So... today is my birthday. I'm 29. It has me feeling a little pensive (Who, me? Drastically over-thinking one of life's ordinary events as a search for a Deeper Meaning? Really? You don't say! ;)
But the impending wedding has me thinking a lot lately about, well, marriage. This is sort of heightened right now with the sale of Nanny's house, watching my parents care for *their* elderly parents, seeing them trying to support each other through the process of managing both my grandmothers' care.
Through all the planning for August 9th, which has been really quite fun, actually, I've been thinking a lot about marriage, about what it means to be a "wife," and that shift in identity. Yeah, I know I'll still be me. I know my day-to-day life won't change much when we get back from the honeymoon. But...
I feel like this is sort of my last birthday as just me, as just Angela Gaul.
My mom asked me last week what, exactly, am I doing about my name. I will always be Angela Gaul in print. I've been publishing for a decade now with that byline. To take on only Joel's last name now would be to erase a career, defined not only by the power of story-telling images but also by that tiny photo credit underneath those images.
If you google my first and last name, you get 378,000 hits. A lot of them are me. There is a woman trying to arrange meet-ups for something called MAM in Texas, which is not me, but a lot of the hits lead you to my work. If you google Photo by Angela Gaul, you get 91,000 hits- which with a few glaring exceptions- are all me. And if you search my name with AP Photo.. 24,000 hits. Yup. All me. There's no way I'm erasing that virtual resume.
I plan to hyphenate in so-called real life, and I had a tiny taste of what that will be like starting not long ago. We switched to a newer online archiving system at work, which will require an additional character in the file names. We always incorporate the date and our initials, and since I needed one more character anyway, I went ahead and added a J to my initials: ALGJ. I like it. I'm keeping my middle name. I don't care. I like my middle name, too. It's mine, I'm keeping it.
I've also decided I don't want to be the anal-retentive and hypothetical, future mom in the neighborhood who corrects her friends' kids. If they called me Mrs. Jackel, eh... Whatevs. I'm not going to tsk and say, "It's, Ms. GAUL-Jackel to you."
But then... something came in the mail yesterday. My in-laws have apparently signed me up for the Charlie Brown Steakhouse Handshake Club, which entitles me to a FREE gift on my birthday! All I have to do ask my server and "they will present you with your own Membership Card on the spot!" Hoo-ray. I belong. Hoo-ray.
Well, Angie Jackel belongs, anyway. Angie Jackel. Happy birthday to her, I guess.
Anyway,the restaurant flyer is hanging on the fridge with a NOW magnet, and every time I walk by it, I think of this hilarious YouTube tribute to Ms. Pac-Man that Alissa showed me a few weeks ago: "She keeps her own name, m*therf*ckers!"
She keeps her own name, indeed.