Saturday, April 2, 2011

What is in a Name?

It seemed like a cruel April Fool's joke when I woke up yesterday morning to discover that my name had been misspelled in The Toronto Star, one of Canada's largest daily newspapers. I had become Ingrid Mada within the body of the article and also under my photo credit. Although the online version was soon corrected, the print edition had the incorrect spelling and that is what my family saw.

It got me thinking about what is in a name, especially when our name is chosen for us. This topic also surfaced in the article "My name is Amen" from  The Globe and Mail.

As a girl, I remember wishing I was a Jennifer, Juliet or Elizabeth instead of being named after my mother's favourite actress, Ingrid Bergman. Of course when I was nicknamed Muffy in university, I was secretly thrilled. That worked for a time until I went into the workforce and now, I think Ingrid suits me quite well.

The second half of my name became an issue relatively recently. Even after getting married, I was fairly certain I had no reason to change my name but I got worn down by the confusion of having a different last name than my children. The compromise was the double whammy name of Masak Mida which worked for a time. But then September 11th happened and the rigor with which the passport office checked documents took on a new meaning. Even though I had cheques, credit cards and business cards with Masak Mida, the passport officer said that I had no proof that I had adopted that name in the community because my driver's license was Ingrid Masak. Guess who lost the argument?

From that point, every time I traveled I had to explain my identity especially when long-held air travel reservations had been made under the name of “Ingrid Masak Mida”.  Notarized documents were required when I traveled alone with the children proving that I was their mother and had permission to travel with them alone. My passport would be scrutinized closely and confusion followed me everywhere.  My husband would regularly ask “What is your name today?

The clincher was when I lost our passports in Paris several years ago and the nightmare of trying to travel home without any documents changed everything.  Proving who you are and why your children do not have the same last name with high school French in a police station is something that I never want to repeat.  Suffice to say, once I got home, I dealt with the name issue once and for all.  It seemed easier to just go with “Ingrid Mida” across the board.  I also thought it would make my website address shorter and people might actually know what to call me.

I've been Ingrid Mida for a few years now, and even though I inwardly cringe when I hear it pronouned Meeda instead of M-ii-da, I answer with a smile. But Ingrid Mada just makes me mad-da.