The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's In a Name?

         Names are important. Titles tells us something. But sometimes, names or titles change...

         Donna Volkenannt has a story in Chicken Soup's newest collection, Hope and Miracles. (It comes out October 7.) If you don't know Donna's work, you should. And if you don't know her titles, you definitely should check out her deftness when it comes to creating a title for her stories. 

         This slice-of-life story is called "A Patchwork of Hope," and the title fits both figuratively and literally. (It's also a moving and well-crafted tale.)

         When I was born, my birth mother named me Margaret. (I can see myself as Maggie. Margaret? Never.)  My parents named me Susan, which was fine until I hit 7th grade. Both Susan and Sue (and definitely Susie) were too conventional for my tastes. My inability to fit my round self into the square holes, combined with a passion for everything Native American led me to rename myself "Sioux." My friends knew me as Sue spelled with an X, my parents shook their head in dismay, and I remained Sioux--unofficially--until I was in my forties.

         It was then that I decided that the third time was a charm, the third name of mine was going to be the one that stuck, and I went to court and paid to change my name--legally--to Sioux.  

        What do you think of your name? Did you ever have occasion to change it? If you did change it, what would you have changed it to? Nosy people like me want to know...



26 comments:

  1. I didn't realize that your name is really Sioux. That's AWESOME!

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  2. I despise the name Tammy. Tammies work at liquor stores and wear badly-applied blue eyeshadow, which is why I write under my real name, which has its own weird story that's too long to tell here. Love the name "Sioux," though. Congratulations to Donna!

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    1. A story about your real name? That's intriguing...

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  3. Blogger hates me since I jumped ship to WordPress. That's the only explanation. First, I'm supposed to receive notification when you post. Nope. It won't show up in my email until tomorrow. Second, my initial comment is never accepted. And now I can't remember what I said. Waah.

    Okay, I'm done whining.

    Names. Well, as a kid I didn't like my name because there were always other girls with the same name and we were invariably designated numbers---Lisa-1, Lisa-2, Lisa-3---in the classroom. So. Annoying. At one point I almost switched to my middle name, Melanie. Can't recall why I didn't. And then after I got married I dropped the Melanie altogether and took my maiden name, Ricard, as my middle name. As an adult I've found that there don't seem to be as many Lisas around as when I was a kid. What the heck happened to them all? And should I be nervous?

    When I first started publishing stuff my byline was just Lisa Claro, but when I realized that it wasn't a fluke and that, yes, more publishing would ensue, I added the Ricard for my dad. He died in 1999, but it would matter to him, the use of my maiden name, so I added it for Daddy even though he'll never know it. Well . . . on some level, I guess he does know it. I like to think so anyway. :)

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    1. First of all, Lisa, that sounds like a Dr. Suess story. Lisa -1, Lisa-2 and Lisa-3.

      Secondly, I would be extremely paranoid. What DID happen to all those Lisas you grew up with? Is there a well-thought out scheme to get rid of them all? Perhaps this would make a great short story...

      Finally, I am sure your dad knows all about your writing success, and is cheering you on. And how cool for him. The Ricard name is living on in a published novelist!

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  4. You're right about Donna and her stories, so I can't wait to read "Patchwork of Hope" and I can't wait to read yours too... although maybe I've heard it already. But there's something different about reading it in print. I love that you officially changed your name to Sioux. My name... I didn't seem to mind it. Then there was a period in which I didn't like it at all, but wasn't clever enough to come up with anything else. Then I liked it again. And now, well, it is what it is. My middle name is Marie, and my confirmation name is Theresa. I remember my mom wanted me to have my confirmation name as Lucy, after the saint that is born on my birthday? I think. Can't remember that stuff any more. But all my friends were going with Theresa and so I had to also. I wish now I had chosen Lucy. Lynn Marie Lucy is kind of silly sounding though. :-)

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    1. Lynn--Yes, you have heard the story. That's the unfortunate thing about critique groups--there are rarely any "surprises" since the pieces get critiqued before they're submitted.

      And Lynn is one of those names that is great for a kid and is fitting for an adult, too. I think most people are not crazy about their name...but I wonder if they changed it, would they get tired of that one as well?

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  5. My name has been painful for. Me. It can still wound me. I'm trying to see the beauty of it and to accept it is who I
    am.

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    1. Bookie--I'm sorry to hear that. I happen to think your (real) name is beautiful.

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  6. Kimberly was too fancy for my inner tomboy - I have always preferred Kim. Once, a mother of another Kim called me Kimmie, and a little bit of my soul died. I thought Grandma Kim would sound stupid (thinking that Kim was not an appropriate moniker for a granny) - but when the kids call me that, I melt.

    My grandma was Margaret, though everyone called her Peg.

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    1. Kim--You died over Kimmie, I died over Suzy-Q. Yes, it's amazing how easily we melt when it comes to our grandkids. And my paternal grandmother was Margaret, and she was also called Peg.

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  7. Blogger is messing with me! Let me try again. My grandma named me Linda after actress, Linda Darnell. I like my name. My dad wanted to name me Pearl or Priscilla, and my mom wanted to name me Lucia or Patricia. Many of my main characters are named Trish or Tricia.

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    1. I'm trying to imagine you a Priscilla. I can't. Linda suits you perfectly.

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  8. My real-life middle name is Sue. I am not real fond of it. Especially since my dad's side of the family always combined it with my first name. Sort of like Val-Sue.

    If you ever watch The Middle on ABC, you would know that the daughter's name is Sue Sue Heck. She spent an entire episode trying to legally change it, then decided to keep it when the clerk told her how unique it was, having never ever encountered another person named Sue Sue.

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    1. I DO watch "The Middle" but didn't know that about Sue. (She is about as klutzy and uncoordinated and unpopular as I was, so I really relate to her.)

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  9. Cool story Sioux. And I really like your name, and the spelling. My middle name is Margaret. I've always like my first name, I think because I never knew anyone else with my name growing up, who wasn't an Elizabeth (I'm just "Beth"). It was probably the only thing I didn't complain about as a teenager ; )

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    1. Beth--That's marvelous that your parents named you something that does not have a nickname, unless people elongate it and call you "Bethie"). You make a great Just Beth.

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  10. Great post, Sioux! I love your name, and the story of how it came about, though I must confess that before I met you, I thought you were Native American. Which all goes to show that we are each in our own ways enigmas. My formal given name is Theresa, named for St. Theresa the Little Flower. My mom nicknamed me Terry, but when I first started writing, I changed the spelling to Teri, so people would know I'm female (why that mattered back then I'm not sure!). When my work began getting published, I decided to write under my formal name because the whole Teri thing was so confusing. Suffice to say it's still confusing, and yes, I agree, a name is important, but hopefully not as important as what we say and do, what we believe.

    Congratulations to both you and Donna for being in the Touched by an Angel book. I can't wait to read both your stories!

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    1. Teri--Thanks. I've known some writers (women) who use just their first initial so that nobody is sure whether it's a male or female, so I guess those dilemmas go both ways.

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  11. My name is oh-so-boring. Who ever writes a song about "Pat" or "Patricia"? Nobody, that's who. Wish I'd picked out some really cool name and changed mine like you did. Perhaps I should become "Paloma" and turn into a romance writer.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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    1. Pat--Well, there are no Sues in Charlie Brown-land, and certainly no Siouxs. However, there IS a Patty (Peppermint Patty).

      It's never too late...

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  12. I love talking about names! We have a class discussion about names every semester, and it's the one almost everybody can relate to because everyone has an opinion about his or her name, and maybe a story or two. thanks for such a great post! And I love your name, Sioux, and some day will ask you all about how easy or difficult it is to change a name!!!

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    1. Mary--At least in St. Louis, it's easy. Fill out a form, pay a fee and go to court for the judge to make it official. It gets posted in some legalese "newspaper" and voila! You have a new name.

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  13. I do love your name and the back story. How cool and decisive of you. Isn't it odd how much we ascribe to a name? How did we decide Eugene is a wimp (my uncle won't use it) and Helen is a homebody? Like others here, my middle name is Sue. I wanted it to be Suzanne or Suzette, it always seemed so plain. Hey Lynn, your name runs through my family for both girls and boys - but always as a middle name. Some names are so arbitrary, like my choice of Nathaniel for my son because three syllables sounded better with his one syllable last name. Linda, my sister has your name. It was unusual when she was born (1951) and was for our dad Leonard. The first other Linda she met when they were both 4 or 5 years old and was a little black girl (my sister is white). She ran home to tell us, "I met a Linda and she's chocolate!"

    My mother Wilma was named for Buck Rogers' girlfriend, which I find hilarious because my grandmother didn't seem the sci-fi type! My brother Kevin was named for a young Disney actor.

    A not-so-secret family story is that my youngest brother was named by us kids to represent his two grandfathers. Years later we realized one of his grandfathers isn't the same as ours.

    My own first name has been a story of angst for me. I've written often about it ...

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    1. Marcia--I guess you've often heard that line from the Brady Bunch, so I won't repeat it...

      I think Marcia is a lovely name, and suits you, but that is part of it. Others may like our name, but often, we're wishing we had a different one.



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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...