Thursday, November 15, 2007

Adding That Extra "N"

Moving is frequently cited as one of the most stressful life events, after the death of a loved one, divorce or illness.
While the reasons for moving can be positive – such as the purchase of a house or job promotion – settling into a new home, connecting to a new environment and recreating a home are almost always chaotic and stressful. (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

The first time I moved was during infancy, crossing the globe from South Korea to the states at age 10 months…. The second, into a college dorm room at age 18… Then to El Paso, TX for a job at age 21… Now to Tampa for another job at age 25.

There is one noticeable difference between this move and every other. Somehow in this one, my nickname changed.

Growing up, I’ve been called everything from Jenny Benny, to Steffen, to Jen Steffens, to Jenny Jones, to Joneser, to Steve-Jen – and of course – the standard Jen. After college, I tried to shed my teen-girl image by referring to myself as “Jennifer” professionally and personally. In El Paso, everyone from my boss to my coworkers to my friends went with that. I liked it.

Somehow, that all changed with the move to Florida. It’s actually quite odd. Everyone I’ve met here now calls me “Jen” but apparently one “n” was not good enough. It’s now spelled “Jenn.” I’ve never spelled my name in this fashion, but everyone here seems to think that’s quite common.

For my entire life, I’ve thought the common spelling for Jen was “Jen.” Apparently not. It’s Jenn. Either way, I don’t mind how my nickname is spelled. It’s just sort of unusual that until a few months ago, I’d never really had anyone spell it with two “n’s.”

The first person to do this was my boss. In emails she would use Jenn instead of Jennifer or Jen. Then that snowballed into more folks when they would see that on her emails… Then AJ wrote Jenn on my birthday card. And just a few days ago, my step-father’s sister-in-law did the same in an email.

Now, I’m not frustrated or perturbed by this – more so perplexed if anything.

Why do Floridians spell it Jenn, while others across the country do it the Jen way. I’ve assumed for a long time that the world is becoming smaller and cultural differences are slowly disappearing. Perhaps that’s not the case. Living in several different areas of the country has opened my eyes to both the obvious and subtle regional inconsistencies and differences.

Living in Buffalo, I know that soda is “pop” and pizza and wings are the inseparable duo.
Until living in El Paso, I had no idea what a quinceanera was until walking through the mall and seeing a bunch of teenagers who appeared to be dressed like a wedding party.
Still, I really wish I could roll my “r’s” - but that’s not going to happen.
Until living in Pittsburgh, I did not know you could end a sentence with a proposition.
(There was once a sign in a dorm lobby that said “TV needs fixed”)
And now I know that in Florida, I’m Jenn.


thesciencegirl said...

I mostly go by Jess, which is pretty straight-forward, but my family has always called me Jessie (and a couple of very close friends... no one else is allowed to!), but anyway, some of my family members spell it "Jessy" which just feels wrong to me, somehow, as I've always thought of it as "Jessie."

Also, as a flip to what you did in El Paso, I started introducing myself as Jess when I moved to Chicago (though I use Jessica in professional situations), because I like being called Jess better, and it always seemed to take new friends months to adopt that, and I figured, if I think of myself as "Jess," why not introduce myself that way? I also did this because one of my good friends here, who is in my program of 11 people, also goes by Jess, and everyone tried to force one of us to go by a different nickname, and I felt like if I didn't stake my claim on "Jess" I'd lose it forever. haha. So, we both go by Jess and we are very tickled by calling each other and saying, "Hey Jess, this is... the other Jess."

Jennifer said...

Update: In a recent email, my boss called me "jen". Changes on the horizon? We will see!