I was given a Chinese name my first week when I arrived in China, my work permit and residence paperwork required one. Folks in the office gave me a name I can’t remember it, it sounded nice and it had something to do with a flower (so I was told) I always joked my name in Chinese was “big bitch”. I never used this name for anything, no one called me by it, it wasn’t on my business cards. When my husband came over I told him this and he picked a name after his favorite theme park attraction thinking it won’t be used for anything. Well… his name on everything. It is on his business card and he wears it around on his person everyday. HAHAHAHA!
I will admit I am jealous, I want a unique Chinese name. Some Chinese picked unique English names like Cloud, Sky, Moon, River, Canal, Angus, Captain America, Elephant I want the Chinese equivalent. I wanted something like Cher or Beyonce in Chinese. I put my co-workers on it and they came with many great suggestions and many with very sweet meanings they based on knowing me and my personality. I had names in Chinese characters, how you say it in pinyin, and the meaning on stick it notes at my desk and studied them and asked the opinions of others to find my name.
Then it came to me. I selected Měiměi 美美 as my Chinese name. My Grandmother was called Meme and not to make my sisters upset but they know it, I was her favorite and my all time favorite movie is Auntie Mame (with Rosalind Russell) and I think it sounds similar. Mei Mei in Chinese I am told is also what young girls are called, it also can refer to younger sister (I am the oldest but when my sisters were visiting we asked some locals who was the older sister and who the younger and let me say they did not say I was the oldest…) So, I am young.. in my mind at least and the Chinese woman we asked… so that works. It is also can mean beautiful. It repeats itself like Double Happiness 囍 and when it does that it means double beautiful. That is right, my name is double beautiful.
At first, I was I can’t have that name, that is a little much… being modest. Trying to be modest… because truth be told when I am leaving China? I am leaving when people stop telling me I am beautiful and pretty. It does happens often, I am stared at, my hair is touched, people stop me on the street and ask for photos with me, I am a bit of a celebrity in China and that was before I made it in the Party’s newspaper. My Dad’s nightmare, to have his daughter featured in the PRC Part newspaper. There it is Daddy-O, 1 for 2 is not bad. I have been staying out of the prisons like you asked me to. This attention can get a little addicting I must admit. It is embarrassing, while in Myanmar it took a day in and half until someone commented on how pretty I was. I was starting to wonder what is wrong with these people? After the comment it was all good and I love Myanmar! So I will be moving back to the US when I stop getting all this attention. There I said it.
I think in Chinese is says how fast I am or how much bigger I am than everyone else and amazed I run. I am a big deal in China!
I was told the reason why she picked that name for me was because I am double beautiful, both inside and out. Awwwww.. How can I not have that name?! I am not just a pretty face, I have inner beauty as well. I will own it! This is the same co-worker who often calls me Cinderella. 🙂 she is my favorite and can do no wrong in my eyes.
Another beloved co-worker that loves my name so much that she said when she has a daughter, it will be the same name as me. How sweet is that? I also have a friend in the US who has a Chinese dog and their dog has the same name as me… so don’t know how to take that one.
– Mei Mei