Thursday, August 14, 2008

I am Time-Machine

My name is Time-Machine. My name is Jessica. Both of these things are true and neither name was chosen by me. But, when the nickname Time-Machine was given to me many years ago, I was anxious to use it.

To hide behind it.

I was excited that when people used it to talk about me, you couldn't tell from the name if I was a boy or girl.

I was excited that it sounded unusual and strange, whereas Jessica was boring and common.

I was still mad at my dad for talking my mom out of naming me Jennessa, because Jennessa is "uncommon" and studies showed that when someone is looking at job applications or tests, they are less likely to hire someone or give a good score to someone with a "weird name" (weird for white European Americans only, of course) . Not because I wanted the name Jennessa as much as because I was beginning, just vaguely, to understand that the reason "weird names" get worse scores for the same effort is because "weird names" are associated with lower class people and minorities. And without knowing the words for it, I felt that my father had given in to some weakness, and I was ashamed of that.

I thought with this new name, I would be a new me.

And so, though the nickname Time-Machine took me by surprise, I'll admit, I didn't do anything to fight it. May have encouraged it a little, after it sunk in. I didn't want to be Jessica. I wanted to be Time-Machine!

I was hiding behind it as much as I was embracing it.

I still embrace it. It's a good name. And it suits me.

But I'm not running away from Jessica anymore.

Because I am a woman. Because my experiences are common. Because I can't ignore that I was born into privilege if I want to make a difference about it.

And so, I am Jessica. And Jessica is Time-Machine. And I'm not going to run anymore.

(You can call me by Jessica or Time-Machine here. Though Time-Machine may be easier simply because that's what I go by elsewhere, and because it is conveniently less common (wouldn't want to step on any other Jessica's toes). Or, you can do like many friends and my siblings do, and call me Ka [pronounced "kuh" - like the last syllable of my name]. It makes me happy because my parents wanted me to be "Jessie" and I ended up with a weird name anyway. Whatever floats your boat, really.)