How about a little exploration of Emily?

What’s in a name, exactly? It’s incredible how many things can share a name. Are names arbitrary? Shakespeare famously says in one of Romeo’s lavishly cheesy entreaties to Juliet, “That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet,” but like so many things in life, names take on meaning because we, as humans, put that meaning there.

This started out in my head as a poetry post, featuring Emily Dickinson, and look what happened (dammit, brain!)

Names have meaning, but from where? Some names harken back to old languages– Melissa comes ultimately from the Greek word melitta, or “bumble bee.” Christopher literally means “bearer/carrier of Christ,” also from Greek. Some names are synthesized, created new by parents (or so they hope), perhaps in search of something unique that their child can have that is theirs, and only theirs. What a gift to give a child; what a burden. Having a history to your name at least gives you something to lean on, and humans love to lean. We love to be a part of something. It’s when we’re unchained that we tend to come unhinged.

Why do we track the popularity of baby names? Seriously. They put this stuff in newspapers. Why, though? I’ve always found it weird that people would want to know how popular the name they’ve picked is. Do you want an Emily, or do you want an Orangejello? What’s better? What’s worse?

At least if you’re Orangejello, you begin your own legacy. You might not be a link in a chain; you might be something new, shiny, and interesting. At least you don’t have a billion people, and at least a dozen songs named after you.

Let’s do some Emily-legacy, because this started out with Dickinson.

Emily #1: Emily Dickinson-- shutin, poet, and wise woman

Emily Dickinson, “137”

Behold this little Bane–

The Boon of all alive–

As common as it is unknown

The name of it is Love–

To lack of it is Woe–

To own of it is Wound–

Not elsewhere– if in Paradise

Its Tantamount be found–

I agree, Emily #1. Love is problematic. Also, you said it better.

I need space here,

dammit.

Emily #2: That bitch that dumped you, oh well.

I need space here,

dammit.

Emily by the Darlings. Sorry about the link out, I couldn’t find a complete Youtube of it. That’s right, sometimes on accident I end up with music the great Whotube doesn’t know about. It’s a cheerful little song about a boyfriend snatcher. Bad EMILY #3!

I need space here,

dammit.

Plus, a little Emily Post…

Emily #4: Miss Manners, herself.

“She must not swing her arms as though they were dangling ropes; she must not switch herself this way and that; she must not shout; and she must not, while wearing her bridal veil, smoke a cigarette”

Thanks, Emily #4. I was just on my way to David’s Bridal to light one up and scream a little. Now I know better.

I need space here,

dammit.

Then there’s Emily the Strange…

Emily #5: knows where you sleep, and is coming for your spleen.

 

You never know, I guess. Emily, by the way, is from Latin. It means “rival; laborious.” Also: “eager.” Hmmm… maybe that’s why Emily’s a strange bitch who steals your boyfriend and then dumps him (but it’s okay because he sleeps with all her friends, and hooks up with a model from Singapore), and is probably planning to kill him in his sleep because of his bad manners. It’s in the name.

What does that have to do with Dickinson? I’m not sure any more, but sometimes that’s how it goes. I could have tied this together a little more neatly, but then it wouldn’t be an exploration. It would be a thesis.

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