Xylophone, Stardust, Dragonborn

Friends, family, citizens of the Internet, I need your help.

It’s one of those pesky details I’ve been avoiding addressing through this whole super fun adventure of becoming unmarried.

What about that whole name thing?

This is always the hardest question for me when I’m building a character in video games, and when I got married I put a lot of thought into whether to change my name and to what. So why should I put any less care into it now, on the other side?

There are a few options:

  1. I can keep my married name. I have grown into it, it has become in many ways my identity, and it is unique: I can pretty much guarantee there is not a single other Janelle Weibelzahl out there in the world. But… a lot has changed and it might be necessary to grow out of this name as well. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s just plain difficult to spell/say.
  2. I can go back to my maiden name, and I think this is the option a lot of people assume I will take – I’ve already been labelled by it a number of times this year. I liked my maiden name – Visser was certainly much easier to say and write – but something about the idea of “going back” might just be too contrary to the “always forward” path I’ve chosen.
  3. I can find a guy with a cool last name and marry him, stat. But we all know that is NOT happening. Actually just the thought of it made me throw up in my mouth a little.
  4. Which brings me to the final and most intriguing option, and this is where I need your help the most.

A lot of people have suggested I just make up a new name. I know some people – pretty awesome people – who’ve solved the whole “who takes whose name / hyphenates their name” marriage conundrum by together choosing a completely new family name. And writers, of course, are regularly in the habit of taking on pen names, so what’s one more step? Plus, the practice of taking on a new name after major life-altering events is a very old practice. One might say it’s even biblical! If they can do it, so can I, right?

So if I’m to choose a new name, what would it be? Who would I be?

  • Janelle Weibz. I can legalize the shortened version of my married name I’ve been using online. But it’s just a version of Weibelzahl, and no one really says it the way I intended (if you use the German pronunciation it should sound like “Vibes” which is way cooler than how most people say it, “Weebs”).
  • Janelle X. or Janelle Xavier. Or Janelle Xena. Or Janelle Xylophone. I’ve been J.V. and J.W. so why not just move along to the next letter of the alphabet? I could actually be Mrs. X. And I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be another Janelle Xylophone out there in the world.
  • If I’m going for initials I could also save any future offspring the pain of always being at the end of alphabetical order in school: Janelle Aardvark. That should do it.
  • Janelle Janelle. Simply double my name just like Mario Mario. 
  • Take a place name where I’ve lived. Janelle Langley. Janelle Vancouver. Janelle Japan. Janelle Sakura. Janelle Glebe. Janelle Canada.
  • Take a name from nature. Janelle Sunshine. Janelle Sunrise. Janelle Rain. Janelle Snow. Janelle Puddle. Janelle Wind. Janelle Winter. Janelle Ocean. Janelle Maple. Janelle Waterfall. Janelle Lightning. Janelle Sky. Janelle Of Earth. Janelle Human. Janelle Galaxy. Janelle Stardust.
  • Janelle Duck. Or some other fancier-sounding language for my favourite animal the duck. Janelle Canard – my initials would be J.C. just like Jesus and everyone already says my first name sounds French so why not go all out!
  • A fictional last name. Janelle Baggins. Janelle Stormcrow. Janelle Summers. Janelle Warrior-Princess. Janelle Sparrow. Janelle Skywalker. Janelle Dragonborn. Janelle Khaleesi Mother-of-dragons.
  • Like the many conventional last names with roots in professions, I could choose a last name that describes me: Janelle Wanderer. Janelle Vagrant. Janelle Vagabond. Janelle Adventurer. Janelle Snowboarder. Janelle Gamer. Janelle Writer. Janelle Teacher. Janelle Tourguide. Janelle Busdriver. Janelle Eternaloptimist. Janelle Awesome. Janelle Mouldbreaker.
  • Janelle 01001010 (that’s J in binary code).
  • Janelle Ellenaj. I could be my own palindrome.

What do you think? Personally I’m leaning towards Janelle Dragonborn. I wonder how my parents would feel about that claim on my ancestry.

Seriously, though, what do you think I should do? Do any of these fit me? Does anything else come to mind? Throw me your ideas in the comments, no matter how crazy or mundane I will consider them (at the very least they’ll make me smile!)

And how about you, if you could change your name, right now, to anything, what would it be?

Surveying the land from the peak of the Grampians in Australia. AKA looking for dragons. “Which way is the wind blowing, what does your heart say?” Where do I go from here, who do I become, what is my name?




7 thoughts on “Xylophone, Stardust, Dragonborn

  1. My last name starts with W and it was always the best part about school: being last during roll calls.

    Plus, if you are gonna have a lastname like Dragonborn, change your first name too! Go full fictional name or none at all

  2. I took my husband’s name when I got married. I had a hard-to-pronounce Italian name. Now my name is pretty memorable mostly because of all the ess sounds in it. I thought about what I would if something happened to my marriage. I can’t be sure, except that my current married name is also my professional one.
    What should you do? I like Weibz. Half of the full last name has been cut off..symbolic in and of itself I think. I understand if you just want to move past that part and start fresh with a new name. This is a big decision!

  3. I’m surprised there are so few comments! Names have always fascinated me, and I was (and still am) not sure I made the right decision to change my name when I married. I like the sense of unity that sharing a name gives but at the same time, I liked the uniqueness of my previous surname (and I liked making a doctor’s appointment without needing to offer extra information).

    As to my thoughts (I better warn you now, I’m about to go on for a bit because I have probably too many thoughts on the matter). Returning to your previous name is only moving backwards if you choose to view it that way. No-one else will view it that way – it is actually still moving forward. Sometimes it helps to reconsider your question as if it belonged to a friend – how would you answer them?
    Do you still identify with your maiden name? If yes, I reckon it’s a valid option. If it no-longer feels it belongs to you, that’s okay and probably rules it out.
    The question is too, do you still identify with Weibz or Weibelzahl? How do you feel when someone queries the name? As I love names, I AM one of those irritating people who’d be all, “What a great name!” and “How do you pronounce that?” and “Where’s it from?”. Do you proudly tell them? Does the name feel more like his?

    From the options you’ve offered, I really like Janelle Xavier. I’m a fan of a name that is unique but doesn’t get too many questions asked of its origin. I’d also look back to family names, mother’s maiden name and the like to see if any of those feel right.

    Sorry I’ve waffled on. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think, do what’s right for you. Wishing you the best. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! It is a difficult question, and I was talking to a male mentor of mine today he said he had been wondering what he’d do about his name were he in my situation, but realized he could not really have any idea what it would be like to be in my situation! I don’t know which name I identify with, my identity feels so fluid right now, but I need to choose something that will remain.

  4. Mouldbreaker is a name for this transformation. Maybe take it as your name if you see the rest of your life as always transforming, always learning.

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