On names, changing them, and pronunciation

Otter Perry ottertee at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 5 10:07:54 EST 2003

johanna wrote:

> For those of you who've changed your names, would you mind talking a
> little bit about it? Like how you arrived at your new name (as opposed to
> choosing something else)? I toy w/the idea of changing my name, because
> aside from the pronunciation difficulty here, I am just not v. fond of it.
> But I have trouble choosing a name that I think fits me w/o being too
> pretentious or silly. And I feel like another name should be
> momentous--there should be some big reason I'm choosing it--& nothing much
> has pulled me that far. I guess I feel like one's birth name is just a
> name you had no control over, & thus fairly meaningless (although to your
> parents it may have had meaning), but if you name yourself later on in
> life, it better -mean something-.
> If anyone's read Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time, I like their
> system, how you kind of rename yourself whenever you feel your name
> doesn't fit anymore.

Well, I didn't like my first name, which was [I might as well confess]
Mary.  There is nothing wrong with the name Mary, but if your last name
is Perry and you live in a town called Glastonbury, it can wear thin.
And my parents didn't actually call me that except on those occasions
when they were mad and pulled out the whole name.

By the time I was in my early 20s, I was using 'M. Elizabeth' as much
as I could get away with.  [Had I But Known, and changed it before I
turned 21, I wouldn't have had to go to court later on.]  But my driver's
license and so on still had my full name. 

So, for a long time, I thought about changing my name legally to
M. Elizabeth, but it was mildly complicated and I never seemed to
have the money, etc., etc.

The whole Otter thing is a very long story, but the River Otter is
definitely a personal totem thing [_not_ the Sea Otter, cute as they
are].  [And, if we're going to be totally technical and why not,
not lutra lutra, but lutra canadensis.]

So, not too long ago, I found out that the procedure for
changing one's name had gotten somewhat simpler. I was going to
go ahead and change my name to M. Elizabeth, but I didn't get
around to it.

And then my mother died.  And when I did the name change papers,
it turned out I was going to get rid of the Mary altogether and
go for Otter.  It was kind of a surprise even to me, and much
more of a surprise for everybody else, who hadn't known about
how I felt about otters.

Also, I might mention that my mother's mother's name was Mary 
Elizabeth and I was very, very tired of my grandmother, even though
she died before I was born.


You can call me Betsy, which is what everybody has called me since
I was a pup.
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