My Friends Call Me Minnie Kinney

My Friends Call Me Minnie Kinney

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Baby Michelle
Baby Michelle

Minnie Kinney. Why Minnie Kinney? I shall explain.

When I was in high school I worked at the Y.M.C.A. for a School Aged Child Care Program -- commonly called S.A.C.C. (Pronounced, sack. I.e. "sack of potatoes"). I was the assistant group leader for The Puddle Ducks. Yes, The Puddle Ducks. They often did not know which way was left or right, or where their elbows were located, but this group of pre-school aged toddlers were cute as hell.

The Puddle Ducks still required snack time, nap time, a grown-up to tie their shoes, accompaniment to the bathroom, and so on. Despite their need for constant supervision, I was not a "kid person," and to make matters worse they had this frequent habit of shitting their pants. Yet, they were still pretty adorable. One could say I may have liked them. And with a name like The Puddle Ducks, who could resist? It's not like I had a choice. The Puddle Ducks were the only kids shorter than me. Likely the only ones who would see me as an "adult."

More Tiny Michelle
More Tiny Michelle

I started working at S.A.C.C. around the age of 14. They only hired me because my older sister was the site director. And they only paired me with The Puddle Ducks because I am what you might say -- short. I'm really short. Like 4' 11.5" but I lie and say I'm 5'0" on my drivers' license kind of short.

My sister is seven years older than me and  she had worked there for several years already. She was THE BOSS. A good and bad thing for me. Actually let's be honest, it was mostly bad. Either way, in the minds of my sister's coworkers, she was the one and only Kinney. There was no room for another Kinney. And thus the nickname "Minnie Kinney" was born. It made sense. And it was a whimsical departure from the nickname I grew up with, Mic. Pronounced "Mick."

Fast forward about five years to my time at Syracuse University. I was a Musical Theater major. It was an intense performing arts conservatory program. Forced to embrace our weaknesses and declare them to be strengths -- I once again become Minnie Kinney. Unprovoked, my classmates came up with this nickname. Why? Who knows. But I'd assume the obvious. I'm a short gal. My last name rhymes with "mini". Yadda yadda yadda.

SU Drama
SU Drama
Smokey Joe's Cafe
Smokey Joe's Cafe

Twelve years I've lived in New York City and I feel like I've already had nine lives. Countless years as an actress, bartender, nanny, backup singer, singing waitress, karaoke hostess, hedge fund secretary, social media manager, -- you name it, I did it. Including a job that required me to glue Swarovski crystals to the phones of celebrities. This is not a joke, the glue gave me headaches. I lasted a week.

Duke's
Duke's

I eventually quit the biz. And not even on purpose, it just kind of happened. Some rough times and heartbreak led me down a path to a different, better life and I'm now a professional photographer. A natural progression in career choice these days. I miss that part of my life, but I still love what I do. I'm married to a wonderful man, and I'm super happy.

Photo : Laura Marie Duncan
Photo : Laura Marie Duncan

I go by Michelle Kinney-Urso now. I couldn't give up Kinney completely. No way, no how. I'm the last one in my family and I will carry that torch till the end. And in my recent genealogical research I've learned I'm not the first Minnie in our family. But more on that later.

For now, I'll continue to let the Minnie Kinney nickname stick. So much so, I've named my business entities after myself. I don't hate it, y'all. Forever cute I shall be!

Flower Child in The City

Flower Child in The City

Brunching Down The Jersey Shore

Brunching Down The Jersey Shore