Why "Ducky"?

My given middle name is Anitra, which is a fine Scandinavian name that happens to be identical to the Italian word for duck. No, I'm not Italian. I guess I am vaguely Scandinavian, but my parents just liked the name.

Anyway, there were three "Karen"s in my second grade class: Karen Ann Crays, Karen Ann Shoresman, and Karen Anitra Sherwood. I thought that was way too many Karens - in particular, I didn't like having to write out pretty much my full name. At seven, that seemed like a lot of work.

By now, you are probably scratching your heads and saying "Karen?" I went by "Ducky" exclusively until I went off to the Netherlands when I was 19. I didn't want to be "Dookie" (as the kids I'd met in Europe at age 12 had called me). Furthermore, "ducky" is a British slang term for "dear".

However, I didn't like "Karen". People only called me "Karen" when they were mad at me, were teasing me, didn't like me, or didn't care about me. (E.g. "Karen, the doctor will see you now!")

Faced with this problem, I settled on "Kate". I like "Kate". I feel like a "Kate". (It did take me a while to respond properly, however. For the first two weeks, I wouldn't respond when someone said "Kate"; then for the next two weeks, I turned around any time anyone said "Okay"!)

Before I graduated from college, a good friend and mentor figure convinced me that going by "Ducky" in the Real World would be a bad idea, that it would seriously limit my career advancement potential harrumphf. So I decided to go by "Kate" instead. (Good thing I didn't go by "Karen", as one of the other four women engineers at my first job was "Karen Sivier!")

I got laid off after 51 weeks at that job. Going by "Kate" had not improved my career advancement one iota! So when the next job (finally) rolled around - through someone I had known in college - I gave people the option of using either. The next two jobs I had, I got through people who had known me as "Ducky", so I guess it works. (It didn't impact my long-term advancement, either: those two companies had financial trouble as well.) When I went off and consulted, I introduced myself as "Kate" but insisted on "ducky" as my login id. People ended up using a mix of both.

I hadn't ever gotten around to changing my name, in part because I really don't like "Kathy", which is what I knew people would try to call me if I changed my name to "Katherine". But then I heard somebody say a name I'd never heard. "Kaitlin! That is a neat name. I could use that!" I had already firmly settled on "Kaitlin" when I found out that it was usually spelled "Caitlin", and that it is Irish. Too bad, I like it, it is mine.

I finally changed my name on 3 March 1999.