Penny got home from school at her usual time and immediately punched in the code to reset the alarm system. This year was the first time she was able to do this task all by herself and her parents had let her pick her own number code so that she would feel special. In the previous year’s her nanny Margarita had picked her up from school and walked her home and it was she who would punch in the code, but Penny’s parents thought that she was old enough now that she was in the third grade to do that task herself.
Penny had picked her birthday as her code and she punched in the numbers on the key screen without making a mistake, “4 13 2117”. Of course Margarita had been watching Penny on the TV monitor in the solarium where she usually went just before Penny was to get home, and pretend to be busy with the hydro plants so as to make Penny feel that she was a big girl now and could do things on her own.
Margaret of course would have rushed to Penny’s aid if anything had gone wrong; such as the alarm not setting correctly and the beeping warning going off thirty seconds before the security alarm went off, a thing that had happened to Penny only once this year.
As soon as she punched in the “7” Penny was off to the kitchen where she grabbed a snack from the refrigerator, waved a hello to the TV monitor to let her mom Lyila and her father Kim know that she was home. Her mother waved back to her from her office at the downtown research clinic, but her father was not on his monitor so he did wave back. Today her father was not on his monitor because he had been called off to a business meeting in Jakarta and whenever he traveled he had a rule not to be on the monitor for the everyday chats.
Penny called out “I’m home!” to let Margarita know she was in the house. The speaker system in the kitchen was switched on so Margarita was able to reply and acknowledge that she had heard.
With snack in hand Penny rushed up the stairs to her bedroom office and having thrown her backpack on the bed went directly to the computer to logon to her web page to let her best friend Mirabel Rosario Sajala know that she was home and to check on her email account to see if she had received any new mail. Having accomplished those regular tasks and having found no new e-mails she switched over to her search engine and started doing her homework. She normally would have gone to the TV room and caught up on her favorite TV programs, but today was a special day, because the language teacher had given them a writing assignment which had peaked Penny’s curiosity and she had been thinking about it all day.
The teacher had told the students to write the story of their name; that is, why were you given the names that you have. Penny had always known that she was named after her great-great aunt who had lived in the United States in the twenty and twenty-first century but that was all she knew about her.
The teacher had told the students to type out their full name on their school monitors and to do some research on where their names came from. Penny had typed Penny Alcina Joanne Hernandez Lum. Penny knew that her last name came from her fathers’ Chinese side and that her grandmother had been born in Taiwan. She also knew that Hernandez had come from her mothers’ Mexican side and that her grandmother had been born in Tucson, Arizona, in the United States. The Joanne in her name was from a relative but she wasn’t too sure about that. The Alcina was a little more of a mystery but she had been told that it was the name of her great-grandmother who had been born in Michigan in the United States and that her great-grandfather was of Greek origins but she did not know anything more about that side of the family.
Her first name “Penny” she thought she had known a great deal about because it was a unique name among her friends and she had always taken pride in being a special child because of her name. She had been told that it was the name of an old United States coin which had gone out of circulation some seventy-five years ago and that it was the name of an even older English coin.
But best of all Penny was the name of her great-great aunt whose picture was hanging on the wall above her bed. Sitting at the computer she thought that maybe doing a search on the name might give her a clue as to who this great-great aunt was. She went into the family tree web site and followed the lines up the tree until she came across the box with her great-great aunt’s name. She copied the name “Penny Chrysogellos” and pasted it onto the search box and instantly the screen filled up with links about companies who could help her find that long-lost friend. There were references to the name in a list of people who ran in a race back in the last century and the last name “Chrysogellos” came up with references to lots of people all over the world but there was no real connection with a Penny Chrysogellos.
Since there were so many links that she would have to look up, she called up her online tutor page and set up a search task so that the computer would run a program to narrow down the search . The teacher said that it was okay to use the online tutor but only for research and not to have the tutor do the writing or the real work. The online tutors, the teacher had warned, was set up with a task code and she would know exactly what task had been used, so don’t try to fool her.
After setting up the search task, Penny logged off the computer, finished eating her mango snack and lay down on the bed to think about who this long-lost aunt could be. She sipped her juice as she laid on her bed, looking up at the picture and thought about the life her great-great aunt must have had in the United States. Penny had seen some history programs and some real old television shows which gave her a little bit of information about the United States and about that time period when her great-great aunt might have lived. But she didn’t have any first hand information about the life of great-great aunt Penny
She knew that living in Melbourne and having a name like Penny was unique and if she could learn more about who the Penny in the picture was, she would be able to write a very special story about her name. She thought about this long-lost relative and she wondered what the online tutor’s search task would find, and as the humming of the computer filled the room, her eye lids closed and Penny gently fell asleep.
So… are you going to let poor Penny down by not writing your life story?
Are you going to count on the twenty-second century online tutor to give Penny information about your life?
Or are you going to start today and write your life story so that Penny Alcina Joanne Hernandez Lum will have a manuscript on hand to do her homework.
It is up to you!
Note to Reader: I was cleaning up my files and came across this little story that I had written for a friend who was arguing with me about having to write her life’s story. She was telling me that her life was boring and that no one would want to read her life story. This was back in August of 2010. I wonder if she ever did write her story?
I am sorry it was so long but I hope you enjoyed it and that it will give you another perspective on why YOU should write down your life story.