Monday, February 6, 2012

What's in a name?

The name change. One of the things they don't "tell you" before getting married is how much rigmarole changing your name is. It's not the actual name change that's all that's the 746 places you have to notify about your new name that will make you want to pull you hair out one strand at a time. For "fun", I started making a list tracking my Watson to Hansen identity change...future brides, I've found the one thing more time consuming than wedding planning!
  • Drove downtown in the snow storm to a government building with NO parking 2 blocks in any direction. Found the third floor, waited in line for angry government workers to acknowledge me. Finally, a nice little old man helped me pick up 4 copies of my marriage license (you don't need more than 4 copies as most places only need to see your marriage license, not keep it).
Looked a lot less inviting when I had to pioneer
my way through snow, sleet and hard rain.
  • Drove to the DMV to get my name changed. Won the DMV lotto when the gal helping me out actually knew what a IOL transplant is (the implanted lens I have in my eye as a result of a cataract I had removed). This is good news, because after years of having the "contact lens" restriction on my driver's license, she removed the restriction (understanding that my implanted lens is NOT the same thing as a removable contact lens). Praise the Lord for an accurate driver's license. 
Sorry, officer. I actually can not remove my
contact's  implanted into my eye.
  • With the marriage license and temporary driver's license in hand, Kyle and I went to BECU and got me added to his banking account. Gone are the days of "are you paying for this or am I?" I haven't yet closed my old bank accounts (that's happening tomorrow after weeks of trying to find a stopping point in my automatic billing cycles!). We also need to still at me to Kyle's credit card, and finally, we will experience financial oneness.
  • Scariest place on earth: social security office. There is an armed police man in the door, first of all. Next, everyone sits in a bay of chairs facing the wall with your back to the service windows. No one talks. No cells phone allowed. I did not come prepared with a book, so I passed the time by picking the dead skin off my fingernails. Gross, I know. Once my number was finally called, it was a pretty simple process: show them some documents (including my current social security card and original birth certificate - good thing I had those still!), swear under oath you aren't lying, and then get the heck out of there!
I did not take this picture. It is, however, exactly what
I experienced  as I entered my local office.
  • Mailed in my current passport with new passport photos (from Kinkos), marriage license (I believe they mail it back to me with my new passport), $110 (holy cow!!) check, and application via certified mail at the post office. Read: wait in line at Kinkos, wait in line at the post office...lots and lots of waiting in line...
  • Updated my name at my gym (involved printing out a name change form and mailing that in with a copy of our marriage license). I tried to update my name at my local gym and the girl at the desk told me "no one has ever needed to update their name here before, so...I don't know what to do..." Really. In the history of the time no one at the gym has gotten married and needed to change their name? 
No comment (but that's what I was thinking...).
  • Kyle was kind of enough to get me an iPhone so I could join his family business plan. While I got to keep my number, I did have to call my previous provider to discontinue auto-pay for my final bill because we're closing my bank account. As a side note, I don't know how I functioned in life before without an iPhone. It. Does. Everything. 
iPhone = hand robot
  • I still have a loan on my car, so I didn't need to update my registration, but I did need to update my loan company as they "own" the car still (and then registration updates automatically...or something along those lines). Fortunately, that was as simple as going into a local branch of the company and showing them my new ID and marriage license. Thank you, Alaska Federal Credit Union, for being the easiest part of the entire name change process.
  • To combine our insurance policies, we decided to go with my auto insurance company for one main (silly) reason: I wanted to keep something (anything) that was "mine" before marriage. Kyle was kind enough to placate me on this one because we ran some numbers and assumed either company (mine or his) would probably give us about the same rates. We spent an hour on the phone with my insurance rep getting quotes for combined auto, home and life (for Kyle). Then we spend almost 2 hours in the office with them hashing out details, rates, etc and our happy to report we now have auto, home and life insurance! I shamelessly recommend State Farm as their customer service is great (our rep met with us on a Saturday even though their office was closed so that Kyle wouldn't have to miss work).
  • Health insurance...bah...I wont get into this one but basically we had to do some serious research for dental and vision insurance, and we are happy with our coverage now. But - if I could have paid someone to do the research for us and reclaimed 8 hours of my life back I would have gladly taken that route.
  • Updated my name with Gonzaga so that when I graduate this spring my Master's Degree will have my married last name on it.
  • And onward to the 736 more places to update my name...
Giving it grace: As a man, this isn't something Kyle really has to deal with. I was tempted to get bitter at him for this as I googled various government buildings, waited in lines, got put on hold, mailed copy after copy of marriage licenses off...I would think to myself "I hope he knows how frustrating and overwhelming this is!" While I don't think it's sinful to want my husband to understand what I'm struggling with (which he did), I did feel convicted about wishing he had to do the same thing (to make it "equal"). God was gracious in revealing to me a different thought process...I started thinking about all the changes that have happened for Kyle...his entire living space, me coming into that space, his finances, his time, his routines, and his responsibilities. In our society, it's easy to get caught up in the "tit for tat" mindset. Satan loves it when we do that because it compels us to focus on ourselves, instead of others, or God. I'm thankful that God was gracious in pointing out to me that it never says in the Bible that the man and the woman will experience the exact same things. It does say, however, that our God is perfect, and His plan for my life is perfect (Jeremiah 29:11). All that considered, I am relieved that I'm over the biggest part of the name change journey!

1 comment:

  1. steph, i love that you did this post! you got way farther than me in the process. let me explain. i started everything with registering with the website which is a name-changing service started by a gal that i met in the turks & caicos a few summers ago (wish i would have remembered you were changing your name!). this website basically gives you access to all the forms you will need & auto-fills the forms for you - amazing! once i had all of my forms filled out & printed, i made my way to the social security office (i was told that once i had social security done everything else was cake!).

    so i show up to the local social security office 15 minutes early & stand around with a bunch of strangers. i am one of the first ones in the door & proudly take a seat with my (very low) number. everything was going so well.

    when i got up to the desk the lady asked for my documents (which were already filled out perfectly). spoiler alert: this is where the story takes a turn for the worst. my plan for my name was make my maiden name a second middle name & take my husband's name as my last name. i realize this is confusing: my first name is misha, my middle name is chambreau and my last name is sandusky. why keep my original middle and last name you ask. my middle name is my mom's maiden (and she never changed hers) and my last name is my dad's name - how could i possibly drop one of them? it would be like choosing which parent i liked better.

    well, it turns out that the database at the social security office has a limit on the number of characters you can have for each first, middle and last name. the middle name i chose (chambreau sandusky) happens to be a few characters over that limit. boo.

    so the lady at the social security office turned me away and told me that i couldn't have the name that i wanted. i have yet to proceed onto any other steps. i have no idea what to do and have decided that until i find a way to make social security change its middle name character limit, i will just keep my name from birth.

    yep, that means i don't have the same last name as my husband. it seems to work out with only some confusion as i am misha sandusky professionally and misha lower socially.

    so, alas, my very tragic name-changing story. i think yours is better! :)