Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More on My Name; Again, the Dream

Another thing about my name: it doesn't translate well into Spanish or German. When I lived in Germany, it resembled "Krecch." The German gutturals made my name sound like honking a loogie. In Spanish it wasn't much better: "Kraich."

As for my middle name, I've always been proud of it, since it comes from my mother's maiden name, "Erickson," which is why it's spelled with a 'ck.' The grandfather who gave me this name I never met; he died before I was born. An immigrant Swedish blacksmith, he shared perhaps the most illustrious name in Scandinavian history, that of Leif Erickson, who discovered Iceland and Greenland and was likely instrumental in establishing a settlement in Newfoundland five centuries before that dreamer, Columbus, introduced smallpox to the Indians of Haiti. (Yesterday was Columbus Day. But you don't hear us stoic Scandinavians complaining about it; it would be against our nature. Let the wimps from warmer climates have their moment in the sun, their parades and pastries. Come north and we'll freeze your balls off.)

So "Erick" is OK, and it happens to mean "Eternal Ruler."

Chaffin comes from Normandy, which the Vikings settled, and the name supposedly pre-dates William the Conqueror invading England. He was a Viking, albeit a short and stocky one. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog." (I'm dangerous in a fight not just because of my size and anatomical knowledge, but because as a depressive I have often wished for death, so the whole thing is a win-win for me. Then I won't get in a fight unless me or mine are truly threatened; but I've never lost a fight either, though at almost 52 I hope I'm done fighting. It's bad for my image and my back.)

In The Chaffins of America, a book written in the 30s by a genealogist for his own interest, not because someone paid him to find a family crest, there's a legend about how the name, "Chaffin," came about. Supposedly in the Middle Ages the Devil tried to cross a bridge in Northern France to spread the plague to a village. A cat fought him off at the bridge. Cat in French is "chat;" supposedly "Chaffin" was derived from this. I trust it was a Norman (Viking) cat and not some Frank. If my last name were French I might actually commit suicide.

So here we are: Craig Erick Chaffin or C. E. Chaffin. Why not both? Since most correspondents and editors call me "CE," that's good. And if I sign "Craig Erick" it's just as good. But I don't like "Craig" alone just yet; that will take some time. Craig is from the Gaelic for "rock," by the way (crag). Thus the full meaning of my name is a bit pretentious: Rock, Eternal Ruler, Devil-Fighter. Notice there's nothing about "poet" in there. Perhaps I would be better suited to lead a guerrilla war in South America, but I can't stand the weather except in the Andes or Tierra del Fuego.

Now for the big moment: I own my name. Craig Erick Chaffin it is. People commenting here say they like it. I'm just going to believe them. And if they don't really like it, who cares about the name of some obscure blogger with delusions of grandeur? And what choice did I have in the matter, anyway?

This admission does not preclude the use of nicknames like CE, Wadie, Doc, L7, Lispo, Daddy Long Legs, Dr. Feelgood, Craig Crackerbox, The Human Garbage Disposal, Tapeworm, Boots, Professor, and Joe Blfltstyk, to name a few.


Now for today's sonnet. Last night I had a new version of an old dream which tends to recur just before I get depressed; Kathleen thought I was starting to get a little sketchy yesterday, so I must resume the Zyprexa I was tapering off and stay away from the pain medication the specialist gave me last Wednesday. You, dear reader, do not want to see me depressed again, do you? Or do you prefer the dark side?

As Kathleen says, "You're such a delicate flower." Chemically that's true.

Again, the Dream

I had the dream again, anxiety
Incarnate in my work. Patients and charts
Were thrown at me indiscriminately,
Like abstract paintings or Rorschachs in the dark.
There were never enough facts to find my way.
The charts kept coming and the patients died.
I couldn’t order tests or X-rays.
The only power I had was power denied.
And still they came, in a collage of suffering
That lacked the information to unravel
The mysteries of their illness. Wavering,
Unable to decide, lacking a gavel,
I was in limbo, doomed to ruminate
Without a doctor’s power to mitigate.

At rodent neutral but frightened, possibly in a mixed state,

Craig Erick Chaffin M.D. FAAFP


  1. Craig Erick,

    OMG – This is not your dream. From line 7 onwards, this is real. I’m not kidding.


  2. CE,

    It looks as if Zyprexa has a whole host of good qualities and very few side effects. But there is another pill, an H-blocker, that you can take to counteract any problems.

    “You should be aware of Zyprexa for symptoms that simply must be controlled now. It can decrease anxiety, agitation, even the overall negative feeling called "dysphoria" -- within 20 to 30 minutes. It has a profoundly calming effect in many people.”

    WOW – A wonderdrug. Please do not be frightened. I am not THAT scary, just a little.


  3. Oh, I know Zyprexa well. It's expensive for one without insurance and it packs the pounds on. But if you read closely, I intend to resume it tonight because of my dream and relative fragility toay. But thank God and knock on my egg-shaped head, I had nine days without depressive symptoms. Got to keep this balding head above water.

    Thanks for your concern.

    As a non-practicing doctor, I suppose from seven on might be interpreted as real; nevertheless, I often have these dreams--when I'm getting sick--I call them sentinel dreams--about not finishing my residency, an exam in medical school--always in a position where I'm powerless to affect the outcome.

  4. Hm. So you're a chemical flower...

    My real name means "little one of the ashes."

    "Twitches" means I'm twitchy. Must be all those ashes.

    I particularly like "anxiety incarnate" and "Rorschachs in the dark."


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