My first name is NOT Crystalann

My name is Crystal.

I have a middle name, Ann.

Middle names are a tradition in the US, but the middle name itself is rarely if ever used in everyday talking.  I know my closest friend’s middle names, but have no idea what the middle names of most of my friends are because it’s just not part of the common form of address.

So why have them?  Depends on the family.  In some cases, it’s a way to honor a family member.  For others, it’s where we get creative if we prefer a more “normal” first name (example, Elanor is Elanor Athena…we didn’t feel comfortable going with Athena for our bi-racial but not even a little bit Greek daughter). Other people do it just because.

Mostly it gives moms like me a longer name to use to indicate that the child is in trouble.  I don’t know many American kids who don’t freeze the second their full name (Crystal Ann XXXX) is said in MOM VOICE.

Which is why here in Singapore the fact that people can’t seem to understand that my name is Crystal and not Crystalann bugs me.  I hear Crystalann (said fast) and either think it’s not me because I misheard or I flinch because I’m expecting my mom to start yelling at me and I start wondering what I did wrong recently that she might have found out about.  Why?  Because the ONLY person who calls me “Crystal Ann” is my mom, and it’s only when I was younger and about to get into trouble.

I have tried explaining that Ann isn’t really part of my name that I use.

“But it’s on your passport,” is the standard response.

Well, yes, it is, because you put your middle name (or part of it in my case) on your passport, something I’m regretting right now.  Before Asia, no one has ever thought that “middle name” meant anything other than a middle name I don’t use.

“But it’s not part of my first name,” I protest.

That gets the blank stare.

At which point, in many cases, I just give in “yes, I’m Crystalann, whatever.”


Considering my posting has been erratic, it’s only fair to let you know this is the second post today.  My other post today was a review of Into the Woods.

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18 Responses to My first name is NOT Crystalann

  1. Flora says:

    I used to be jealous of people with middle names! I didn’t get one for some reason, even though I’m Mexican. In Mexico, you don’t get a middle name, you just get multiple first and last names. Sometimes you’re named after the saint of the day you were born along with a chosen first name and you’re given both parents’ last names. It’s not in the same way you are named in the US.

    I guess I’m making up for it now because my married last name is really long but I would have had an identity crisis without the Mexican last name in there somewhere.

    • Crystal says:

      In Indian culture there is no middle name or you get your dad’s first name as a middle name. Ravi’s middle name is Amit, which is his dad’s first name. When his mom got her citizenship, she didn’t have a middle name so she took Amit, too. Ironically when we talked about a boy, Ravi wasn’t comfortable with using Ravi as a son’s middle name.

      I thought about hyphenating, but I’m too lazy to do maiden name-last name.

  2. Tonya says:

    Laughs, my mother uses my middle AND maiden name when she is exasperated with me! My middle name – Mavourneen, that’s a bitch of a middle name, took 12 years just to learn how to spell it.

    • Crystal says:

      I used to deliberately misspell Ann as Anne because of Anne of Green Gables. I totally didn’t care that my mom is Ann, so it was in her honor. I just wanted to be like Anne Shirley who was (is) way cool.

      I also wanted to break a slate over a boy’s head.

      Have I mentioned I was a strange kid?

  3. Dawn says:

    For the record, I know a blonde and blue-eyed violist named Athena. I’m pretty sure she’s not even a little bit Greek.

  4. Kirsten says:

    In Singapore they just put all the names on one line in the passport because I think it gets confusing when you have so many different cultures with different ways of naming their children, to have to make everyone split it up.

    This means I confused a lot of people in NZ, and had to start declaring my Chinese name as my middle name.

    • Crystal says:

      What’s your chinese name?

      • Kirsten says:

        My Chinese name is Li Ying, written 俐颖. There’s all these permutations of my name…

        Han Li Ying Kirsten
        Kirsten Han Li Ying
        Li Ying Kirsten Han

      • Crystal says:

        Li Ying is so pretty.

        Are the different permutations dependent upon which dialect or base language you’re starting off in? (Hokkein vs Mandarin vs English?)

  5. bookjunkie says:

    Crystal Ann sounds sooo pretty. I always wanted a middle name too. Seems very movie star like to me 🙂

  6. Kirsten says:

    Nah, the permutations are just depending on the admin department.

    In passports the surname would come first. There are some places that likes to have the surname in the middle, because for the English names you always have the first name followed by the surname, whereas in Chinese names the surname comes first before your own name.

  7. prongs says:

    I think you have that problem because most chinese names consist of 2 characters (what most westerners consider to be 2 given names) when in fact they are supposed to be read together as one name. It is quite annoying when westerners don’t get this too! I’m studying in Australia now and my name is XXX Pei Rong (now jumbled up and written as Pei Rong XXX) and every single lecturer/tutor calls me ‘Pei’ when they take attendance in class. That’s probably equivalent to someone calling you ‘Crys’ which as you can see, is only half your name. And when some call me ‘Pei XXX’ I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

    • Crystal says:

      I can see how frustrating that would be, and I’m beginning to appreciate more and more why as a teacher we were encouraged to ask students what they wanted to go by (literally, we had a form we gave out on the first day of school…so that a kid like Elanor could choose Ellie or whatever instead of going by a name they were less comfortable with). I have had a few expats over the years, but often what happened is that they chose a more American name to go by rather than try to explain a foreign name (which is a bit sad when you think about it). That the two happen in the same space is sadly the essence of the American ethos–fit in, but be yourself…but fit in. Sigh.

      I have to say, I had no idea how interesting the discussion about names would get (through social media it’s taking place on Google +, and my personal facebook as well).

      On a day when being an expat was frustrating, the knowledge that I’d probably never have this discussion in my old life reminds me of all the benefits of my situation (frustrations and all) and the benefits my daughters will get by virtue of growing up outside of America.

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