Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Name Game

This week the prompt I've chosen for Writer's Workshop is, The meaning of your name...does it suit you?

Considering my love for everything lingual, I doubt it would surprise anyone to know I've put a lot of thought into my name throughout my life. My name means a lot to me and I consider it a big part of who I am--it's something I've carried with me for my entire life.  When I was a kid I loved the fact that my initials (MAR) could spell out the name of a planet with just one letter added. There aren't many famous Monica's that I know of, and I remember as a child when I did meet anyone who shared my name, it was always someone middle-aged. I liked that though--it made me feel a bit more unique to not be one in a crowd of people sharing my name in my school, or neighborhood. But of course as a nineties child, I couldn't avoid being teased about Monica Lewinski. When that situation went down (pun possibly intended), my classmates and I were not quite old enough to understand the details, but old enough to understand that it was a scandal. And I knew just enough so that when in fourth grade a boy said to me, "I'm Bill Clinton and you're Monica Lewinski," I slapped him.

I think some "name meanings" are a bit like horoscopes--so generic that you can find a way to apply them to anyone. The name Monica is believed to be derived from the Latin word moneo, which means 'advisor'. If I wanted I could probably try and argue that I 'fit' this name description, but I don't honestly think I do. I don't see myself as someone people come to for advice and to be honest I certainly wouldn't come to myself for advice--I'm too indecisive, and too compassionate as well, which makes it difficult for me to try and advise people because all I really want to say is "Do what feels right for you." So I suppose I see myself as more of a listener than an advisor--and that's okay.

According to, there are 14 people in the United States who share my first-name/last-name combination. This makes it even more impressive that I "know" one of these individuals! I put "know" in quotation marks because we never actually met, but we exchanged numerous emails during the four years I studied at the University of Iowa. You see, there's another one of me there, in Iowa City--same first name and last name, same spelling, and what's more, she worked for the University. This began causing us problems before I'd even made it on campus. In the summer before my freshman year, when I'd accepted my place and registered for classes, my university email was set up, and almost immediately I began receiving emails not intended for me. I'm not sure which one of us figured it out, but somehow we managed to get in touch with each other and figure out what was going on, and from then on we regularly found ourselves forwarding emails to each other that were intended for the other person. I think I did this more than she did, because unfortunately for her, my middle initial is A, while hers is K. This meant that anyone searching in the university's online email address database would see my address pop up as soon as they started typing, and logically assume it was hers--because it's not like we're John Smiths, so what was the likelihood of there being two of us? I believe she began telling people to be sure to look for the 'staff' Monica, not the 'student' one.

Things got a bit more complicated once I started working for the University of Iowa library, because I was then listed as staff as well! I remember my supervisor at the library looking as confused as I felt when he told me he'd had mail delivered for me to his office, until I realized it was campus mail meant for her. But by far the best mix-up happened early in my sophomore year. Because I was still living in the dorms and we had a landline phone, we were listed in the campus-wide directory. I came back from showering one morning around 9:30am and Allison told me that while I'd been gone a call had come for me from some department of the University of Iowa Hospital (which was where the other Monica worked). I was completely confused because I'd had nothing to do with the hospital and had no reason to be contacted by them. It only hit me as she continued to tell me how confused the caller had sounded when Allison had said, naturally, "I'm sorry, she's in the shower." Some poor schmuck had called what he thought was an office telephone number for the other Monica, only to be told she was unavailable because she was in the shower! No wonder he was confused. I believe I sent her an email to let her know what had happened, and I'm sure she got a good laugh out of it--I still do!

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