7 Quick Takes Saturday!


Thanks to everyone who prayed for me and/or listened to me yesterday! Surprisingly I had a great time, only said “umm” twice (I know this, because the Ogre kept a running tally via text message), and only cringed a few times when I listened to it this morning.

If you want to hear it, here’s the link to listen to it streaming.


Unfortunately, Sheila mispronounced my name, but I was so intent on not “umming” that I didn’t realize it until about halfway through the show, and then it was too late to correct her.

As it happens, though, she heard the pronunciation she used from the Anchoress, who thought I was named after the flower. All the Patheosi, it turns out, thought that “Calla” was the way my name was pronounced.

It’s not. It’s “Kayla.”


Cartoon by the hilarious Hannah Sterry

I realize that my name is a phonetic catastrophe, and my mother is to blame for that.

She wanted to name me after her friend Kay who had died when they were in high school, but my dad hated the name Kay and wanted to call me Makayla after a cousin or something. My mom came up with “Kayla”, and since this was about 10 years before the “Kayla” craze swept the US, she thought she had made the name up.

Unfortunately, they never discussed how to spell it.

My dad was out of the room when my mom filled out the birth certificate, and he came back in horror to see that it had already been notarized with my name written down as “Calah Michelle Taylor.”

My mom swore up and down that she had seen it in the Bible somewhere and didn’t know how else she was supposed to spell it.


She kept insisting she had seen it somewhere in the Bible, so when I was 12 we finally pulled out my parents big NIV with the concordance.

According to that Bible, Calah was an ancient city that was destroyed along with or at the same time as Sodom and Gomorrah, for its sexual immorality.

My mother. Setting the foundation for a lifetime of virtue.


Sheila and the Patheosi are not alone in their mispronunciation of my name, though. It’s been pronounced in ridiculous ways my whole life, and the person who gets it right the first time is so rare that I always have to restrain myself from spontaneously hugging them. I even had a professor in college who called me “Cal-Aaaaah” (rhyme it with Kazaa) and, after I corrected him, said in his totally deadpan monotone, “I’m going to call you Cal-AAAAAH.”

Accordingly, I developed an obsession with giving my children names that are either phonetically correct or common enough to be easily recognized. So it was a complete shock when a doctor’s receptionist asked, two weeks after Lincoln was born, “How do you pronounce that?”.


“Uh, Lincoln,” I said. “How would you pronounce it?”

“Oh, I was guessing Lynn-colin,” she responded. “Where did  you come up with that name?”

“Uh, we got it from the president. You know, Abraham Lincoln?” I totally lied. (I really named him after my favorite TV character, Agent Lincoln Lee on Fringe, but that’s something I only tell to the whole internet.)

She just looked at me blankly.

I guess I can’t win them all.


And now I’m off to bake cookies with the minions, because I have spent the last zillion Saturdays making them do chores until the house was sparkling, and today I just couldn’t handle the sweeping and gnashing of teeth (see what I did there?). They love me a lot more right now than they have in quite a while. I feel weirdly triumphant and also annoyed with the messy house.

Happy Saturday! Go see Jen for more quick takes!

  • Leila M. Lawler

    Haha, very funny. But really scary about that doctor. For the record, I definitely call you Kaylah in my head. You can call me LYla. Like lie down. Along the lines of the doctor’s thinking, recently I have heard a new mis-take on my name which is Lee-I-la. Because that is how it is spelled and there are no examples of two vowels together in English to help you. But unlike the doctor’s crazy thing, there are no presidents named after me, so…
    I like the way your name is spelled! Keep it.

    • roughplacesplain

      My mother in law is “Leila” also, and it’s Lee-la in her case. As a joke people often call her “Lee-I-la” on occasion. Names are so personal! Thanks, Calah for clearing up your pronunciation. – nancyo

  • Anne Bazin

    I think you are very much a Calah with a “C” and that’s a good thing. Kayla just wouldn’t be you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1071854538 Kristen Herrett

    So, I am embarrassed because I was calling you Calla like the lily all this time and you would not believe the grief my name has called me in my life. “Kristen” my parents named me after a favorite television character, the sister of Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas. About a year after I was born, Kristen shot JR in the cliff-hanger episode and the name exploded. Not only is it constantly misspelled (yeah they totally shot in the dark for a spelling) but I get Christian, Christine, Christa, all kinds of names that are not mine…and my parent nicknamed me Kris which when you consider Kristin is a male name in Scandinavia, I got all kinds of boy gifts from friends of theirs who were sure I was a boy…no, I’m not traumatized at all :) But I am so glad you cleared up this for me, now to adjust my brain accordingly

  • http://twitter.com/OneCatholicMama Amelia Bentrup

    I always thought your name was pronounced like the flower, too.

    My name is pretty much pronounced one of two ways. A-mel-ya or A-meal-ya. I go by the first pronunciation, but for some reason those of a more advanced age tend to go by the second. It used to drive me crazy when people said A-meal-ya, instead of A-mel-ya, but now it doesn’t bother me so much.

    We made cookies today too. Saturdays are for cookie-making I say…that way we have treats to eat on Sunday.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ana.hahn.3 Ana Hahn

    You were so awesome on that audio! Thanks so much for sharing the streaming link. I wished they would have let you talk more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1069731366 Karen Cox

    Hah!! Got your name right the first time, but then I grew up in East Texas were there were Kayla’s even back in the 1960′s. On names in general, my name has all of 10 letters, including my middle name. I use the most conventional spelling, and I STILL get people misspelling and mispronouncing it. My favorite name story, though, comes from when I worked doing unemployment insurance appeals. Because we dealt with so much of the public, the agency encouraged us to use only initials in our correspondence. It is also important to note that ALL of that correspondence happened AFTER I had a telephone conference with the claimants, who presumably could figure out the female voice. At least four or five times I got letters addressed to “Mr. Kevin Cox.”

  • Bonnie Engstrom

    I loved this. Loved the Biblical name. Loved the “sweeping and gnashing of teeth”. Loved the Lincoln bit, especially the part about only telling the whole internet.

    A big thing for me is giving my kids names with meaning (family and saint connection if possible), that are also easy to pronounce and easy to spell. We thought we had done that for Bennet (named for Pope Benedict and my grandpa Benno). We just thought everyone spelled it with one ‘t’ – that’s how Jane Austen spelled it in P&P! But as it turns out the rest of the world spells it with two ‘t’s. So sorry, my little boy, for a lifetime of correcting people.

  • Lydia Cubbedge

    I’m frequently called Linda. Apparently people just insert letters that make sense to their ears. My married name is always mispronounced. I’ve heard Slavic, Arabic and Indian versions of my very English name. I always end up telling people It’s like cabbage, but with a u.

  • Katie Jo LaRiviere

    This post was hilarious. I also have a name with which I must constantly correct people. Thank you for sharing.

    I heard you, live, by the way, on Relevant Radio. I thought you did splendidly. Also, when she announced you were going to be on the panel, I thought, OH! I KNOW HER! COOL!.

    Except I really don’t know you, but I s’pose I feel like I do! I wrote a response to your response on that whole conversation on my own blog, and it felt cool to hear you speak on it, since I felt like I was “in” on the whole conversation.