Since Neal and I both changed our last names (he wasn’t a huge fan of his original last name, so it was decided we would take his middle name, instead), we had to submit a request to the courthouse for a legal name change. Neal dropped them off early last week, and as they had promised a two to six week turn-around, we were shocked to receive the approved court order in our mailbox last Friday. Because I have a (very) few publications with my maiden name, I couldn’t really drop my old name for good, so it has instead switched to my middle name (the name as a whole doesn’t really flow off of my tongue yet, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it?)
Anyway, today I have to go wait in an undoubtedly godawful long line at the social security administration to get my new social security card, and then it’ll be time to switch the BILLIONS OF OTHER THINGS that have my old name on them—driver’s license (involving a trip to the DMV), health insurance, lease, cable bill, water bill, post office, magazines, etc. And I find it all just so confusing! On the social security form, you have to write your legal new name and then your original name, and then at the bottom of the paper, they request your signature. So…if the court already approved the new name, do I sign the new name, or does none of this really ‘count’ until I get my new social security card?! ACK.
And I haven’t even PRACTICED my new signature yet. (Although I popped the new name into the Jack Lew signature generator, and I have to say I like it! It might be a keeper!)
I’m somewhat old-fashioned, so I always expected to take a new name when I got married, publications or no. A name change, as I’m learning, is no small thing, and I understand that women and men have their very own, very valid reasons for changing their name upon marriage or choosing to not do so. As for me, I plan on having children, and I want to share a last name with my children. Despite having always known my name would one day change, it hasn’t been an emotionally easy thing to do. I’m not sure if this is hard to get used to because it’s a relatively new name for us both, or if it’s just difficult in general to shift this one very basic and yet very defining feature of one’s identity. I’ve been reciting my name for people since I learned how to talk, so having a new one all of a sudden after 30+ years is a little odd. And it’s in a totally different section of the alphabet! All my life, I’ve been surrounded by ‘S’s and ‘R’s and ‘T’s, and now suddenly I near the top of the list with my new ‘C’ last name. (A perk: In committee listings or joint-effort publications where authorship is determined alphabetically, I’ll land on top. IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME.)
Or, more likely, this mini-identity crisis could be little more than a reflection of my reluctance to battle people at the SSA and DMV. I do like the new last name—honestly. I don’t yet like the sound of my old last name as my new middle name, and I kind of miss my old middle name, but had I kept it, then there would have been the publication dilemma, and my new initials would have been ‘SAC,’ so, um, no. In a few weeks, things will have settled and my new name will be here to stay and I won’t have to go from place to place proving that the new me really is essentially the same as the old me, just with minor improvements. And maybe somewhere in that process, I’ll be able to prove the same thing to myself, as well.
To new names and new beginnings, my friends!