Iron “E”

Somethings never change. The post-semester, all-consuming laziness that grips me, for one, and fills me with a dread of my computer (unless it’s streaming video). My complete inability to keep track of the days without having commitments on my time, for another. It is Wednesday, right? Don’t even ask me the date today. I think it’s May, but I would not be surprised if that turned out to be incorrect.


I was reminded of another constant in my life last Friday (I think…) when I was visiting my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family. We spent a day just drinking tea and chatting, which was a wonderful luxury. I discovered that my grandparents have traveled a great deal further than I had realized, and picked up some fantastic stories along the way. It’s a treat to hear them.


One way or another, the conversation wandered around to the idea of reincarnation. My grandmother joked, “Next time around, I’m coming back as a Smith or a Jones,” and I had to laugh. I knew exactly what she meant. When John and I were dating, something once prompted him to say that he would never expect a woman to take his last name when they got married. I very quickly said, “if we ever get married, I am definitely taking your name. No question.”


My maiden name (my grandmother’s married name) is a pain in the butt, to put it nicely. Anyone out there with a St. Something surname can probably sympathize. No one can pronounce it (St. is an abbreviation for Saint, how hard is that to figure out, people?), no one can alphabetize it (saint whatever, St. Andrew comes before St. Paul), and no one can ever find it in a computer database (St period? St space? Just look me up by phone number, okay?). It’s a grand old French name with history and character, but when I got married, I couldn’t wait to have a last name that wouldn’t bring a screeching halt to computer operations every time I ordered a set of transcripts.


There’s another funny quirk about my maiden name, which is that everyone expects it to be spelled with an “e” on the end, which it’s not. For some reason, of all the headaches I had dealing with my maiden name, this one and most easily forgiven blunder always irked me the most. I think it was just always the final mistake to confront, that last drop in a very full glass of water that breaks the surface tension and makes the contents spill. Also, I’m a dorky word person, and the orthography of my name is a very salient expression of my identity in my mind. I also tend to be irritable at people who misspell Melissa (no one will ever understand how loathsome I found the short-lived nickname “double-ell Mel” springing from a misspelled certificate, but that’s another story). It’s one of those weird things about how I’m wired. Seeing my name misspelled make my teeth ache, like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.


So getting rid of my maiden name felt like a great bookkeeping relief. Finally, I thought, people will be able to handle my one-syllable, common, Irish married name. Walshe. And it is easier in immense ways that I often find myself grateful for, but you know what’s funny about it? No one expects it to have an “e” on the end.


Some battles in life may reverse direction, but they never change.

3 thoughts on “Iron “E”

  1. Love your blog!
    Hi Melissa,
    I love reading your blog. And I laughed, reading the one about the names. I could not wait to take Perry’s name too when I married him. I have always loved the name St.Germain, but try ordering a credit report; or anything on line for that matter. How unfair that we have to ditch a cool last name for the sake of fewer hassles with computers.
    Congratulations again on your achievement of your Master’s Degree – that’s pretty darned awesome!
    Love Auntie Ellen


  2. Melissa, I am sooooo glad to see your Masters degree from Harvard has afforded you the expertise to be able to make a weird do-hickey :) You really are lost with out your structure aren’t you? It will get better though. Love you, Grammy


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