Aug 23, 2008

The Battle of the Name Continues.

The name game continues.

I've blogged oodles of times about my name issue -- the Web world and the Jewish world know me as Chavi or Chaviva. The world I grew up in, my family, my high school and college friends, they all know me as Amanda. The name on my license, and now the name on my grad dorm door reads "Amanda."

When I got here, I wrote "(Chavi)" in parenthesis, to sort of get off on the right footing. But then?

"Hi, I'm Ryan, and you are?"

With a sense of delay I responded "I'm uh ... Amanda." And now, I swear, I've seen this guy about 30 times in the past two days and everytime he makes a point to say "Hi Amanda!" And it's like this little poking reminder that I introduced myself as Amanda.

The thing is, I wasn't sure how to respond. I mean, my door, my registration, my CA, everything is "Amanda." So what do I do? I was thinking about it and thought of "Chavi, but you can call me Amanda" or "Amanda, but please call me Chavi."

To the Jews, of course, I'll be Chavi. Why? I'm not sure why it's easier that way, but it just is. But classes start on Monday and I'm toiling over what to do and say. Both of the professors I'll be working largely with know me as Amanda. The departmental secretary knows me as the same, as well. I just can't figure out how to not sound like a complete moron when requesting I be called by the name that I relate to and feel more fluidly.

I know most people are looking at me like I'm a moron or that I'm being overthoughful about this, and maybe I am. But names, well, what is more finite, more descriptive than a name?


Jessica said...

I had this issue when I went to seminary. My name is Jessica, but somehow the seminary got hold of my hebrew name and all the teachers were calling me Yaffa. I was worried that if I told them I wanted to be called my my english name and, in fact, didn't even like my hebrew name they'd think I was one of the rebellious kids and I'd be on lock-down the whole year -- I was only 18 at the time, I know better now. In the end all of the students knew me as Jessica and all but a couple of teachers knew me as Yaffa. In hindsight it didn't matter at all because soon after seminary ended I lost contact with all of the teachers.

Sam said...

Habibi, I would just call myself Amanda and use Chavi for aliyot, blogging, etc. Amanda is a beautiful name. There are many Jewish gils who're called Amanda. I don't know anyone who would think that was a Christ-ian name. Be proud to be yourself. Amanda is who you are. And who gives a damn what people think anyways.


chaviva said...

Thanks for your comments Jessica. I guess, people will call one what they choose to call one in the end, right?

Sam: I *want* to be called Chavi. I feel more like a Chavi than an Amanda. They mean the same thing, so it's not an issue of it being a Christian name; that has never been the issue. I guess, Chavi is who I am. It's who I have realized that I am, anyhow. I feel more whole when people introduce me as Chavi and say "Oh hey Chavi!" It just feels right. Sort of how it felt to convert :)

Sam said...

OK. I get it now. I think you should legally change your name in the long run. In the short run, introduce yourself as "Chavi" to new friends, and if "Amanda" even comes up, then just say, oh, that's the English version of my name. No one will even give it a second thought. Make sure on the first day of class that when the professors call your name, state that you'd like to be called Chavi. After that, you should be set.


melanie said...

I think the "Amanda, but please call me Chavi" statement would work. If you want people to call you Chavi, you'll have to tell them to do so - especially since you've got "Amanda" written on all your forms, etc. And a little explanation for them wouldn't hurt either.
BTW - do you feel less whole when I call you Amanda?? I can work on that ...

chaviva said...

Mel -- no! Of course not. There are people who will always call me Amanda and it's perfectly okay. Heather and Annie and John and Andrew and you and my parents and stuff. I don't expect to grandfather everyone in :) Cesar calls me Chavi, and other people who knew me from years ago call me names that are completely unrelated to anything (like one friend who calls me Anya). So it's all good :)

And Sam, I think you're right.

Tomorrow is day one. I hope I speak up!

Beth said...

I feel you on the name issue, really I do. I spent a lot of time worrying and wondering about changing my name after marriage. Ultimately, what we decided has worked for us in keeping our own individual identities and in creating a new family name, but for the issue of your first name, I think it's extremely personal. I think a legal name change may be in order for you to feel confident in saying that your name is Chavi. Maybe even take to write "A. Chaviva Edwards" instead of "Amanda" on everything. And, as people have said, definitely introduce yourself as Chavi. For those who already call you Amanda but are new friends, maybe just say, "Hey, I prefer being called by my other name, Chavi" and especially have profs call you that, since you'll probably make friends in class and then you won't even have to introduce yourself as anything but Chavi.

And, a story which may help: I had a bunch of classes with this guy who actually wanted everyone to call him Leech. His real name was something normal like Eric, but on the first day of class, he would say "Call me Leech" and the professor would go, "Okay, Leech." I wound up working with him at some point, and people at work even called him Leech! He'll always be Leech to me, even if he starts going by "Eric" again. Chavi is at least a really cool name. ;)

Good luck! :)

Christopher said...

"Hi, I'm Ryan, and you are?"

"Malcolm Tucker." Confuse 'em all!

...Amanda's a lovely name--perhaps most literally? Feminized gerund of "amo", "to love"--"loveable", more or less. I don't know about Chaviva; my studies of classics were pretty much limited to Latin.

And, I've never really had any nicknames stick--though variants of my name are used by different groups of friends...

Introduce yourself the way you want to be known. If that's Chavi, you certainly have to tell people that--nobody's gonna get that from your legal name.

And I'm not sure I'd worry about a legal name change, like so many people here are recommending... it's not that you object to your legal name, from what I can tell, it's just that you'd rather tell new friends and acquaintances something more about yourself than what your legal name conveys.

So maybe with new friends, it's just "Hi, I'm Chavi". With instructors and whatnot who already have your name on paper as Amanda, maybe you have to say "but please call me Chavi".

After all, what's in a name? That which we call a rose would by any other name smell as sweet... so Amanda would, were she not Amanda call'd, retain all that she was without that title--to paraphrase the bard a bit.

peace to you, my friend.


Nice Jewish Girl said...

I totally know what you mean about all this. I use my maiden name for work and my married name for personal stuff. It's like having two identities. It confuses people on occasion, and even me sometimes!

I would tell people now, at the beginning of the school year when you are just meeting new people, that you prefer to go by "Chavi." Nothing wrong with that. People ask to be referred to by nick names that are different from their names all the time. That is my 2 cents :)

chaviva said...

Beth: Leech? So ... did you ever get a story as to WHY he called himself Leech? I'm totally curious now.

Christopher: Ha! That *would* throw them for a loop. But, I like that that is just between the two of us :)

NJG: Thanks for your cents! They have been deposited at the International Bank of Chavi.

rachel said...

My family on my mum's side have this habit of using their middle names in every day life - it's something that goes back a fair few generations and I think arose because at least a few of them didn't like their given first name, so used their middle name instead. For example, if someone asked for my mum by her true first name, then we all have ot think hard for a moment, since nobody (family, friends, colleagues) uses it!

Think of your birth name as a middle name and introduce yourself as Chavi/Chaviva. And put a new name on your door!

Good luck!

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