Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Name Changers

We need to stop calling each other names. Especially when that name is mine. Yeah, I'm a Karen.

Names are meaningful in so many ways, they're the first identifier of us as individuals, we use them and answer to them throughout our lives. They also tie us to our past.

I've been giving names a lot of thought lately: first, middle and last. There's a story behind that. You know me, of course there is. It starts with an apology being offered, and coincidentally ends with being owed one.

The apology proffered: I've been thrown into connecting with my extended family. My mother's cousin (however many times removed, who understands those things anyway?), initiated a zoom call to include descendants of two branches of a family tree. Turns out I'm on both, who knew (hint: not me)? At the time all I knew was that I didn't recognize the majority of the names of the people involved. I opted out.

What I couldn't opt out of, to my great dismay, were the emails. They came in droves, something like 50 people, mostly strangers, emailing nonstop about ancestors of whom I'd never heard (every one of them hitting "respond to all" instead of just the person they were addressing, thank you very much). If I were Pavlov's dog, salivating every time my email dinged, I'd be dehydrated. Probably in the first 10 minutes. It was incessant. And incredibly confusing. All the talk about Max and Lizzy, for instance, had no correlation to my grandparents, Max and Elizabeth. These people are nuts, what, are they doing making up history as they go along? No, turns out there was a Max and Lizzy who were not "my" Max and Elizabeth. Nor is the Rose they refer to my grandmother's twin. Oy.

One day, though, someone in one of those emails asked about "my" Max and Elizabeth. This I know, not where it all fits in, but who they were. I could give them a story, and I wanted to. So, as best as I could, with what little I knew, I responded. And the floodgates opened.

A cousin (maybe, kinda, sorta, who knows?) responded to me. He started to put the pieces of my great grandfather's family tree into place for me. He sent not only the written story, but multiple snapshots of the family tree. Suddenly I knew who some of these people who lived in my email stream were, how they fit in, and most intriguingly, how I did.

Just like that I got sucked in. I'm engaged. 

Name Changers | Graphic developed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #ancestry

I had written a post for BluntMoms back in 2016 about my great grandmother. It's a humor piece and worth a read, I call it Ancestry, my Murder and Bootlegging Legacy. Although I knew my great grandmother well, had her until I was 26, I knew absolutely nothing about my great grandfather (who died long before I was born) and his family. Until now.

So to Jerry and Reisa specifically, but to everyone who reached out and added pieces to the Goldman/Chayet/Dores puzzle, helping to carve out a comfortable spot for me, I extend my heartfelt apology.

Last names:
I have always known about and been sad about the change in my great grandfather's last name. It happened, I believe, when his father came to this country but how and why and by whom remains a mystery. I have heard three different stories about that and have no idea what's true any more. I do know that in Russia the name was Chayet (also seen spelled Choyet, Chait). I always thought it was such a pretty name. Some of the family kept it when they came to this country. My branch became Goldman.

Middle names:
Middle names came up in 2 ways. First, there's still much discussion as to which of my great grandfather's names was his first name and which was his middle name. Was he Aaron Morris? Or Morris Aaron? It shows up both ways. Nailing down this guy's name down is like playing whack-a-mole. Between a drastic change in the family last name and the fluidity of his first and middle names, it's a miracle he didn't have an identity complex. Next thing I know, my great grandmother started showing up in records with her middle name (I never even knew she had one) as her first name. But it's different when there are associations so she will always be Eda to me.

Then there's the issue of having middle names at all. I actually stumped Google on this one. Through a plethora of emails I started hearing over and over again from and about people in our family who did not have middle names because they were too poor. 

Wait. What? Too poor? Did they charge you on birth certificates back then? By the name? By the letter? If you like the name Elizabeth for your daughter, have you used up your allotment? If you start off with money and have reversals, do you forfeit your middle name? If you do well in life, do you get one retroactively? I asked Google about this "too poor for a middle name" thing because, you know, Google knows all. Not this, though. If you have the answer, I'd love to hear it. And then maybe you could pass it on to Google?

First names:
I always liked my name, Karen. I have a thing for Ks and Ys so I would have liked to be Karyn, but potato, potahto. 

For the record, I still like my name. Despite the fact that loathsome people are now using it as the name for loathsome people (oh, the irony of that), I still like it. Actually, at the end of last year, before the whole "Karen" thing took on such a toxic tone, I used it in a meme I created myself. Although mine was fact based:

Karen has Shingles meme | Graphic created by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #Karen

But (the apology I'm owed part) it's gone from funny to cruel. Enough is enough. Quit the Karen bashing. Chill out, have a cookie, and read this little ditty I shared on my Baking In A Tornado Facebook page (you do follow me on FB, right?):

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies are quick and easy (they start with a mix) and lower in fat but high in chocolatey flavor. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies (lower in fat)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies are quick and easy (they start with a mix) and lower in fat but high in chocolatey flavor. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies

There are all these people named Karen,
didn't make you unhappy, rude, or barren.
Whatever you won't face,
when that mirror's in place,
no problem, just go blame a Karen.

Relentlessly put Karens down.
The behavior on which you claim to frown.
The truth is nearer,
just look in the mirror, 
you're the one wearing the "bully" crown.

The thing about Karens that's true,
she owns it, knows her own value.
So despite your bashing,
and your Karen trashing,
I'd rather be me than be you. 

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies (lower in fat)         

Printable Recipe

1 package sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 TBSP canola oil
1/2 cup butter substitute, softened
1 egg
3 TBSP water
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup reduced fat peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp low fat milk

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper.
*Mix together the cookie mix, baking cocoa, canola oil, butter substitute, egg and water until it forms a dough (I find it's quickest just to use my hands). 
*Roll the dough into 32 balls, and flatten slightly.
*Place the sugar onto a plate. Press the cookies into the sugar to coat the tops, place on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the baking sheets and allow to cool completely.

*Whisk together the peanut butter, powdered sugar and milk. Spread evenly onto the flat side of half of the cookies. Top each with the other cookies to form a sandwich.


  1. Cookies, yes. My.given name is Donns Gail, my Dad want to call me Wendy. Mother said no, thank you Mother. My Great Grandfather was James Berean Shields Dodson. No idea, I can find no connection, except maybe the Bible.
    My husband was Wade Harvey Lewis. I was introduced to him my an aunt that worked for him as Wade. His family called him Harvey. Imagine my confusion that first family meeting. My Father in Law was Wade Shelton Lewis. At his work he was called Wade, his family called him Shelton.
    If anyone used my name as a mean word, I am not aware. I don’t know where Karen the mean came from, just as well, I would not remember to use it. I am used to the old fashioned mean words and I try my best not to use them. However, it gets harder every day, but definitely not Karen

    1. It's so much like unraveling a mystery, figuring out the name thing. But no one's should be used as an insult, enough of that.

    2. Agreed, there are plenty of words to use. But the best words are kind and love.

  2. Okay, now I wanna be you, too.
    It’s funny, when all the ‘Karen’ bashing started I didn’t realize where it was heading. People would say don’t be a ‘Karen’ and I thought of you and my best friend growing up and my beloved cousin—all of the same name and thought: Why wouldn’t I want to be a Karen? Then things got a bit more pointed and I realized they were being nasty. Imagine my surprise. And disgust.
    I still refuse to lump anyone into a category based on colour, religion, orientation... or name

  3. P.S. Family history is what I do! LOVE IT! Love connecting people!
    Hey! Maybe I’ll find you in my extendeds!

    1. I'll claim you whether you do or don't (maybe you could pencil me in).

  4. Sorry that the name Karen is used to describe women in a negative way here back in 2000 we would say "not happy Jan" when someone fucked up this upset women named Jan...............now it's Karens who are c opong it............

    Tim likes the fact that the Meadows name will be carried on through Leo.

  5. Y'know, I never did get that Karen deal, and I don't use it. And rarely do I bug that Felicia that keeps getting told goodbye, either. Probably someone with a name like Durwood, Willard, or Delbert have a case against me, but the statute of limitations has to be about out. The one person that has something on me is my son, KC. See, when I agreed to the name, I had no idea his mom was going to tell the birth certificate lady, "Just capital K capital C, no initials or periods or anything." I was too stunned to make sound come out of my mouth. And while my son isn't quite as upset as the boy named Sue, he certainly would love to pay me back for that.

    1. KC may need to change his name. I may need to change mine too, maybe KC and I should discuss options.

    2. And the funny thing is, his step-daughter, to make him mad, calls him KC Martin, JR, for some reason. Me, I'm 'the Old Man'.

  6. You'll never be a "Karen" to me.

  7. I never use the word "Karen" like that. I've flirted with genealogy in a very surface type way. In college, I worked one summer for Immigration and Naturalization in lower Manhattan. I was trained in a system called Soundex (which I've now totally forgotten, almost 50 years later) and set loose coding the names of new (I assume) immigrants. So where am I going with this? It is so easy for names to get mangled up, or a middle name changed to a last name (or vice-versa) Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. Interesting, when you put it into that perspective it sounds very easy for letters or even names to be put in incorrectly.

  8. Best Karen I know and the opposite of what is portrayed.
    Personally, call me Karen and I’d take as a compliment ❤️


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