Naming your infant is not an easy task. Many expectant parents spend much time deliberating over this important decision. There’s much to consider…culture, ethnicity, religion, tradition, spelling, pronunciation, popularity and uniqueness…to name a few.
Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit. — Salman Rushdie
As many people did before the dot.com boom, my parents consulted a baby name book. Phoebe was the name selected for their first child, a daughter…me! It was definitely a unique choice for the 1960’s when Lisa and Mary where the popular female names of the day.
March 4 is the designated day for celebrating “Unique Names”. As far as I’m concerned, a name is unique if you are unable to find it among the other personalized key chains or pens in the store display rack. The name Phoebe meets that requirement! Of course, I still look at these trinkets occasionally hoping one day to find my name among them!
And so, here’s a little window into my experience of living as a Phoebe in a Lisa and Mary world…
- After my birth, my parents learned the doctor who delivered me had a wife with the same first name
- My name was a spelling word one year
- Valentine’s cards in elementary school were addressed phonetically as “Feebee”
- My mother often called me “Phoebe Jane” even though my birth name was “Phoebe Yvonne”
- I can quickly find the book of Romans in the Bible (Phoebe is mentioned in Romans 16:1 by the Apostle Paul)
- I repeatedly explain my name starts with “ph” as in “phone”
- I learned there are famous people with the name…Phoebe Snow (American singer/songwriter), Phoebe Cates Kline (American actress/model), and Phoebe “Annie Oakley” Moses (American sharpshooter)
- My nicknames included: Phoebs, Phleaby, Pheebles (after the once popular Weebles), Penelope (see below)
- I learned how to identity the call of the phoebe bird…“fee-bee”
- Back in the mid-80’s, an infant in Costa Rica was named after me
- My name is often mispronounced, most commonly as “Phobe” (rhymes with probe), but once as Penelope (by my high school gym teacher)
- I am often told people have or had a pet by the same name
- I am often told people have or had a grandmother by the same name
- In Greek mythology, my name refers to a goddess of the moon
- In the world of astronomy, Phoebe is one of Saturn’s moons
- Phoebe means “the shining one”
- I knew no one personally with the same name until college. There was a transfer student by the name of Febe in my nursing class! We were “Phoebe A” and “Febe B”.
- My name is difficult to enunciate over the phone and so “P-H-O-E-B-E” becomes “P as in Paul; H as in house; O; E as in eat; B as in boy; E as in eat”
- I have had to explain I was not named after the character, Phoebe Buffay on the 1990’s NBC sitcom, Friends…duh!!!
- I discovered the fictional character, Phoebe Therese, a student in Mrs. Frizzle’s class while reading to my school-age kids the Magic School Bus books
- I discovered another fictional Phoebe years later while reading Memory Keeper’s Daughter
I never particularly minded having an unusual name. But, interestingly, I knew I wanted my own kids to have names less so. I wanted my kids’ names to have familial affiliations.
Do you like your birth name? What name stories do you have to share?
10 Things You’d Tell Your Teenage Self:
Hiya! Believe it or not, I’m writing you from the year 2014! That makes me 47…older than Mom is! Hard to imagine, no?! I just want to offer you a few words of encouragement and a bit of wisdom for the coming years. If you choose to heed any of these, I don’t think you’ll alter the course of your future too terribly much…and I wouldn’t want you to!
1. Learn Spanish instead of French. It will be much more useful to you!
2. Make sure you have Grandma Wulliman teach you how to make her toffee so that you’ll know what “deep amber in color” looks like.
3. Stand up for yourself and speak your mind. You need not worry about “making waves”! You must not allow yourself be humiliated by your U.S. History teacher (a.k.a. football coach) or bullied in the locker room by a peer.
4. Tend your relationships with your siblings, especially with your brother. He’s more sensitive than anyone realizes.
5. Stop caring so much about what others think of you. Be yourself.
6. Stop obsessing about boys. Try being their friend instead. You always wanted an older brother; so seek one out!
7. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Enjoy the here and now.
9. Use Coppertone or Hawaiian Tropic with SPF 4 or 8 (the higher the number the better!). Do not use Johnson’s Baby Oil.
10. Continue to work hard in school. Your study habits will serve you well in college!
As you’d expect you will face obstacles and loss, but generally speaking; life will be very good to you!
Your Future Self
What revelations would you tell your younger self? You can join Monday Listicles, too!
Last week, Pharrell William’s song, Happy made it on several TToT lists. To be honest, it didn’t mean much to me because I had no context for it. I assumed it was associated with children’s pop culture and what do you know, I was right!
I discovered the song is from the soundtrack of the movie, Despicable Me 2. I’ve not seen either the original or the most recent animated flick featuring the little yellow henchmen. Therefore, I have no clue what happiness has to do with the plot; but perhaps yellow equals happiness?!
Nevertheless, the song did bring a smile to my life this week and ended up on my list. The word “happy” conjures up sunny or smiley images. I also think of cool and quirky Snoopy! I have vague recollections of a poster or book filled with “Happiness is…” quotes. Charles Schultz’s Peanuts cartoons are full of wisdom and illustrate his philosophy of life. Happiness is…authenticity, relationships, optimism, living in the present and gratitude.
This week, happiness was… (or my Ten Things of Thankful included)
Freshly baked bread my husband made with the spent grains of his latest brew (a porter). Thanks to Jamie who provided me with a link about embedding tweets!
MT – I was skeptical but the bread from spent grains is yummy!@BurntCreekBrews: pic.twitter.com/ZxdkFiEdgK
— Phoebe Graber (@inmomopause) February 22, 2014
Watching new episodes of NCIS and Big Bang Theory now that the Olympics are over.
A phone call from my son. I’m his “call-a-nurse” when he needs to consult about health or medical issues. Nothing major and he’s doing better now.
A back scratch from my husband as well as his morning hugs.
A published blog post…especially one that was long overdue! After weeks of contemplation and obsessing, I finally explained the Facebook controversy I mentioned several weeks ago. I had many readers asking for details.
Curel Itch Defense lotion. This is my winter survival secret for dry, scaly legs. It works most of the time!
My club mug. My husband and I frequent a local non-smoking bar/pub/drinking establishment “where everyone (ok…not quite everyone) knows my name.” I’m actually known by the name on my personalized mug, “phoebs”.
A $20.00 rebate check in the mail.
My coffee cup sticker collection. These stickers cover the opening of a to-go cup lid to reduce spillage.
The videos, news stories and articles my daughter shared or recommended this week:
- The HuffPo article, 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People
- The HuffPo feature about the 4-year-old and her mother who make paper dresses
- The 60 Minutes story about “The Con Artist”, Wolfgang Beltracchi
- An NPR story, College Applicants Sweat the SATs. Perhaps They Shouldn’t
- A video created by the admissions department of her liberal arts university to Pharrell William’s song, Happy! (No, my daughter does not star in it)
Where did you find happiness this past week?
Several weeks ago, I alluded to a controversy I unintentionally prompted after sharing Coke’s “It’s Beautiful” Super Bowl commercial on Facebook. In my eyes, the video, like the song America the Beautiful, illustrated and affirmed the diversity inherent in America. The reaction that ensued surprised me!
You see, I am a Facebook user who does not hesitate to promote social justice issues especially those related to healthcare and human rights. I figure that friends who do not appreciate my views will learn as I have, to “hide” information or people from their newsfeed. Thus, my Facebook friends have had amble opportunities to challenge my stance on any number of topics.
What triggered this response? It was similar to some of the backlash heard on Twitter after the 60-second spot aired. I read many of the xenophobic, racist and homophobic tweets. While reviewing them as well as the comments on my Facebook page, it was clear that some Christians are very fearful. To some, the commercial represented an infringement of their religious liberties.
It’s only been in the last couple weeks that I’ve understood this in terms of Christian privilege.
All Christians, whether one identifies with the Religious Right or Left (or somewhere between), benefit from invisible rights or advantages. Christianity is an institutionalized norm in America. Thus, Christians exert power and control.
Not convinced Christian privilege exists? The reality of Christian privilege is complex. It’s so ingrained in our culture that those of us whom benefit don’t recognize it for what it is.
- In my community, there’s a general assumption that most people are Christian.
- It’s not uncommon to ask which church a person attends.
- My local Wal-Mart has a bookstall displaying Choice books.
- I cannot buy bottled alcohol on Sunday.
- I can find a Bible in any hotel room across the country.
- I can affix a Jesus fish on my vehicle without fear of vandalism.
- If asked to take an oath, I would be asked to place my hand on the Bible.
- Both Good Friday and Christmas are paid holidays.
- I worship without fear of violence or threats.
- I would likely not be elected to public office if I identified myself as a member of a minority religion or admitted I was not a person of faith.
But, the U.S. is a Christian nation, you say?
It is true that the majority of Americans (78.4%) identify as Christian. However, this number is decreasing while those who consider themselves part of a minority religion or as unaffiliated is rising.
The freedom of religion (or the freedom from religion) is one of the most basic liberties guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The religious preference of the majority does not override the religious freedoms of the minority. Our government was intentionally established as a secular institution…“the separation of Church and State.” This means the State should not dictate what the Church believes or does, AND the Church should not dictate what the State believes or does. Most of the polarizing topics facing the nation – same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception – seem to be a debate about Church’s influence on the State. This influence has changed and lessened, but it still exists.
Outrage about this Coke ad and the Duck Dynasty debacle is a means of some Christians to reassert and enforce their privilege. There are Christians who feel compelled to impose their beliefs on others. Some Christians use their beliefs as justification for their discriminatory attitudes – Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (vetoed yesterday by Governor Jan Brewer) is a case in point. Christian privilege reinforces prejudices against not just those of other religions but also against those of no religion at all.
So, how can I reconcile myself with this brand of Christianity if I choose to identify with this privileged group? I’m not sure I’ve figured that out entirely. It will take humility and grace if I am to exist in a system entrenched with oppression.
I will work to be more conscious of my privilege and its impact on those who do not identify as Christian.
I will guard against my own self-righteous attitudes and “enlightened” views.
I will respect those with whom I profoundly disagree.
I will work to promote interfaith respect and dialogue with those of other religions or no religion at all.
I will seek to love my neighbor as myself.
I will seek to build community as the last stanza of America the Beautiful speaks of:
“…and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”