The nickname “Zuzu” came about when I worked as an afternoon carer at an international school in Prague. One of the children couldn’t pronounce my name, so started calling me Ms. Zuzu — the name being a diminutive form of the Czech name Zuzana.
I was tickled pink, seeing that Zuzu is the name of a character in one of my favorite films, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, and the discovery of Zuzu’s petals marks a most beautiful turning point in the story. And a beautiful turning point in my own life story as the moniker Zuzu is adorable, and allows people to stop botching my name, thus making me inordinately happy without doing much.
Plus, it’s turned into a whole performance art project, with many different Zuzus including the ever-popular Zuzu Kahlo. Performing Frida Kahlo had an interesting side effect: I now paint regularly and even began selling my art as a result.
As a Third Culture Kid, half-Lithuanian American, half-Sri Lankan I’ve literally lived all over the world since birth. Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka I then went on to live in Zambia, Thailand, Pakistan, India, California, Switzerland, France, Spain, Turkey, Czech Republic, Germany, and currently call Lighthouse Point, Florida home after an uneasy repatriation.
I’m becoming a tattoo collector in earnest as I recently finished the first pass of a forearm sleeve with the help of amazing Boulder-based artist Phill Bartell of Rising Tide Tattoo. The design is inspired by my time in India, and also has an ironic factor in that people often tell me I’m from India even though I’m not. Just one of several Third Culture Kid problems I deal with on a regular basis: the assumption of otherness. Might as well continue physically marking my difference if it’ll be forced on me anyway, right?