Friday, March 22, 2013

Bonjour, je m'appelle

So, names are an interesting thing. They can be more difficult than I'm strictly happy with.

I don't even mean character names, though that's true too. Starting a new D&D or White Wolf game, I frequently have no idea what to call my character. I run through the options of things that will get made fun of, or get related to things that I have no intention of connecting. If I add a last name, I have to say them a bunch of times, to make sure they don't have a stupid rhythm or something. It's horrible.



But. Then there's my name. This blog is under Jennifer R. Donohue, because that's what my very first gmail address is. I linked it to that one, seeing as how it's my real name and all. It's what my signature is. But really, nobody calls me Jennifer. If they do, I'm in trouble, or we're strangers. Or it's a police officer, the double header of the former and latter.

I never had any kind of cool nickname. We've got friends who have been effectively rechristened, some of whose real names I don't even know (or didn't for a really long time). But I've always been Jen. After a certain age, that is. With my family, I was Jennie for a really long time (I imagine I still am, but I get "Jen" now too). I don't remember what my friends in elementary school called me. I don't think teachers called me Jen or Jennie; that was probably Jennifer too. In French class, other than Freshman year when I picked Brigitte because I thought it sounded cool, my "French name" was Genvieve. You know. Jennifer. As opposed to my friend Lennon's name, which was Napoleon. Or it was by the time I had French class with him; I'm not sure if it was all along. It's actually kind of funny when I mention to people that I had a friend in high school who I called Napoleon, but whose real name was Lennon; they assume "Lenin", you see, which is it's own can of worms.

So, when I'm commenting on other blogs, or even dreaming about my name on that book cover, what am I thinking of? Jennifer or Jen? Jen would be a boon at book signings, certainly (AIM HIGH), but I really do like the way I write my letter f. Is that enough of a reason? Probably not. Jennifer is a fine name, a good name, but it feels like my dress-up name, my be an important grown up name. Not my kick off the shoes (which I always do) and get comfortable name, or my play pretend name, or my dog owner name even. My name is my name, and I have no other (we're not even going to talk about Internet handles.....). It's just a matter of choosing which one.

6 comments:

  1. Confession time!

    I am also a Jennifer/Jen. (Not a Jenny, that never suited me.) Obviously, I do not write under my real name, and I have a number of reasons for doing so. Whenever I sign my real name, I always always always sign the full Jennifer. I have nothing wrong with nicknames, but when it comes to anything "official" (or even most things written down), the shortened forms just look wrong to me.

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    1. Jennifer/Jens unite! It's just so popular, right? ;) I also never sign "Jen", not even when we signed in all thirty or whatever places for our mortgage. It's just so weird.

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  2. I'm not a Jennifer, so I'm not really entitled to a say, but I think 'Jen' is extremely cool. I have a few autographed books, and they're not always decipherable as the author's name. I think you can develop a squiggly short form of your signature. I'm a bit sad now, that my name doesn't really have a short form.

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    1. Don't worry, non Jennifers are still welcome! In addition to signatures (which is I'm sure an unreadable scrawl at this point anyway. I've actually wondered if I should re-teach myself handwriting), I wonder what I would like bylines to be. Jen or Jennifer on a book cover?

      I think I've heard "Carolyn" turned into Lyn before? But it can stink to not have ready nickname material.

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  3. For what it's worth, people still get the Lennon/Lenin thing confused. And it happens to me several times a day, since I have to wear a name tag at work. Although you'd think having it literally spelled out right in front of them would make it easier for people... Not so, apparently. People are super dumb. And of course, if they don't get tripped up there, then they have to ask me if my parents like the Beatles ("I guess they must have, huh?") and if I like them ("They're all right, I guess. I have kind of a complex relationship with them, as you might guess, but I don't really feel like having a conversation about it a dozen times a day, so how about you just tell me what's wrong with your computer and I fix it instead?"). It has made me very conscious of trying to make sure I don't immediately go for the obvious comment/question about things with other people, especially with other people's names.

    Anyway, as far as your name, yeah, you're Jen, but I think Jennifer Donohue does probably have more of a flow to it for a professional title type of thing. But I don't know, I could be biased again there. I don't mind when people shorten my name to "Len" (but call me "Lenny" and you die), but I've never volunteered that as a nickname, I've never used that, I wouldn't want to put that on my nametag at work even though it would make things a little easier on me. I'm Lennon, for better or worse, and that's part of what's made me who I am.

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    1. It never occurred to me to shorten your name to Len....hell, Napoleon is longer to say than Lennon is in the first place (sorry if it's weird that I posted about you).

      We also know a Samm. Not Sam. And I've known people who used Jenn, not Jen. And of course I forgot to mention that family called/calls me Jennie. Ah well.

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