New Old Name, Identical Unique Personality

As of one hour ago, I officially have a new name. Well, more accurately, I officially have my old name back. I left my ex-husband over seven years ago, but until about two years ago, I didn’t want to go back to my maiden name. My acquired surname was too cool. I liked it for its linguistic complexity and meaning, and I liked it for its difficulty of pronunciation and spelling. But then one day I decided I was over it. Nothing happened, I simply changed my mind. Then I spent a few years thinking about what name I could adopt instead, but that responsibility proved to be too much. Too many options. You can literally change your name to anything you want. Did you know that? Analysis paralysis set in. Eventually, I gave up and decided to take the boring route of going back to my maiden name. And so after waiting months for fingerprints and background checks and court dates, I’ve gone back to who I once was.  Continue reading →


My students in Honduras, and to a much lesser extent my students in Mexico, had some unusual names. In Honduras, I was told it had a lot to do with the city being the largest shipping port in Central America. Women would get pregnant by seamen (pun intended) from all around the world but by the time the baby arrived, the men would be long gone. The women, not being highly literate, would give the babies names that were similar to the men’s names but names got distorted due to differences in the sounds of Spanish versus whatever the fathers’ native tongues were. Or they would give the babies names that were words on the ships, cargo containers, or books and magazines the men read.

I don’t know how much truth there is to all that, but I do know a lot of my students had creative and unexpected names. My favorite was Victor Hugo. He was a chubby little guy in the fifth grade class I taught. All smiles and sweetness. Maybe his mom knew who Victor Hugo was and maybe not, but either way, I think he’ll achieve some greatness in his life. Or at least I hope he won’t end up in political exile somewhere. Continue reading →