Saturday, January 3, 2009

What's in a name? Identity. But we don't get to pick our own name until we start a blog, at which point others have determined our given names, titles, and role names. I was named Hollace Lindsay Howatt at birth, at some school age acquiring the nickname Holly, more generally understood by the public.

Misunderstandings about my name and therefore my very identity occurred early in my life when upon my birth a telegram was called to my Iowa grandparents. My excited grandfather misheard the news and spread the announcement around Cedar Rapids that Horace Linseed (thought to be a grandson) had arrived and was doing fine. Which he would be, presumably, until he got old enough to realize what kind of "handle" he'd been given.

Misunderstandings persisted even under the caption Hollace Lindsay. I was repeatedly sent draft notices and warnings from the armed forces back in the draft lottery days, and was assigned to the men's dorm at a very conservative college in my freshman year.

Other names and identities inadvertently collected through the years were Hollymolly (brothers), HollDoll (one particular brother), Holly Babes (a Bible school roommate who started the appellation and spread it insidiously through the small campus so that on student body election day my identity, role and persona become utterly confused as Holly Babes, the new girls' dorm leader). Eventually this was shortened to HB, emblazoned on my beerstein which uninformed viewers might think stands for the HofBrau House.

Then came the Mrs., the Mommy, Mom, MOTHER!, and the kids' various nicknames for us: Madre and Padre, Mo and Po, Ho and Ro. Lastly, Mopsy.

Probably one of the most conflicted namings/identity changes brought upon me was changing my last name in marriage. It wasn't that I didn't love the new name: the word itself was quite pleasing, traditional, not overly common and had good associations for an Anglophile. I had no feminist hang-ups about losing my identity in a new name (I hadn't chosen the first one either). No, the problem was my very fine initials. HH was so symetrical, like a cattle brand. An artist could do all kinds of things signing her paintings with HH. My luggage was all engraved with the wonderful and symetrical HH, and here is the kicker: HH looks the same viewed from either side of the suitcase. It is completely unambiguous, HH viewed from the left or right, top or bottom (unless your name is Isabella Icthius, in which case you have another problem). I really regretted having all my elegant Samsonite set be instantly outdated and belie my new identity.

I'll save for another telling the first time my husband used my new name, title, and identity.

And then there is the Mopsy development.

More to come--I have to go "live up to my good name" as my Grandma used to say, and get some housework done.

1 comment:

Hollace said...

Hi Mom! Congrats on starting your first blog! It looks great, and I'll be excited to read what you write in the future! Sorry for all of the exclamation! points!!! - Evan