Or: How to Change Your Screen Name After Getting Married.
Getting married was fun. Having a big party, wearing the hell out of that white beaded dress, driving off into the North Hollywood night in a rented convertible… oh yeah. A modern take on a classic tale. What comes after you sign that marriage certificate, though, is annoying as hell.
That’s right. I’m talking about the name change.
Now, before I get all complain-y, yes, I realize I didn’t have to do this. I made a choice and now I am suffering the consequences; I get it. This is not about whether you should or shouldn’t change your name. Do whatever you want! I think it’s cool either way. I’m just saying this: if you change your name, it will cost you time, money, and a little piece of your soul.
There is a lot of administrative work that goes into changing your name. You’ve gotta schlep down to the Social Security Office, wherever that is, and wait around in a line that is around the block before the place even opens. If you live in California, like I do, this will be on a day where it is extremely hot and sunny, and you’ll be miserable all but instantaneously. And then when you get to the counter an hour later, you’ve got to hand over the document saying who you once were in order to receive the document saying who you now are. Then you wait to receive it in the mail.
Next, it’s on to the motherfucking DMV. The DMV is invariably one of those places where joy just goes to die. [SIDEBAR: If there’s anyone reading this who has ever had a fine or decent experience at the DMV, please let me know. You’re probably a medical miracle and science should study you.] So you go and you wait at the DMV. Even if you have an appointment and show up early, you’re going to be there for approximately forever. Once again you find yourself handing over all the “old you” documents and getting the “new you” documents. They take away your old license, and even though your photo ID is still clearly you (and, by the way, a really great picture), they will force you to take a new photo, and you will begin being the “new you” with a new photo that is really awful, especially compared to the old one which was really flattering and fantastic. The DMV is evil incarnate. They just like to watch you suffer that way.
Next up is literally everything else. You don’t even realize how much STUFF your name is on until you have to think about changing it all. Bank accounts. Car loans. Email addresses. Pay stubs. Magazine subscriptions. SCREEN NAMES.
It’s a headache at best. Now, the rest of that crap is all administrative. You just do what you’ve gotta do. Send copies of the marriage certificate all over the country. Change your name, get your shit sorted out at work so you can still get paid. Whatever. That stuff is easy. The hard stuff is when you start to realize this identity you’ve had your whole life is gone, and you need to adopt a new one, pronto.
For me, it was extra annoying. As it turns out, there are lots of other Alison Machados out there. And they’re all men. And they all have the screen names I want. And it isn’t fair.
It may sound silly, but it really was a loss of identity to have to find a new handle for every social network. You’re no longer who you were, and I imagine for many people, there’s probably already someone out there who has been living their life with your name this whole time. You’re catching up, and it shows. There’s no combination of your name left on gmail, yahoo, instagram, twitter, facebook – the list goes on. It’s hard to try to create a new identity online and on paper when you’ve gone your whole life as someone else.
So if you need to figure out how to change your name online after changing your name in real life, good freakin’ luck. Try using www.namecheckr.com to see how many combinations of your name are already occupied by someone who is barely using their account. If you’re lucky, you’ll just get to snatch it up on every network. If you’re like me, you’ll spend months agonizing over what to make your handle and still not have a perfect option.
Lastly, it is annoying and cumbersome to have a signature that you don’t know how to sign. Because I am not a complete psychopath, I did not spend time practicing my new last name over and over again on a piece of notebook paper. When it came time to sign my new name, I had no fucking idea how to do it. I still don’t have a signature that I like and that feels easy for me.
Being part of a new family, part of a new marriage, tied together forever to my husband in promise and in name is all good. But, guys, I mean it. Changing your name kind of sucks.