I had to pick out my own last name. It’s actually rather hard to pick out a last name. Not many people have to go through that. Naturally, you get a last name when you’re born, and if you want, you can always revert back to that. I, however, did not want to do that.
Luckily for me, there was a psuedo-deadline of needing a new last name before we had to submit our final version of our paper on temporal polyethism to the Artificial Life conference. Otherwise, I felt like I would have taken forever to come up with a name because I’d always find something imperfect with it.
My criteria for picking out a name:
- The combination of my first and last name had to be unique when searched on Google.
- On its own, it shouldn’t be associated with a scantily clad woman if you get what I mean.
- It had to sound pretty. Yeah, whatever, it’s my last name, that’s the adjective I wanted to associate with it.
- I didn’t want it to be clearly associated with my ethnicity. Why? It would honestly feel hokey to me because I don’t always identify myself first by my ethnicity.
I basically asked everyone I knew for recommendations. This is reminiscent of my search for a middle name four years ago. People suggested things such as making my middle name “Danger” or other such funny things. For last names, people suggested “Doom” or “Horrible” if I were to become a Dr. I’m sure there were other funny ones that I can’t remember.
One of the serious ones early on was Jameson cause it sounds cool. We moved onto colors (Sapphire sounds too much like a stripper name), and Grey was the forefront name out of that to the extent that I made the email firstname.lastname@example.org. Margosa and Indica followed. A friend suggested picking something out of a sci-fi/fantasy novel. Serra was one of the first names to pop up out of that search, and it stayed in the back of my mind.
I went out of town and brainstormed with a friend in the mall. We picked out all of the designer’s last names and tried them out. Loren sounded pretty enough. Sophia Loren was not what I wanted to be associated with though. A different friend suggested Sanna, and that was the moment that I fully decided on Serra (thanks, Isaac!).
So where does Serra come from? It’s nerdy in two different ways. The first way I found Serra was to actually look up the last names of all of the Firefly characters. Inara’s last name is Serra. People joke that it violates criteria #2 because she’s a Companion, but she’s classy and not scantily clad, so it’s all good in my mind.
The other thing that it’s from is Magic: The Gathering. Serra is the creator and planeswalker of Serra’s Realm. She’s pretty badass. One of the best known cards from that series is the Serra Angel card. We looked it up last night, and there are over 20 cards with Serra in the title of the card. There are more with Serra in the text of the card. I want to get them all one day. Right now, I have a handful of the cards: Serra Angel, Serra Avenger, and Serra Avatar (off the top of my head, I might have more). If I ever need to think up a name again, I’ll definitely turn to Magic cards.
So, there you have it. That is the origin of Serra.