Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

I Prefer My “Maiden” Name and You Can Too (or Not).

I cannot express how excited I am. I am ridiculous.The wheels are in motion for me to return to the surname I enjoyed for more than a quarter century. And no. I have no confessions of relationship drama or emotional turmoil, which makes this much more fun. So why is this coming to a head now?

I’m quasi close to graduation and even closer to actually getting my degree (not online, you’ll be saddened to know). In a field where people actually do hang their piece of paper on the wall, I’d like to awkwardly change my name back only once. Now seems like a good time. But the other, maybe more important reason, is that some 4+ years ago there was an agreement between me and hypothetical people. “Good. So we’ll go with the name change. But you can change your name in five years, if you want.” I sent an ashamed email to a friend I knew would sympathize/scold me and thereafter, for practical purposes, owned the name change whole heartedly.

I had completely new documents and a corresponding new personality (I kid) within a month. I’ve been uncomfortable about this deal ever since. Not in a dramatic, “what have I done” sort of way. In more of a genuinely confused, send my mom a card with the wrong last name on it kind of way. Seriously. Cause if my name’s different, then my mom’s must be too, right? The point being, I have not embraced (or understood) with whole heart this new me.

This of course, is indicative of the negotiations and starting positions. I never thought I was going to change my name. Hypothetical people never thought they would have a partner who didn’t. What were a lover of tradition and a lover of her name and its meaning to do? As I understand it, some level of standoff is not uncommon. A friend I know characterizes it this way: her otherwise progressive and awesome partner turns into a neanderthal about 10 seconds into a discussion of why a woman needn’t change her name. Thankfully, I haven’t witnessed any cave-burning or club weilding.

It hasn’t escaped me that my name is my father’s. I get that that raises its own issues about patriarchy. But that doesn’t change that I feel more connected to his (my) last name than any other. I was also named in the traditional Portuguese manner, which means that my mom’s name also made the cut: Rose [Mother’s hard to pronounce maiden name] [Father’s Surname]. While my mom’s team doesn’t get listed in the phone book, it is still in there, which I’ve always liked.

Just to be clear, I’m not invested in how other people deal with this issue. In an ideal world, I suppose, I would prefer that there was at least a conversation, that people didn’t just assume that in the straight marriage scene every woman should and would change her name. There are those who keep, those who take, those who long to take because they hate that freaking name, those who keep and then take, those with different work and personal names, hyphenators, combinators and those who challenge marriage as a patriarchal institution and reject the whole deal. In classic liberal wishy-washy fashion – I dig. Name yourself as you will.


September 29, 2011 - Posted by | Childhood Complaints, Doing it the hard way, Hypotheticals, Portuguese-ness? | , ,


  1. Congratulations, Rose!

    I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with all of this. When/If the state Sara and I live in decides to let us marry legally, I’m sure we’ll stick with what we’ve had all along. But–this being Kentucky–that could be a might big ‘IF.”

    I loved this post!


    Comment by Kathryn McCullough | September 29, 2011 | Reply

    • I wonder if I’ll live to see the day Kentucky takes the leap…

      Comment by Rose | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  2. How exciting! I was really surprised when you changed your last name (not judgy, just surprised), and I’m excited that YOU’RE excited to change it back! As you know, it took me more than 2 years to take on my married name, but I’ve been pretty cool with the change ever since then. (But I also don’t work in a profession where my degree should hang on the wall… unless I start displaying my degree at the Harbour– haha!)

    I’m totally going to frame my degree and display it at the Harbour next year. Can’t WAIT!! 🙂

    Comment by Dana | September 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Good God, how awesome would it be for you to hang your credentials at the Harbour – and I think social norms dictate you’d have to display both (haha). I was surprised but not judgy that you eventually wanted to take on the married name, so I guess we’re even 😀

      Comment by Rose | September 29, 2011 | Reply

  3. I recently met an lady with the last name, “Anderson-Andersen.” Naming is hard. We’re still dealing with the issues surrounding Walt’s last name – in the fact that it’s mine, but Ryan still fathered him. Maybe Cher and Madonna have it right. Sorry, Sting and Prince too.

    Comment by CheyenneVyvyan | September 30, 2011 | Reply

    • Wow, Anderson-Andersen. Naming IS hard. Innocent me didn’t think Walt’s last name would be an issue. If I were going with one name, I think it’d be “Rhythm,” which would be sad.

      Comment by Rose | September 30, 2011 | Reply

      • Well if you did change your name to Rhythm, you’d be obligated to hyphenate “Is-a-Dancer”. So, even then, your problem isn’t solved.

        Comment by CheyenneVyvyan | October 1, 2011

  4. This makes me so emotional on such a grand way. Pride tears… forming.

    I could scream a happy little scream for you as this is YOU. and I love you.

    Side note: love your chatter about your mama and papa. Sigh. I miss them.

    Comment by Katie Chipman | September 30, 2011 | Reply

  5. I love how people defend their choice so rabidly. I remember a friend of mine from college who, during college, ranted about never changing her name. But, when she got married, she decided to do it, and lectured me about how she was choosing to embrace her relationship with her husband by doing that and yada, yada, yada. Mind you, at the time of this lecture, I was about to get married and had already decided not to change my name because I was in the middle of my doctoral program and my name was gaining notice in certain circles. It only became an issue with my husband’s family and when we had a child, but she has her own last name, so all is good. Congrats on your choice, it is all good.

    Comment by Lisa (Woman Wielding Words) | September 30, 2011 | Reply

    • Thankfully I haven’t run into much rabid defence. Just people saying, “why wouldn’t I”? I’ve yet to learn what the in-laws have to say, but I can guess 🙂

      Comment by Rose | October 1, 2011 | Reply

  6. […] by my top post. But looking a little further along the list, I am most pleasantly surprised that I Prefer My “Maiden” Name and You Can Too (or Not) has achieved relative success in views and comments. It is exactly the sort of post of mine that […]

    Pingback by 7 Ways to Leave Your Lover Wondering What You’ve Been Doing with Your Time « Waste not, want more | January 5, 2012 | Reply

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