Saturday, February 09, 2013

2/9/13 The Life of My Name

I'm not sure how it started, but chatting at lunch today, I told Julian it would be fun if I could figure out how to write stories and download them to his Nook SimpleTouch reader. This was a birthday gift from me to him that is oddly special to me, even though it's his. He so loves to read, and it just seemed like such a perfect thing for him -- especially if I could write stories for it.

I started to talk aloud about how I'd write the story of his life, starting with "My name is Julian" and launching into the first story of his life, that he was named Adam at first. This morphed into one little anecdote after another about his names, which I recorded in short voice memos on my iPhone. Before I knew it, a story was taking shape. "The life of my name!" he declared. What a fabulous title, I loved it!

So we huddled together for about half an hour while I typed a first draft of the story, watching him laugh as I wrote things, changing wording if he seemed puzzled. I wrote it from "Julian's" perspective, but of course it's mostly my impressions. It was a perfect opportunity to show him the concept of writing a draft, not worrying about spelling or editing now, just getting content down, as I encourage him to do when he's writing his reports. Then I printed the draft for him to edit.

I feel silly blogging this when I haven't finished the story, but I guess the real story here is how this fun endeavour developed. What a special thing to have with my son! Now I just have to figure out how to "publish" it to his Nook. I'll update this post with the complete story when it's edited too.

I did the writing, but Julian's title is really wonderful.


OK, adding this: The story.

The Life of My Name

by Julian Doudna (ghosted by Mom)

Feb 10, 2013

My name is Julian

My name is Julian.

My name almost wasn't Julian.

The first story of my life is that I was named Adam for about 12 hours, right after I was born. Adam was the plan, but after I was born, my Mom kept looking at me and cooing, "Oh, my beautiful precious baby, Ju-- …. er, um, I mean, Adam." She looked at me and looked at me and looked at me and kept thinking, "You're not Adam. You're Julian!"

My dorky Mom just couldn't make up her mind.

The next day in the hospital, a lady came into the room and wanted papers to record my name for good. She looked at my Mom impatiently (probably thinking, "what a dork,"), and said, "SO? What's the baby's name?!" Mom says she just couldn't call me Adam. So I was Julian.

So this story could have started off with:

My name is Adam.

But it didn't.

I don't like being Julian

My Mom says that once when I was about 2, I said, "I don't like being Julian." She wondered if I had early self-esteem issues…and asked me a few times what I didn't like about myself, and I kept answering, "I don't know." Grownups sure ask some dumb questions sometimes. Of course I don't know!

Turns out, all I meant was that I didn't like my name Julian, not myself Julian. But I got over that. I like my name now.

Where my Mom got my name.

It's not like my name Julian just popped up in the hospital though. My Mom had done some research to find just the right boys' name, since she liked my older brother's name Gabriel so much. She wondered how she'd find another name that was unusual and distinctive, but not weird or hard to spell or say.

So she found a book at the library called "11,001 names For Your African-American Baby." I didn't know I was African-American! Mom says I'm not, but she liked the book. And that's what gave her the idea for the name Julian. She says it just grabbed her.

But then she and my Dad wondered if maybe Julian is too close to a girl's name, like Julia or Julianne. Of course, now, anyone looking at me (and hearing me) certainly knows I'm a boy! And never once in my life has anyone mistaken Julian for a girl's name. My brother Gabriel on the other hand, gets "Gabrielle" all the time. Sucker!

Girl's name If I had been a girl, I would have been named Natalie. I guess that's OK. My brother, if he'd been a girl, would have been named Elise. I so don't get that. Why a different girls' name for a different baby? Grownups really don't make sense sometimes.


It's a good thing I have such a cool name when I have such a stinky nickname. Would you believe, my Mom still calls me "Precious precious?!"

She came up with cute nicknames for my sister and brother, but my nickname is ridiculous. She kept saying I was the most "precious baby," so she got in the habit of calling me "precious". Well that's already dumb when you're 2, but when you're 9, it's downright ridiculous. In fact, she made it worse somewhere along the way by doubling to to "Precious Precious.." Like one 'precious' isn't bad enough? I mean, seriously! Is she trying to get me beat up? Speaking of nicknames, occasionally someone calls me "Jules." Blah, I don't like that. They always say, "You know, like Jules Verne." OK, so the dude wrote a great book about adventures and stuff, but so what. Doesn't mean I want to be called Jules.

Turns out, Jules Verne's middle name is Gabriel, my brother's name - another reason not to be associated with him!

Mom's favorite

I think my Mom secretly likes my name the best of all. She says she really likes its sing-song quality. And she uses it a lot: "JUUUU-LI-AN!" Luckily my name has that nice long strong sound that can be SCREAMED again and again: "JUUULIAN! GET BACK HERE NOW!" The principal sure knows my name really well!


Actually, my name isn't as common as you might think. Seems everyone knows my name, and never mis-spells it, but no one can ever find pre-printed things with my name on it. So while my brother got a cute mug with his name on it in cute bubble letters, I got a generic one with safari animals. Other kids can find license plates and things with their names pre-printed, but not me.

My Middle Name

My middle name has a pretty cool story too. My Dad wanted at least one name to be related to British cars, which is why if my older brother had been an older sister, he would have been named Elise, after the Lotus Elise. So when I was on the way, Dad wanted my middle name to be Morgan, after a British 3-wheeler vehicle made in the 1930s. That's, like, totally forever ago -- I guess cars didn't even have four wheels then! But my Mom wanted my middle name to have a family connection. My older brother's middle name is James, after her father, for instance.

One day, my Mom was talking to her sister, my Aunt Stephanie, about this problem, and Aunt Stephanie said breathlessly, "Wait -- didn't you know that Dad's mother's maiden name was Morgan?!" Wow! What a cool coincidence! So my middle name is Morgan.

But I'm still not sure if it's after a crummy overgrown tricycle or my great-grandmother.


I think my name is going to sound GREAT when they announce the winner of the Nobel Prize someday!

the end

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