Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What's in a Name?

So, my boyfriend has a blog and last night we were talking about his last post, in which he mentions me. Sort of. That is, he calls me Mistress Shilayla of the Forest, a name that originated when we were first getting to know each other more than three years ago. I assume he did this in part to preserve some privacy for us, which I appreciate, but I know he also did it because he loves that name. Loves. It.

It came about like this:

We were talking about his name, which is the same as his father's. His father, incidentally, goes by his middle name, Mike, which is also what my boyfriend has been called by his family since birth. However, as an act of rebellion some time during his school years, and almost certainly also because in an official capacity (for work and school and government offices) it's easier, he began using his first name. Now he practically has dual identities, where all his old classmates and co-workers call him by his first name and his whole family refers to him by Mike, his middle name. I assimilated to this situation pretty easily; all my mother's sisters go by their middle names at home, so it wasn't a new phenomenon to me. However, we agreed it's hardly the norm and so it would be odd for someone to assume a person goes by any name other than the one given on, say, a class roster or a job application. Which brings me to my point.

For whatever reason, people far and wide have trouble with my name. Granted, Jessica was just coming in to fashion around the time I was born, so I can understand it being odd or difficult to remember years and years ago. But today women named Jessica are EVERYWHERE, so to still be called Jennifer or Rebecca or (I'm not kidding) Esther, is sort of mind-boggling. I promise I am not that forgettable. Similarly, I have found myself in several instances in which someone (a college professor, a job interviewer, etc.) has asked me my name and then asked if that's what I go by. ...Seriously? I just don't know what kind of question this is. You've just asked my name, I've given it to you, and then you ask if that's what I want to be called. What else would I want to be called, if not my own name? How on earth does someone answer this question? "Yes, my name is Jessica but I would prefer it if you referred to me as Mistress Shilayla of the Forest."

And so it goes. He's never said so, but I strongly suspect that's the moment my boyfriend first fell in love with me.

What does this have to do with this blog, you ask? Nothing. Except that names carry a significance for me. I decided last night, during this conversation with my boyfriend regarding his own blog, that I should bite the bullet and start my own. I've done so before, time and time again, only to get off-track. Now is the time to change that pattern. I need to just write, dammit. And that is a perfect name for a blog. Not just to write, either, but to ALWAYS write. Every day. As much as possible.

I also like the clever wordplay. Because, as my dear friend Laurie can tell you, she knows everything, but I, on the other hand, am always right. Dammit.

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