Monday, June 28, 2010

the naming of things

i will admit that i have neglected to write as much as i have intended to, but to that end i can only use the same excuse i've been using for everything these days: i'm fat and tired.

on facebook, for example, accounts of my fatigue are the equivalent of everybody else's world cup updates: obnoxiously frequent, despite the fact that nobody else gives a proverbial shit. i'm sure they have removed me from their feed, as i, with very little remorse, have removed them from mine.

why am i so cranky? why am i so curt? why do i have such a vendetta against the world cup and the people who laud it? let me reiterate for you: i'm fat and tired.

but that's not what i've come to write about (though i could fill a few pages, pretty easily i think, with just HOW FAT AND TIRED i feel all the dang time). though it has been some time since anthony and i made our dual announcement of baby's name, i thought it might be appropriate to write a little about the process of naming, choosing the name, and the name itself.

for those who didn't know before, our baby's name is lucy annadeen shows-fife. it took us at least three months to come up with that.

as a younger person, when my ideas about pregnancy and parenthood were still being formed, it was my opinion that the mother should always have the most, if not the complete, say on what the baby will be named. this opinion came from the acknowledgment that it's the mom, after all, who carries the weight of the child, undergoes the permanent (let's say that again: PERMANENT) physical changes, and who ultimately has to push a small person out of a very sensitive part of her body (which, by the way, is also changed, PERMANENTLY.) i was under the impression that this sort of earns her the right to call her kid whatever the heck she wants, regardless of the protests of the father, no matter how kind or noble he might be.

fathers, regardless of kindness or nobility, do not agree.

yes, i will admit that i still think i should have been able to pick the whole name myself. i understand where anthony was coming from when i told him my theory and he asked me, very sweetly, if i was "out of my cotton-pickin' mind." and he's going to understand where i was coming from when i'm in the third stage of active labor and i punch him in the face.

but lucy's first name, for all intents and purposes, was my choice. it didn't take long to decide on, actually; it's a name i picked out quite a few years ago, and anthony, thankfully, was receptive. i've always liked the name; derived from the latin for "light," of course. she's a patron of writers, and in her legend, naturally, has her eyes removed by her heathen tormenters; in her icon, she's typically shown holding her eyes on a plate, but with her eyes still intact, symbolizing (some say) the divine sight, or inspiration. and of course, she's the precocious main character of some of c.s. lewis's narnia books, named after lewis's own niece. c.s. lewis was my favorite author for several years in my young adulthood, and i'd be lying out my butthole if i said i didn't pick the name "lucy" for my first girl child the minute i fell in love with the narnia books.

the middle name was harder, though. giving someone a good name, i think, is like choosing two adjacent songs to put on a mix cd: one has to sound just right going into the other. naturally, all names ending in a long "e" sound were out, as we certainly couldn't have a kid with a rhyming name. the popular bent toward unisex names, too, needed to be avoided. and family names were off-limits in my opinion, as there are two families in question here, and it didn't feel right to honor one over another.

thus, lists were compiled, together and independently, and each list was steadily deconstructed, whittled down to the few names each of us could tolerate, then set aside, as new lists were made. oh, the lists that were made.

finally, the impetus that, i believe, forces every expectant couple to choose a name kicked in: we got tired of people asking us what the name was going to be. (the kicker here, by the way, is that every one of these jokers, nay, YOU jokers out there in internet-land, thinks you ought to be the first to know, and tries to get the inside scoop. it's kind of hilarious.) we decided we WOULD name this baby before the end of the day. we were down to just a few names, when anthony looked over at his itunes, and noticed the name of one of the artists, an old folk musician from eastern kentucky named annadeene fraley. he added it to the list, on a lark, and we both kind of liked it. we pared down the list a little more, until there were only two names. tired of the process, i told anthony to just pick one. he chose "annadeene," and we decided to drop the final "e" from the name. and there we had it: lucy annadeen. all we had to do then was publicly proclaim it by way of facebook, and we could finally relax.

sort of.

there is the fact that practically nobody, including ourselves, had ever heard the name before. when i told my mom on the phone, she exclaimed over the name, saying it was "precious," before going on to mispronounce it twice, first as "annabean" (hilarious), and then as "aberdeen." sometimes people say they love the name, and sometimes they just give you the nod and the "oh, ok, cool," which means they think it's ridiculous.

the name is old news to me now; i spent the first week or so after we chose the name letting it roll around on my tongue in private moments, hearing for myself how it sounded, how it might sound as i say it (or at least part of it) every day for, quite possibly, the rest of my life.

but with less than two months to go before zero hour, the name is less of a detached signifier, and more of an identity for the lil' lady in my belly. this is especially because of the frenzy of movement i feel every day, about which i could fill a whole other post, and hopefully will. to name something, i guess it goes without saying, is to think of it not only as something real and with a personality, but as something distinctly yours. the pain and discomfort i feel on a daily (and nightly) basis, the change in my appearance, the way i've had to augment and, in some cases, give up the things i do: these are things i own now, for the sake of a new person who is no longer conceptual, but absolutely real and who, finally, has a name of her own.


  1. just remember that saying "i brought u in this world and i cant take u out!" and say her name like she is in trouble like ur mom used to do LAUREN M'LISSA SHOWS GET OVER HERE

  2. :) I really like the name you and sack-o-crawdads picked. When zach and i were trying to pick a name for jasper we joked about Jasper Boone, we thought it sounded like a distinguised, old, southern gentlemen... and then it started sounding more and more like name he should have.... :) and it stuck. Plus Jasper means "holder of the treasure" and and boone means "A benefit bestowed, especially one bestowed in response to a request." :) He is definitely a treasure and a benefit :)

  3. I think Annadeen is lovely! Lucy is very nice too, of course. This was a super-interesting post for me because I'm so particular about names as well. I really dislike mine (unoriginal, don't feel like it fits me, etc), and I really think there's an art to naming something.

    To bring up the world cup, Landon Donovan's parents were great namers. The repetition of sounds and vowels makes his name memorable and pleasing to the eye and ear.

    I think you've definitely achieved a similar quality of naming artistry. Lucy is pretty, classic, and simple and Annadeen is pretty, a little flowery, and very unique. So they complement each other well and she'll have some options as she gets older.

    I know that was like a post in itself, patting you on the back and expressing some of my opinions about naming - neither of which you care about.

    But well done!

  4. sunday, there's nothing i care more about than being patted on the back. i appreciate your diligence and your carefully considered opinions.

    also, speaking of your name, i actually was wondering the other day: what's your professional name? are you melissa or sunday? or melissa sunday?

  5. I'm totally in identity crisis. I got by Melissa at work because that's how I started out in Miami (where weird, unofficial names like Sunday don't fly in the workplace) and then I moved out here with a Miami work contact. And from that point forward, everyone I worked with knew me as Melissa. So I'm stuck.

    Now I've got a group of friends who thinks I'm Melissa and a group of friends who thinks I'm Sunday. Half the time I hesitate when I introduce myself cause I have no freakin' clue who I'm supposed to be.

    And there's no "Hi, this is..." on my outgoing voicemail message.

    Big mess.

  6. And I don't really love either name. You've been thinking about names a lot lately. What would you name me that would go nicely with "Galvin"?

  7. i have a vaguely similar thing going on at my work, though it's sometimes merely off-putting rather than life-upsetting. there was already a lauren when i began work at the news, so rather than have two laurens, which any typical place would have done, i was renamed "chuck." and this is what they call me. so, i don't even answer to my real name anymore half the time. it's a very strange feeling.

    in answer to your question: girl names are hard, i think; many of them are weirdly stigmatized in my brain. for example, it's completely the fault of cinema that the name "vivian" automatically makes me think "hooker, possibly with a heart of gold." in your case, i'm not sure i could even begin to try and put a whole new stigma on somebody who already has a personality. i do know that my default name as a kid was "victoria"; i thought it was the most awesome name ever, and was determined to change my name to that when i grew up. perhaps now is the time for you to indulge a childhood whim?