Formerly known as

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity lately.

It’s getting hard to keep track of many of my old Facebook friends from college, because each weekend seems to generate a new batch of last names. Changing my name after getting married was never really on the table for me as an adult — although if you peek into my diary from 8th grade, you will probably find rows of Brianne Morgan in experimental cursive. Poor Neil, I was quite obsessed.

I’ve never been close to my Mexican heritage, or my dad’s family, but my mom never changed her name and once I embarked on a career as a writer, I solidified my stance. Joe and I sometimes jokingly combine our last names, though, to collectively RSVP to things, and we get lots of mail addressed to The Jayjacks, which doesn’t bother me. I don’t think it will be very confusing until we have kids whose friends don’t know what to call me. Maybe by then, though, I won’t be in so much of a minority? I decided not to hyphenate based on the same conundrum presented here.

Choosing whether or not to keep or change a name is a totally personal choice — and one that I respect. Sometimes I miss that our tiny family can’t be referred to collectively under simple surname, or I feel like not changing gives the impression that I’m somehow not as committed. Which of course isn’t true.

Anyhow, more marriage, feminism and identity talk was inspired by our book club’s discussion of “The Marriage Plot,” which earned an average of about 6/10 from the crowd. (With a 2 and a 9 rating thrown in for good measure.) Even though I went to college post-’80s, the love triangle relationship angst and drama felt familiar in a way the an English major sets herself up to experience. I wasn’t enthralled with this book like I was “Middlesex,” to be honest. Few of us liked or were intrigued by the characters and their motivations, however much the Romantic women in the bunch (cough, cough) identified with the main character’s early 20s desire to save one guy and have another one who is totally devoted to her on the hook.

On the professional side, I started a new job this week. It’s strange — it feels like I spent the last year in PR in a rebound state after journalism. It’s the identity that brought me to this town in the first place, and how I met many of my friends. Having taken the past 12 months to switch gears and start my MPA and navigate how who I am off-paper translates to my relationship with the community, I’m inspired again. I’m looking forward to becoming part of the nonprofit sector and writing on the side. To live to write or to write to live?

It’s cold and rainy here, which might explain the longwinded musings. Off to pour another cup of coffee!

Oh, and more from various voices on the name-changing conundrum at A Practical Wedding. I’m so excited to participate in the APW book buy next week! (There’s a slight chance I’m quoted in it, too!)

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One response to “Formerly known as

  1. When I was about to get married, my ex-mother-in-law, who also grew up with a very Polish, impossible to spell, last name, strongly advised me against changing my last name. I thought she was exaggerating and changed it anyway, and I was always sorry I did. Three years post divorce I haven’t changed it back, but I’m getting to the point where I really want to. However, my boyfriend, who assumes we’re getting married one day, believes women should always take their husband’s last name and expects that I will take his. It’s such a conundrum. I really dislike that I no longer identify with my last name in any way, and I want to start the next leg of a career with a name that belongs to me. And, I can’t imagine feeling any stronger about a man’s name – even if I love him – than I do about my father’s.

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