Joburg Expat: I'm, Like, Famous. Except No One Knows.

November 21, 2013

I'm, Like, Famous. Except No One Knows.

Ever since I stumbled across Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard, I have been slavishly following her advice on self-publishing a book.I know, I'm probably already starting to sound like her.

When she said I needed to create an author website (or blogsite, as she likes to call it), I listened. When she said to do it on Wordpress (because 9.8 out of 10 times Wordpress looks better than Blogger, she tells me, which I try not to take personally regarding this blog right here, which of course is on Blogger), I went back to my ancient Wordpress Dashboard which had once hosted (and still hosts) my first blog ever, Desperate Mothers. I clicked on "new blog" and entered an address. And then I came to a dead stop.

"Blog name" was staring at me accusingly, and I had no idea what to call it.

If you're a blogger, you know how hard it is to choose a good name. And if you've been following mine, you know that I don't exactly have a track record of unbridled creativity in the blog naming department. Joburg Expat, you guys? If there has ever been a less creative (though I admit functional) name in the expat blogosphere, I'd like to know about it.

And in any case, if I am to have a "presence" on the web with an author website, I need to reach beyond my expat persona. I somehow need to bring my actual name into it. But which one? I grew up with one nickname, now live under another, and no one can pronounce any of them. There are few people who even know my real name. Why, dear God, couldn't I have a name like Catherine Ryan Howard that makes sense to everyone? Where does my name even come from?

Now you won't believe this, but up until this point it had never occurred to me to Google my own name. Honestly! At least not my full first name. Perhaps this is due to the conflicted relationship I have always had with it. You know, the way kids will make fun of you when you're the only one with that name in the entire school. In the entire country, actually. Or the entire universe, it seems like. And when that name also rhymes with a lot of stuff, you're doomed. It might have been okay if just the other kids had made fun of it, but it was the teachers too. Melusine, in German, rhymes perfectly with limousine, which isn't so bad, and sardine, which is slightly worse, but also Waschmaschine (washing machine) and, my teacher's creation, Quatschmaschine, alluding to my propensity to, ahem, talk a lot during class. I don't think I have ever quite forgiven my parents for sticking that name onto me, in what I can only think must have been a drunken stupor (or, given it was the 60s, a high of a different nature).

Until now, that is.

Because what does Catherine Ryan Howard also tell me is important for my author website? A unique name. It actually took me a whole night of lying awake and tossing and turning (yes,we bloggers work hard at our craft, besides being vain) and discarding one pithy slogan after the other to realize that I already have just that: A unique name! My first name, all by itself, will likely catch attention, precisely because it is unique. No dressing up needed, plain and simple.

Melusine.

Nevertheless, I went ahead and Googled it to find out more. And what do you know, it has changed my life. Because, it turns out, I am in everyone's face, every day. Or almost everyone. I had to read the entire page on Wikipedia to get to it. On the way there, I learned that:

  • I have a namesake who was christened exactly 300 years before I was born, 1667, and went on to became the mistress of King George I of Great Britain, the first British monarch from the House of Hanover (which, incidentally is Noisette's birthplace, except Germans spell it with two 'n's). 
  • Legend has it that I am a water fairy. I appear in quite the collection of French, English, and German folk tales. 
  • One of those tales has my mother leaving with me and my two sisters to live on the Isle of Avalon (isn't that where Morgan le Fay lived? That practically puts me in the same company as Richard Gere and Sean Connery in First Knight! Oh, the romance!)
  • Another legend has it that the House of Luxembourg is descended from me. In 1997 Luxembourg issued a postage stamp with my image as a water spirit (bare breasted and blond - that's gotta be me, guys!).
  • Evidently, there is also a nightclub in Luxembourg with the name Melusina (I hope it's not the bare breasted type of night club).
  • I appear every 7 years for someone to free me from the Arzette River (all you need to do is buy me a Starbucks Venti Latte, excuse me, take the key I wear around my neck from me, and I'm yours).
  • In The White Queen, Philippa Gregory claims the House of Luxembourg is connected to me through the Duke of Burgundy (I'd still rather be connected to Richard Gere and Sean Connery, but a Duke isn't bad).
  • One day of the week, I am half serpent, or depending on the tale, half mermaid (let's go with mermaid, guys).
  • Martin Luther believed I was a succubus, or female demon, making it my business to seduce men (me? never!).
  • None other than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe resurrected my tale when he wrote Die neue Melusine (The new Melusine) in 1807 (seems like all of Germany's greats were somehow connected to me).
  • Felix Mendelssohn wrote a concert ouverture named Zum Märchen der Schönen Melusine (the fair Melusine).
  • A gothic metal band released a song named after me in 2011; I feel like I should be collecting royalties as the only person of that name (but gothic metal, you guys?).
  • Also, and I'm briefly exiting Wikipedia here, if you go to the website of my name, you can source pre-fractioned animal venoms, whatever the hell that is ("Did you ever dream of running a pre-screen on 176 venoms?" Uhm, no, did not).
  • And, yikes, there is even Melusine, the Blog right here on Blogger. There even are a handful of Facebook pages. Someone beat me to the punch! (Though, I am oddly relieved to see, no one seems to actually HAVE that name).
  • In Czech and Slovak, my name stands for a wailing wind (my kids would agree with that analogy, especially when I've just found out that somebody spilled a bottle of nail polish remover onto the sofa table; I won't name any names).

And then, at the bottom of the Wikipedia page, under "other cultural references," there it was, staring me in the face:

"The Starbucks logo features a nude Melusine within a green circle."


Me, me, and  me! (though only two of us in the nude)

My friends, this is Earth shattering news. Starbucks? It is meant to be. A union made in Heaven. If I could have picked any corporate giant of the world to distribute my likeness (in the nude, no less!) to the remotest corners of the Earth and make people happy at the same time (who isn't happy when holding a freshly-made mocha latte in his or her hands?), it would have been Starbucks. Hands down. Especially now that Wikipedia has told me Starbucks is culture.

With all this history and fame, I can't quite believe no one else has ever had an urge to name their female offspring Melusine. It sure would have put me out of my childhood misery if someone had.

Maybe this blogpost will inspire a future generation of parents to follow in the footsteps of mine.

In the meantime, excuse me while I create my author website. Which will have Melusine on it. But not in the nude.

You might also want to read: I May Have Sort of Written a Book.