Monday, April 16, 2007

What's in a name?

Names are funny things. Ages ago, in many countries, your name was directly based on what your father's name was. Scandinavian's used the names of farms, or family properties. Russians added 'eva, or 'ova's on to the end. Last names, during history, at times have been, well, kind of, optional. (But, our ancestors didn't have 2 million Jennifer's running around, either.)
Names were a thing of pride. Families advertised who they were. Standards and Banner's were made, so that wherever they went, people knew who was coming. They had a battle cry specific to them. Plaids were picked, and still associated with clans and families to this day.
If we considered people to be "less" than us, we took away their names. (Think, slavery.)In a way, we still do this, with prisoners.
Does your name make you who you are? Most of us reading this are adults, and over the years have accepted, and even come to like the names our parents gave us. But, we creatively find other ways to rename ourselves. I have tons of stuff with the name Mielikki on it. (She was a forest goddess in the epic Finnish poem, the Kalevala.). At work, when I am in a 'mood', my friends call me "Buffy", the LVN, or, in some cases, the Nurses Aide slayer. (Another story, I'll save that one for later.) We hide our names, most of the time, in this big wide world of internet. Because people might steal our names, and by doing that, they steal our identities. Is your identity really all tied up in your name? It appears so.
I still carry the last name of my ex husband, left long ago. I grapple with this, wanting to change my name back to my father's, but knowing that the world will get so confused if I do so. My nursing liscence is in a name not my own, my discharge from the Military, my passport, my life. All to a name I feel no connection to. People constantly ask me if I am Italian because of this name. Half the time I just say yes, so that I don't have to explain.
Where am I going with this? I don't really know, maybe I already got there. This is what my brain, with no sleep, looks like. And work is already calling, asking if I can work an extra shift. Mielikki and Buffy both say NO!


sybil law said...

Good for you, Mielikki, saying no!
I don't use my real name simply because I am such a private person (in spite of the public blog). My daughter, though, has my name from high school - the one I got in Latin class. My friends all thought it was the perfect nickname for me. It's a good name. :)

mielikki said...

Oh, highschool names! In French class, my name was "Tatiana". Mimi (also a French class nom) still call's me that!

Rachel said...

I use my real name online. I don't really have any nicknames that are specific for me so I just use my real one.
I don't ever disclose my last name though. I am sure that if someone really wanted to figure out who I was they could do it.
My name in Spanish class was Mercedes.

Bubblewench said...

Oh please say no. Enough is enough! You need a break. I use my BW on everything, and it started because I was in charge of the bubbles at a friend's wedding... go figure... years later, I still use it..

And I sort of understand your 'ex' situation. I just got married a short 6 months ago and have not legally changed my name yet, and honestly, I feel kind of freaked to do so, and I won't use the 'new' name at work, becuase it would be such a BITCH to have my email and sign in and everything changed and people to figure out who I was again!

CamiKaos said...

When I got married I changed my name because it made sense. It made my name so much more difficult to spell, but it made it easier with K. And it kind of made me happy. Awe, I so sweet.

Oh and you my bubblewench bitch!

Bubblewench said...

Damn. Cami caught me - yes I was her bubblewench bitch, that's how it all started.

mielikki said...

LOL. The whole world seems to need a bubblewench. If I ever get married (again) I'll 'borrow' you from Cami

Mimi said...

Yeah, since my first name was so ubiquitious in the early 70s, I find it's much easier to go by Mimi.

And, I still not only think of you with your maiden last name, but as Tatiana.