Friday, February 03, 2006

A rose by any other name

Today's post is brought to you by a guest blogger - LM. LG is just getting over the traumas of assuming that something simple that most women do when they're married would be a breeze ... and then being mistaken.

it was my gut reaction when we got engaged.

i doubt A was expecting it but the look on his face when i said i would take his name was enough to tell me it was the right decision. LG would remain the comedian, author -- public persona in the creative realm and LM would be the married one just leading a quiet new life.

yes, taking A's name would be a gentle reminder of my new status, my new reality, a legacy that would pass down to my children (it can be traced back several generations unlike G which is more common than a disgruntled security guard at an Israeli government office) and all in all two extra syllables that i'd kind of been longing for all my life.

(another not to be overlooked advantage would be that the name LM would allow me the anonymity to post on local email lists looking for a second hand vacuum cleaner without 10,000 people writing back saying are you going to do a comedy routine on household appliances now you're married -- Dustdate? duster? saw you at the dustbin - a frequent occurrence, i kid you not.)

so how do you change your name?

forget passport, id card, bank account etc. these days your email is your name. your name enters into peoples inboxes daily and they will read it or delete just based on that

changing it at home was relatively easy. yahoo happened to have a deal on alias addresses a month before i got married so i had secretly been for quite a while. but now there was work. i'd seen what my other friends had done at their places of work. although a fair few had just left their name as it was or double barreled it, i didnt imagine that there was more to changing it than having my old lg@work address forwarded to my lm@work and c'est la vie.

but no -- it was a whole hoo ha.

you'd have thought i was the first person in the building to get married. (after a day of working on my computer the computer support team actually declared me the last). they *had* to change everything on my computer.
today at work i am not just married, i am a new user on the system with a new password to boot. but withouth lots of my customized settings - no more beautiful desktop pics, email rules that filed boss' emails to their own folder and others straight to junk and auto-corrects in word which prevented me having to type any word longer than 5 letters.

i had to re-examine everything i did by rote - work out how to set it up again. and then when i needed the computer department's help again i found myself justifying the idiosyncratic nature of my workspace. it was very stressful....

ok smug marrieds out there (read anyone married more than 6 months). stop with that knowing nod or else you're going to hit your head on the screen. i know there's a metaphor there. yes yes marriage does require examining how you do everything all over again and thus brings a ton of adjustments. I KNOW THAT goddamit but give me a break in cyberland at least.

ok where were we?
still at work, right (whats new)
and then to add insult to injury then because the
lg@work account is to be eventually shut down, they insisted tha i officially announce my new address to the office -- 500 people!!! (which if not embarassing enough had to be recalled and then sent again when i made a mistake)

what a statement for someone who didnt want to make a statement.

email travails over, last week i finally went to the ministry of the interior to change things officially.

i had considered double barring my name for official use only (ie to make the changeover easier). but on consulting the clerk she made me feel very special by pointing out that i wasnt doing anything more difficult or different than anyone-else and that i'd manage but if i wanted to be LGM i'd need to fill in another form.

she let me think about it for at least 30 seconds and then i took the plunge. LM i would be -- in the eyes of my husband, the State and this wrinkled looking gum chewing i filled out the forms (the ones i already had) and then when i went to get my new ID card from the counter.

i dont know whether i was consciously expecting a little bit more understanding from the girl whose job it was to give out the new cards but if i was, i was disappointed. the woman didnt just replace my ID card, she actively took LG and threw her in the bin! as she printed out nice new LM i could see LG lying abandoned in a waste paper basket, gone forever. I didnt even get a chance to say goodbye properly. i thought i'd keep her as a keepsake.

i cried.

i asked the clerk if other women cry when this happens
she just looked at me

i cried even more.

it was so strange. i couldnt say exactly what it was. i havent changed as a person - LG is still in me. LG is the solid foundation that LM is starting with. its her wisdom and experiences thats going to make LM be the best woman she can be. i've been LG for 33 years and maybe in my mind i always will be. but this beauracratic move got me deep down inside.

eventually i was reassured that this was a hard step but still worthwhile. but not from any civil servant.

i called A as i was leaving the building and blubbed down the phone about not knowing who i was and why had i done it, i thought it was right but this was too hard and he was able to just listen and be there for me. he could have told me to pull myself together. he could have pointed out that it was my decision but he didnt. he just listened and said i know (and that was even before his first coffee in the morning)... i guess having someone like that in my life is worth more than a new initial.

(just to be sure i called a number of good girlfriends to check that i wasnt going mad and then that was that!)

i meant to write this post last week but didnt get round to it -- and that seems to have been providential as here comes a timely epilogue

last shabbat i got to shul pretty early (epsecially considering that i often dont get there at all). i go to a shul that davens separately but calls up women to the torah. i have no intention of going into the politics or halachic implications of this status as it is not relevant to the purpose of the story so sorry, just had to point that out so readers would understand.

apart from simchat torah (when everyone gets called up) and my shabbat kallah which i held separately with just women, i have never been called up. but as i arrived at shul at 8:45 it dawned on me that given my newly married status i could well be a candidate. sure enough the gabaiit approached me and asked me if i'd like an aliyah. i said yes. and then she asked me my name.

considering the week i'd had i hesitated -- what was my name, now? i thought and then i realized that as far as G-d's record books go i am the same person -- L Bat A v' R. i have been defined by my parents all my life and always will be. just as i cant change my parents i cant change who i am.

i smiled.

thank you G-d (holder of 70 names, how do you manage?) for that validation


LG will be back for the next post because, well you read the rules -- this is the creative realm (and an anonymous one to boot) so she gets to stay!