My name is not really Jane. I started going by Jane instead of Jen in 2001 when I moved to Seattle and took a job at Microsoft. How did I wind up as Jane? Needed a nickname (the MS “alias” that ruled your existence) to deal with the namespace issues attendant on such common names as mine, and didn’t want to take the variations available, which mostly involved the nickname Jenny.*
When I started going by Jane, I gave up the name (cough) I had built in the IA community over the preceding couple of years (oh, sig-ia, those were the days!) and just started over. I felt like a fresh start anyway — I’m a sagittarius, we’re like that — so I didn’t sweat it much. I reconnected with some of the IA people under the new name, and lost track of the rest.
Jane was meant to be a temporary nickname, but then I moved to San Francisco in 2002, and when I announced I’d be going back to my real name, Courtney Scott and Lane Becker said (in the most enthusiastically friendly way possible) I looked like a Jane, not a Jenifer, and that they would not call me that. I didn’t really care much, so I kept going by Jane. Plus, since I’d lost my jenifer.net domain due to the evil ways of Network Solutions and had wound up moving to janeforshort.net (as I was using then), it saved the hassle of having to redo my site, deal with link issues, etc. And really, half the time when I said “Jen” people though I was saying “Jane” or “Jan” depending on accents/where they were from, so it didn’t seem to make much difference to me. It was all very go with the flow.
You know what doesn’t flow? Any kind of registration under a nickname when your ID doesn’t match. Pain in the ass! Especially in a post-9/11 USA.
What also doesn’t flow is a bearing a family name from a father that was abusive then absent, and whose family didn’t act in accordance with the title. I hate being a Wells, and have for most of my life.** So I’m changing my last name, even though my mother would much prefer me to wait until she’s dead. (I’m not being hyperbolic, she said it those exact words the other day at lunch: Can’t you wait until I’m dead?) Which is kind of funny, since it’s not like she kept that surname either.
Effective immediately I’m going back to being Jen. Jenifer if you’re feeling fancy or formal, but mostly just Jen so I don’t have to add “with one N” all the time.*** If you call me Jane, that’s fine. I’ll still answer to it, just like I’ve kept answering to Jen for the past decade with the people who knew me before the nickname took hold. Hell, I’ll still even answer to Niffer, the teenage nickname from my ADK days 20+ years ago.
I’m changing my last name to Mylo, a contraction of the first and middle names of the maternal grandmother who mostly raised me (who also hated her family name, but got rid of it by taking my grandfather’s). This will take more time to get used to. Sorry. It’ll also take more time to be legal.
Oh, @janeforshort. You were always just a little too confusing. Is it for or 4? Yes, it’s been my online name for 10+ years. Whatever. Leaf on the wind, baby.
I’m switching everything I can over to @jenmylo. That’ll include irc, twitter, website (when I get around to it, but I did buy the domain), skype, and whatever other usernames I can easily change. Those I can’t, meh. Anyway, you might want to update your contacts for me in these apps if you ever want to see me online. All current email addresses will just forward to a new one, and at some point I’ll send out a note with a new address to everyone in my contacts.
I’ve had friends change their names before. I know it can be awkward. Unlike some of my friends, who were rabid about not letting anyone use the old names,**** I don’t really care. I won’t use them myself moving forward, but it’s fine if you do.
So, we’re good?
* Jenny was originally an English nickname for Jane, not Jennifer (mine is spelled with one N, but most have 2). Jennifer is a derivative of Guinevere/Gwynyfar. I discovered the origin of Jenny after reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman for an English class, and being really confused (and literature never confused me). If there were two extra women in the house, nothing made sense! Ah, but Jenny and Jane were in fact the same housekeeper, not two separate women. Once that was understood, the story made sense!
** Though I have always found it fascinating that my mother and father had surnames that meant the same thing: hers, Walsh, was Irish for Welsh, while his, Wells, was Scottish for Welsh. Neat!
*** I was born with two Ns. I dropped one in the 5th grade because there were too many Jennifers in my class. That’s the hazard of being given the single most popular first name of your decade. And we all had middle names of Marie or Lynn, too. People naming kids: don’t be so common!
**** “It’s ‘Andrew’ now, I don’t want to be called Andy anymore.” “If we were still sleeping together, I might care, but with 5 years of ‘Andy’ under my belt (so to speak) and infrequent communication in our future, I probably won’t remember.” “No, you have to.” “I don’t think you understand what ‘have to’ means.”
Also? I’ll never again be mistaken for the CNBC reporter Jane Wells. The worst was when the guy trying to organize a WordCamp in Mexico City asked me to speak, and then pasted the reporter’s bio from Wikipedia onto the WC speakers page. Oy!
Remember when I sent you a Tweet that janewells.com was available? oh man, I was under the impression that if you could, you would choke me through the screen. I learned my lesson that day for sure 🙂
Ha, don’t even remember that. 🙂
We’re good and thank you for sharing this Jen.
Awesome. I’m going to have a hell of a time trying to remember to call you Jen though, heh.
(BTW, the footnotes in your post are messed up and don’t match the usage.)
You can still just call me Jane, it’s no big deal.
Ok, Jen. Interesting story and reasoning. All the best wishes for you!
When I turned 18 I changed my name as well. I dropped my middle name (Roy) and kept just a middle initial. Also, changed my last name (Abrahamson) entirely and took on my step-dad’s last name. I also dropped “the third” as I didn’t want to be associated with the ahole I was named after.
I love a good name change. Feels like a fresh start. Good for you!
Welcome home! 🙂
Well this is going to be confusing, lol.
I have confidence you’re up to the challenge. 🙂
Oddly, you just replied to this message with the name “Jane” 😉
Yeah, won’t change the WordPress profile names until tomorrow (today) after checking in with Matt.
I know a little about what you’ve done here and I so appreciate your openness and honesty.
I really like “Niffer” but can much appreciate and will try to remember it’s Jen Mylo now.
Have a great day, Nif… er, I mean, Jen!
That’s awesome, Jen! And I shall make a point of remembering.
When I was a teen, I insisted that the family use the name on my birth certificate instead of a series of horrible nicknames, and my very first act as a married woman was to rather emphatically drop all traces of my maiden name. (And yes, the custom where I’m from would have had me dropping my legal middle name, and moving my maiden name into that slot…but it wasn’t happening!)
Even now, over 20 years on from the first name change and almost 16 from the last name change, I do find some people still refer to the old name. And yes, I still correct them politely – once I made the change, it was permanent!
I converted your post to an animated GIF for you.
Nice one Mark!
This is fantastic…
Pleasure to meet you Jen Mylo 🙂
I’ve known for a while that your actual first name was “Jenifer”, but hadn’t known the story behind the nickname before now. Thanks for clearing up the mystery. 🙂 I have my own name saga…
I was born “Ernest MacDougal Campbell III”. My parent divorced when I was still very young, and when my mom remarried, they legally changed my last name to “Fielder”, to match my step-father. Honestly, this made a lot of things easier while I was growing up. But I knew that it wasn’t my birth name, and “Ernest MacDougal Fielder” just doesn’t flow as well. So during my college years, I had it legally changed back (my step-father had passed from cancer by then, and my mom remarried).
To add to the confusion, my family nickname growing up was “Dougie” (pronounced with a long ‘oo’ sound, like “Doogie Howser, M.D.”). I never cared much for the name Ernest, and even less for the nickname “Ernie”. But around 4th or 5th grade, other kids start having a little too much fun with a name like “Dougie”, so Ernest it was.
During Jr. High, I played a lot of AD&D, and I named one of my main characters “Black Dougal”, One of my close friends started just calling me “Dougal” on a regular basis, and other friends picked up on it as well, but I was still mostly “Ernest” to friends and family. But in college, I started using “Dougal Campbell” as my primary identity.
As a result, you can largely tell what era of my life others know me from by what name they use for me. Family mostly still call me “Dougie”. Friends from High School (including my wife, who was also my high school sweetheart) mostly call me “Ernest”. People who know me from college or later mostly call me “Dougal”. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s a pretty good rule-of-thumb.
But no one ever called you Mac? Travesty!
My birth father goes by Mac, and even eleven-year-old me knew on some level that probably would have been uncomfortable for my mom, at least a little.
It is very nice to “meet” you Jen!
Jen Mylo is actually a really awesome name. Hope the change goes smoothly for you!
Those names are interchangeable around my house already 😉
You and Andrea Middleton. 🙂
I like this. I’ve also been tempted to free myself of my surname by birth; I’ve even bought the new domain name, too. But going to my mother or grandmother’s maiden names would give me the initials MM and make me “Matt M” so I don’t think our boss would like that. 😀
If you’re not afraid of offending your family, worrying about the boss is just silly. 🙂
Good to know the backstory. It’ll be weird to mention the new twitter handle at first, but I’m sure I will get a hold of it 🙂
Yeah, I imagine the first few WCs will be weird… I’m so used to being able to stand up and say, “I’m Jane,” and have everyone know who I am. 🙂
Funny, that’s easier for me to remember. I’m always going “Jane– No, not that Jane, the other one. No, not my cousin, or our friend or… Damn it, JaneForShort.” which ends with “Why is it ‘for short?'” and I have to explain your name is Jennifer. So … you’re already Jen in my head.
Mylo is a totally cool last night. How is it pronounced? Like Milo?
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