February 24, 2008

Mystory: Nae He Spit

Interpretation as invention: Stephanie Danielle K**wel G**. Am I well-named? I used to hate my first name; it sounded *gasp* common and offended my three-year-old delicate auditory senses.

In the strict definition of obbligato, a part that must not be omitted (Jarrett 61), my physical signature is a necessary part of me as it reveals my values in communication. I want to say/write just enough to give the gist of my idea/name, but I do not want to spell it out (apparently literally) for my fellow communicant. In the altered definition of obbligato, my signature can be omitted if necessary. I have omitted the vowels in my name in favor of efficiency. Who wants to waste hours of their life carving two e's, two a's, two i's, and an n each time they sign their name?

My married name, Gai, has given me a new identity, which is particularly noticeable in telemarketing calls. Nick's family is Italian, so the name derives from Latin and has two general meanings: joy and chicken. Gai means chicken in some Asian languages as well, which is why one might see Lahb Gai or Gaeng Keow Wan Gai
on a Thai menu. Why telemarketing? Telemarketing companies have programs that assume the consumer's native language based on their last name. Since Gai is both Latin and Asian, 50% of the telemarketers who call our house only speak Chinese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, or another Asian language. One particularly brazen telemarketer accused me of being ashamed to speak my native language, one that he assumed was Asian because of my last name.

My Signature:
In person. Dramatism in the dramatic sense (not in the Burkean sense); proportional reactions are based on subjective perceptions.
In my mind. I am torn between thoroughness and efficiency. I like to thoroughly know things, but I also like my world to be efficient.
In writing (shown above). Somewhat illegible. Looks like St~pl~~ C__. I don't care to elaborate on the actual shapes of the letters, and wavy lines take the place of the smaller, rounder letters e, anie, and ai, respectively. My signature is an elliptical writing; like a reader of Faulkner, one must fill in the blanks. I make my readers work to understand the scrawl of my name.

A bank employee's full signature and initials become part of financial security and accountability measures.
Before graduate school I worked at a local bank, and during my employment my named changed due to holy matrimony. I had to devise a new full signature and a new quick initial signature. The change does not seem that difficult or meaningful, but I really enjoyed flowing from my hard-angled K into a squiggly mess. For my quick signature, my initials, I went from SK to SG. SK has never really flowed, so SG is much more fun. I created an S that flowed into the G (never picking up my pen), so that it looks like an 8G. Nick doesn't like it, but I do.


Stephy K
Kiwi (from Kiewel pronounced Key-well)

Common words and Anagrams:
Sounds like: Step on me
Backwards: Iag Leweik Einahpets
Stephanie, is that you? "nae he spit," "penis hate," "he panties." Yes it's me.
Stephanie Kiewel Gai becomes "A teenage kiwi, he lisp" and "wine leakage, she tipi"

The Economy of a Name: 13.45 years of education
In their book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore the art of naming a baby. In collecting data, they noticed a trend -- so-called high-end names become mainstream names over the course of about ten years. On page 203 they hypothesize the most popular names of 2015 by looking at the high-end names of today, and it doesn't stop there. Levitt and Dubner recognize a trend in what determines a high-end name: Education. They have noticed that baby names correspond to the number of years of the mother's education. It has been a while since I've read the book, so I cannot attest to truth of the matter, but my name appears on page 228, with an average (or median, I can't remember) number of years of my mother's education -- 13.45. This is only .45 years off in the case of my mother (she attended one year of college in order to impress and secure her relationship with my father).

Definitions and Etymology:

Stephan is Greek in origin, but the French added the "ie" at the end of the feminine version.
Stephanos "Crown"
Stephane is related to "crown" and is defined as a diadem or coronet worn by military commanders and deities in statue form.
Stephanome is a device that measures angular dimensions of fog-bows and halos; the root is "crown" in the sense of "corona," which is the disc of light that occasionally appears around the sun or moon.
According to Wikipedia, Stephanie means "the crowned one."

Danielle is the feminine version of Daniel, which is Hebrew for "God is my judge." My middle name does not really feel a part of me the same way that my first, maiden, and married names do.

Kiewel is supposedly a German surname, but I can't find the meaning. There is a German personality, Andrea Kiewel, who shows up in Google searches, but who knows if there is a familial connection there. Since Kiewel has an odd spelling and pronunciation for English speakers, I am pretty sure it was not altered when my ancestors arrived at Ellis Island, but I looked up possible alternatives (such as Kievel) on ancestry.com anyway. Only one alternative, a far-fetched one, Kiel, produced a definitions and etymologies. Kiel is "
probably a habitational name from the city of Kiel in Schleswig-Holstein, but more likely a topographic name for someone living by a long narrow bay or area of sheltered water." The same word, Kiel, can be "applied as a nickname to denote a crude person." That's a comforting thought. Recently, however, I have noticed two different Polish names with "kiew" in the middle; perhaps these names are related somehow.

And now for my new last name: Gai. Gai is Latin for gay meaning happy, joy, mirth, but most of the surname websites only cite the French history. Since my husband's family is from Northern Italy and is rumored to have received their surname from their position as servants of Gaius Julius Ceasar, the French history does not apply. Matli side from Baceno, Gai side from Asti.

All of the above makes up my signature, me, mystory. What does my signature mean in terms of teaching writing, and what does it suggest as a resolution to the problem of improvisation? Hermeneutics into heuristics? I surmise that my signature, while necessary in defining my identity, is only a suggestion of where I will go and what I will invent from here.

1 comment:

Chris Hall said...

Since you loved this so much, I'm posting my excercise here for you to look at.

The Name Game
Christopher (krĭ’s’te-fer) n. Saint. fl. 3rd cent. A.D. Christian Martyr often depicted as a giant who carried travelers across a river. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Graham Cracker (grăm, grā-em) n A slightly sweet, usu. Rectangular cracker made with whole-wheat flour. [GRAHAM FLOUR] (American Heritage Dictionary)
Hall (hôl)n. 1. A corridor or passageway in a building.
2. A large entrance room or vestibule in a building; a lobby.
a. A building for public gatherings or entertainments.
b. The large room in which such events are held.
4. A building used for the meetings, entertainments, or living quarters of a fraternity, sorority, church, or other social or religious organization.
a. A building belonging to a school, college, or university that provides classroom, dormitory, or dining facilities.
b. A large room in such a building.
c. The group of students using such a building: The entire hall stayed up late studying.
d. Chiefly British A meal served in such a building.
6. The main house on a landed estate.
a. The castle or house of a medieval monarch or noble.
b. The principal room in such a castle or house, used for dining, entertaining, and sleeping

My first name finds its origins, as do so many things, in ancient Greece. According to a website called Think Baby Names, the name was originally spelled Khristophoros, and means “bearing Christ inside” (thinkbabynames.com). This matches, pretty closely, the story I learned about my name growing up, which was basically that Christopher was the name of a Saint who carried Jesus across a river in his time of need, or something to that effect. Since I had the blessing to be raised by pantheistic parents who had long since severed ties with organized religion, I never really thought much of the story of my name. Nevertheless, I was also instilled at an early age for reverence for traditions, tolerance for ways different from my own, and appreciation for history and the origins of things, so I have always sort of thought about how I might be a “Christ bearer” of some sort, but only in the loosest, most metaphorical sense. When I have spent time thinking about my name I have thought of the role of the Christopher to be that of bearing one who bears the cross, that is, of helping others, more remarkable than I, advance their cause whatever it may be.
St. Christopher is also often associated with travel, and travelers often sport Saint Christopher medals to protect them on their journeys. I’ve always found this ironic, because I don’t particularly like to travel. Perhaps my name has served me as a protective talisman in roundabout way because I’ve never been given to wanderlust.
According to the genealogy section of another website, the surname Hall may have come from an old Norse word meaning “boulder, slope”, suggesting that the name may have originally referred to a family or tribe living on a hill or mountainside (about.com). I accepted this information since it seemed consistent with that offered on several other websites that deal with the origins and meaning of surnames, but an opposing interpretation of the name’s etymology popped up in several places too. The other possible meaning for “Hall” is that it referred to a family or tribe living in a spacious residence, a “hall” in a sense very close to the dictionary definition of the word. Of course other explanations exist and more occurred to me as I thought about my name’s meaning. Could “Hall” have once been closer to the word “hail”? If this were the case, it would do much to please my vanity – perhaps my ancestors were “hail” in the sense of the word that means “in sound health, whole of body”. I could go further down this particular rabbit-hole, perhaps endlessly—there is no shortage of words in English that are only one or two letters off from “Hall” and still others that are essentially homonymous. Howl, Hell, Heal, Hole, Whole, Halt, Hallo, Hallow, but Help me out and let me stop this list, lest I be caught endlessly in the endless relay of signifiers.
Graham is undoubtedly as etymologically rich as any other word or name, but for me its meaning shall be confined to an early childhood conversation I had with my brother about my middle name, one in which he told me one of those charming lies older siblings tell their juniors simply in order to put one over on them. It’s a good memory, and for me it’s the most meaningful meaning I can think of for my middle name. My brother and I were comparing our names, and I said something like “hey, maybe my middle name is Graham because I like graham crackers!”
To which he replied, “Oh yes, that’s it for sure. Didn’t they (meaning our parents) tell you? They knew you would like graham crackers so they gave you the middle name Graham.”Good memories. After that we jumped on the bed and raised hell, as kids are wont to do. Good times.
I didn’t find out that Graham was a proper name until years later.