The Name Game: Introducing Carly R.R. Hublou

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!)

Sometimes you just have to write it out 7th-grade-crush style to make a decision.

Sometimes you just have to write it out 7th-grade-crush style to make a decision.

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.

Papers in hand, ready to go!

Papers in hand, ready to go!

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.

20-year-old me and 28-year-old me.

Me at 20 and 28 years.

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!

The Name Game: To Change or Not to Change?

Oh, look, a poem!

A long, long time ago
In a classroom far away
A child hated her last name
And she hoped that, some way,
She’d meet a man who’d save the day
And her surname would finally change.

But instead she met someone
Whose last name was a conundrum
She married him despite it
Now her last name, she can’t decide it

And everyone keeps saying go
To change her name to match her beau
But her mind keeps swaying to and fro
Should she be a Roach or Hublou?

(That should be sung to the tune of American Pie by Don McLean OR The Saga Begins by Weird Al Yankovic. And hopefully you now know how to pronounce “Hublou.”

In case the poem wasn’t clear enough, here I am, four months after marriage, still debating whether I should change my surname. For many a girl, this is an easy choice: either she chooses her spouse’s last name or she keeps her own (because her spouse’s name is terrible and her name is significantly better, or because she is famous).

If I were 8-year-old me (8YOM), my answer to “Should I change my last name” would be an emphatic YES. 8YOM would be like, “Girl, are you crazy? We have waited YEARS to be rid of the Roach, and now you’re having an existential dilemma!?!”

But while jokes like, “Is your dad Papa Roach?” and “Oh, look, I stepped on your cousin!” bothered me in second grade, I actually relish them now, because most adults are too afraid to be little kids again and it’s refreshing when I meet someone who is fearless (or ballsy…either one).

To make matters worse, my sister (onto whom the universe never ceases to bestow its luck and fortune) wormed her way into a perfectly spell-able, pronounce-able, quite frankly beautiful Italian surname. For her, there was no debate; as she put it, she couldn’t get to the Social Security office fast enough.

But my choice is complicated by the fact that both names are terrible!

So I’m reaching out to my blog readers (the few, the proud) for advice.

Let’s play the name game! I’ll present you with the facts, and you can vote for what you would do if you were me.

Last-Name-Change Facts

Hublou Pros:

  • Originality. Google “Carly Hublou” (with the “”) and you will discover that only two results return, both of which are me! (I locked down carlyhublou@gmail.com as soon as we were engaged. Some of the many other Carly Roaches claimed carlyroach@gmail.com and c.roach@gmail.com before I could, and I wanted to make damn sure that that couldn’t happen again!) Same for Kevin. Everywhere I go, I will always be the only Carly Hublou.

    I could be the one and only.

  • Memorable. Even if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you will remember that girl Carly with the funny last name.
  • Conversation Starter. There is a lot you can talk about here: How to say it, relationship to the watchmaking Hublots (please, please, please can we be related to that empire??), origins of the name (Belgium/Germany), Belgian waffles are yummy, etc.

Hublou Cons:

  • Originality. I might be the only Carly Hublou, but maybe I don’t want to be found so easily. Even though there aren’t that many Carly Roaches, I can at least hide behind the few that exist and retain some anonymity. There is no such veil as Carly Hublou.
  • Tons of Work. Come on! No one gets excited about going to the DMV and/or the Social Security office, calling all of the credit-card and insurance companies, etc. And yes, there are companies that will make the changes for you for about $28, but I’m not the type of girl who pays someone to do something that I can begrudgingly do myself.
  • Potential to Become a Joke. While some people may remember it for its originality, others may be so frustrated with saying/spelling it that it becomes a joke. When I first met Kevin, I called him Kevin Hullabaloo. If I am to be a professional female who is taken seriously, I don’t want people referring to me as Hullabaloo or any of the other potential bastardizations of the last name.
  • Potential to Become a Distraction. Let’s say I’m in a professional setting, like an interview. I can pretty much guarantee you that every interview will begin with, “How do you pronounce your last name?” followed by various iterations of “Oh, wow, I feel sorry for your daughter(s)!” This already annoys me; I cannot imagine how much it will annoy me 20 years from now.
  • My Children Will Hate Themselves. Roach was bad to grow up with, but at least it didn’t sound like “you blow”….

Roach Pros:

  • Semi-Originality. Original enough to be memorable yet common enough to retain some anonymity.
  • Easy. Everyone (except one substitute I had in 9th grade) can pronounce and spell Roach, and if they can’t, I follow up with, “Just like the bug.” (For the record, the sub pronounced it RO-ATCH.) This would not work with Hublou, at least until someone invents or discovers the hublou, whatever that may be.
  • Nothing to Do. No paperwork to fill out because I wouldn’t be changing my name!
  • Credibility. I’m already known as Carly Roach, and everything that I’ve ever done is under this name — from academics to blog posts written here and for other sites.
  • I’m the Last One. My dad and all of his brothers created girls, all of whom have changed their last names. Like the Mohicans, I’m the last of my people! (But, as my sister said, why is Roach worth saving? I guess I’ve lived with it and its jokes for so long that it has become a sort of warm, comfy blanket to me.)

Roach Cons:

  • Tradition. Most women change their names, and people raise eyebrows (yes, even in 2015) if your last name doesn’t match your husband’s, no matter how much bling is on your ring fing to prove you’re married.
  • My Children Will Hate Themselves. Either their last name will not match mine (because they will take Kevin’s) and they will hate explaining the whole story to their friends, or their last name will be hyphenated, in which case I should just count on them never speaking to me again and hiding their emotions behind heavy eyeliner and trench coats. (Can you imagine going through middle school as “Child1 Roach-Hublou”? This is why hyphenating is out of the question for me, too.)
  • Kevin Might Care. He says he wouldn’t, but I think he would care (but just a smidge) that I chose to forgo his family name.

Some women wait months or years to change their names, but I feel particularly rushed. As I approach the start of my graduate school years (during which I will be figuratively building a name for myself as well as interacting with professionals and professors with whom staying in contact could be beneficial to me), I feel obligated to decide on a name immediately. I don’t want to switch names halfway through and then have to explain myself to everyone who met me before the change. I don’t want my emails to be signed “Carly Hublou (née Roach).”

So, here’s your chance to play the name game:

[poll closed]

Have more to say than this poll allowed for? Leave a comment below!