After years of being lauded for my transparency and honesty I think it is ironic that my name isn’t even really Chloe. If it makes anyone feel any better, the non-Chloe name I’ve been using isn’t my real name either.
The first time I changed my first name was the year I turned 14 and we moved to San Diego. Moving definitely makes changing your name a lot easier. New town. New name. No problem.
After that move, I wanted nothing more than to leave behind everything that had to do with that poor Pre-pre-Chloe. For one thing, that girl lacked a tan, and the lack of a good tan in the 1970’s in San Diego was a major social set-back. Remember ladies, Scarlett Johannsen hadn’t been invented yet. Our role-models in the 70s all had perfect tans.
My goal was to become popular and pretty and skinny and suntanned, maybe like one of the lovely ladies pictured above. I wanted to be the girl that all the other girls liked and all the boys wanted. I was naïve and didn’t realize that those two things were probably mutually exclusive.
The new name was a good one. It was the name my mother had wanted to give me anyway, so it didn’t bother my parents. I thought it was unique, and it came with an obscure mythical subtext alluding to death; it was like an inside joke I had with myself. I loved that name; I still do.
Unfortunately, my name change didn’t put me on the path to high school stardom. I think the fact that I went to school with Tawny Kitaen might have played a role. (Tawny’s real name is “Julie” by the way, but she was already “Tawny” and gorgeous by the time I knew her in the 9th grade.)
I gotta admit that when I saw Tawny in Celebrity Rehab I did think with some satisfaction that I’ve aged a little bit better than she has. Even so, I remember standing near her in the gym showers when we were 14 and wondering, “What the hell!?!?” Life is so unfair. I’m certain she never noticed me, but you couldn’t miss her. The girl was freaking gorgeous. Let’s just take a minute to admire her, shall we?
Yep, I was an ugly, pale troll with thick thighs and bad skin not worthy of standing in any shower anywhere next to her. It would have taken much, much more than an obscure literary name with an obscure reference to death to compete with that.
As far as my last name? Who cares? Every girl, unless she’s Tawny Kitaen, knows from an early age that the last name she’s given at birth is really just a loaner. Mine changed hands a few times before it landed safely in my husband’s family tree. In the end, both names suited me for a long time. Then I learned about the Internet.
In those days, everybody was convinced that the Internet was crawling with murderous stalkers. I started off using my pre-Chloe name, but thanks to Google I soon discovered a little fact: I am the only person in the United States with this non-Chloe name.
To protect me and my family from all the ax-murderers out there I took the name “Chloe” and added of the Mountain for dramatic and descriptive effect. No harm, no foul. People took online aliases all the time, right? Nobody really thought my last name was of the Mountain anyway.
Then came Facebook.
I did not want to join Facebook. I saw right away that there was going to be a problem with my name, but I joined anyway to keep track of my kids.
Suddenly my forum days came to a screeching halt and seemingly overnight all of my online friends, who’d previously been declaring Facebook as being of the Devil, were joining in droves. I had friends from the old place who wanted me to join Facebook so we could continue to have a place to meet-up online. I wanted to hang out with my online friends, but I feared that if I friended people using my non-Chloe name it would open an unwanted portal into the lives of my kids.
Yes, I do write about my children, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about their privacy. It hurts enough when people say bad things online about me, but I didn’t want to deal with gossip or judgment directed at my kids. Since I’d written a lot about them, I feared there might be a higher-than-average curiosity about them. I wanted to protect them. I also still had the same old problem: I’m the only person you can Google who has my name.
First I tried joining Facebook as Chloe of the Mountain, but Facebook wouldn’t allow me to join as Chloe of the Mountain because Facebook insists that you take a first name and a last name (they also want you to use your real name, but we’ll get to that soon enough). I looked into solving the dilemma by having a Chloe of the Mountain Fan Page, but a Fan Page cannot interact with people like a personal page can and there is no point for me to be on Facebook without interaction.
So I tried straddling the fence. There were more Chloes in the world, so I changed my Facebook profile to “Chloe” with my married name. It took less than 24 hours before some idiot from my non-online life started publically harassing me about it as though I were trying to get away with something. The irony here for anyone with eyes to see is that it isn’t the kooks on the internet you need to worry about: it’s the kooks you know in real life that will get you every time.
All I was trying to get away with was keeping my online life separate for the sake of my kids. I explained the situation to this idiot, but that didn’t go over because he’s, well, he’s an IDIOT, so I ended this disaster of an experiment by deactivating my Facebook account altogether.
I was back to square one.
My online friends were on Facebook, but I couldn’t join them until I dealt with this stupid name problem. I struggled with this for weeks. In the end, I just decided to go with Chloe since most of the people I wanted to interact with at Facebook knew me by that name anyway. I took “Mountain” as my surname, and that’s how I became Chloe Mountain. I set-up a non-Chloe account just for my kids and close family and I began my sorry attempt at managing a double online life.
But Facebook can’t have that. Always helpful, Facebook is constantly trying to hook you up on the Internet. After Facebook suggested me to myself I knew something had to be done because it could only be a matter of time, but I didn’t know what to do.
In May, I started seriously blogging every day. And I started posting what I was writing to my Chloe Mountain Facebook page. That was fine until one day I accidentally posted my blog to my private Facebook page and didn’t realize it right away. Since then it’s just been a confusing mess for me. I’ve tried embracing it, ignoring it, and I’ve even tried reversing it.
So why am I telling you this now?
Chloe of the Mountain never started off as anything other than a homeschool mom who played on forums with other ladies (and a few gents), and now that’s changing and I feel that I need to be upfront with who and what I am.
Chloe is a writer who wants to be an author. The writing mentors who have come into my life have made it plain to me that I cannot become an author without a first name and a last one. Apparently people don’t write checks to Chloe of the Mountain or Brazenwoman. Damn them.
Then, just in the past few days, there was a little brouhaha among some of my online friends about someone having a personal account for their family and another account they use professionally. Some people felt the person was being deceptive and others wondered about the ethics of having two Facebook accounts. One person referenced Facebook’s policy that users are allowed only one Facebook profile, period, and that this profile must be listed under your real name. Since this issue has been heavy on my mind ever since I got a Facebook profile, I took that controversy very seriously and have been trying to work out the implications for myself and my Facebook friends and Private Groups.
Everywhere I turn I seem to face this stupid name mess I’ve created. Yeah, I could just use my pre-Chloe name, but I am uncomfortable with the thought that absolutely anyone on the internet can get an instantaneous aerial view of my house and a peek into my Amazon Wish List.
And, as a writer, I have invested so much in Chloe that I just can’t kill her off. In fact, I’ve got more invested in Chloe than in my other name. Chloe is the one living the life of the writer that I want to live, not the non-Chloe lady, bless her heart.
And there’s the deeper Spiritual reason I want to change my name to Chloe. Remember earlier when I said that my non-Chloe name carries a hint of death? “Chloe” literally means young, green shoot, verdant and blooming. As I walk into the second half of my life, I want my inside joke with myself to be one that is full of joy and life, not a veiled reference to death. I guess the truth is that I’m not that 14 year old girl standing in a gym shower next to Tawny Kitaen wishing she could die. I want to live a life well-said, and I want to live that life as Chloe.
Maybe some of you really can’t see what the big deal is, but I do not want anyone to feel deceived. Nor do I ever want to be in a position where someone “outs” me on Facebook and implies that I’m being dishonest. Writing under a pseudonym is not dishonest; people do it all the time, but I suppose I need people to understand that that is what I’m doing and be okay with it, or not be okay with it, but at least know about it.
So, after a lot of agonizing over what I should do in order to maintain my safety, guard the privacy of my family, and yet pursue a credible career as a writer, I am officially changing my first name to Chloe and I’m taking my husband’s first name as my last making me Chloe Jeffreys.