What did you call me? By Deb Eileen

As a kid I hated my name. I was surrounded by Jennifers, Katherines and Stephanies. I longed to have the ability to change my name to fit my mood and my ever evolving self concept. Jennifer’s can be Jen, Jenny, or Jenna. Katherine’s can be Kathy, Kate, Katie or even the exotic- Kat. Even my best friend Laura, went by La. People often got my name wrong, calling me Elaine, Irene or Ellen.

If your name is Eileen there aren’t a lot of options. I toyed with Neelie, which is Eileen backwards, but it never stuck. I wanted to define myself, to create a moniker that fit my idealized self. I felt quite certain that if I had a better name, a more exciting name, then I would be better and more exciting too. I hoped someone would give me a great nickname, but this also never happened.

I’m not sure when it changed, or even why, but somewhere along the way I started to like the name Eileen. There aren’t very many of us. Eileen’s are a rare item. Unless you are in Ireland in which case, there are more Eileen’s than sheep. I spent my entire vacation in Ireland thinking people were trying to talk to me.

After I sold my book I was asked if I wanted to use my own name or a pen name. This was it. I could pick any name I wanted. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t want to be anyone else.

For the record? My porn name (pet/first street): Silly Starwood.

Did you like your name growing up?

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14 Replies to “What did you call me? By Deb Eileen”

  1. You have the perfect author name. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    And while I liked my name, I was always bummed that I could never find my name among the personalized license plates or pencils. I think that’s one reason why I went nuts when I visited Darien, CT. I took pictures in front of EVERYTHING – post office, fire station, EVERYWHERE!

  2. I liked my name, but was sad that it only contained one “i” for me to dot decoratively with a star, heart, or little “o.” (girly-girls, unite!) I also longed for more syllables 🙂

  3. Didn’t like it growing up, but am resigned to it now. Love yours as it is one of the many things I, and your mom, gave to you.
    Don”t get me started on nicknames as — I know, I know, “You’ll tell everyone mine”.

  4. I despised my name growing up. It was such a weird name, no one had ever heard of it. Boys called me Tish-Fish, Tissue Paper and asked me, snickering, if I knew what my name spelled backwards was. To which I replied, “It’s HSIT!” Idiots.

    But during high school I finally wanted to be different and started loving it.

  5. As mentioned on Monday, I love having a different name. Not only are you remembered for life but — at an early age — it can boost your self-confidence as well. Eileen is perfect, rather lyrical. And just think of those silly boys who will be remembering Tish in less than two weeks.

  6. Nope. Too monosyllabic for anything good. One of my earliest memories discovering how much I didn’t like it was in fifth grade music class. We had to use our hands and/or feet to “beat” out our name. Mine didn’t take very long – one CLAP and I was done. Besides, it sounds too much like “blech.”

  7. You have the perfect name, Eileen!
    I hated mine growing up because I was born in MAY and everyone assumed my name automatically opened up a whole new level of social conversation surrounding what it felt like to be born at Christmas 🙂
    Today, I’m used to it and can’t imagine using another name.
    However, if I branch off into writing children’s or YA books in the future (and I plan to) I’ll use Holly Holt, which was my maiden name.

  8. I didn’t like my name growing up. I badly wanted a nickname, too… but was certain Mo was a boys name and hated that option. (And like you, there are more Maureen’s in Ireland than over here, so I only ever met one other Maureen growing up, in spite of being in about 10 different schools growing up. We moved a lot.)

    When I first started writing, I was convinced I would use a pen name. I think part of me wasn’t ready to come out of the closet as a writer and thought it would be easier to use a pen name.

    I’m okay with my name now, though… It’s even. 7 letters in both my first and last. (I have 7 letters in my middle name, too, but it will remain a secret) Both my names start and end with the same letter. I’ve grown to be pretty okay with it.

  9. Ah. So we’re having this conversation. My real name is Harriet. Fine. Now you know. (I did ask my Mom about it, and she said it was in honor of Uncle Harry. Who I have no idea who was. And that she almost named me Alexandra (perfect name, very flexible) but then decided I didn’t look like an Alexandra. Well, duh, I was one day old.)

    When all the cool junior high girls have real names like Nancy and
    Debbie and Linda, Harriet is not good. So I decided I would call myself Hyacinth.

    Yes, I did. Then for awhile, I decided I would be Evan.

    Then, in college, someone came up with Hank. Which I thought was memeorable and unique and fine.

    Now, oh so many years later, I’m thinking..hmmm. Harriet. Cool name.

  10. I think Eileen is a great name.

    When I was growing up, there were always way too many Jennifers, I felt like I was lost in a sea of Jennifers. BO-ring. I was known, during my first years in grade school, as Jenny M, to distinguish me from Jenny L, Jenny W, and Jenny A. Later, when I grew into a Jennifer, while most of my fellows became Jens or Jennys, that helped sort things out a bit. But even today, my partner has a coworker named Jennifer, and a coworker with a daughter named Jennifer, so when she refers to me at work she has to say “my Jennifer.”

    And I just love Hank’s story, particularly that she called herself Hyacinth!

  11. I was born in the mid 1980s, when “Emily” wasn’t a very common name. Now Emily/Emma has been the most popular name for parents to name their girls for at least the past three or four years.
    At least it’s flexible. Emily becomes “Em” (which I like), “Em-lee” (I’ll answer to it), “Emmy” (only if you’re a close relative), and then “Emmers” (please, God, no.)

    I like Eileen though. It’s a nice, solid name.

    🙂 – Emily

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