It is disconcerting to discover you are named after a plate.
My mother will be reading this and rolling her eyes. She maintains that, despite the fact the wedding gift Noritake dinnerware bears the pattern name of Joanne, I was named after the actress Joanne Woodward.
My supposed namesake was an American actress, active in the film industry from 1955 until the present and married to Paul Newman. Apparently Joanne Woodward’s cinema-loving mother named her after Joan Crawford, an actress around in the twenties and thirties. I am beginning to see a hall of mirrors in this naming process: and Joanne was named after Joanne, who was named after Joan….(although Joan made up her name because she was born Lucille…I know, I know, the plot thickens).
Now at this point in the psychoanalysis of the naming progress, I do need to point out that Joanne is actually my middle name. And no, in case you are asking, like David Manual in Form 1 at Shirley Intermediate School, is your name Joanne Joanne?…the answer is no. It is not Joanne Joanne. That is just stupid. My name is Margaret Joanne.
In one of those fits of following crazy family tradition which mum later regretted, suggesting a change by deed poll, Mum, like the first-born women before her, named me Margaret first but called me by my second name.
What’s the big deal, you may ask? Well none really.
Except that we tend to identify with the one name we are called.
So, I feel like a Joanne, or a Jo, whatever that might feel like. Although, if one is a plate called Joanne, one feels pretty smooth and polished with a nice floral motif and gold leaf high maintenance which demands handwashing and no microwave use….and is also a little miffed to have been relegated to the too-good-for-common-use-top-shelf until after the earthquakes and a coming out to ‘everyday’ status.
But I digress. Or run away with myself. Or something.
My passport name is Margaret. It’s the name doctors and dentists and translation examiners and airport announcements about missing the plane unless you board now use. And it’s a name that I just do not listen out for.
If my two names were to fight it out for supremacy, which one would win? Obviously I did some research on this and turned to the internet.
I looked up some excellent sites which, despite not having a handle on the English language, seem to be extremely trustworthy. Here are my favourite numerology explanations of my names. I invite you to read them and perhaps those of you who know me could give me some feedback. I have my own reaction below.
What does Margaret mean?
You have psychic power. You can carry on for others with joy. You have a receptive nature and may bear burdens for others. You are pragmatic, thorough, strong-willed, practical and stubborn at times. You are hard working, often martyr to duty. You like home and security above all. You are bold, independent, inquisitive and interested in research. You know what you want and why you want it.
You are always looking for an opportunity to achieve financial and emotional security. You are basically peacemaker. You understand the law of harmony and desire to balance your life with those around you. You may feel incomplete without someone to share your love, ideals, wealth or work. You can be very sensitive and could appear a bit shy and perceptive. You have developed intuition, patience and the ability to nurture others. You can achieve the state of happiness if you is willing to accept your needs in a complimentary relationship and go to create them.
What does Joanne mean?
You are honest, benevolent, brilliant and often inventive, full of high inspirations. You are courageous, honest, determined, original and creative. You are a leader, especially for a cause. Sometimes you do not care to finish what you start, and may leave details to others. You can do well in position of authority, and prospers in intellectual and professional fields. You are frank, methodical and believe in law, system and order.
You are seeking freedom, opportunities to enjoy life: to make love, to go places and to do things. You are very adventurous and willing to take risk to achieve your objectives. New ways and new experiences can’t satisfy your restless nature. One adventure leads you to another. You are honest and fair, because you know that this is the only way to receive justice and honesty from other people. But your personal growth is vital for your, and it is difficult to be tied down by rules and obligations. Your restless spirit might best controlled by choosing the field of work that meet your demand for action and adventure.
Right. So there are bits in both of these that I LOVE. And clearly bits I’m not sure I want to acknowledge even though they might possibly be a bit close to the bone.
But maybe this would be the case if my name was Lucille. Or Tom. Or Foxtail, if one’s parents happened to be gifted plates with that pattern name.
Do our names shape us? Do we grow into our names, making them our own and filling out each part of them as we move through life? Or are our names merely labels and superfluous to our journey.
Would my life have been different as an everyday Margaret? What about as a Maggie Jo (said in a slow southern drawl)? Actually I am fairly certain that my life would have been markedly different as a Maggie Jo.
Y’all come back now ya hear…