I had an interesting text conversation with three friends this morning. I asked the question, “I think I want a new last name. What should it be?”
A quick background: I have got three distinct identities, two passports, and one divorce coming up shortly. I was born Taiwanese and 1/3 of time I feel like Taiwanese or more precisely I feel like Tsai Peilin, 蔡沛伶. I am also a Corbanese, a name I have used since the beginning of my career and has given me both the French and the Italian cultures and motherhood. I feel like a Corbanese 1/3 of the time. The last 1/3 is the person I am putting together that will integrate the first two and carry me forward.
One of my friends is a Taiwanese American married to a Taiwanese American, living in Jersey. She wants me to revert back to my maiden name, 蔡Tsai, which no one can properly pronounce in the US. Plus “Peilin Tsai” is really not who I am anymore and gives out the wrong impression. I am only 蔡沛伶 Tsai Peilin when I return to Taiwan. But my friend insists that I am always 蔡沛伶Tsai Peilin, no matter what I think or feel.
The other friend is also a Taiwanese American married to a German-Indian, living in Dallas. She wants me to pick my favorite movie star’s last name (imaginary husband, she says) or a character I can identify with from a book. It’s a big no no on the imaginary husband – Oy! I have come too far to take someone else’s last name. Then I put Caulfield after Peilin and that did not sound right. She then suggested a heroine – yep, we are doing better. Then “Clinton” came up! OMG, that’s also a husband’s last name! What are we doing, girls? Why do so many strong independent women take on their husband’s last name?
My third friend, another Taiwanese but not an American. She is married to a Swiss-German or German-Swiss (Sorry, Amay, I don’t remember.) living in Holland. She suggests that I create a new word using my Taiwanese last name. She also suggests that it does not have to be “English-Made.” All three of them feel that I need to merge my identities instead of keeping them separate.
Being a marketer, I can totally see myself blogging and advertising,
“You may think you know her but you don’t. Peilin Corbanese- Coming soon this Fall, Peilin ??????”