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January 06, 2007

Making Changes

Yesterday my cousin came over for a cup of tea and, when she arrived, asked how the first few days of married life had been. I replied that they had been frustrating, which produced a worried look on her face. It isn't actually the marriage that has been frustrating me (that has been going very well), but the process of changing my name. I had planned to keep my full name and add David's last name on to it, so that I would be Emily Rose K-- M--, but after standing in line for an hour at the Secretary of State (Michigan's version of the DMV), I learned that their computer system will only take three names. So my choices were Emily Rose K--, Emily Rose M--, Emily Rose K-M, or Emily K-- M--. As I have said before, there was no way I would hyphenate. I'm not against it on principal (except that it is only a one-generation solution -- if kids with hyphenated names hyphenated their names, the system would quickly get out of control), but I think it is just wrong to hyphenate when both parties have 8-letter last names. I also didn't want to lose my middle name because I like the sound of Emily Rose. So I exchanged my father's last name for my husband's, and now I have three names that are easy to spell and easy to pronounce. I'll never have to say "Merchant with an M."

After the Secretary of State, I went to one of my two credit unions. David and I have a very complicated banking system. We each have our own checking and savings accounts at two different credit unions. Then at his credit union we also have joint checking and savings accounts that we use for shared stuff like the house. I showed my new temporary driver's license (a big piece of paper with my new name on it, stapled to my old driver's license) to the lady at the credit union. She asked if there was anyone else on my account. "Yes," I replied, "my, um, husband." I think that was the first time I had used the H-word to refer to David. It turns out that she needed his signature too to change my name on the account (what is that all about), so he had to go in the next day and sign as well. The form also asked for my driver's license number, and when I looked at my new temporary license, I realized that I not only had a new name, but a new number as well. In Michigan, the first three numbers of your driver's license are based on your last name, so now David and I have the same first three numbers.

Yesterday, I tried to change the name on my Social Security card. At first I thought I would be able to do it just by calling Social Security, but no such luck. A recording told me that there was a form I had to fill out and send in, along with my marriage license. So then I thought I would just drop by the Social Security office, conveniently located in the Federal Building on Liberty Street. But when I got to the Federal Building, I learned that the Social Security office had moved to the other side of town. I downloaded the form I needed and started filling it out so that I would be all set when I went down there, but I got stuck when I realized that the form required my parents' Social Security numbers in addition to my own. The whole thing is so crazy!

Fortunately, it was much easier to change my name at the video store when David and I went there last night. He just deleted the old name and typed in the new name.

Going through this whole process has made me see why getting married sometimes seems like a bigger deal for women than for men. We got married on Wednesday, and on Thursday David just got up and went to work. He was still the same person, but with a ring on his left hand. I got up on Thursday and didn't know if I was Emily K-- or Emily M--. Not only do I have a whole new identity, but I have to go through miles of bureaucracy in order to put it in place.

Posted by eklanche at January 6, 2007 08:26 AM

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