None of the women in my immediate family have middle names. (For context, the men do; my extended family does too, mostly.) It used to be a point of contention for me; I used to long for an extra word to call my own. One car ride nearly two decades ago, probably, I declared I'd take my twin sister's name as my middle, if she would take mine as hers. If you know K., you can probably guess that she declined the offer. (Of the two of us, she's usually the one who tried to stray from the idea of our twinship, at least moreso than me.) I dropped the idea.

When my older sister named her children, those two munchkins who light up my life in ways I couldn't have comprehended, so much so that I worry I may never love my own hypothetical future children as much as I love them, she gave them middle names. She gave them with thought, with weight; a history.

Somehow the subject of middle names came up last weekend -- a family joke-fight (you know the kind) where my mom and my aunt bet on how their mother, my grandmother, spelled her middle name. (For the record, my aunt won. Sorry mom.) But isn't that funny, that my grandmother's daughters didn't even know for sure? A call to the eldest sister in Florida, my other aunt, had to be placed. Documents were unearthed. And finally, someone just called up my mom-mom and she solved the riddle herself. (As is the family way, there's more to the story; it turns out, she gave her middle name to her eldest daughter as a middle name too, but changed the spelling, so the confusion on all sides was justified.)

The outcome is, middle names are weird, but also beautiful in a family-history-is-neat-and-important kind of way, and now I'm considering taking her middle name as mine. Morgan Mae.

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Books never run out of batteries, she said longingly

...but even still, I love my Kindle. I forgot to charge it last night and this morning, though, which means that I plugged it in for about 7 minutes before I ran out of the door, hoping that would be enough to stave off the dreaded warning that pops up (exclamation points!!11!). Hey, that always works on my blackberry. Only it wasn't enough; the warning persisted, I felt guilty and ill-prepared (bad Kindle owner!), so I gave up and just eyed people on the subway instead of reading. Which, in itself, is almost the same thing, non? I borrowed a charger from our Library, though, and she is now happily glurging energy as I write.(Should I name her? I should name her. Mavis? Dolores? Hazel? I feel like she's an old soul.)

Last week I was carting around Gillian Flynn's Dark Places in hardcover, since I borrowed it from Kel, who received it as a holiday gift. Amazing, addictive read, but holy goodness, I really missed the lightness of my Kindle. Books are heavy, yo!

Let's talk about names.

I love names. I like learning what they mean, who or what  they're inspired by, why a parent chose one moniker over another, and understanding the sociologial impact a certain name leaves in its wake. That said, damn if I don't have the hardest time coming up with character names. And clearly, other writers do, too.

I am reading a delightful new YA book right now. But it has a big problem (for me): the character names are KILLING me. 90% of them - truly, I counted - are simple, vanilla, 1-2 syllable, well-known but almost old-fashioned names. Worse yet, they are interchangeable, with the exception of the narrator.

It's so bad that I find myself mixing up the characters and having to check back in chapter 1 to see who's who. Jack* is Jim* is Bill* is Steve* and I keep forgetting whether Debbie* is the protagonist or antagonist, and whether she's friends or enemies with Mary*. And further, the book takes place in present day, in a high school. Now, I'm no expert on names, but I can almost guarantee that all the names used went out of fashion, on average, 30 years ago. Which means the characters' parents would probably not have chosen these names for their kids, who were supposedly born in the 90s.

I hate that the names are sort of ruining the book for me, but I'm finding it difficult to look past them. And that's a damn shame, because the book is adorable so far.

*not the real character names, but hopefully you get the idea.