Whats in a name?

Your name is only the first chapter of your story.


Last entry, I mentioned that I had a personal goal to average one post a week.  While I may not post an entry every physical week, I want the cumulative average to be 52 entries a year.  When I have a lot to say (like my vacation wrap up), I can post many entries in a week.  Sadly, when I’m in a slump, I don’t post for weeks on end.  I enjoy writing, though.  Its one of the few creative outlets that I feel confidant in my skills.  So, in many ways it’s stress relief, and like I’ve mentioned before, it helps me solidify my thoughts.  I am very goal oriented and while the occasional recipe post isn’t cheating in my mind (especially if it’s for one that I’ve been given much praise), I want my posts to be of some personal substance.  I have had a blog prompt article for writing your life’s story saved for quite a while.  Since many of the prompts don’t fit my situation (they are very social defined norms, many of which I don’t fit neatly into), I don’t plan to follow the prompts exactly, but pick and choose what I’m in the mood to write.  In order to catch up on my quota, I’ve created a new category for these posts.

It does make sense to begin with my name.  My name is Sara May.  My great-grandmother’s (on my mother’s side) name was Sarah.  I don’t think I ever met her.  My mother didn’t like the “h” on the name since its not pronounced.  I was very adamant about the spelling of my name as a child.  “Sara without an h” was my self introduction for much of my childhood.  I remember being sad when I couldn’t find souvenirs with the “correct” spelling and adults changing the “h” written on cups into a flower to appease me.  Apparently Sara/h was a very popular name for my generation (top 5 girls names each year during the 80s), so the alternate spelling became popular as well, I’m assuming to add some uniqueness to the name.  Once I hit high school, I didn’t have issues finding my name on the trinket racks, and as an adult, I’ve cared less about the actual spelling.  There are so many more things to spend my energy on than correcting my coworkers.

Some of my best friends are Sara/hs (both with and without the h), and now we all have modifiers on our names.  There was one other Sara (also no h) in my high school, but I don’t remember it being an issue to make a distinction between us with last initials.  My first semester of college there were 3 other Sara/hs in my college’s incoming class – so 4 of us out of a cohort of just under 100.  I am a bit saddened that my time in ROTC for the first 2 years of college lessened the time I spent bonding with my college classmates but that is a story for another day.  In the summer before my Junior year of college, the Sarah with an h and I shared a summer class in English.  Since we were both in the same class and college, we were already acquaintances and she had already introduced me to the SCA, but that summer we became friends.  Her fiance ended up moving into the house I had rented when my sister moved out.

As we spent more time together in the SCA, the normal last name distinction wasn’t relevant, so we needed another modifier.  There was already a good/evil pair of Kevins, so it was natural for folks to dub us as good and evil.  She is a strawberry blonde and I am a brunette, so she got good and I got evil.  I’m sure there is more to it than that, as I was (and still am sometimes) a closed person – it takes a while for me to open up to new people.  She has a lot of natural tact, too, a skill I have worked hard to develop over the years.  This name stuck for me so much so that I wasn’t able to actually go by any other chosen SCA name.  I picked one at my first Gulf Wars, but it never stuck.  Even in a new kingdom, it was easier to introduce myself as Good Sarah’s friend Evil Sara in order to tap into her network of people, and I’ve never been able to shake the name.  I don’t tend to introduce myself as such anymore, but people still know who Evil Sara is.  I ended up changing my SCA name years down the line, using a lot of bad history of the origin of Evil as a surname.

My middle name, May, is a legacy name as well.  It was my grandmother’s (on my mom’s side) middle name, and the name she chose to answer to.  It was also my mom’s middle name.  It was expected that it would be my daughter’s middle name as well.  I have recently told my sister, when she shared that she may try for another child, to use the middle name of May if it is a girl.  My sister pushed back quite a bit, knowing that this is a legacy that in which she was never included and will probably still take more convincing if and when she has another child.  It has taken me a long time to let go of that piece of conditioning and expectation.  I never liked babies as a child, and didn’t like babysitting much either, preferring manual labor of mowing yards for extra cash.  Along with society’s pressure’s for a family, I had to let go of this very special tradition that tied me into a life I ultimately didn’t want.

My very first nickname was based on my middle name.  The boy I had a crush on in 2nd or 3rd grade called me Mayflower.  I’m sure he meant it as a nice thing – girls like flowers and all – I hated the attention called to a name I didn’t really associate with myself.  It wasn’t until high school, when a friend smushed my names into one name, SaraMay, that I began to feel ownership over the name.  This may have something to do with another nickname that manifested around the same time that had nothing to do with my name.  One cold day of my sophomore year, I went to soccer practice wearing a jean jacket.  The seniors didn’t know my name and began calling me Jean to get my attention during the scrimmage.  Cue confusion.  Apparently hilarious confusion, because it became a running joke.  It was very much a reflection of the Mayflower incident, since I felt displaced by this name, but at the same time I was receiving attention from the senior boys.  Teenage hormones allowed me to tolerate having a nickname much better than when I was a child, though.  I bonded to my middle name due to the preference of my smushed name over the fake name.

With the advent of the internet, I was able to pick out a nickname for myself for the first time.  I went with ChinaDoll for a few reasons.  First was my very obvious pale complexion.  Second was the association with virginity to unbroken china.  I didn’t lose my virginity until I was in college.  Coming full circle, at the end of college, I got to pick out an entirely new persona for myself, complete with a new name* and picture, when I took up phone sex for “quick, easy” money.  It wasn’t quick or easy, but it did pay the internet bills.  I ended up keeping that name for a long time for internet anonymity.  It became a bit pointless after I met a lot of the folks from the internet and got them jobs where I worked and they still called me by a faux name, even though they knew the real one.  Finally, BastKitten was the last name I have picked for myself.  I have always loved cats, and what better than the goddess of cats?  It’s a bit too much competition to just get “Bast” as a user name most of the time though, so I added the kitten to be different.

So, those are the most memorable names that other people have actually called me.  I don’t have any special names in my head for myself, like Batman does though, in here I’m just Sara.  I’ll be back soon with more ennui for y’all.


*Not disclosed here for privacy reasons


2 thoughts on “Whats in a name?”

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