I hate having such an unusual name. It’s a pain in the ass. Even at the age of 32 it is still a source of anxiety and it’s one that I can’t escape because it literally allows me to exist. This is the marker that signifies your relationship to the state through your citizenship, rights and privileges. It also impacts your personal life.
Having an identifier that is difficult to pronounce and spell has meant that I’ve never been able to graduate without whispering its correct pronunciation to the proctor. This name has further heightened the already existing tension of meeting new people and building networks. When I lived in Thailand for a year, many of the social interactions took place in bars. Most of my friends were expats but do you know how awkward it is to yell over the loud music and repeat my name for the umpteenth time? Then the questions about my background and the origins of the name begin, which yes can bring forth some great conversation, but it gets a bit old the twentieth time around.
All of these experiences influenced my decision to change it up a bit. A few years ago I was in a dressing room at Lululemon and they asked for my name to be written on the door. I replied “Kate” and with that the sales person smiled, spelt it correctly and told me to call her if I needed any assistance. There were no questions, no switching of letters, she was just on her merry way. For the first time I understood what the Jennifers of the world always get to feel. I was riding on a wave of ease and it was addictive. So I did it again. Over and over, at Starbucks, The Gap, Club Monaco, basically in any establishment which required this form of interaction.
The best way to rile up a graduate student is to bring up the word “normativity.” It is this process that people go on and on about for hundreds of pages trying to understand and challenge. We are trained to feel that there is nothing worse than to fall into the normative trap or to prescribe this existence for others. The creation of hard boundaries and characterizing individuals as deviants gets you kicked off the team. I’m just kidding, inclusivity is at the core of critical studies. You just get shamed and then kicked off the team. Obviously these theories are extremely important. I mean the world would still be unbearable without these contentions and the brave souls who are trying to slowly destabilize these systems. But you know what, it is also so incredibly appealing to be “normal.” The safety and comfort of fitting in is a situation that is hard to pull yourself out of. It’s hard to resurface. But who says everything has to be so difficult all of the time? If I’m going to fake it and pretend I might as well enjoy it. There is a threshold to all of this fun anyways because it is not possible to make this a legal reality. There would be far too many friends to tell, identification cards to change, aspects of my life to dismantle. I can never actually become Kate because I’m already someone else. That’s alright though. You can always play innocent games whenever you want.
Why the name Kate you might ask? What other name can make you think of fashionable, talented and interesting women in 5 seconds flat? Winslet, Bosworth, Mara, Middleton. They also have an air about them that is a bit reserved, calm and composed. I am not and will never be one of the Kate Hudsons of the world. You see, when I play dress-up I always use beautiful clothes.