Thursday, September 19, 2019

What is in a name? It turns out a lot

Taking flight
I am thinking about changing my name.

I was married, briefly, during the '70s. Back then I changed my surname (not knowing any better) to my husband's name, and changing it back to my "maiden name" after the divorce didn't seem worth the bother. So I have spent most of my adult life under an assumed name, or so Vital Statistics tells me. My married name is not a legal name, it is an assumed name.

My brothers and never-married sister all go by the family name (i.e., my father's family name) and so in my family of origin I am an anomaly, the only one not bearing the family name. My kids all have their father's surname, sort of. One has a different father but since I was still legally married at the time he had to be named after my husband who was not his father. Another legally changed his name when he got married to a double-barreled name. This blog is in my ex-husband's and my current surname. My parents and my ex-husband are all dead.

If I had my druthers I'd change my surname to my maternal grandmother's "maiden name", only because I happen to like the sound of it and I know something of its history. But I think changing one's surname to something other than one's own "maiden name" is a bit more expensive.

The other thing is that the given name that I commonly go by is my second name on my birth certificate, and I have always gone by that name even as a very small child. I don't know why that is but I never objected to it and still don't. However since computers became common it has been an ongoing source of irritation because virtually all government agencies insist on using my first given name. If I am sitting in a waiting room it is that first name that gets called out, not my more commonly used second name. Government ID seems to be mixed on the issue, some of it shows the first name, some both names, and some only the second name.

So I thought maybe I should just cave on the issue and go by my first name like almost everybody else does and just stop arguing with officials who insist on it. It will be weird having a new name but at least it will solve a few minor problems.

Into the wild blue...
I started looking up what is involved in changing a name and it turns out that it is really complicated, there is no one agency you can call to deal with it. First of all there is the provincial government, then the federal government, and then of course the municipal government. Each of these involve multiple departments that all must be dealt with separately. Finally there are the financial institutions and various commercial organizations that I have accounts with. I feel quite confident in guessing that it will be an endless task rooting out the last vestiges of my old (i.e., current) name. No wonder I didn't do it right away! But I was naive, I did not know that it would be that much harder now than it would have been three decades ago. Who would have thunk that computers would make things harder not easier?!? (sarcasm)

So why bother? I'm going to blame it on Dorian and Arthur. Arthur was a tropical storm during July 2015 and Dorian a hurricane of less than a couple of weeks ago. In both cases there was widespread damage to the entire province and power outages lasting a week or more. I was very lucky during Dorian to get my power back within 18 hours, extremely lucky actually. My home did sustain a little damage but nothing really devastating. Going without electricity, internet and phone for 18 hours is way different from going without for a week. During Arthur I was without power for 3-4 days I think and that was hard enough. It is a very isolating feeling to not have phone or internet. I did have a cell phone then but not a lot of data so I couldn't go on the internet, and after a couple of days the battery had died anyway and that was that.

None of my kids called me during or after Arthur or Dorian. My brothers did, but not my kids. They are very bad at keeping in touch quite frankly, and I am told that it is because they are men not women. I had the great misfortunate of not bearing a single daughter. I have tried to talk to my sons about the importance of keeping in touch but it just hasn't had an impact. One son cannot be reached by email, he has an email address but he does not read email there because he says there is too much junk mail there and for whatever reason he does not want to create a new email address. Text messages are okay but I have a hard time reducing what I want to say to text message size.

I understand that my two married sons have busy lives with jobs, wives and kids to be concerned about. I was not so great at keeping in touch with my parents when I was their age either. So I resent it and feel a little guilty about it too. But from where I am sitting it looks to me like my siblings are more concerned about me than my kids are, and the name change might be appropriate. An outward and visible sign of true allegiance, so to speak. I feel abandoned whether it is actually true or not, and I feel like I need to disown my family and go on without them (my kids, not my brothers). I am tired of dealing with the recurring disappointment and sense of abandonment.

It looks like a long term project and one that will take considerable planning to do everything in the right order. When it is done however, that will be the end of this blog. I will no longer be Mz Odell. I may start another blog in my new name, and if I do I will provide a link here.


Rain Trueax said...

But if it's important to you to do it, it might be worth the hassle.

Wisewebwoman said...

I use my birth name even though for a few years I used my former husband's (that old yabber about kids sharing the one name. I hate the term maiden. Always have.

I would have liked to take my mother's as I adored her father but felt it unfeasible. Plus I have the advantage of having a very unusual name and a web search brings me up almost immediately. If that is important, it really isn't. Daughter double-barreled and her daughter has her name with her father's inserted as a third "first name".

We need to reclaim ourselves. I am a 100% behind you in this.

And I hear you on family abandonment. My bros don't give a tosser, my sister does occasionally as does Elder Daughter. I have found immense solace in my chosen family, my friends.