OK, who’s this “Joanna” person?

It’s freezing in the attic/office this morning. I can’t wait until my micathermic panel heater arrives. I should check on that. It’s been a while.

I’ve been up here for a while working and it’s still cold, so I thought I’d pop on here until I give up and go and get a cup of tea to warm up. The thing is, once I go downstairs, I won’t be allowed to leave for at least 15 minutes. Got to pay some attention to the kiddos. 🙂 (Not that I’m complaining.)

Joanna. Who is she and why do I want to be called that again?

When you have a name like Silandara, you’re just about guaranteed that whenever you meet a new person, the first thing they ask about is the origin of your name. “What kind of a name is that?” or “That’s an interesting/beautiful/unusual/different name, where’s it from?” or “How do you spell that, C – Y – …”

Totally understandable comments and reactions, all of them.

But I hate them. Mostly because I don’t want to answer.

The truth is, my parents weren’t insane. At least not when it came to naming me. They chose a lovely name: Joanna. I changed it.

It seemed like a good idea. I was 19, rebellious, depressed (I was quite ill with fibromyalgia and chemical sensitivities) and encouraged by my ex-husband. Do you see where this story is going and why I don’t want to retell it all of the time? And no offense to the aforementioned starter marriage or the person I was married to, but it’s not something I want to talk about now that I’m at a totally different point in my life.

OK. So I legally changed my name. But even if I tell people that, it doesn’t answer the why of it. Or what it means (the name, we won’t go into what it means about my psychological state, then or now). Or how I came up with it to begin with.

As far as I know — since my ex came up with it and I’m depending on his version of things — it has Persian origins. It’s a derivation of the name that I had when he remembers us being together in a past life several thousand years ago. There you go. That’s where it comes from. Hmm…I wonder why I don’t want to tell that to people I just met? There’s nothing like a first impression.

For the last few years, I’ve held an internal debate about just going back to being called Joanna. I could officially be S. Joanna Bartlett-Gustina. I’d leave off the ‘S.’ when I introduced myself to people. And instead of being stuck with the nickname “Sil,” people could call me “Jo” – a cool, spunky nickname, not a meaningless and mildly annoying one.

I thought about making an official announcement when I turned 30. But then I was 6-months pregnant with all that entails and didn’t have the verve to pull it off. I just need to decide to do it one day. It’s what I did when I changed it the first time. I remember walking into class after coming back from the courthouse and announcing my new name to everyone and pretty much demanding that they call me “Silandara.” Yeah. I pulled it off.

So, world. I am now S. Joanna Bartlett-Gustina. Should I write a press release? 😉

4 thoughts on “OK, who’s this “Joanna” person?

  1. Wow! I had no idea it wasn’t your given name (not that I should have, I guess). And I can see why you don’t want to tell that story often.

    I had seen your name in print before I had heard it pronounced. At first, I thought it was pronounced like “Si-LAN-dra,” as if that middle A didn’t exist.

  2. Hi. I came across your website while I was researching for the origin of the name “Silandra.” This is going to sound weird, so brace yourself.

    I have a spirit like entity living with me, and it told me her name was “Silandra.” It also told me the name “Janna” for some reason. What is weird is that your blog contains both those names. Your’s is “Joanna” which can easily be pronounced as “Janna.” That is very interesting to me.

    Check out my Opendiary.com page and read for yourself:


    Please feel free to email at the address given above if you have any ideas why that is.

    Sincerely, Sang Jin

  3. Found one of your old pages back when an acquaintance was at uni in Rochester, at the same time you were in the music biz playing at coffeehouses and suchlike. Always liked the name; had no idea you’d changed it. Anyway I can relate: when I first went online 13 years ago I chose a form of ‘Serge’ almost at random (Russian saint’s name; by one reckoning his feast-day is my birthday) and for a while in the early Noughties I tried it out with acquaintances in another, big city’s music scene. (I don’t play; I’m a fan.) I’ve not seriously used it since 2003. Being plain John’s not so bad. ‘Joanna’ is pretty – better than the masculine form, ‘John’! – but ‘Silandara’ is brilliant. Hope you keep it. Even ‘Sil’ is cool IMO – ‘Jo’ could be mistaken for ‘Joe’! Just some friendly advice from a stranger. Cheers.

  4. P.S. I know somebody online who’s gone through at least three full name changes in his lifetime.

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