Name: Keja Lys
What name you go by: Keja
Ethnic background: Mine: Italian, Czech Scottish, English, etc. My name’s: Romani (Gypsy)
Place of birth: San Francisco, CA
Year of birth: 1972
Popularity of name that year: Keja has never ranked in the top 1000.
Meaning/origins of name: Could not find any reference to what this name means.
Why did your parents choose this name for you? My parents were reading The Gypsies by Jan Joors while my mother was pregnant. It is the memoir of a young man with artist parents who allowed him to join a gypsy caravan. His gypsy sister, with whom he fell in love, was named Keja.
Does your family have any naming traditions? Not that I know of.
What names have people called you based on your name? Ketchup (my mother-in-law who had trouble pronouncing it); queja (the Spanish pronunciation of my name); déjà (the exact pronunciation of my name in French, switching the first letter).
Do you like your name? I love my name: I appreciate its uniqueness; I like the sound of it, solid and soft; I like the connection it offers me to fantasies of wild wanderers.
Did you have times in your life where you felt differently about your name? For a short time when I was younger I wanted a more “normal” name, and sometimes told people my name was Katherine.
What happened for you to have a change of opinion? It was rather temporary, part of a period of wanting to fit in in the most superficial ways.
Have you had difficulty with others understanding your name? Always. It’s often hard for people to pronounce the soft J; when people look at my name written down they rarely know how to pronounce it (the best mispronunciation is Ke-ha, like hee-haw). People reading my name from a list usually pause. It’s useful in identifying telemarketers.
If you could change your name to anything, what would it be? I would never change my name.
Any stories about your name? The one of the book it came from. I’ve met one other person with the same name spelled the same way; her parents had read the same book.
Have you ever changed your name? No.
Anything else you’d like to add? People often tell me that they like my name. I never know what to respond, since it’s not something for which I feel responsible and yet it’s something to which I feel my whole self to be deeply attached, as if my name is not only what my parents gave me but also the way that I inhabit it. But I most often respond, “Thanks, I’ll tell my parents.”
Name: Keja Lys