August 21, 2011

"Just Jena" or "Linchpins are cool, but not cool enough"

Grad school has many surprises for me. Even my name is subject to scrutiny.

Today is my 24th birthday, and according to my Grandpa, I still have four years to prepare for my career-phase (28-42). The career I think I want is teaching ESL. That's what my masters degree will be in, anyway. My preparation at NAU includes graduate level coursework and a teaching assistantship in the English department teaching "Reading and Writing for the Academy Community"--essentially, it's a required writing class for freshman.

I'm a week away from starting my classes, and even though the lesson planning is daunting, it's the small things that give me the biggest hang-ups. For example, what should I have students call me? I want to have authority, but not intimidation. My instinct says "Jena" because I like my first name, and I don't feel like a Miss, Ms. or Mrs., and definitely not a Prof. or Dr.. I could go with "Ms. Lynch", but I've never been all that fond of "Lynch". I think of lynchings or lynch mobs, neither of which suggest that I am a nice or reasonable person. I could always say, "Lynch" like "linchpin", but I think my aversion to the name is more than semantic.

I am not close to the "Lynch" side of my family. When my parents divorced, I had my dad's last name, but little else. When my Mom has remarried, I became the only Lynch in the Griesel family. A few years back, I seriously contemplated legally changing my last name. First I thought of practical changes, "Jena Griesel", "Jena Moore" (Mom's maiden name), or even "Jena Keim" (Grandma's maiden name). None of these choices sounded very natural, so I tried to tap into the Italian-ness of "Gina". "Jena Bonati" (our one-time foreign exchange student) "Jena Marzetti" (a salad dressing) or "Jena Lorenzetti" (Still has the L).  These seemed a little far-fetched, since I have no relation to Italy.

As a teacher, I want a name that has a positive connotation, (preferably something not connected to killing) like "Teegarden", "Goodheart", or "Coffee". A German name would also fit me: "Ms. Braun", "Ms. Ritter", "Ms. Garten", etc.

But alas. Here I am Jena Lynch. Rather than be called by a name that I don't really like, I think I'll stick with just Jena.

Or I could really go for it and be "Lady Lynch".