Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, spring 2018

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A s is often the case in writing workshops, our curious group of students wandered off-topic. As we proofread and critiqued each others' book proposals, we ended up discussing the pronunciation of my maiden name, Ruiz. "It's ROO-ehz, rhyming with says," I explained, "as compared to Roo-EEZ, which rhymes with please. But, when I was a news reporter at KSBW, the anchors would toss a story to me and the phones would ring. 'Those dummies can't even pronounce that girl's name,' the callers complained. So, my boss asked if we could change the pronunciation to Roo-EEZ, and I said, 'Sure.'" My friend—last name Andrews—looked quizzically at me across the long, rectangular table. "I've never once thought about my last name," she replied. Which got me thinking: What's in a name? What the hell is my name? My dad was adopted early in his life by the Ruiz family, Portuguese in origin and long-time Hawaiians. But my actual heritage is African, Asian and Anglo. We were also fortunate to be tracked down by my dad's biological father, whose last name was Grant. I gleefully told my parents that someday, I'd legally change my name to Grant because it sounded cool. "Not while your grandparents are alive!" they scolded. So I waited until my mid-twenties to give it a shot. When I was hired at my first news job in Arizona, I sat down with the news director—the boss of the newsroom. "I think I should go by Dina Grant so I don't offend people by trying to pass as Latina," I said. Newsrooms were just begin- ning to integrate more ethnicity into their line-ups, and my boss shot me a piercing, "Are-you-kidding-me?-no-way!" gaze. The discussion was over. From then on, it was, "Good evening Northern Arizona. I'm Dina Ruiz." That's ROO-ehz, like says. Ruiz stuck. Until my news director at KSBW called me into her office asking if we could modify the pronunciation to Roo-EEZ. "The viewers are angry, and they're blaming it on the anchors, saying they mispronounce your name and are insen- sitive to our Latino population. It would make things a whole lot easier if…" Roo-EEZ, like please, it was. I married Clint Eastwood in 1996. By the end of that year, I had legally changed my last name to Eastwood. When I worked at KSBW as a fill-in anchor, we went with a hyphen, Ruiz-Eastwood. "I thought you were a modern woman," viewers would write (back in the days when letters were the common method of complaining.) "Why would you take on your husband's name in this day and age?" My liberal-yet-traditional self laughed. I'm not always laughing now. More than two decades later, I'm divorced and remarried. My new last name will be Fisher by the end of 2018. But, oh!, how the accusations have flown about me still having the last name Eastwood. I haven't kept it to get better tables at restaurants or for the thrill of answering questions every-single-day such as: Any relation to the guy with the cigar? Have you ever met the real Eastwood…you-know-who? Is Clint still the mayor of Carmel? I used to know Clint's wife. What was her name? Gina? Diana? An annoyed reader recently wrote a letter to the editor of this magazine accusing me of: "…exploiting Mr. Eastwood's good name." No. In fact keeping my legal last name, for the time being, is a fam- ily made decision between me, my daughter and my highly secure husband, Scott. I will soon willingly go through the hell of changing passports, credit cards, email accounts and my driver's license. But then there's this from my writing guru and thesis advisor: Advisor : You cannot change your last name now that you've published under it for years. Me: But I get so much crap. People think I'm freeloading. You want me to keep it? Advisor : Duh! Every author wishes she had the promotional tool you have—sharing a last name with one of Hollywood's biggest stars. Don't change it. I'll have to disobey, and it'll likely be hard to say goodbye to a name I've had almost as long as I had Ruiz. It's the name I share with my daughter, and five of my beloved stepchildren. But I will. And nothing will really change. We humans are more than our names. We are the people who inhabit them, not let- ters on a piece of paper or a computer screen. So, I'll end this column the same way I signed off when I replied to that irritated letter writer : Thanks for reading this. Sincerely, Dina Ruiz Eastwood soon-to-be Fisher aka just Dina. Dina Eastwood is a former news anchor at KSBW TV, past host of "Candid Camera" and has starred on a reality show on the E! Network. She is a writer, editor and yogini. She resides on the Monterey Peninsula with her daughter, Morgan. BEHIND THE SPOTLIGHT D I N A E A S T W O O D What's In a Name? 46 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 8

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