The Trouble With Having an Even Vaguely Unusual Name

When I was growing up, I thought my name was fairly manageable and easy to pronounce. Lillian didn’t seem all that hard, and my last name, a good Irish surname, isn’t common — but it is phoenetic. It’s pretty straightforward, or so I thought. But, as it turns out, this assumption was completely untrue. Apparently my name is not unlike this train station in Wales!


This has taken many hilarious forms over the years; when I was little, Lillian was a sufficiently old-school name that receptionists in doctor’s offices would routinely remark that they’d expected an old woman when they called the name Lillian, but look at me, I was just a child! (THE SHOCK.)

As I’ve gotten older, people have become less shocked by the fact that someone named Lillian could be younger than 90, and have instead been totally unable to wrap their minds around the name Lillian at all. I’ve been called Lorraine, Luann, Lauren…basically, if it involves an L at the beginning and an N somewhere near the end, people have thought it might just be my first name.

And, for some real fun, sometimes the L or the N don’t even make the cut. Behold the following examples:

IMG_0113          IMG_0023

Sillion and Nalin. There’s broad consensus among my friends and family that Sillion is the most apropos mangling imaginable, since I have been known to be silly. (But this has only happened, like, maybe twice in my life. I’m otherwise extremely serious. I don’t even like smiling!) Nalin, though? I don’t know what to do with that.

And if you think that’s bad, things get particularly gnarly when my last name is involved. When I was in undergrad, I was looking for off-campus housing and calling around to leasing companies near campus. I’d leave my name and number, as requested — and when people called back, there was usually a long pause in there message before they sputtered out some bastardized version of my name. My favorite, though, was thus:

“Hi, I’m calling for…um…Luann McFireman?”

Yes, friends: Luann McFireman. Because obviously there’s a whole batch of last names that involve the title of first responders, preceded by a “Mc” prefix. Did you know that I’m a distant relative of the McParamedics? And I definitely shouldn’t marry into the McPolice family, because we’re third cousins twice removed. SMH.

More recently, when I had a birthday party a few years ago at a restaurant in DC, I called a week in advance to make the reservation, since I knew it was going to be a fairly sizable group. The restaurant called me a few days before to confirm that it was still on, and I called the night before to make sure everything was still good.

So you can imagine my shock when, in a cab on my way to the restaurant, one of my friends called and said “Dude, they don’t have your reservation.”

Um, no. This was patently false. I’d spoken to them three times about my reservation. There was no way they didn’t have it. Sure enough, when I got there I looked through their reservation book for my phone number. I found it, and when I looked at the name next to it, I had to try exceedingly hard to contain my laughter: Gloria Necternan.

I mean, I can totally imagine misunderstanding my last name, even though I’d spelled it out for them — background noise can make it hard to hear well over the phone. But Gloria? Where did they even get that?

Gloria Necternan has become my go-to nickname among my friends in DC; occasionally I’ll roll up to meet people for dinner and be greeted by a rousing “Gloria Necternan! Good to see you!” The worst part is, Brandon once decided to see if his phone’s voice command function would do anything with this — and it worked. “Call Gloria Necternan,” he said into his phone while grinning like the Cheshire cat…and moments later, my phone started ringing. Sigh.

Clearly this is just something I have to live with, since the name confusion won’t likely be clearing up anytime soon. I can, however, go back to my old tactic of using a pseudonym whenever I’m getting carry-out or hitting up Starbucks: nobody messes up when I say that my name is Elizabeth.

WIAW: Collages of Delight*

*This is the cheesiest title I’ve ever used. Oy vey. Do I need more sleep?

So, I’ve alluded to this before, but I love collages. When I was a wee lass, I had big dreams of becoming an artist — only to have those dreams dashed when I realized that I’m spectacularly lacking in artistic ability. My attempts to draw a beautiful tree consistently resembled a deformed giraffe, and my flagrant inability to render any sense of perspective to my drawings led to them being flat and distorted — and not in an innovative, Salvador Dali-esque way, either. It was a sad state of affairs.

As I got older, though, I realized that I love making collages. They don’t require me to draw anything (thank you, oh 6 pound, 8 ounce, sweet newborn baby Jesus) but they still allow me to do something artistic. For a creative but desperately-lacking-in-artistic-ability person like me, this is the best of both worlds.

With that in mind, I’ve started creating food collages for What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by the lovely mama-to-be Jenn over at Peas & Crayons — they save space, and I have a grand ol’ time putting these together…it’s a win-win, no?


Peas and Crayons


Sooooo…behold the foodie collages!

Sweet, Glorious Caffienation:

Along with my morning toast, I spend some quality time with my beloved java while my brain joins the world of the living. I’m always amazed when I hear people say that they’ve given up caffeine, because I’m fairly certain I’d turn into a raging banshee if I did that. I once tried to switch from coffee to tea, and I had to use tremendous self-control to keep from becoming clinically insane when I saw people walking down the street with steaming cups of Starbucks java.





Breakfasts usually consist of a smoothie with protein powder or a banana and juice, which I love. I keep hearing all these self-proclaimed fitness and weight loss gurus carrying on about the importance of never, ever, EVER drinking your calories, but whenever I hear that nonsense, I’m all:



That’s right, y’all. I have serious Chris Bosh-like side-eye for these ridiculous edicts. Clearly the folks making these proclamations have never encountered fruit and kale smoothies, kombucha, or superfood juices. Bob Barker, you’ll have to pry these things out of my cold, dead hands! (And yes, since we’re dealing with stuff like smoothies, my hands will be very, very cold. You’ll have an epic task before you. Insert diabolical laughter here.)

In the mix: a Drink Your Greens smoothie from Whole Foods (they were kind enough to add a banana and a packet of Vega French Vanilla protein powder to the mix for me), a home-made smoothie with kale, strawberries, banana, mango, and almond milk, a GT’s Synergy Kombucha, and an Odwalla Super Foods Red Rhapsody.





When my schedule gets hectic, I rely on soup cups to get me though the middle of the day. Dr. McDougall’s is my jam here – they’re gloriously easy, and as instant soup goes, they’re pretty darn nutritious. Dr. McDougall’s also has a decent selection of gluten free offerings, so I stick with the black bean, spring onion, and pad Thai flavors.





Our dinners have run a wide gamut lately, since things have been a bit out of whack after last week’s upheaval. We’ve had grilled Southwest chicken with romaine and guacamole, spring mix with shredded rotisserie chicken and papaya poppy seed dressing, a BBQ chicken salad, and one of my fave insta-dinners: Thai cole slaw with peanut sauce. (*Drools*)




Now, I’m not one to advocate a full-out sugar fest, but a girl’s gotta have some sweets in her life. With that in mind, my desserts have been nutritious to the point of being saintlike oh, who am I kidding? I’ve been chowing down on fro yo like it’s my job.



So tell me, dear readers:

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Do you have any hidden, random artistic talents?

Drinking calories (and I’m talking about this a healthy context, not daily margs…although daily margs do sound pretty awesome): yea or nay?

WAIW: Book Love, More Fro Yo, and Lots of Chicken

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you feel like you’re in need of something — even something small — and suddenly, BLAMO, the answer to your question/very thing you need is right in front of you?

I had this experience this weekend with my beloved Sonoma Burgers, but it also happened again Monday night: while I was on the bus, I was thinking about how I often feel like I don’t deserve to ask for what I really want.

I feel inexplicably selfish and, I dunno, bad when I say “Hey, I’d really like a helping hand/bit of encouragement/opportunity to open up.” (It turns out that while I’m really progressive and all about reinforcing other peoples’ self-worth, I’m like an angry Calvinist in caffeine withdrawal when it comes to doing those things for myself.)

Anyways, there I was: sitting on the bus and feeling bad about the fact that I’d really, really, really like it if some key things in life could just fall into place. A few seconds later, I realized: I need some inspiration in my life. And where, exactly, is a nerdy girl like myself supposed to find such inspiration?


They’re my homies.

So, I pulled up the Amazon bookstore on my iPhone and browsed my little heart out as the bus hurtled down the highway — and within minutes, I’d found the perfect thing.

Image Source:


Like I said before: BLAMO.

As soon as I started reading it, I knew I’d found the perfect book for me. I’m 15% of the way through (thank you, Kindle, for giving me such precise percentages), and I already feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. All the messages and viewpoints that have led to me being so harsh on myself are getting debunked faster than Usain Bolt can run 100 meters. (Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. But that’s not the point.)

Adding to which, all the gut feelings I’ve had in recent years — for example, the fact that everybody says that working and adulthood are supposed to be a slog towards retirement and that work is supposed to be more or less soul-shredding, while I keep thinking “That can’t be true. There has to be some way to work hard, earn a decent amount of income, make a meaningful contribution to the world, and actually be happy”are being validated left and right.

Needless to say, I lurve it. One could even say I’m eating it up, which brings me to…

Peas and Crayons

Woohoo! Thanks as always to Jenn over at Peas & Crayons for hosting. ๐Ÿ™‚

My food offerings this week have been pretty consistent with my normal routine: Coffee and toast before my morning workout, followed by a big ol’ smoothie.

Lunches this week have relied on my foodie BFFs, the elusive but beloved Sonoma Burgers. I still can’t get over the fact that I finally found them after 18 months of fruitless searching!

Aside from the Sonoma Burgers, our one time venturing out for lunch this week wound up being a serious GF win: we went to Coastal Flats in Fairfax, VA after our closest-approximation-to-Tex-Mex plans (out here on the East Coast, we know we can’t get the real thing — but we’ve found a reasonable facsimile) were thwarted by the insane Cinco de Mayo crowds. The folks at Coastal Flats were incredibly accommodating of my gluten allergy; the manager came and talked to me about what menu options were safe, how they prepare the GF food, etc., and he was awesome. Not surprisingly, my meal — a chop salad with pan-seared chicken — was delicious!

My snacks have involved the usual suspects: Pamela’s Whenever Bars, Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, and fresh fruit (apples and cantaloupe: best snack fruit ever).

Dinners have been all over the place, and last week I made coconut-cashew curry chicken tenders with jasmine rice and broccoli…


…as well as a spatchcock-style roasted chicken with white wine, lemon, and oregano.

DSC00845Desserts have been — need we even ask? — fro yo!


With all that being said, I hope everyone has a phenomenal Wednesday! And tell me…

Has the right thing ever fallen into your lap at exactly the right time?

Do you ever feel bad about asking for what you really want?

What’s your favorite dessert?

WAIW: Another Article!

Good morning, and happy Wednesday!

So, before I dive into this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I have to take a moment for some brazen self-promotion: I have another article up on the Girls Gone Sporty website. (*Does happy dance*)

I really enjoy being a contributing writer for GGS, and I’d love it — love it! — if y’all moseyed on over and read it. If you want to make my day (and make me do a happy dance in my office, which would be quite a sight to behold), leave a comment or share the article with people who’d enjoy it.

I’d even be willing to post a video of me doing a happy dance. So, there you have it: proof that I’ll go to damn near any lengths when it comes to shameless self-promotion.

Anyways, enough of that. On to WIAW! This lovely little cyber-potluck is hosted by the ever-fabulous Jenn of Peas & Crayons, and it’s the bomb diggity.

Peas and Crayons

This is kind of a mash-up of my meals and snacks over the last few days — there’s a lot of variation, but it’s all been delicious.

The one area where there’s no variation whatsoever: my pre-gym coffee and GF toast.


After hitting the gym, I usually have a green smoothie made with Chobani Greek yogurt, kale, frozen mango, banana, and honey.


This weekend, though, I mixed it up a bit and had scrambled egg whites with spinach, a wee bit of Parmesan, and some dried oregano. It was divine, especially with a big ol’ mug of green tea on the side.

DSC00731Lunches have run the gamut of salads and soups; I like to eat salads when it’s warm out (which is was this weekend — seriously, we had some of the most glorious weather we’ve seen in months) and soups when the mercury tanks (which it did prior to said glorious weekend, and then again last night). So, I’ve had things like mulligatawny soup…but also things like salad with grilled chicken, quinoa, and grapes.


dsc002111Dinners have been kind of all over the place: after a rough day on Monday, Brandon and I were both feeling worn down and cranky, so we went out for ice cream and Indian food (in that order). Behold the proof of my indulgence:



Considering that we usually only go out for dinner once a week, the fact that we did this on a Monday night was kind of a big deal. Other nights this week have involved plenty of cooking, though — I had a salad with grilled fajita steak strips, cilantro, avocado, and salsa, with two corn tortillas (toasted with light Mexican blend cheese), and a baked chicken Provencale dish with basil, tomatoes, potatoes, pearl onions, and some Parmesan.

DSC00740DSC00744Hopefully the rest of this week will go by quickly — here’s to Wednesday, y’all!

Do you have a go-to indulgence when you’ve had a rough day? When you go to restaurants, is there one that you prefer above all others?