Wednesday, November 21, 2007

If I were a Kate.

There’s been a bit of buzz this week about Internet anonymity, baby names, namer’s remorse and pseudonyms. It all reminds me of my favourite story about my grandmother. It’s a story that I asked to hear about several times when I was young, and one that even her closest friends (and even some younger family members) had not heard until I retold it at her funeral.

My grandmother was born in England in 1915 and given the name Minnie. At the age of 6, she moved to Canada with her family including her older sister. She started school mid-term and immediately felt overwhelmed by all the changes. She was a small, shy child with a very strong British accent. The other kids teased her for her accent and taunted her relentlessly about her name. She was known as Mini Minnie.

Her sister, who was six years older, was pretty and feisty and seemed to adapt to the situation effortlessly. She joined clubs and teams and was extremely popular. My grandmother usually just tagged along with her and her friends.

My grandmother grew to despise her name. She would avoid introducing herself and fantasized about names she wished she had.

When she was 18 years old, she followed her newly-married sister to a small mining town in northern Ontario that was experiencing a gold rush. She had no plans, no work lined up, but felt the need for a fresh start in a new place with her best friend, her sister.

She decided on the train-ride to her new home that Minnie was no more. From that moment on, she would confidently introduce herself as “Jill”. She found herself in this mining town and became actively involved in the community and the church. At 21 she was married and, while she was in the process of changing to her married name, legally changed her first name to “Jillian” .

I think of this story so often and I wonder about how difficult it must have been to tell her parents and her old friends. How bold it was to make that choice in the 1930’s.

I too fantasize about changing my name. Lori, to me, screams 1970’s and I wish I had a more timeless, classic name like Kate or Jill. I’m not about to change it, mostly because my parents still love the name and I would never do anything to hurt or insult them. But still, a girl can dream.

Do you like your own name? Do you think it suits you? What would be a better name for you?

20 comments:

Family Adventure said...

There's so much in a name, funny. I remember the angst associated with picking names for my boys. We had to pick names that were acceptable in different languages. Living in Canada, we also had to consider the short forms of the names (which pretty much ruled out names such as Andrew or Richard). The stress!
I'm Ok with my name. It is very Scandinavian, and there were lots of girls with my name growing up. But it's easy to say, easy to write (usually), it gets the job done.

Heidi :)

Sara said...

There was a time when I so hated my name...so boring, there is no nickname for it, etc. I would add my middle name to it and spice it up. Nothing ever worked.

If I were not a Sara, my parents would have named me Elissa. Which is ok.

Anyway, I've grown in to Sara, but I think I would have made a much better Elissa, or Liss, or Lissy.

Jess said...

I love my name and I love that it has multiple nickname options available to it. My sister also loves her name. My parents did a good job. I've spent a lot of time thinking about names for my own children. They will have to be acceptable in English and German (and preferably French), and I want them to be pretty and functional and meaningful and recognizable but not too common and timeless but not too boring and modifiable (i.e. at least one possible nickname). No wonder it's such a struggle.

Welcome to our World said...

I do like my name mostly because I rarely run across Christina's (mostly some derivation of it but not the full deal.)

I never went by any other name (except as pet names from my family which were never used outside of the family unit.)

I used to hate how long my full name was and also I had a difficult last name so every year in school the teachers would call on me to tell them how to say my name and I was very shy. I hated that.

But besides that it is suitable and does not bother me.

At one point I did dream of having the name Christina Maria instead of Christina Louise and also I wished my parents had been more creative with the spelling like Chrystyna and I went through a period of time spelling my name that way. I no longer think it ought to be spelled like that... Thankfully!

Welcome to our World said...

Oh and had my mom named solely I would be Stephanie but my dad (thank goodness) vetoed that. I am definitely not a Stephanie!

Tessie said...

I like my name just fine even though it's kind of an old black lady's name. Or so I'm told.

It's so funny that your grandmothers name was Jill. I could totally see you as a Jill. Or maybe Lauren.

Laural Dawn said...

So, here's something interesting.
My mom was born Darlene and hated her name forever.
Her 50th birthday was the day after my wedding. My dad, sister and I wanted to get her an amazing gift. She had always always told us she was a Kate. So, when she turned 50 our gift to her was a name change.
We had a brunch, and since it was the morning after my wedding many of our family and good friends were there.
We announced that as of that day she was now Kate.
She never looked back. We all adopted the name, and she just changed it everywhere. SOme people thought it was a little kooky to do that, but it was the push she needed.
For me to think of her any other way is so odd now. (it's been 7 years).
Truthfully, I don't love my name. But, I don't hate it. I have always thought of myself as Scarlett or Ruby.

LoriD said...

Laural - that is such a great story! Especially that she changed it to Kate. So very cool. I love the name Scarlett. I keep throwing it out to my not-even-pregnant sister for consideration.

Banana said...

I hated my name when I was a kid. It doesn't really have an easily accessible nickname and I desperately wanted a nickname. My middle name is Christine, so I tried to go by Chris - but it never stuck.
I now love my name and can't imagine having another.

Artemisia said...

Oh, this is hard! I LOVE MY NAME, but of course, I've chosen to be anonymous so I can't share it! I think it suits me perfectly. It is very unique, and I've never met another person with my name. My folks heard a variation of my name, liked it a little, altered it and liked it a lot. I love it.

Oh! E-mail me and I may just tell you my real name. Maybe. (Because it is unique, it wouldn't be hard to find me on the internet...)

I really think my name has helped create my identity. I never felt ordinary. While that sucked when I was 13, I've always really appreciated the feeling that I don't fit into a mold otherwise.

When I don't want someone who's been pestering me at a bar to track me down, I introduce myself as Samantha. That is also a signal to my friends that it is time to leave!

Artemisia said...

P.S. I like the name Lori, and I especially like that it is spelled with an "i."

JMC said...

I like the name Lori. My name, Jennifer, is so common in people my age, that I often wished it were something else, but I never knew what. Everyone pretty much calls me Jen now, and the nickname fits me better than Jennifer, I think.

Misty said...

Uh, Guess what?

I absolutely totally and passionately hate. my. name. Gee, I wonder why? Because I totally agree with the baby name wizard lady. Misty is a name that needs to be retired back to strippers and horses. It reeks of 1970-1980-something to me. Ug!

I always thought I was a Catherine. Or at least something dignified and respectful and not a status-of-weather or precipitory adjective.

Kat said...

Oh, I love my name(s). Katherine Elizabeth. I've never, for a moment, not liked my name. My fam calls me Kath, which is fine, and I love because it's who I've always been, and a few friends call me Kate or Kat, which I love because it's cool. Together, in long version, I just think it's an elegant, timeless name. I could be in a Jane Austen novel, in 15th century England or modern.

We gave our daughters classic names, too. Both happen to be of French origin, but we just liked the names.

I detest trendy or made-up(ish) names. Some names just say soooo much about the age and/or circumstances of the parents, ya know? And not necessarily in a good way, either!

LoriD said...

Misty - "precipitory adjective". LOL! My mom had a family in her school who were: Misty, Stormy and Sunny.

Laural Dawn said...

I love all these names! My dad said that if he ever had twin daughters they would be "Melody and Harmony". He used to teach music.
I'm grateful I'm not a twin!

ali said...

my name is Alicia. i HATE it. i really feel like it's such a misnomer!

i love Ali though. it's totally me!

Kristen said...

I love my name, Kristen, but I hate it being mistaken for Kristie, Kristina, Kirstie, Krissy, pretty much anything else. The only people aloud to shorten my name are my sisters, they call me Kris, and 2 of my brother-in-laws do as well. I hate it when my hubby calls me Kris. HATE. And I hate that he calls me that to other people, so that many of our aquaintences and neighbours call me that too. ugh.
(I think this nickname aversion has to do with my parents, my dad hated when people would shorten our names, so he always corrected them. but all 4 sisters call each other by shortened versions-Kris, Hayl(Hayley), Ang (Angela), and Meyis(Melissa)
I like Lori, even if it, like Kristen tells when we were born.

Haley-O said...

I like my name. I like that there are very few Haleys in my generation.... Now, there are TONS of kids with my name! But, yeah, I think it suits me and I like it. It's a "happy" name. I really like Lori, too!!

Swistle said...

I like my name--but I liked it better with my maiden name. It had an excellent symmetry of sound and letter duplication. My married name has none of those things.

I want badly to think of a name I would like to have instead of mine--but I can't think of any that fit. Except "Swistle." "Swistle" fits. And that's not a name I'd want as my real legal name.