And you know what? The decision was pretty easy. I’ll still use my birth name professionally (i.e., the Internet shall forever know me as a Payne), but legally, I’ll be…
Well, I’ll keep that secret.
Let’s just say, my new name won’t be as easy to pronounce as my current surname. In fact, it will require me to spell it aloud… ALL THE TIME. I hear I’ll also have to constantly note, “The D is silent.”
On the other hand, if I ever move to Norway, I’ll fit right in.
But back to the point: considering I pretty much eschew tradition on this blog, I’m assuming this revelation might come as a surprise to most regular readers (hi, mom!). Honestly, my decision on this matter surprised me, as well. At least my adult self. See, as a child, I used to dream of the day I’d get to change my name. Payne was so easy to make fun. So easy, in fact, that I think it ended up boring the other children, which luckily means by the age of 12 or so, the “Payne = pain” shtick let up. Then, at 16, after my dad died, I really began to appreciate my name. Despite that he was gone, my name (his name) made me feel like I could hold on just a little longer.
Then came my writing. I’m not Salinger-famous (obviously), but I think I’m not tooting my proverbial horn (OK, maybe I’m holding it to my lips), to say that I’ve done enough writing to make it kind of a big deal, pain (Payne? LOL!) in the ass to reboot my career under a different moniker.
With that in mind, as of maybe five years ago, if someone were to have asked me if I’d ever change my name for a man, I’d have answered them with my best “bitch, please” look:
And actually, if someone were to ask me the same thing today, I’d have the same reaction.
See, I’m not doing it “for a man,” per se. I’m doing it for me. In fact, my fiance was as surprised as anyone when I told him I wanted to legally take his name. So, if he didn’t ask or expect me to take this step, why would I? I like my name, after all.
Well, the reasons are aplenty, starting with the simple one that I just like the symbolic meaning. We’re officially uniting our lives, so why not our names?
I understand the counter-argument here is, “BUT IT’S SO PATRIARCHAL!”
Yeah, I don’t care. It’s also patriarchal to expect a man to hold the door open for a woman. Or for a man to pay for a woman’s dinner on a first date. (Those are both things I believe in.) To me, changing my name to my husband’s is an equivalent gesture. It’s nice. And it makes me feel good.
It’s also an investment in my future family. I realize there’s the option of having a hyphenated last name, but I don’t prefer that, especially for any kids, who might join the mix. Children have it hard enough these days without having to deal with two wacky last names. Couple my last name with its homophonic qualities with my fiance’s last name, which to the average American looks a lot like gibberish, and that’s basically a punishment for kid. In that case, I might as well give a kid a mock-ready, impossible-to-spell first name, too, like Assfays. “No, Ms. Teacher,” my future kid would say, “It’s actually pronounced Jessica.” Eh, she’ll have a great life…
But I think what really made this decision obvious for me was that it reflects how I already live my life. On the one hand, I have this very open, Internet-friendly persona, the one who blogs and has a website. Then on the other, I have an actual private life, a life that rarely—if ever (although this blog is certainly toeing the line)—gets blabbed about online. That said, it seems, dare I say, natural that these two extensions of myself go by different names. When I’m frolicking about on Twitter, lamenting my cat’s lethargy, I’m Marissa Payne. Or, less embarrassing for my family, when I’m heading up national content strategy at Scoutmob, a free phone app and e-commerce site that’s guaranteed to make your life at least a smidgen more awesome (/shamelessplug), I’m Marissa Payne.
At my future kid’s conference, though? I’ll be Marissa Rortldkvjslkjevegwddljtt (close enough). And if said kid is in trouble, well, we’ll just let Mr. Rortldkvjslkjevegwddljtt handle that.
Marissa Payne will probably be too busy Instagramming cats, anyway.