Greetings Beautiful People!
I think you clicked here because 1. You want to find out more about me, 2. You want to be entertained, and/or 3. You are using this experience to avoid some other important tasks, like folding laundry, bathing your cat, or that essay that’s due tomorrow. Whatever your reason, welcome to the FAQs de Annameekee! I will now attempt to meet two out of three of your needs.
FAQs- AKA Questions I made up myself!
(If you really have a burning question, please contact me and I will add it to the list!)
Q. Annameekee? What an interesting name. Where does it come from?
A. People I don’t know at all really like to try and guess the origin of my name. They are always wrong, but it’s cute that they give it a go. Finnish and Hawaiian are the most popular guesses, though one time someone thought I was Asian before they met me. They did quite a double take when I walked in the room. (FYI- I’m a really tall white girl with blondish hair- See photos by clicking on the PICS tab.)
– So, here’s the answer I give to the grocery clerks- “Oh, you know, it was the seventies and my parents were living la vida hippie.”
– This is the answer I give people who seem really literary or actually interested in the truth- “It’s from Longfellow’s epic poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.” It means the Spirit of Thunder.
– This is the story I have heard from my mom and it’s the one I tell if people have the capacity of listening to a story for more than 30 seconds. I tell this one to my students, too, because they are what I like to call a “captive audience” and they have no choice but to listen to my long, weird stories from my childhood. I might have embellished or completely altered some parts, but I am sure (unless you are my mom or dad) you won’t be able to tell.
So, apparently I was a very active baby before I was born. Story goes that if you placed anything on my mom’s tummy, I would kick it clear across the room. One time my sister was resting her head on Mom’s stomach, listening to me play my set of bongos inside, when out of nowhere, BAM, I gave my sister a black eye. Anyway, one night my mom and dad were lounging in bed and I was doing my usual mosh-pit movements. Dad was reading a long poem written by this guy named Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It’s called “The Song of Hiawatha.” He was reading the part about Waywasimo, the spirit of lightning, and Annemeekee, the spirit of thunder. He suddenly turned to my mom with excitement in his eyes. “I’ve got it! We will call her Waywasimo!” My mom stopped eating her third dinner (I was a ten-pound newborn) and glared at him. “Okay, how about Annemeekee?” he asked. She liked the sound of Annemeekee and it matched my thunderous personality, but she wanted my nickname to be Anna. So, they changed an E to an A and the rest is history. In about as much time as it takes to get a Domino’s pizza delivered, Annameekee Acacia Hesik was born on August 23, 1975.
Q. What’s with your middle name? Acacia? Isn’t that a tree?
A. Damn hippie parents.
Q. What inspired you to write The You Know Who Girls?
A. Like some of you, I was once a newly gay teenager. I came out in high school and craved books with characters that were going through the same things as me. I scoured bookstores and the school library shelves, but found nothing of the sort. Thank god for Rita Mae Brown because without her I would have had absolutely nothing lesbian to read. Since then, things are a little better and more and more books with LBGTQ characters are available to teen readers. During my first couple of years of teaching, I read loads of YA to see which ones were good enough for my classroom bookshelf. After reading a short, and somewhat dull, vanilla YA lesbian novel, I said to myself, “Man, I wish there was a lesbian YA book with more diverse characters that was funny, but really took time to follow the journey of coming out and falling in love with a girl for the first time.” And then, I was all, “Yeah, someone should write that book.” And then I was like, “Well, why don’t you write it, Ms. Smarty Pants?” And so I started writing The You Know Who Girls series.
Q. How many books are you going to write in the series?
A. Well, I’ve got freshman and sophomore year all done, and junior year is in the pipeline. The plan is one book for each year of high school and the approach is kinda harry potter, meets Judy Bloom, meets Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez, meets Sarah Dessen. Some people are like, “Are you going to follow Abbey into college?” I’m like, hmmm, I like her, but I think her high school journey will be sufficient. However, you never know!
Q. Was it hard to come out to your parents?
A. O.M.Gosh, yes. Even though I have super progressive, artsy-fartsy, Pacific Northwest parents, it was sooo hard. I promise to dedicate an entire blog about that experience. For now, here’s a little advice. Try some practice runs on people who you know will absolutely celebrate your queerness, like your lesbian or Ally-rific English teacher. If you don’t have a lesbian/ally English teacher available (believe me, you probably do!) try it on, say, your sister’s best friend. That’s the first person I told. She was so cool, and I knew she wouldn’t be weird, but she also wasn’t family. So if she did freak, I was still safe. And maybe part of me hoped she would tell my sister for me. I don’t think she did, though. We still know each other. Her name is Savannah and she is still rad.
Q. Do your students know you’re gay?
A. Well, they do now!! Haha. JK. They already knew. I came out to my first class about 11 years ago, two years after I started teaching. I used to teach in a small farming town in Northern Cali, so most of my students already knew about me before they entered my classroom on the first day of school thanks to their sisters, brothers, and older friends. But they were awesome! Sometimes, though, the students did awful things to my door or said really mean things about me. It’s hard, but it’s still worth it- especially in a town that is pretty small and not exposed to different people. The worst part about being the ONLY out teacher in an entire district was the homophobic teachers and the parents. When adults are cruel to you it feels even worse because you think, “They should know better.”
When I started my new job at a new school, I was so nervous because no one knew me or about me being gay. And I didn’t know them, either. So many unfamiliar faces! What I did know was that my new principal was totally going to support me being out and that a few of my colleagues knew, so I felt welcome and safe. I took a few days, or weeks, to get comfortable and then slowly let it slip that I had a wife (at the time) and that I love rainbows. But, this time around I think a lot of my students Googled me (Google wasn’t invented when I started teaching) so it seems like kids already knew. At my new school no one has ever said anything mean about me being gay- not a single kid, parent, or teacher. They are some of the most awesome young people I’ve ever met! I love teaching and I’m happy to be out even though it’s scary sometimes. By being proud of who I am in front of my students, gay and straight kids can learn that being yourself can be wonderful. At least, that’s what I hope they see and think when I stand proudly at the front of the class in my ridiculous Grammar Police uniform.
Before coming out to my students I was so depressed and scared about the possibility of being found out. I almost quit teaching. Now I am so happy- like silly happy – to be me and it seems like my joy is contagious in the classroom. We laugh a lot in English class. As it should be.
Q. Will you come to my school and read from your book and talk to my GSA/School?
A. I would absolutely LOVE to do that! I have been on many panels and would be happy to come visit you to talk about my book and life. But, here’s the thing: I have a full-time teaching gig that I do all school year, so it’s pretty tricky to get time off. My summers are WIDE open! Contact me and maybe we can work it out! I can even Skype myself into your classroom! Isn’t that cool?! email@example.com
Q. What other talents do you have?
– I can catch small food items in my mouth when tossed at me (underhand only)
– I have a terrible British accent that cracks my students up
– Babies fall asleep on me.
– I built my own picket fence. It was a disaster, but I did it, and I am very proud of it.
Q. What do you like to mix into your macaroni and cheese?
Such a good, good question! Well, it depends on my mood. If I am feeling nostalgic, I mix in some ketchup and seasoned salt. If I am feeling festive- salsa. If I am feeling deprived of meat- veggie hot dogs (with ketchup and seasoned salt, of course). We don’t drink milk over here, so instead of milk, we mix in one or more of the following with a wee bit of water: cream cheese, sour cream, or cottage cheese. The cream cheese is the shizzzzzz! But the sour cream, well, yum! Cottage cheese needs to be melted, so turn the burner on and heat the pot up again. There you have it. A list of what I mix into my mac n cheese. Wow. I see that your evening has reached a new low. Congratulations!
Q. Shouldn’t you get to work on Abbey’s junior year? Those books aren’t going to write themselves, lady.
A. Okay, okay! Geez. I’ll stop making up pretend frequently asked questions now. However, if you actually do have an appropriate question that you want me to answer, write it in the comments section of this blog or contact me and I will try to get to it ASAP.
Thanks for spending time with me. Now, let’s both get back to work. Oh, wait, there’s a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon on right now. I’ll just watch a few and then get to work! I promise!
Come back soon, Annameekee