Well, I did it; I changed my name.
Surprisingly, the feedback from my blog and Facebook polls was quite helpful. Some of my friends changed their names completely; some kept their maiden names in some form. But the option I liked best (which I had not considered previously) was my cousin Tammy’s suggestion of keeping my last name as a second middle name. That way, it would always be there and I could use it if I wanted, but my legal last name would match Kevin’s. This really appealed to me and seemed to be the most elegant solution to my self-imposed problem.
Another interesting tidbit I received in response to my last post was from my father-in-law, who explained to me the origin of the surname Hublou:
If you change your name to Hublou then people will ask you “What’s the origin of that name?” or “What nationality is that?” That’s when you can be totally cool and say “It’s Flemish.” The looks you get are unforgettable because no one knows what Flemish is. Then you can say it’s from “Flanders” and once again you get that awestruck look. They’re spellbound. Then you can get into a real conversation that it was absorbed by Belgium, but today there is real talk about a movement to secede. You can start talking about Flemish painters like Rubens, and my personal favorite Bruegel. It’s endless.
Thanks, Dad. (<– very, very weird to say!)
After writing my name out every possible way, I finally decided on my cousin’s suggestion. Plus, this option allowed me to stylize my name as Carly R.R. Hublou, which is awesome, albeit a little pretentious. (And I’m still deciding whether I like the periods.)
So I took an afternoon off from work, rounded up my paperwork (marriage license, birth certificate, Social Security card, driver’s license), and headed to the happiest place on Earth, the Gainesville Social Security office (SSO).
No, I’m kidding. It’s actually the most depressing place on Earth.
When you are a bride-to-be, or a newly married woman, you have this unrealistic expectation that everyone around you is also farting flowers over all of the wonderful things you are doing to prepare yourself for your new life. The first time I realized this was not true was when we filed for our marriage license, when the notary lady and Kevin sat there stoically as I beamed from ear to ear and was so giddy I could hardly sign my name.
The most recent time I realized this was when I went to the SSO to change my last name. When I walked in, I was greeted by a Mall Cop-esque security guard who gave me a once-over and decided he didn’t need to search me (even though the signs at the entrance insisted that I would, in fact, be searched). I thought this was strange until I entered the waiting room — a cold, windowless square with two groups of chairs awkwardly facing each other — and realized that I, along with only two other women, were not the usual clientele of the SSO. Whereas I was clean, healthy, and not holding a screaming child, nearly everyone else was either dirty from a hard day’s work, unfit for work due to injury and/or drug addiction, and/or unable to work because of said screaming child. Thus, what I thought was going to be a pleasant experience — in which I skip into the SSO wearing a crown of tweeting birds — was actually quite depressing and lonely. No wonder Kevin gave an emphatic “NO” when I asked if he wanted to join me.
With no book to read and my cell phone nearly dead, I had no choice but to watch the other people, watch the weather-only channel playing on the TV (which, to my relief, showed the number of the current customer being served…until I realized it never changed and I had no clue how long I would be there), or read pamphlets on how Social Security Can Work for Me!
After an hour of waiting (during which I came to feel extremely humbled and grateful for all of the good things that have happened in my life, including not having a screaming child), the powers that be finally called me forth, and, as expected, my conversion from CRR to CRRH began with: “How do you pronounce the new last name?”
Once I escaped the talons of government, I was hoping I could breeze over to the DMV and get a new license, but, alas, no; you can’t move forward with any other name-change activities until you receive your new Social Security card.
So I waited…and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly my new card arrived, which was several days sooner than the promised date! At least I now know that some things can move through government relatively quickly.
With my new Social Security card in hand, I visited the DMV, where I had a very pleasant visit. Alachua County allows you to make an appointment online for the DMV location of your choice, and if you have an appointment, your wait time is virtually zero. I arrived early for mine, but I was still served right away and assigned to the happiest government worker I have ever met. He made the process a breeze and even let me take my new license photo a few times (which was a cinch for him after the wannabe-beauty-queen before me insisted on about 10 photos before feeling satisfied with her new mug shot). After the disaster that was my previous photo, I really wanted to get this one right. I even made an appointment for a haircut and style right before the DMV appointment so that my mane would be on point. The results made me very happy. Oh, and I’m now an organ donor!
After the DMV, I drove to the voter-registration office, which was the last physical stop on my journey to becoming Carly R.R. Hublou.
The following week, I used my new email address (Finally! My email address is my first and last name!) to send a barrage of emails to:
- My employer, to update my W4, work records, benefits, etc.
- My bank.
- The IRS, to update my Employer Identification Number (for my side businesses).
- My clients, to update the name they write on my checks.
- The manager of my student loan.
- All of my many credit cards.
- My investment accounts.
- My homeowner’s insurance.
- My mortgage lender.
- My car insurance.
- The post office (but I don’t know why…the mailman clearly doesn’t look at names, judging by the volume of mail I receive for humans other than Kevin and myself).
All of them had different rules for which documents I had to show to prove my identity. Some required an official signed letter; some were fine with just an email. The process was exhausting and inconsistent, but I am, for the most part, finally done. (I still haven’t tackled changing my name at UF because the process sucks and I don’t want to change it halfway through a semester.)
The best thing to come out of this process, though, has nothing to do with my name. Remember several blog posts ago when I said that Kevin and I wanted to get married for financial reasons? Well, those reasons are starting to come to fruition. While filling out my new W4, I realized that I had not been claiming enough exemptions, which is why I always get such a big return at the end of the year. (And this is BAD, people. If you are happy with a “big return” at the end of the year, you do not understand the time value of money or the fact that you are giving the government a year-long, interest-free loan!) I thought as a single person the only options were 0 or 1, but in fact you can also claim 2! And now that I’m married, I can claim even more! That’s significantly more money per paycheck! I was so excited about my new exemption status that I nearly tripped skipping out of HR’s offices.
Another financial benefit: cheaper car insurance. That’s right! When you get married, you are required to report your spouse as a named insured on your personal policy, even if their policy is with a different company (and Kevin and I have separate policies). I was nervous about doing this because I thought my premium would increase. But, in fact, the opposite happened: my 6-month premium became $50 cheaper! Why, you ask? Well, insurance researchers have found that married people tend to be in fewer accidents than their non-married counterparts, saving me $100 a year in insurance premium. Score!
So, to conclude this saga, you can now address me as Mrs. Hublou, our future child(ren) will be made fun of but at least have the same last name as their father and mother, and I will be pronouncing/spelling my last name for the rest of my life, like some bizarre act in a really terrible variety show.
And, just in case I ever run for political office, I’ve already developed by campaign slogan: ‘Blou your vote on Carly!