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.”