Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zinnia (by Laurel Hilton)

And here we are at Z. I have been delighted to host the Write On, Mamas! for this year's A-Z Blog Challenge: 25 of our wonderful Mamas and one fabulous honorary Mama - Steven Friedman, our lone, brave and talented Papa. I hope you have enjoyed the diversity and talent of our group and thought I would leave you with this:
Alphabetical blogs can delight everyone, frequently giving helpful inspirational kindness. Literary memoirs, novels, occasional poems, quite randomly shared teach us vivid writing; x-rated yield zilch.

Thanks for joining us.
Photography by Mary Allison Tierney

I never paid much attention to Z before I named my second child Zinnia. I have a funny thing about letters, kind of an obsession. I’ve spent most of my life pretty comfortably occupying the two middle letters of the alphabet – L and M as the first letters of my name and surname (maiden name). 

L is for love, lemons, lions, licorice. M is for monkeys, magic, marshmallows and mystery. In classrooms, when they lined you up alphabetically for a game, to take class photos, or to go out to recess, I was sure to be right in the middle of things. I was a shy child and wanted the least amount of attention paid to me as possible. Being neither first, nor last, suited me perfectly.

But then I allowed Z into our little family of letters. At the farthest reaches of the alphabet it seemed so exotic, alien and maybe a little lonely. Poor little Z, only one playmate, Y, on one side of you and even then, how charismatic is Y anyway? I practically smothered my daughter with my anxious feelings. 

What had I done? 

She would always be last picked in alpha order. 

Would other kids alienate her because Z was so unusual? 

What cool things start with a Z anyway?

It turns out that Z is so much cooler than I could have imagined. Z is for words that just zing off your tongue like zipper, zap, zippadeedooda, and zany. It is the height of intellectual style like zeitgeist, and a Jazz Age icon, Zelda Fitzgerald. It is for a wonderful Zen state of mind, and for zydeco music, a fusion of Creole and Cajun influences using washboards, fiddles and accordions.

It brings me back full circle to my little Zinnia. She is the essence of what it means to be Z― imaginative, colorful, full of wonder, spontaneity and utterly original. 

Laurel Hilton is an essayist and journalist whose work has appeared on KQED’s Perspectives, Mama Monologues, Examiner.com, and Uptake.com, to name a few. She’d like to spend more time stringing words together than consumed with the hierarchy of letters.


  1. Z sure is fun as it zips off the tongue

  2. Laurel
    What chutzpah that crazy letter z! Love it!

  3. I am a fan of informative content, especially when it's this good. Your views are interesting and I really like that. Thank you for making your article clear and easy to understand. That's nice change.
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