Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Identity Crisis

Kristin W. no longer exists. [Author's note: Perhaps you've noticed that we have never used last names on this blog. In fact, we are trying really hard to not use any names at all, other than our own. This makes pronoun usage a little cumbersome at times, but we felt it was necessary to protect the innocent...and in this case, the not-so-innocent.] Of course I'm being a bit over-dramatic, but for all intents and purposes, it's the truth. According to the Social Security Administration, the Passport Authority, the state of Washington, and my bank, there is no such person as Kristin W. A mysterious Kristin K. has completely usurped that identity. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked to make sure my middle initial isn't also a "K"...well, I would have about $1.25. Which wouldn't even buy a tank of gas. But I digress. That whole traveling-to-Europe-and-not-being-able-to-get-a-new-passport-in-time was just a handy excuse for not making the switch after the first wedding. I confess that I have sort of been dragging my feet about this because despite all the changes I have been making in my life lately, this whole name business is not an easy one. It's certainly nothing against the ridiculously long name I have married into. (I've already come up with a rebus to help my future non-existent students remember how to pronounce it.) I know I would be struggling a bit even if I were becoming a Smith or a Jones. I once heard someone say in jest that if you were marrying "up," as in up in the alphabet, you were headed for a successful marriage. Obviously, there is no fact to this claim. But if you want to trust it, then yes, I am making a big leap in the right direction. However, I've gotten used to being at the end of the line and sitting in the back of the class. It's comforting to know that regardless of how many people are in the class or group, I know exactly where I belong. Yet, now, I can no longer stand in solidarity with the "S-Zs." I'm somewhere near the middle of the pack, and that is uncharted territory. I will always be a "W" at heart. The odds are pretty good that I'll be a "K" for more of my life than I've been a "W," which is strange to think about. Surely there are some of you out there that are thinking, "Why doesn't she just keep her maiden name and quit whining about it?" Touché. Of course, it's something I've considered but ultimately decided against. I definitely respect those women who have made that choice and completely understand their reasoning. In fact, when I get my PhD one of these days, I might just be "Dr. W." (It could be a while, though, because being called "Dr. W." is my chief motivation to pursue a doctorate at this point.) I suppose I could hyphenate (which I'm doing on job applications), but I'm pretty sure there's an old Scandinavian law that forbids Swedish names from associating with Norwegian ones. In the brief months of my married life that I was still holding on to Kristin W., it got sort of confusing. Having to explain, "Yes, we're married, but..." each time someone asked about the name difference got tiresome. The (guilt-ridden) Catholic side of me was always quick to point out that yes, indeed we were married and not "living in sin" (because yes, my personal life is the business of complete strangers). One of the main reasons, though, is that when we have kids in about 20 years, I don't want to make their lives more complicated. And then there's the way Jon's face lights up when he hears me being called Kristin K... I'm not sure that this catharsis has resulted in my being any more comfortable with changing my name. I suppose it's too soon to tell, as I still sometimes introduce myself as Kristin W. and feel like I'm committing a felony when I open Kristin K.'s mail. I guess the conclusion of all this reflection is that yes, I am officially making the transition to Kristin K. But I can't help but think there must be a reason I am still carrying around my Missouri license proudly bearing the name Kristin W...


jessie said...

I love this entry about your new last name. You are wonderful!

Rita said...

Dearest Kristen~~

Mom to daughter (in-law)--
Here's how it goes:

"Korneliussen" as in "son of Kornelius"

Spell to the Mickey Mouse song:
(I know--the EN is double-time, but it still works.)

And abbreviated "KSN"

Welcome to the world of "K"!

Mom K

Anonymous said...

Hey Kristin,
I debated changing my name because I was in my master's degree and then when I thought about using both names, it was just way way way way too long so I changed it. I think it is almost every guy's dream to hear a girl with their last name. I know Eric still smiles we I sign checks with his last name or when I introduce myself. I think it is pretty cool that guys exist like that and want their wives to take their names.
Heather S.