What’s in a name; A Rant

If you try to find me through google, chances are, you have to pass by this article:

“Brittney, Brittny and Brittneigh on What’s in a Name” NYTimes.com

I have a weirdly hard time with some of the comments in this article. They are equally disparaging of unusually spelled names, and frustrated with common and typically spelled names. I also have been seeing an increase of memes and comments on places online (coughREDDITcough) that really put down people with unusual or non-traditionally spelled names. This really rubs me the wrong way.

Unique names are not a personal affront, and if you don’t hire or want to talk to someone because their unique name makes you uncomfortable… guess what?

YOU’RE A JERK!

Most of the population doesn’t choose their own name, they simply roll with what name their parents picked out. And honestly, parents typically don’t pick out names to personally affect YOU. So shut up. Be considerate of someone else and stop rolling your eyes at their name. That five year old kid has ZERO CONTROL over whether his Mama named him “Chase”, “Chayce”, or “Chaise”, and don’t you dare take it out on him. It’s rough enough internalizing the constant misspellings and weird looks you get when you habitually spell your name instead of simply saying it at every function you attend without dealing with people getting annoyed by something that PROBABLY affects them for less than five minutes of their day.

That being said, I have a non-traditional name and sometimes I really hate it.

The top 10 reasons why I dislike my non-traditionally spelled name:

1) There were four other girls with “Brittany” variated names in my classes growing up, none of us spelled them the same.
2) I have to spell out my name completely, emphasizing the last three letters to prevent billing errors, every single time I go anywhere or sign up for anything. This is frustrating when the person in line in front of you is named “Bob Johnson”.
3) 9 out of 10 professors I had never spelled my name correctly in correspondence even when my full name was in the email, subject header, and signature of the email.
4) Strangers will occasionally insist on pronouncing the “A” in BrittAny when they address me. There is no “A” in my name.
5) I got called “Britney Spears” from 6th grade to 8th grade, which was kind of horrifying to a super awkward, conservative and chubby kid.
6) I hated having a common name and sharing it with 5-6 other people growing up. Now I don’t know any other Brittany’s! It is STRANGE.
7) Sometimes I short my name into “Britt” to avoid dealing with spelling it out and the frustrations that always follow that, which means that people THEN proceed to call me “Britt-Britt” which is the stupidest nickname in the history of ever PS never call me that I WILL END YOU.

Uhhh so I can’t come up with 10 reasons. SO I CAN’T HATE IT THAT MUCH.
I have also passed on the idea of changing it. I daydreamed about that for a long time, and when a good time for it came, I passed.

Having a non-traditionally spelled name is a pain in the rear. I get frustrated by it sometimes, but because of my name, I learned how to take ownership of it and turn it into an identity I can love and be proud of, something I’m not sure that everyone has to or gets to do, at least as early as I did.

…Even though I don’t really identify with my name and even disliked being called by that. I typically much prefer a “hey-you” to my actual name.
…Even though I typically go by BrittKnee, BrittNeigh, BrittNooooooo. That’s simply because they are way easier to remember than my legal spelling.

And really, BrittNeigh has been my name for over ten years. It’s pretty much here to stay.

When it comes to the babies I will someday have, I will probably go with a traditional spelling. I will probably look at record books and try to not pick the #1 baby name of that year. But when it comes down to it? I have no say in how students will make fun of my child’s name, how people will misspell it because of some new celebrity that hasn’t reached their peak yet, or how it will be a super common and annoying name in ten years. And it certainly won’t be my kid’s fault. Just like it’s totally not mine.

In conclusion: let’s all just accept everyone’s names and identity for what they are. Theirs. I feel like our society is way too opinionated about other people’s choices. Let’s just let it go, realize that identity is none of your freaking business, and move on.

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musical talent

This weekend I bought a toy accordion.

Er.

I mean.

THIS WEEKEND, I BOUGHT A TOY ACCORDION!!!!!

My friend Mike and I got together on Friday and both invested in toy accordions. We plan to practice enough to get fairly fluent in short songs! So far I am haltingly okay at practicing my scales, and can produce a charmingly awkward rendition of America, The Beautiful. I’m sure I’ll eventually post a video of it. Getting the rhythm of the push-pull of the reeds is super hard. I hope that someday I can be GOOD at this and maybe play a full accordion. Don’t worry, I’m not the next Weird Al, but I might start serenading people around town. Or busking.

My plan is to get good enough for Christmas that I can reliably play one holiday tune on it to annoy my sister endlessly. My family will love it.

I’m not really sure why I’m so thrilled at the idea of playing the accordion. I certainly am not looking forward to the potential of being Awkward Soccer Mom who drags out the accordion to embarrass my future children. And meeting guys? Man, having an accordion pretty much cements me as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl of sorts. But regardless, the accordion really IS the only instrument I’m seriously interested in learning. I’m way more excited about it than I ever was about the guitar.

We have a family history of accordion playing.

Above is my Mom (age 2?) holding a toy accordion with my Grandpa Rudy (who I sadly never got to meet!). There’s also a photo of my Dad, floating around the family archives somewhere, of him at age 2 grinning from ear to ear with a full accordion in his lap.

I like the idea of being more musical and maybe performing someday. But here I am, at baby steps.

Of course, do I really need another project to distract me from studying for the GRE, grad school applications, moving, work, writing stories, blogging, and being endlessly entertaining? I’m not sure. But man, every time I successfully complete the C scale in the right order, I’m seriously filled with glee!

Life achievement: unlocked!

GUYS. I just moved out of my parent’s house!

I’m 25 years old. I’ve never lived on my own before–I stayed at home through college instead of moving out. This means that I have barely $10,000 in student loans (A BARGAIN!) but it also means that up until now I still shared a bathroom with my sister and relied solely on my Mom to ensure I had the right type of cereal for breakfast.

Today, my Mom, Dad, and my sister helped move me into my bedroom in the new apartment I’m sharing with some friends. It was overwhelming and fast, and holy cow I am done?! My roommates are still unpacking away, but I have to try to get some sleep in before work tomorrow.

I realize that my story, while unusual in terms of American culture, is becoming more and more of a norm. More young adults are still living, or moving back in with, their parents. I hope that I can stay *moved out* for now, and find more of my own independence.

My deer and I will just keep each other company for the time being.

backpost: on heirlooms

This was originally posted on August 7, 2010 at lemonlove.forgedpixels.com. Moved here to save in case of losing that domain.

My family is somewhat unusual.

I say that of course, realizing that it is completely usual in it’s unusual-ness. My family is really not that strange and confusing, and just like everyone else’s family, it is filled with random members that collect hurricane shelters full of tinned yams and horde wood for y2k. It also has (just like everyone else) a quartet of organ-players, a banjo-soloist, a tarzan impersonator, a unicyclist, a zebra collector, a fraud specialist, and some Australians.

The thing about my family is that we really don’t have that many heirlooms. Some people have heirlooms up the yin-yang! Some people have hutches and desks and cabinetry built by their great-great-grandfer on the prairies of Oregon and hand-crocheted cat-ear cozies crafted crazily for a crotchety kitten who crankily crammed their cute meta-carpals into his craw.

It’s not like I’m jealous.

But my family is severely lacking in heirlooms. We haven’t been close to my paternal Grandparents in my lifetime. My maternal Grandmother began suffering from Altzheimer’s when I was about seven, so even my memories of her are tainted with memory loss, both of hers and my own.

I was twelve when she died, and not old enough to understand the desire to preserve trinkets and memories. I am left with photographs of her as my heirlooms. I love them! Seeing her as a young woman makes me feel like maybe I did know her, in a somewhat metaphorical way.

My Grandpa remarried a few years later, to an old friend of the family he reconnected with at my Grandmother’s death. I never identified with her, but now I wish I had tried harder to get to know her. She passed away this spring, and we have been slowly helping Grandpa weed through her possessions and send them off to her relations.

The entire time they were married, she had a collection hanging on her wall.

A collection of spoons.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. In fact, I thought the same thing when I first saw them. “Oh my gosh. SPOONS. How typically old-lady! What a silly thing to collect. I mean, SPOONS.”

If I knew how to triple-underscore and draw skulls and cross-bones around a word like I would in the notes I’d pass around school in the 7th grade in HTML, I would do so. That would fully-articulate the true disdain and hatred I felt whenever I saw them hanging on the dining-room wall.

Spoons.

I hated them. And honestly, as a 16 year old whose Grandpa re-married to a woman who had never had children of her own, no-less, I found that woman and her spoons to be-less-than-fantastic.

When she died earlier this spring, and Grandpa started sorting out through the last of her possessions, I knew the spoons would end up at a thriftstore.

When I visited his house, Grandpa would trot out many items of hers and offer them to me. I turned most of them down. He finally offered me her collector’s spoons.

They stared at me. Silver and tarnished, covered in plastic, embossed and emblazoned with words and names of places. I realized that she had travelled the world with her spoons, and had no one to look after them.

I hadn’t recieved anything from my grandmother, so it’s not like I had an issue with competing storage space. And the spoons… the spoons with their windmills and tarnished silver camels and necks covered in wildflowers… they were kinda cool.

In fact, oh hey! That one has a windmill that spins! And a cuckoo-clock that dangles! Oh wow, yeah I forgot she was a missionary in Bolivia… and she even went to Vatican City!

I suddenly was overwhelmed with this strange and fulfilling need to keep her heirlooms, as a substitute for my own. As a collector and a person who finds happiness in collecting things, the concept of leaving behind my favourite items without someone to value them too is pretty heartbreaking.

So I agreed to take the spoons, to everyone on the planet’s shock and awe.

And I love them.

The collection is rather large (to me!). I think I am now the proud owner of 30+ spoons from various places around the world. These are just my favourites to share right now.

I love seeing all the places she has been, and have even… started collecting a few of my own.

Here and there, you know, to commemorate big trips. Not anything… excessive.

They are spoons, after all.