Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Life, the Identity Crisis

Perhaps you've noticed that I haven't written anything in a long time. There are two major reasons for this:
1) In the words of Jon Stewart, "I'm not your monkey."
2) My life is rather absurdly* busy right now.
But I like my blog (nerdalicious as I feel saying so) and I like the approximately two people who read it, so I guess I'll keep it around.
So yesterday I was
walking through the HFAC (Fine Arts Building) on campus (as I often am, since I'm there a good 12 hours or so a day) following a preview performance of "Anne of Green Gables" (for Mask Club, this Thursday at 1, 2, and 4 o' clock), just minding my own business when suddenly this girl walked past me. Normally this wouldn't be so unusual except that as this girl passed me she said, "Good job, Emily." I turned around and she was looking straight at me, so I just said "Thank you." Then she walked off and I went up the stairs. Now, we all know my name is not Emily. It's Julie. But did I correct her? Of course not. Then again, maybe my name is Emily. Maybe the act of her saying "Emily" and me answering it made me Emily. Maybe I was interpollated at that moment! Oh man, I've been spending way too much time going to classes.

Anyway, I think the reason that I didn't correct her is because this is a part of a much larger problem: people don't know my name. People definitely seem to remember me - I certainly get the "Hey, it's you again!" reaction a lot following the first meeting. But when it comes time for the naming of names (like if I say, "Hi, Your Name!"), they always go blank. I've used people's names correctly only to have them forget mine so many times that it's gotten to the point where I refuse to use anybody's name in a conversation until they've used mine first. I'll perform very complex verbal acrobatics just to get around saying it, all the time knowing full well that I know their name (often first and last) so that I can get out of seeing them go "Oh...yeah..." with that awkward look on their face. You know, the one that says "She knows my name and I don't know hers! What do I do?" It doesn't help that I happen to be pretty good with names myself. Let me just quote this experience from my friend Ben Phelan's blog (originally posted Feb 2006) to show you what my life is like:
Well, that night while I was at auditions for Arsenic and Old Lace (I didn't get in, by the way. Thanks for asking.) I saw that girl. You know. . .that one girl that I just met mere hours before. I went up to her and said, "Hi, I know we just met but I can't remember your name, don't tell me. I'll get it." So, I tried. And I tried. And I failed. I must've guessed about fifty names before I finally guessed it. Julie! She then coolly and calmy told me, "And your name's Ben, right?" I felt terrible. It was the second most embarrassing thing that happened to me that day.
Now, Ben thinks that this is his problem. But this happens to me ALL THE TIME. And it's not even only people I've just met. I've come to believe that I just don't look like a Julie. I don't know what a Julie looks like, having assumed that that girl I kept seeing in all the mirrors was one, but I ain't it. I'd say I look like a Julienne, but that wouldn't be fair because I've never seen another Julienne. Besides which, people are less likely to guess that than Julie. Instead I most often get mistaken for Lauren, then Jessica, Megan, and now Emily. There's also this guy in my ward who consistently refers to me as Julia even though I'd say we're pretty good friends now, but I can excuse that because Julia is only one letter off and there's another girl named Julia in our ward. But even in addition to the false real names, I'm one of the most oft-nicknamed people I know. I've been called Flip, Flash, Princess (a personal favorite), and I don't even know what else to the point where people actually forget that I have another name. A disproportionate number of people switch over to calling me solely by my surname every day. In plays, my name is usually among the first to be replaced by that of my characters, which often becomes a nearly irreversible change.

It can't be that it's entirely my own fault; from an early age, I was trained to answer to names that weren't my own. My family used to love to recount the story of the day that I, then a small toddler, first climbed up onto Santa's lap. Mr. Claus turned to me and said, "What's your name, little girl?" In perfect seriousness, I answered, "Sister Glenn." My own family had ceased to call me Julie! No, I was referred to almost exclusively as either "Boose" (rhymes with Goose) or "Sister Glenn." I can't begin to explain to you why. As I grew older, these names faded away and my mother came to call me Harriet, again for unexplained reasons. Perhaps, then, all this current name-switching is the fault of a deep identity disconnect within myself that began in my childhood, the result of which is that I myself am unable to understand or "know" completely what my own name is, and I am therefore unable to communicate that awareness to others. Whoa!

At any rate, I suppose I'm rather used to it by now, seeing as how it's been going on all my life. And I honestly don't mind the nicknames - in fact, I often rather like them. Besides, things are looking up: today my partner for my Midterm fight in Stage Combat class - a guy I've known since January and had just spent two days slapping, hitting, and rolling over - said to me as we exchanged numbers, "Your name is...Julie, right?"

Yeah, maybe there's still hope for the world.

*Speaking of Absurdism, if you know Samuel Beckett then you might find this hilarious. I certainly did.