miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2009

"Umm . . . what's your name?"

I'm changing my name.

Jill is nearly impossible to pronounce/understand in Spanish (unless the person I'm talking to has an excellent command of English). First of all, the letter J in Spanish is pronounced like an English H. The sound for the English short "i" doesn't exist at all, and the double l is pronounced like a y.

"Como se llama?"




"Uhh . . . [very long pause] . . . Jeee?"

"That's it!" I reward ANY attempt at pronouncing my name with a huge smile and a confidence-boosting, "Yes! Exactly! That's me!"

I even fear that the non-pronounceability of my name has costed me a friend. Way back in March, I met a woman at the park who had just moved to Saltillo that week, didn't know anyone apart from her husband and daughter (who is just 4 months older than mine), and seemed to be just as excited to meet me as I was to meet her. We exchanged phone numbers with promises to call each other the following week.

I tried to call her. But her number was a cell phone. All my past experiences with cell phones in Mexico has taught me that 044 or 045 needs to be dialed before the number. But I wasn't having any luck getting through to Marisela. Finally, after a month of trying her without any success, I just dialed her number like it was a regular long-distance number. Bingo. I left a message. But was she still using that cell phone with her number from Tampico?

She may have tried to call me. But if she was unsure about how to pronounce my name, would she have called? I can only imagine having a piece of paper with a super-short unpronouncable name on it. "Yeah, hi. I'm calling for . . . uhh . . . are you that woman I met in the park the other day?"

Had it been me, I would have waited to receive the call.

Which never happened. Boo.

During my first days at NPH, I hung out with the chicas quite a bit and remember their initial confusion about how to say my name. One day, we were watching young Jim Hawkins' adventures on Treasure Planet. Lupita Munoz turned to me with a light in her eyes, indicative that something just "clicked" for her. "Jim!" she exclaimed, connecting my name to that of Mr. Hawkins'. Oh, so close. But I'll take what I can get.

After way too long, I wised up. When leaving my name at stores to place an order, I am now Michelle. The cashiers at least understand it, despite the fact that my name is stored in the Farmacia Guadalajara's computer as MICHEL DUULAS. When introducing myself at my Bible study, I offered the name Michelle first, but siting that it was my middle name.

"What's your first name?"

They decided they could handle Jill. But now, three months after meeting these women, Jill has somehow morphed into Gina.

I'll take it.

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