The Costs Of Changing My Name, Revised And Updated
by Kate McKean
I spent the months prior to my wedding last year worrying about whether I wanted to change my name. I’m a literary agent and I traffic in the identity I created with my maiden name. But I also wanted the traditional, cozy, romantic aspects of taking my husband’s name. (Note: I am not blind to the patriarchy.) So I compromised. I legally changed my maiden name (McKean) to my middle name and only used my married name (Landon) personally. In the words of Charlotte York, I was choosing my choice.
Since then, the line between personal and professional has been mostly clear. Sometimes when my husband writes me checks to deposit in our joint account, he writes them using my maiden name. It drives me crazy. “But you’re Kate McKean where I see you all day online,” he says. He’s not wrong.
I use @kate_mckean on Twitter because that’s mostly work, and I am one of those three-name women on Facebook because it’s kind of half personal/professional. I don’t care if my friends call me McKean or Landon, though more baby shower and wedding invitations come to the Landons and I like that.
There’s just one thing. My email handle. I’ve had “kmckean” since Gmail came out, since my sister emailed me at my Hotmail address and said, “Get this now.” Kmckean was me and I was kmckean. Of all the other kmckeans in the world — namely Kyle, Kevin, and Kathleen — I have this prime email handle. Short. Sweet. Mine.
Lately, I’m getting more and more misdirected email: Enjoy that PetCo rewards membership, Kathleen! And it feels weird to be putting “kmckean” on forms and such when I’m being “Kate Landon.” This might seem like a dumb problem, but it’s my dumb problem and I can’t let it go. Who am I and when am I her? I know I did this to myself, but I couldn’t know how it would really play out.
The week after the wedding, I asked a good friend who’d changed her name how she migrated her email account over. I couldn’t just ditch ten plus years of emails. In my inbox right now is an email from eight years ago, full of advice on how to deal with my father’s terminal diagnosis from a friend who passed away barely two weeks later. My friend wasn’t sick. It was Part 1 of his response. I can’t bring myself to archive it even though I know it’s theoretically safe in the cloud.
A year into marriage, I haven’t migrated to a new married-name email. I can’t get any combination of Kate (McKean) Landon that isn’t a hundred characters long. Certainly not “klandon,” oy. I picture myself writing that out on the hundreds of forms in my future, spelling it out over the phone to insurance companies and mortgage brokers and other bureaucracies.
I am squatting on six versions of my maiden/married name but nothing feels right. So much of my identity is tied up in how people find and see me online. But who is Kate Landon online?
Not long after my sister had me sign up for Gmail, she bought me katemckean.com as a present. And she recently set up an email account with that URL just because. Then it hit me. I can throw money at this problem! Kate Landon can get her own URL, her own online home, and any damn email address she wants. katelandon.lol is available. katelandon.ninja. kmlandon.com. The possibilities are endless, and all for about $12 a year!
That my existential married-person identity crisis can be solved so easily and cheaply, and so obviously, makes me even more thankful for both the Internet and tech-savvy, generous sisters. Yeah, Gmail is free but it can’t give me — all of the Kates I am — what I need.
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