i need a new username.

This has been sitting as a draft since Jan 2009! This week I ran into more real life friends on Flickr and Twitter and it brought this all up again. Ugh, leftover old username. I think I’d been working around this problem by avoiding places where I had a username at all. Maybe that is the right solution anyway, to just use my real name everywhere. But, as drafted two years ago, something about having no nicknames makes me sad. And something about being renamed seems timely right now.

i’ve been “ookpik” online since 1997, when i took the name from a kids’ poem that i liked. it’s an inuit word for owl. it’s also the name of a kind of furry owl doll made for tourists. i thought that was ok for a long time, but now i think it’s too much appropriation and colonial weirdness. so i need a new username.

i’m posting about it here to ask for help. i have a common first name, a last name i don’t like, and no nicknames. ookpik was unusual enough as a name, and i’ve usually been early enough to register on sites i use, that i have no backup names at all.

something about having no nicknames make me sad.

So. Ideas?

Magical politics, a first attempt.

I’ve been hunting around for radical political magic. I ran into this pretty great book review by a druid, The Spells We Are Under, because it popped up somewhere under the site title “Healing Whiteness.”

[Van] Jones was astonished to find that the vast corporate structures against which he and many other progressives had been campaigning so hard— the WTO, the World Bank, and so on— were treated, by the people who run them, as mere tools to be used or tossed aside at will. The elite see themselves personally as the holders of power, and institutions as their means and modes of power. The activists outside the police barricades, by contrast, see the institutions themselves as the problem. The scene from “The Wizard of Oz” comes forcefully to mind; Dorothy and her friends try to figure out some way to deal with the terrifying apparition of Oz, the Great and Powerful, but never notice the little man behind the curtain.

Juxtaposed with:

Consider George Lakey’s fascinating account of the Otpor movement against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic… One of the tactics Otpor members used to halt police violence against them was to take photos of their wounded and make sure the family members, neighbors, and children of the police got to see them. This was a brilliant bit of magic. The individual human beings who made up that reified abstraction, “the police,” were stripped of that identity by a spell of unnaming, and turned back into neighbors, husbands, children, parents: people who were part of civil society, and subject to its standards and social pressures. That couldn’t have been achieved if Otpor had reified and protested “police brutality,” since that act would have strengthened the reification of police as something other than ordinary members of society.

I know this idea from non-magical people too. (“Those big, powerful corporations have offices and CEOs with addresses.”) But I like having a name for this shift in perspective, and I think I like having a name that triggers dork associations about hobbits and +5 strength against goblins.

Family names, Kurt Vonnegut, figuring shit out.

I’ve been considering the idea of giving all my kids different last names. Resurrecting various maiden names or something, picking them the way people often pick middle names out of their whole pool of known family names.

I think it is mainly being married that has me thinking about names and name systems. It’s easy to skip that whole “married name” business, but if you want to give your kid some kind of awesome, non-patriarchal name you actually have to come up with a plan. That gets complicated really fast, even in the common, surface solutions like hyphenating last names or using the mother’s family name in an attempt to go matrilineal (by passing on her dad’s name). All of those schemes run into the usual problems if there is a break from monogamy, if anybody leaves a relationship, breeds with more than one person, or dies. The “team name” gets broken all the time, even if you are trying to play along. Even just making up a new last name doesn’t solve the question of what the grandkids would be called.

Family structures and systems are fucking intense. Where do they all come from? Which ones are good? Research questions.

This multiple last name idea has been wildly unpopular with everyone I’ve mentioned it to. Intensely unpopular. Instant frowning. Worst idea ever. I still kind of like it. Galen and I already have different last names and we manage to be a family team. Maybe it would be good, if we had kids, to remember that they were individual people and not just “ours.” Maybe a team name is just a manifestation of compulsory/wishful monogamy and maybe we can do better than that. It scales well across multiple generations, unlike, say, hyphenation. I’m lucky enough to know a lot of my ancestral family names, and it seems like maybe reusing them would be a fairly robust way to remember your lineage if you moved or were displaced. Or maybe it would just make it impossible to find each other again.

Lacking a unified last name, maybe we could give our household its own name, to make it easy to refer to. That happens sometimes with places populated by roommates. (I’m thinking of places I’ve known called The Husbandry, The Folk Museum, The Queens Den, The Triple Crush Palace…). That doesn’t solve anything about family members who don’t live in the same home, but it’s a start.

This is unresolved. I just found an old booksale purchase called World Revolution and Family Patterns that I’m hoping might contain some inspiration. I also found a Kurt Vonnegut quote via Bex that I have filed away.

12. … Even when Vonnegut dared to propose a utopian scheme, it was a happily dysfunctional one. In Slapstick, Wilbur Swain wins the presidency with a scheme to eliminate loneliness by issuing people complicated middle names (he becomes Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain) which make them part of new extended families. He advises people to tell new relatives they hate, or members of other families asking for help: “Why don’t you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don’t you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?” Of course, this fails to prevent plagues, the breakdown of his government, and civil wars later in the story.

Complicated middle names: noted.

Various marriage- and baby-related plans

  • I think I want to get divorced sometime. Sorry marriage, I just don’t care about you. It would be much funnier to be divorced to my loverman, and introduce him as my ex-husband. The former Mr. Mundy. I think this would offer a much more accurate shorthand expression of our relationship. Right now I think the government approval is confusing.
  • So I am trying to figure out how to not have that look like we tricked people into giving us wedding presents. Because it wasn’t like that. (Except for the usual capitalist / consolidation-of-wealth aspects of the whole institution of marriage, but we actually work pretty hard to get around a lot of that.)
  • This would solve my main wedding-related regret, which was forfeiting the opportunity to birth a third-generation bastard. Both Galen and I were conceived out of wedlock, and so were his mum and my dad. I think this is a proud heritage, even if it makes my dad roll his eyes.
  • I would be willing to conceive a baby in wedlock (but not in a headlock) and then birth it outside of wedlock.
  • Also I am considering not disclosing the sex of any children I might squeeze out for at least a few days after they are born, to give them some space to be treated as ambiguous slugs. I don’t think that’s weird, but Galen thinks it might freak people out. So heads up, people who would be meeting these hypothetical spawn.
  • I guess that means they might not get named for a few days, also.

Namin’ names

  • Someday, maybe I will start a sysadmin dance band called Deee-link.
  • I hope someone starts selling eels or eggs online, before it becomes completely gauche to add ‘e’ to the front of a word, to denote online commerce. eeggs.com would be pretty awesome, probably.