A rose by any other name...

Photo by cora

I've always been proud of my name. Well not my first name really but my surnames? Most definitely. I have many. In Latin America, like the wearing of a precious coat, we carry the names of our forbears with snobbish conceit. Though there is an inherent element of elitism in the whole stubborn exercise especially when in this modern age we tend to compress, shorten and acronym most every word into nothingness - not to mention unintelligibleness - we Latins continue to cling to the names of our ancestors for reasons of pomp, more often than not remembrance and quite likely, a frequently misplaced sense of amour propre.

Let's backtrack here a second. Why don't I like my first name? Well I like it now, but not as a child growing up and it was because of the nickname of course. I was always frumpy Mili to my intimates and knowns. I mean really! Mili? That's like an old maid name I reflected; what your retired neighbor calls her Daschshund or the little parakeet she keeps in the pink cage. There's nothing sophisticated about a Mili and I, most definitely, wanted - sophistication.

In my 30-student high school class, there was a Tatiana, a María Cecilia, a Michelle and a Carin. Those were sexy names. Why couldn't I have been called any one of those? With passion, I so wished they were mine. Up until my teenage years I envied my sister and her own nickname. At home we called her Alexa or Alex. I was so envious of Alexandra's 'informal' name that when my Confirmation came around, at that precise moment when the priest asks you for the name you have selected in this, your second baptism, I said the name I'd wanted and refused to divulge to my mother for weeks. It was my choosing. I stood by my choice.

"What do you wish to be called for your second name?" The priest intoned.

Alexandra," I replied.

I heard my mother's outraged gasp crystal clear down the nave of the church, but I kept my eyes trained on the priest and stuck to my guns. The uproar I caused was only beginning to die down when my little sister said loud enough for the Pope in Rome to hear:

"Mami? Does that mean that I will have to choose Milena when my own confirmation comes?

In a voice filled with my own doom my mother replied: "Certainly not! and 'Milena Alexandra Castulovich Montes, del Rosario, Caballero y Urtunduaga will get what's coming to her when we get home!"



  1. Wow! That's a mouthful! Beautifully told, as always.

  2. I think your name is lovely (and so is this post).

    But you should be SO grateful that you weren't, like millions of other little girls circa 1967-1973, named Jennifer.

    The added kick for me was that I was Jennifer Lyn...a common first AND middle name! Ugh.

  3. So what happened when you got home???

    I, too, think your name is beautiful- and quite sexy, really.

  4. I think your name is beautiful. Very funny story!

  5. I love the name Milena, it has a beautiful sound. As for that confirmation name, very funny! I chose Katherine as mine.

  6. When I was confirmed I took the name "Thomas," because he had doubts, too. (Nobody was shocked when I left the faith.)

  7. What a funny story! I understand; when I was a kid, I didn't like my name at all and always wanted something cute and spunky or really exotic. Eventually, it grew on me. I like your name though and I like Mili too.

    Melissa Donovan

  8. Hi.

    Thanks for the nice comment you left on my blog. I'm glad you like my slippers. They are adult sized however. All of my slippers are for adults. :)

    Great blog you have here.

  9. you have a beautiful name and i like it. i am curious too on what happened when you got home, lol.

  10. Robyn: Isn't it just? Properly said, it is liable to strike fear in to the hearts of men. Thank you. Glad you liked the telling.

    Jennifer Lyn!
    I think your name is loverly too. I would have liked to be called Jennifer. In Panama, it is an exotic name. Few little girls get named Jennifer there. I would have stood out.

    Nona: Ay Nona... You'll think my mother a bit barbaric I'm sure. She spanked me. That I would be spanked was a given. But I'd anticipated it and that took the sting out somewhat. It is always easier to withstand something when you've made your decision to take it. Quite frankly, I got off lightly. My mother was not known for dispensing soft punishments.

    Really? Sexy? Well... if you say so, I shall believe it.

    Rachel: Hi! Why thank you very much. Glad you liked it. I had fun writing it.

    Suzanne: Suzanne Katherine... (I'm tasting the name). It suits you beautifully. Absolutely you're a Katherine. And with a "K" too. I like it with a K more than a C. You're sweet. Thank you.

    Thomas: Well of course! Doubting Thomas... I never put two and two together. Nevertheless, had you not said anything, I probably would have pegged you more of an Aquinas kind of Thomas, rather than the Apostolic one.

    Melissa: And Mili likes you!

    Brandy: Brandy absolutely. You have a lovely blog. And those slippers? I will not despair of convincing you to make some in my size. ;-)

    Maria: Hi. Thank you very much. Like I said to Nona, I had a date with a spank. Growing up I had lots of those. I was always getting into trouble.

    Dear All: You've convinced me. I now officially like my name. Can't have so many nice people tell me it is a nice one and not believe it. Thank you.


  11. Oh, those nasty diminutive names! Actually, I rather like Mili; of course, no one is calling me that.

    And I don’t understand your mother being so upset: Saint Alexandra was a perfectly OK confirmation name, even if legend says that she was burned alive in the persecution of Emperor Diocletian! (Yuck)

    Have a fun weekend, Milena!

  12. verrry amusing story.
    and i like how you waited until the very last minute to unveil your confirmation name.
    hee hee hee.

  13. OK, I admit I'm completely ignorant of all things confirmation-like, but why did you get in trouble? Just because it was your sister's name?

  14. Wow, with a name that long, you'd fit perfectly in a Russian novel (though hopefully your life isn't miserable enough to fit perfectly in a Russian novel). I know what it's like to hate one's first name growing up--especially since, in seventh grade, everybody suddenly realized that "Jay" rhymes with "gay"--and my one middle name "Sinclair" certainly wasn't gonna help much....

  15. Nick: I'll be Mili to you from now on then though for the most part, someone upgraded my nickname to Mile years ago and it stuck. Pronounced like the Italian word for 1,000 - Mille - as in Me-lay... go figure. Working on your banner. Had two false starts. Not flowing yet. Hang in there. And to explain, my mother was upset that I had chosen my sister's name because there was already ONE Alexandra in the house. I was supposed to have chosen something entirely different. I did have a good weekend Nick. Thank you.

    Chescaaaaa!!!!! Have to head on over to your blog honey. You've been out for like AGES. How long does your family vacation??? Missed you and thanks.

    Courtney: OK, like I was explaining to Nick, what if you had had a sister yourself (don't know if you do) and then, she gets to rename herself and she chooses your name. You see the confusion? Granted, I already had my first name but you see, that kind of stuff is not done. That was just plain silly of me to do what I did. I really should have chosen something exotic like Shana, Michaela or Irina. What do you think? I like Irina better now. Milena Irina... hmmm.
    Anyway, thank you for stopping by my blog. Hope to see you again.

    Dr. Jay!!!!! You think? I'm of Croatian, Spanish and French descent. I think I'd be perfect in any kind of a novel with a name like mine. And you know what? You haven't heard the last of it. There's more. I just posted a few. As to your name and getting teased on it, all I can say is I know the feeling. Children can be awfully cruel. ;-)

    Loving your blog by the way. Expect me to become a regular.


  16. Your mom was upset because there was already an Alexandra in the house?

    My grandmother was different: her name was Anna and she had six daughters; she gave each of them the middle name Anna! I suppose each person has his or her own quirks!

    Don’t apologize about the time it is taking for the banner. I really understand! None of us can control the coming and going of the creative muse. At the moment I am having computer problems and I have been awaiting the coming of the how to fix it muse since last Saturday.

    Blessings, peace, and all that is good!

  17. I also love your name, one of my all time favorites! I am sorry we couldn't catch up in Denver but understand your situation, family always comes first especially when one is not well. I certainly hope your sis is much better. When is the baby due? Maybe next time or if we are ever in Houston!


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