The curse of the hyphenated name

Dear Diary,

I had a frustrating experience not too long ago while trying to make an online purchase. When I entered the billing address, I repeatedly got an error message telling me it contained invalid characters.

After several attempts, I finally released what the invalid character was. The pesky hyphen in my name. I deleted the hyphen and was able to successfully proceed to checkout.

But come on, it’s 2020. It’s not like hyphenated names are terribly unusual.

Alas, it’s not the first time my little hyphen has caused some issues.

For starters, there are lots of people who don’t seem to know what you’re referring to when you say “hyphen”.

I’m constantly having to spell my name out. (People with uncommon names or uncommon spellings will probably relate to this.) More than once when I’ve reached the hyphen, I’ve been met with one of two reactions:

  1. a blank or bewildered expression, as if I’ve just coined a new word.
  2. a brief pause, before the person writes an apostrophe instead. (That’s some cool science fiction shiz right there. 😀 )

I usually end up explaining it as a “dash” and drawing a horizontal line in the air with my finger.

Then there are those who see my name written down and can’t figure out how to read it.

I get called Lee a lot, which I don’t mind. Some of my friends call me Lee or L for short. But I’ve also been called Ann and Annie by multiple people, and I hate it. (There’s nothing wrong with those names, they’re just not me.)

I don’t know if other people with hyphenated names or double names experience the same issues I do, or if I just attract confusion. 😛

Anyway, at the top of the post, I melodramatically described this as a curse. But in all seriousness, I like the name my parents gave me. My first world hyphen problems are more of a quirk than anything else.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to educate y’all about the joy of hyphenated names. 😉

Embracing the new normal

Dear Diary,

Life is pretty normal. I returned to the office about a month ago, part-time at first, but I’m back to full-time hours now. I’ve gone out for lunch and dinner a few times since COVID-19 restrictions eased, and even though I was nervous beforehand, it’s been fine once I’m there. Though I think my blood pressure goes up whenever someone coughs.

Given the lack of current community transmission in Western Australia, anyone coughing or sneezing in public most likely just has a cold because it’s winter. But the little voice inside my head says, “It could be COVID. They could be spraying killer droplets everywhere. You could get sick. You could get someone else sick. How many times a day do you need to touch your face?!”

Not to mention, I have family and friends in parts of the country and the world where the coronavirus situation isn’t so great.

On the plus side, I’m no longer obliged to shake hands with people. I don’t know why squeezing the germy hands of strangers became A Thing. But I’d be happy to permanently abolish the handshake in favour of any number of non-contact greetings. Bow, Vulcan salute, anjali mudra… the possibilities for not touching people are endless.

Alas, physical distancing seems to have gone out the window in many places. But I like my personal space so when people are keeping a 1.5 metre distance, it’s good. I know those markings on the ground won’t stay forever but I’d be okay if they did.

Oh, and my longtime hand sanitiser habit has not attracted a single snide remark about “OCD” since the pandemic began. I’m finally considered “normal”!

Well, maybe. I am still talking to a blog that can’t talk back, after all… 😀

P.S. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a very real condition. Can we agree to stop trivialising it by using OCD as an adjective for anyone who happens to like being clean or tidy?

P.P.S. This blog is still quite new but it looks like I’m averaging two posts a month. Which is far less than what you’re “supposed” to do but hey, quality over quantity, right? (The “quality” part is debatable. 😛 )

Facing the new normal

Dear Diary,

This week, I returned to the office for the first time since my workplace went into lockdown three months ago. And as much as I like my job and the people I work with, I was… apprehensive.

Plenty of people have developed some form of coronavirus-related anxiety during the pandemic, and I guess I have too. But I also had anxiety before COVID-19. And the line between my usual anxiety and COVID anxiety isn’t clearly defined.

I live in Western Australia, where the number of cases has been low and there doesn’t appear to be community transmission. In other words, there’s no need for panic; we’ve been very fortunate. But I can’t help my thoughts and feelings — only what I do about them.

So on Monday, I got up earlier than I have in months and went to work.

It was nice to see my co-workers in person, rather than through a webcam. Although the office was still quiet compared to normal (or at least the old, pre-COVID normal). Sometimes eerily quiet.

There were some nervous moments, especially on the train, where it can be hard to physically distance yourself from other people. It’s also winter here, and you inevitably come across people with sniffles and other cold-like symptoms. But I got through my first week unscathed and lived to write this to you. 😉

I have no idea what the future brings. But I suppose all I can do is face it as it comes, cover my coughs and sneezes, and wash my hands properly. And hope others are doing the same.

A ‘nothing special’ writer

Dear Diary,

You’re more of a journal than a diary. A diary is where I’d record things like “10:00 meeting with General Kenobi” or “Death Star plans due COB”, probably on a daily basis. Whereas a journal is where I talk about my thoughts, feelings, etc. whenever it suits me. But I enjoy the alliteration of “Dear Diary” so I’m planning to keep saying it. Besides, it’s my blog, I’m gonna call it what I want. 😀

Now that we’ve established that you’re a journal, let’s talk about my problems. 😛

Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague that went something like this:

Colleague: “Lee-Ann, I just discovered online that you’re a writer. Tell me more.”

Me: [awkward laughter] “Ah, I’ve dabbled in the occasional short story and was doing some theatre reviews pre-COVID, nothing special…”

I kind of downplayed my writing to my colleague — not because it’s supposed to be a state secret or anything, but because… that’s just how I am? I don’t particularly like talking about myself. Actually, I don’t really like talking at all. Which is going to be an obstacle to any potential success I could have as a writer/author, since I’d have to do my own marketing regardless of whether I’m traditionally or self-published.

But I don’t write because I want to be famous. It’d be great to do well, of course. I’d love for someone out there to connect with my stories. But fame isn’t something that appeals to me.

There’s one reason why I write. For the longest time, it was the only way I was able to express myself. I’ve always been shy, but more than that, I’ve struggled with social anxiety/social phobia for as long as I can remember. So I started writing in a bid to find my voice.

When I say my writing is “nothing special”, I mean… It’s not special because it’s just talking. Except that I don’t talk (much), so I write instead.

It’s up to others to decide if my words are worth reading. 🙂

Dear Diary…

Dear Diary,

Today, I give you life. I’m not a mummy blogger, but I guess I’m a blog mummy? Haha.

You’re not my first blog baby. I’ve had a few. And I’ve managed to keep my Bon Jovi fan blog, Blame It On The Love, going since 2008 (which makes it the longest commitment I’ve ever made to anything). You’re the first one I’m addressing directly as if you’re sentient, though…

Anyway, I guess I’ll start with a little about me.

I’m a writer and aspiring novelist. I studied journalism but knew I wasn’t cut out to be an actual journalist. Now I’m a library technician by trade and I’m happy.

I like singing too. It’s purely a hobby for me but definitely one that’s helped keep me mentally well during COVID-19 isolation.

And a little about you, Baby Blog? Well, I don’t think parents should try to dictate how their kids turn out. 😉 But I did call you Diary at the beginning of this post, didn’t I? So I guess this is where I’ll record some of my thoughts on life and my journey towards becoming the kind of writer I want to be.

Or whatever. 😀

Until next time…

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