Thursday, September 14, 2006

The importance of being Annush

I hate my first name. My middle name is not SO bad but I hate it too.

Ana Cristina.

When my mom got pregnant with me, she was reading
Anna Karenina (she was obsessed with Russian literature). I don't know what it was about it that she liked so much, if it was the thousand+ pages of the book, or maybe the opening sentence which she has said to me repeatedly over the years ("Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."), or perhaps that she jumped in front of a moving train in a jealous rage towards the end of the book. The fact of the matter is that I share a moniker with Tolstoy's heroin (and the 12 other Anas in my family, but that's another story) .

My middle name is Cristina after my paternal great-grandmother. I never met her. I have never even seen a picture. All I know is that she had a bunch of kids and died.

In my culture my name is probably one of the most generic names there are. I think that after Maria and Isabel (and of course Maria Isabel), Ana is quite possibly the third most generic name EVER! Hence the reason why I hate it. I always wanted a fun name with a bunch more letters (but NEVER neither Maria, Isabel, or Amelia). The problem was (and still is) that I'm neither about to change my name nor am I a fan of nicknames. I hate nicknames.

When I was a little girl everyone used to call me Chris. Apparently back then everyone was in agreement that Ana Cristina was a crappy name so they called me something else. That was great until about Fourth grade and a class with five Christophers. Chris became far too common. It was then that I came to the conclusion that ugly and generic though it may be, my name was/is Ana. So I made the world start calling me Ana.

Ana was good. Ana, in a culture where there is no substitute (other than Ana banana), is great. Then I got here for the first time. People here are obsessed with nicknames. I remember the first time someone called me "Anita". I was 18. That was Bea. It made my ears bleed. I yelled at them for calling me that but it was useless. To a handful of people I'll always be "Anita", though at least they know better than to call me that in public.

When I left for Germany 18 months later, staying nickname-free was a little harder. Actually, it was impossible.
Olga, she who christened me with the infamous "Annush", started screaming Annush in the middle of an event the first couple of days of school. To this day there are people who seriously think that my name really is Annush. But weirdly enough, I am okay with that.

During a time when I was still figuring out who I was and where I belonged in the world, someone called me Annush. It was not Anita, not quite Annushka, and definitely not Ana (or Ana banana). But it was very close. It was fun and it had more letters. It was a "globalized" name that has no link to that woman who jumped in front of the moving train, other than the fact that the person who concocted it is in fact Russian, and it doesn't sound like the name of a lost little girl with pigtails.

Annush is a way of being, the way I feel inside...Annush is the experience of being Ana Cristina.


Grant said...

I'm renaming you Fuggs. Note the two g's - the traditional spelling. This is not a nickname, I signed the documents and legally changed it in the states for you. I have power of attorney, which I also had to sign in your absence.

Happy now?

gotbrains? said...

What about gobble-trotter?

annush said...


that was a good one, gobble-trotter #2 :P