Monday, August 31, 2009

What's in a name?

What's in a name? When I was quite little I couldn't pronounce the "k" sound of my name, so often times people thought I was saying "Terry" and not Kari. So when they'd say, "Oh, hi Terry." I would become indignant and say, "No, my name is Kari." And yet it sounded like "Terry." I don't really remember these moments, but I've heard the stories many times. I also couldn't pronounce "quack", but that's another story for another time.

As I became an adolescent, I struggled with my last name for a time because my dad was my high school principal. Overall I didn't mind dad being at school and people eventually let go of pre-conceived notions that I'd get out of trouble or tardies after I quickly explained that'd really I'd be in double-trouble and I'd have to pay double the tardy fine if I ever earned that many (which I never did).

Eventually I also grew accustomed to people asking me if I was related to David Waterman, and became quite proud of being related to my dad. :) He is practically perfect in the eyes of this Daddy's girl. ;) However, when feeling particularly sassy, I'd also say that I'm Sherry Waterman's daughter as well. With this pride also came the responsibility to represent the name well. Dad's had a pretty outstanding 35+ years in ministry and I certainly wouldn't want to tarnish the name. Mom and Dad never placed any sort of pressure on me to "uphold" the name, it was just something I took upon myself as my ministry began and I began networking. (I also took great glee when people started asking Dad if he was related to me at conferences.)

As I began planning for the wedding, I thought about what I would want to be called afterwards. Would I want to hyphenate? Truthfully, I liked the sound of "Waterman" and it's much more interesting than "Johnson." Plus there are a number of people who used both my first and last time to refer to me because there were two or more Kari/Carrie's in the group. Using my maiden name as a middle name also occurred to me. But after typing it all out once, it just seemed far to long to type or write, "Kari Waterman Johnson" on a regular basis.

After the wedding my students were in a bit of an uproar about having to call me "Mrs. Johnson", but while it sounded odd to be called so, it sounded wrong to be "Miss Waterman" anymore too. So a bit of an identity crisis ensued. The students worked through it...some preferring "The teacher formally known as Miss Waterman" to anything else. I answered to just about whatever came out at the time. I slipped up once at graduation by introducing myself using my maiden name. But other than that one time, I became more and more accustomed to using "Johnson." Until this last weekend.

This last weekend I attended an NYG '10 meeting. Mark had asked me what I wanted on my name tag and it was decided that using my maiden name along with my new name would help others transition. When I checked in I began by accidentally using my maiden name, but when I told them, "No, it's Johnson, " it didn't matter because my room was in fact under "Waterman." I hadn't dropped my maiden name in quite awhile and then actually having the reservation under it was quite amusing.

Then there was the catch-up time with all the other planners. The conversation that struck me the most surrounded around how "Johnson" is actually a boring name--particularly put against "Waterman." It's sad! It just doesn't have the same ring to it. I liked seeing "Waterman" back in my name for a time. When it's stacked on top of each other, as it was on the tame tag, it really didn't seem as long. But if it was any longer the font size would have to be reduced.

So what is it going to be like to be "Kari Johnson"? I don't really know yet. I'm not teaching right now and I haven't started subbing. So I just don't know yet. Right now Kari Johnson is busy getting the house in order, getting her Creative Memories business up and going as quickly as possible, and enjoying cooking and baking on a regular basis. She's going have to wait to see what kind of professional life she will have over time.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I think you should follow in the footsteps of Cher and Madonna and just go with KARI. You so could get away with this at conferences and conventions....EVERYONE knows you!