name-change

Now that the election is over, I’m able to begin the sooooo totally fun process of changing my last name. When the marriage thing first came up, I kind of thought changing my name would be a given, and no problem for me. After all, I hate my last name and have been eager to get rid of it for as long as I can remember. Yet it is kind of sad, because my last name is sort of distinctive, while Mr. Panda’s is about as boring and common as it gets. I dunno, I sort of feel like having such a plain-Jane last name will kind of instantly render me bland or something. But it kind of makes me wonder if Mr. P had a more interesting name, would I still be having heartburn over changing my legal identity? Probably. I’ll enumerate upon all the ways in which this name change is annoying after the jump.

1. Like I said before, my name is going from something ugly but interesting to pleasant yet ridiculously common. At least people remember my current name, you know? In a way, I am losing a bit of my identity.

2. Apparently the process takes about 4 months from start to finish, and at any given point in time, I may have several different incarnations of my once and future names on multiple important documents, leading to possible complications in my life. To ease this process, I enrolled in a trusted and well-reviewed name changing service, which provides all of my name change paperwork in one convenient place. Cost: $30

3. However, the only thing not provided by the service is the two certified copies of my marriage certificate I’ll need to complete this transition, at $15 each. I will have to take a few hours off work to obtain these documents (I go in at 7am, so any bureaucratic thing I have to do, like go to the effing post office, requires me to miss at least 3 hours of work), resulting in a wage loss of around $33. Total cost of this step: $63.

4. In addition to plain old name changing, I also have to change state residencies as a part of this marriage, b/c my current “permanent address” is my parents’ address, and they live in another state. So, I have to go through twice as many changes as the average new wife- which I hear are hard enough as it is, and that the things you’d think would be difficult (Social Security Office) are actually really easy, and that the things you’d think would be simple (banks, credit cards) are actually a crazy-huge pain in the ass.

5. I have to go to the DMV to change my name on my driver’s license- which means taking anywhere from 3 hours to a whole day off from work. They will inevitably send me away at least 3 times, citing insufficient paperwork, which will turn out to be not true, and I will eventually get by with nothing but the original documents I came with in the first place. Then, after I pay my $20 (uuuuum, plus the few hundred I probably also owe in outstanding tickets, plus the few hundred more it’ll take to re-instate what is probably a suspended or revoked licence) to get a new DL, I’ll just have to turn around and go through the process and the payments all over again to get a DL in my new state. Cost: $20 (plus unknown ticket fees and fines). Cost in lost wages: $66 – $200. Total cost est: $406

6. I then have to go and register my car in a new state, although my current registration is good through next April. Cost: $300+. Cost in lost wages: $33, at least. Total cost: $333.

7. In order to make changes to my bank account, for security, they require me to go in person to the bank branch in which I first opened my account. Which is in another state. Cost in lost wages: $33. Once my bank accepts my new name, I’ll have to order new checks. Checks: $40. Total cost: $73.

8. I just got a new passport 2 years ago, but now I have to fucking get a whole ‘nother one with my new name on it. Cost for pictures: $7. Cost for renewal passport: $80. Cost in lost wages: Well, there’s a passport agency right by work, so I can go at lunch. For once, $0Total: $87.

9. Do we want to calculate how many tanks of gas it’s going to take to schlep my ass to all of these places? I’m thinking when it’s all said and done, 1 full tank: $35.

OK, I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice to say, this whole transformation is costing me around $1000. As many of you can deduct from my lost wages estimates- I don’t make very much money at my job. $1000 out of my pocket is really huge. Especially since I just paid for my wedding out of my savings. I really think this name change thing is bull fucking shit, and I really kind of don’t want to go through with it. The only reason I’d actually do it is per Mr. P’s insistence. I think it’d really hurt his feelings if I refused to change my name. But, then again, he’s really in no position to bitch, because he doesn’t have to go through any of this. Even if I email him this post and have him see exactly what this name change entails, he’ll still probably do the guy thing and tell me it’s “not that big of a deal.” It seems like it’s so easy for dudes to tell you what you should do, when they’ll never have to take a single step in your shoes, you know?

I never really thought of it as a feminist issue before, because I guess I was so used to the idea, it just seemed like a way to unite a family and make things easier. But, now that I’m going through it, it really just seems like yet ANOTHER way to put women through a bunch of costly, unnecessary hoopla. Not only is it going to cost me actual cash money and lost wages, but it’s also going to eat up my free time and mess me up at work. The amount of time I’m going to have to take off in order to accomplish this is really going to piss off my supervisors, and put me on thin ice professionally. Am I being too dramatic here? Can any of you married ladies offer any advice on this crap? Or, just in general, what do you all think about women changing their names post-marriage?

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