Whenever I meet new people, the question will always come up about how to pronounce my name. It looks and sounds remarkably like the Spanish Raul or the Portuguese Raoul, but it’s got this ‘h’ in the middle. You’re actually supposed to pronounce that ‘h’–the final result is something like Rah-hool. And inevitably it comes out that some person has been saying Raul for weeks or months or years, and they feel all embarrassed and stuff.
But there is no need to be embarassed! I literally do not notice it when people say Raul. I don’t hear it at all. All I hear is my name. Nor do you get bonus points for saying it correctly. I do not maintain a mental list of people who pronounce it correctly and people who pronounce it incorrectly. In my mind, this distinction does not exist at all.
I can’t say why this is the case. It’s certainly not some universal facet of human psychology. There are many people who do notice when their names get mispronounced and who do get very touchy about it (especially when there’s an element of anglicization in the mispronunciation…although in my case it’s more of a hispanicization).
And that’s totally okay. People are allowed to feel their feelings and be offended by what they’re offended by, and that’s why I, personally, always feel really embarrassed whenever I accidentally mispronounce peoples’ names. Actually, I’m sure that I’m mispronouncing the names of some of the kids in the class, and that they’re just too polite to correct me. I mean, I keep asking them if I’m saying it right, and they’re just like, “Yeah, that’s right.” But, I mean…they said that to my very first attempt at pronouncing their name. I really don’t think that my first attempt is likely to be correct…
Maybe I’m just really self-absorbed and I never really listen to what people say. Actually, my other major conversational blindness is that I find it extremely difficult to pay attention when people introduce themselves. I have to actually steel myself for it and think, “Alright, right after you say your own name, he’s going to say his name. Try to remember it! No…no…don’t immediately start thinking about what you’re going to say next. For the love of God, please focus on his name!”
I’m getting better at it, though. I learned the name of everyone in my class in one day! That’s an accomplishment right there.
In other news, this whole graduate school thing can be kind of brutal. Even when your professors and classmates are cool and the workload is really light (just a 1/1 teaching load and three 3-hour classes with very little homework / reading), there’re a lot of balls to keep in the air. And on top of this, you also have to do enough writing and reading to continue to feel like you’re making progress as a writer. But it’s been a learning experience. I’m making progress on managing my time. The napping regime has been an unmitigated success: I’m sleeping better at night and I feel more alert and happy during the day. I’ve been monkeying around with the way in which I measure my writing. I’m moving away from a word count goal and towards a time-spent goal.
And today I had a pretty good day of writing. Thus, all is well in the world.