The name (mine, that is)

The name?  You wanted to know about my name?

Ok then.

The story of my name


Why one ought to say “Jenna” rather than “Geena” when confronted with “Gina” 

(Or were you wondering what is up with that Lint Queen business?)

Well, I really wish there were some kind of convoluted, espionage-laced story about my name, but alas, there’s not. The simple truth of the matter is that my parents went to high school (Myers Park High school, FWIW, in Charlotte, NC) with a woman named “Gina Gilmour”. They liked the name (and her pronounciation of it, which was, as you might have guessed “Jenna.”) In fact, they liked it so well that I don’t honestly believe that they ever condsidered the fact that 99% of the civilized “readin’-n-writin'” humans on the planet would take one look at it and say (with a great deal of confidence, I might add) “Geena”.


(BTW, I’ve learned in recent years that “Gina” was, at least in the South, usually pronounced “Jenna”, as was often short for Virgina, though it isn’t in my case.   That is, it *was* pronounced “Jenna” until the 50’s when Gina Lollobrigida came along, became a star, and created a shift to the more common “Geena” that we often hear today.)

deep sigh

An interesting side note is that (since high school), Gina Gilmour has become a noted North Carolina artist. Her works have been featured in The North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh, NC, which happens to be just a short drive on I-40 from my humble abode.


This is my favorite Gina Gilmour painting, called “Love Letter to Levi-Strauss.” (Not the Jeans company, as I once thought… he’s apparently some kind of linguist/deconstructionist, maybe… try this site for more details, if you’re really all that concerned.

One of the interesting side-effects of having a name that’s pronounced not-at-all like it’s spelled is that, in some ways, I think I identify more strongly with my name than I would if, for instance, I were a “Jennifer,” a “Jane” or a “Michael” (though I also suspect that if I were named Michael I might have some bigger issues too…).

(no offense, BTW, to any Jennifers, Janes or Michaels present…they’re perfectly good [and very pronouncable, I might add] names.)

I can remember some very (in retrospect) amusing conversations re: my name. Take the first day of fifth grade, for instance.

It’s roll-call time, and here’s what happens:

Teacher: “Geena Norman”  [ed. note: now “likins” which is equally unpronounceable:  it’s like “Lichens”]Me (somewhat chipperly): “It’s ‘Jenna’.”Teacher: “Oh, my roll has it spelled incorrectly.Me (somewhat less chipperly): “No it’s spelled right.”Teacher: “Are you sure?”Me (thinking to myself): “Now, lessee… let me look on my lunch box and make sure. I mean, it’s only been my name for 10 years, right? AAAAARGH!”Me (to the teacher): “Yes, I’m sure.”Teacher: “Oh. ‘Jenna,’ then?Me (grinding teeth): “Yes.”Teacher: “Spelled “G-I-N-A?”Me (practically whimpering now): “yyyyeeeeessss”

So, anyway, that’s the story of my name. Don’t worry, I don’t hate people who accidentally mispronouce it. At least not the first 5 or 6 times they do it… You’re even given special dispensation if your first contact with me was via email (that was a hint, BTW), as I know that it’s even more difficult to pronounce it correctly when you’ve only seen it (and never heard me growl about mis-pronoucings ; )

[And as for why I’m the Lint Queen…well, I started calling myself that because I wear a lot of black (which collects a lot of lint). One day I got frustrated and just decided to embrace the whole linty situation. “Queen of the Lint, I’ll be,” I said to myself. (Actually, I prolly said it aloud.)

So there you have it. The story of my “linty freshness”!]

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