What’s In A Name?

I think its about time we address my chosen moniker, Pretty Kamel.

I had a little waiver happen back in January about how I would move forward with a number of projects. What comes next for me will require a brand, and that brand should be “me”. While I know that intuitively, I have also been told this by many people over time. So I need a name to carry forward that adequately reflects who I am.

Then I started to look at possible business models and lines of business. Would I stay forever in a country with camels? I got to feeling like Pretty Kamel wasn’t the way forward for me and I started looking for a change. And where do you go to look for change you might ask? Why, the desert of course.

So off I went to the desert to a cute little nomad tent for a day of work and reflection. I had with me a very creative friend. My new name was not the sole purpose of the day but rather about 4 rows back in our brains. We’d work and toss out ideas. We’d eat lunch and launch a few thoughts. All the while working on other things and blasting our random names.

I have to tell you, between the two of us we gave it a hella good shot, and the only thing we walked away with at the end of the day was “second-hand Kathi.” (Not my idea btw.) The whole exercise was deeply unsettling to me, because I am a very firm believer that what is right for you, comes easily to you. If its hard, or a challenge, you really need to think about why. Maybe it’s not the right thing. Then I started to question that whole philosophy. Maybe life is a challenge and this is something I have to work for so I feel more accomplished in the end?

I reached out to friends for ideas. I thought on it for a long time. A long, long time. Nothing came. Nothing better than “second-hand Kathi” anyway. Finally, I came along to The Quirky Nomad. I liked it. I settled on it. I bought the URL and I changed my Instagram handle.

I liked it because it describes me nicely. I’m quirky. In case we haven’t met, now you know. I also don’t have a permanent home aside from a few pastures that I rotate in and out of based on the season. So, perfect. The Quirky Nomad. An apt handle.

Except I never really felt it in my gut. There was no “there, there”.

The other day I woke up suddenly, (metaphorically speaking), and decided NO. I am Pretty Kamel. Pretty Kamel is me. So what if move to a country that has no camels. Didn’t stop me from getting a Berber tattoo did it? I will always be associated with this country through my acquired family whether I live here or not. So be who you are. Don’t deny your thing when it’s truly your thing.

But wait. Why Pretty Kamel? Where did that come from you ask? Well…

Back in the day when my bestie was breeding like a rabbit, I had to make a decision quickly. Reasonably so. (They didn’t come out talking of course). How did I want to be addressed in this little nest of babies? I had to choose carefully because we’re talking forever here.

I chose to be called Pretty, which came to me from my friend Jen and her friend who was known at the time as Pretty Lynn to her nieces and nephews. I liked it. It reflected the fact that I was not technically an Auntie, but was in fact SOMEONE.  It meant I didn’t need to be called Aunt Kathi, which I don’t love even though I love those to whom I actively am an Aunt. It also meant that for as long as they would have me, a few people in this world would call me pretty. And so it was.

For many years I was known as Pretty Kathi to four young and unknowing little people. The fifth one never picked it up damn it. Even though, according to her, “we grew up together.”

Sometimes it was Pwetty Kaffi and that’s ok. It lasted for many years I have to say with delight, until one day, Nikki, the eldest, got to an age where she said, “Hey, wait a minute. You’re not pretty….”.


I became known as Pretty Kathi outside the family as well, in the bigger world. People started to adopt the name freely. Except Maria who has always called me “babelicious”. But other people got it. There are a few people who called me ‘PK’, like the hockey player, but different.

I once worked at an agency in Calgary that had a phone system that only rang on the reception desk, and they would call out over the loud speaker, “Kathi, line 1″. Except there were two K(C)athi(y)’s there so… the solution was obvious.

Then there was the time I drove out to the lake in Invermere and Carolyn was coming to meet me at the road. She said, ‘Jake, go tell your father that I’m going to the road to meet Kathi.” Jake turned to go and then stopped and said, “Wait. Aunt or Pretty?” (Because they do have an actual Aunt Kathy.)

So you see, there is history there. A long and luscious history. I am and always will be Pretty Kathi.

When I started my blog, and started to write about my adventures in Morocco it became clear to me what needed to happen. I know that many guides in Morocco can’t remember names from one trip to the next because there are so many people, so they adopt names like ‘Canada’, ‘Obama’, or ‘Pretty’ which help them to address people without needing superhuman recall skills. I didn’t mind that at all. I can live with ‘pretty’. I am, in fact, “pretty”.

Then I heard that there are 5 characteristics that make a camel pretty. Lips, ears, eyelashes, hair and long neck. And since my blog was about Morocco then it was pretty clear to me that I would be Pretty Kamel with a k.

I often wonder if people who don’t know me think, “Does she really think she’s pretty?” But once you do know me I think it becomes obvious that my middle is sarcasm, my exercise is wit, and my daily vitamin is irony.

No, I don’t think I’m pretty. But I do think that pretty is a very subjective term. I do think that I have a long personal history with the name, and that Pretty Kamel “with a k” is SO easy for me because I have spent my entire life saying, “…with a K.”

I also love the fact that when it comes to deciding if a camel is pretty or not, its really an individual choice.

Some people will take one look at a camel and say “oh hell no, that’s ugly. Not for me.”

Others will base their feelings on the individual camel.

Some will wait to find the right camel that’s different from all the others.

Others still will get to know the camel a little and decide then if that camel is pretty or not.

I for one have met a lot of really ugly camels in my day. I’ve also met some really pretty ones. I have learned from being around a lot of camels, that they are mostly beastly things, but usually, if you look for a little longer, you can always find one camel in the lot that is in fact, a little different from the others, and you just can’t help but feel a little fondness for it.

 Written with love,

Second-Hand Kathi



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