because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

On Marriage & Changing My Name: An Unusual Anniversary Post

Posted on
Romantic, right?

The woman behind the counter looked at the diamond studded watch that squashed her wrist, making it look like a fat sausage. She drummed her fat fingers against the counter top. She was in a hurry, and I was holding her up.

Though my fiancé and I had been engaged for eighteen months and I had more than ample time to think about it, talk about it, and make that decision, it wasn’t until we actually went to get our marriage license twenty-four hours before the wedding that I realized I could no longer defer reality. I had to make a choice.

I was torn.

Part of me wanted to keep my last name.

“Schuls” is the Americanized version of my grandfather’s Polish name. But it is hard to pronounce and no one ever spells it correctly on a first try. Still, it is my family name, linking me to my parents and my brother.

Anxiety prickled as I thought about my nickname?

It would be strange not to be RAS anymore.

I briefly entertained the idea that a new convention should be created where the man and the woman take a new name, perhaps join their names, and blend them in the name of holy matrimony. I proposed “SHAKE-OB-SON” and “JEWELS” to my fiancé, telling him we could go down into history like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Henry Stanton who forever changed the institution of marriage by omitting the word ‘obey’ from their marital vows.

“We can be innovators, too!” I told him, grabbing his arm.

My fiancé laughed and called the idea ridiculous.

I pouted and wondered why I had to give up my identity.

Why I was the one who had to sacrifice, hassle with changing social security forms, medical records, credit cards, magazine subscriptions and insurance forms.

But the other part of me.

Oh.

The other part of me liked the idea of being lost in love.

Or something.

After all, I loved the guy.

I bit my lip and considered; it would be easier to spell.

The woman’s click-clacking fingers tapped faster, faster. A line had formed behind us.

I stared at her watch and felt time move too fast and too slow all at once.

Two other couples waited patiently to fill out their forms: other women had decided these things already.

“I’d like to hyphenate,” I declared.

And taking a breath, I said aloud it for the first time: “Renée Ann Schuls-Jacobson.”

Then I signed the papers, knowing that no one would ever say that whole mouthful.

It was official.

It doesn’t fit on a my driver’s license.

Or any of my credit cards.

And my students call me Mrs. Jacobson.

But, like I said, I loved the guy.

Still do.

Happy anniversary, Hubby.

Me & Hubs in 1995. Trust me: His mullet was hot.

Would you encourage your daughter to keep her own name or take the name of her spouse? If you had to do it again, would you do something different with the names thing? Or just make fun of our picture. Whatever floats your boat.

Tweet this twit @rasjacobson

Monkey Has Left The Building

Posted on
photo by Traci Bunkers @ www.TraciBunkers.com

“I don’t like it anymore,” my son said, right before he took an enormous bite out of an enormous apple.

“What?”

He held up one finger to indicate that his mouth was full, a gesture he learned from me.

“This Monkey business. I’ve outgrown it.”

I’ve been waiting for this moment since my son started middle school.

Last year.

But now that he is finishing his first semester of 7th grade, he has decided that Monkey is no longer a good fit for him.

Forget about the fact that he actually looks exactly like Curious George.

If Curious George had freckles.

Forget about the fact that after he gets a brush cut, his hairline looks exactly like a little baby monkey’s.

Forget about the fact that he is sproingy like a monkey.

The reality is that Monkey is done being Monkey.

“So can I just start calling you by your real name?”

“Noooooo!” my son shrieked in his high-pitched I’m-in-the-midst-of-puberty-and-my-voice-but-my-voice-hasn’t-changed-yet timbre.

“Well, get to thinking,” I told my boy. “I have to call you something.

After he completed three hours of homework — ten algebra problems, a Spanish worksheet on conjugating verbs, some science worksheet on density, mass and volume, a social studies worksheet on Chapter 2, Section 4, and an English thingy where he had to read something and write a response (note: he keeps me out of the English loop) — he went downstairs to practice piano and then returned upstairs to practice for his bar-mitzvah.

Around 6 pm, he put all his books away and wandered into the kitchen where I was making dinner.

“Tech Support?”

“What about tech support?” I asked absently as I popped a black olive in my mouth while pouring marinade over that night’s chicken.

“That’s what you should call me.”

I looked at him blankly.

“You know, for your blog?” He picked up an olive and popped it into his mouth.

“That’s actually pretty good…”

“It’s good because it’s true,” he said.

Little bastard is right. He will always be my little Monkey, but over the last year, our conversations involve my screaming for his assistance because something has happened to my Excel Spread sheet formula, and I don’t know how to fix it. So he fixes it for me. Or I want to do a Power Point presentation, but I don’t know how to set it up. So he sets it up for me. Or I want to change the banner on blog but that involves Gimp and multiple layers, and I don’t know how to do that. So he does it for me. In 6.3 minutes. For years, he has been my IT guy: my fixer, my assistant.

I am starting to think I should pay him.

While I was thinking these things, my 12-year old son said aloud (to absolutely no one): “I will detach your head from your body!”

Looking around the room, I declared, “Wow, you are the King of the non-sequitor.”

“I know,” he smiled. “And yes, I know what a non-sequitor is.”

We both popped olives in our mouths and, as I finished the dinner prep, my son moved to the pantry in search of something that would be ready to eat sooner than the chicken.

Finding nothing, he moved to the freezer.

Which is empty.

Because it has been broken for one week now.

My son stuck his head deep inside the icemaker. From the depths of the freezer, I heard my son’s voice. It was deeper than usual. Distorted from being inside the freezer, he sounded like someone else: a man.

“I really want a frozen pretzel,” this man said, “When are we going to get our freezer fixed?”

“As soon as I get some.”

“Some what?” he turned to look at me, 12-years old again.

I smiled and popped another olive in my mouth, held up my finger and made him wait.

“Tech Support.”

What nicknames did you call your children? Have they changed over the years? What little changes have signaled your child is growing up?