not well-loved, but it's Lindroos that gets to the heart of me.

How would you answer my friend's question?

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Grandpa's Fish Story

I love this story of my grandpa's. I begged him to tell it again at his birthday party even though I didn't have the voice recorder ready. Here's the story:

Grandpa was fishing on White Iron Lake where his best friend had a resort. My dad was along, just a boy. Grandpa was using 10-pound test but hooked a big fish. He fought the fish for a long time but couldn't get it in the boat (my dad says it was too big for the net). Grandpa slowly worked his way back to the dock, where he tells my dad to run up to the lodge and "Get the .22."

That's right, they were going to shoot the damn thing so they could land it.

Unable to find the .22, dad runs back with a ball peen hammer.

Wouldn't you know, they landed that fish. With a frickin' ball peen hammer.

I love that story.

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Back from Ely

Grandpa and Grandma
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I didn't blog much about my plans for Minnesota on the off chance that my grandpa might hear about them somehow. Unlikely as that was, I knew that if I didn't say anything I couldn't screw things up. You see, several months ago my aunt and uncle began planning a surprise party for my grandpa's 90th birthday and I dropped everything and arranged to be there as soon as I learned about it.

Immediately after GenCon I grabbed up Kate from her dad's and headed back to the midwest for a week. My family really pulled together for this one and we had an excellent showing. We were only missing one grandchild (my brother, who is deep in the middle of his surgical rotation and just couldn't get away at all) and two great-grandkids (teenagers who are already in school or who just started college and also couldn't get away). My aunt JoAnn's daughters (Kim and Connie) came, along with Kim's husband Larry and Connie's five-year-old daughter. My Uncle Jack's kids (Johnny, Josh, and Jen) came, along with Jen's husband Chris and their young daughter. Kate and I represented for my dad's branch of the family and all three of my stepbrothers (Jon, Mick and Erik) along with Mick's wife Jenny, whose wedding I attended last spring. There were also any number of close friends of my grandpa and extended relatives that I didn't remember at all who came out for the event.

Grandpa was completely surprised. My uncle had told him they were going golfing ("I'm the caddy," my grandpa chuckles. He accompanies Jack around in the golf cart but doesn't golf himself) and pretended that he'd grabbed "the wrong clubs" and had to go back to the house. Up they drove on the golf cart into an applauding crowd, to my grandpa's astonishment. He's not the sort of guy to cry but he did seem pretty choked up for a bit and he looked me in the eye and thanked me for "making the trip" more than once over the weekend. I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

We had a lovely time. Kate got to spend time with her uncles canoing, swimming, paddle boating, playing games and just generally goofing around. She got to meet second cousins, first cousins once removed, and even more distant relatives (some of whom are honorary aunts and uncles who are lifelong family friends). I got to spend time with my grandpa and also with my cousins (and their cousins), walk around town and see just how much things have changed since I lived there as a kid, and generally enjoy the place.

Kate and I came home toting souvenirs of the trip. I stocked up on wild rice, made a couple of trips to Zup's for potica, pasties, and all manner of brats and sausages (which they kindly packed up for me and I checked as baggage because the box was so big!), and pigged out on walleye, Nut Goodies and "hot air" candy. I took many photos and even got a couple of voice recordings of my grandpa talking about how he learned to drive at age 10 because his dad had gotten the family a car but no one could drive it (nor could they speak English!) so it fell to Grandpa to learn, and my dad talking about the time he and his friends (all of 13 or 14 years old) drove their snowmobile through the ice on a lake and the "hilarity" that ensued. I didn't get as many stories recorded as I'd hoped but apparently my Uncle Jack has a couple hours of tapes that he made a few years ago so I'm hoping I can get my hands on some of that eventually.

Doubly exhausted and twice as far behind as I was before GenCon but it was worth it. So worth it.

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