otherwise engaged.

a random mental scrapbook for things rescued from the detritus of everyday, maintained
by an impossibly romantic, oftentimes obsessive compulsive, but always incredibly
unfrazzled and beautiful (or so she'd like to think), bride-to-be.
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A woman who writes feels too much,those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands weren't enough;
as if mourners and gossips and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars. A writer is essentially
a spy. Dear love,
I am that girl. --from THE BLACK ART by Anne Sexton

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

What's in a name?

Practiced signing my soon-to-be-new-name last night.
Question was--will I hyphenate, as is the current fashion,
or will I completely drop my father's name? Or, will I change
my name at all?

Learning how to write my name in script when I was in the
first grade, my dad told me to practice writing my middle name
as well. It was difficult, it was 8 letters long and to my 8-year-old
mind, I was wondering why it was worth the trouble. Anyway,
the obedient little girl i was then, I worked very hard at it, and I
always got Very Good from Miss Cuvin. Later, my dad said it
was quite alright for me to use just my mom's initial, and so
that's how I've signed my name for the past thirty years or so--
as Mary Ann M. Tobias.

When I launched my first book for children, the subject of names
again came up. For the first time, I felt that Mary Ann M. Tobias
did not fully represent who I was. And I suddenly remembered
all those years my dad would remind me to always include my
mom's initial whenever i wrote my name--he told me I was my
mother's daughter as much as I was his. For the very first time,
i understood what my father had been telling me all those years.
So I signed my very first by-line, as a children's book writer, as
Mary Ann Manalang Tobias. Till I used my nickname, and it
got shortened to May Manalang Tobias. Which was the name
I used for publishing my stories since 1996, even for receiving
checks. Then came another writer for children, Mae Astrid Tobias,
which stirred up things a bit and thickened the plot.

And now, this. What will I be saying to the world if i took Alcuin's
name and dropped my father's? Will they think I refuse to submit
to my husband if I just appended my name to his? Will I be perceived
as a selfish bitch if I left my name unchanged, despite the change
in my marital status? And also I realize now how maritally-biased
our society is. Marital status? Why is one's status defined from the
marital state? Why not, for instance, Singlehood Status, where you
will simply put N/A if you were already married? But I digress. I was
on the subject of signatures and names.