Going Single Again

It’s time. I seek simplicity and unity.

I spent 40+ years with Petro as my surname. I earned two degrees and a professional license with it. So when I got married, I struggled with the question of whether to keep it, hyphenate it, or drop it altogether. I tried hyphenating. What a hassle! Most people ignore the part before the hyphen, or it causes them to stutter. (Grocery clerks are apparently mandated to look at the receipt for your name and then use it when thanking you for shopping there; they mangle it every time.) My doctor’s office doesn’t accommodate hyphens, so all my records were Petroharper, which is just weird. And since I now have a child whose last name is Harper, it’s just an added wrinkle I don’t need. I’m tired of clarifying that my surname is different from my child’s, tired of spelling it, and tired of explaining.

Besides, when I changed my social security record and driver’s license, there was no hyphenation. Petro legally became my middle name. My driver’s license renewal came to Harper, Kathryn. So if they think my surname is Harper, I guess it is.

But seriously, I’m going to start 2008 as Kathryn Petro Harper, and since middle names are not that important in this culture, this means I’ll usually be Kathryn P. Harper on most documents, and Kathryn Harper in general. If this is of interest to you, consider yourself notified.

At least I didn’t attempt to change my surname to an unpronounceable symbol, a la The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (who apparently learned his lesson and returned to being, simply, Prince). I spared myself ridicule. Whew!

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5 Comments on “Going Single Again”

  1. gerry rosser Says:

    I’ve always wondered why those who create forms (or actually computer programs which appear on the screen as forms), decide that there are only so many names, or types of names, or, indeed lengths of names they’ll allow. Strange, really, that they want reality to conform to what they are doing and not vice-versa.

  2. Karen Says:

    This is the kind of thing that can make a powerful difference, I attest.

  3. Chad Says:

    (P) Petro, Kathryn — see ‘Harper’.

    (H) Harper, Kathryn…

    I wrote that in my book just today, in fact.

  4. marta Says:

    Ah, the power of naming. My Korean students have the “problem” of their names coming in a different order, and then some of them choose American names because they believe Americans just can’t get it right. My Spanish speaking students often have four or five names, and they might go by different ones depending on where they are and who they’re with.

    And there are so many beliefs with names–Adam gets to name all the animals in the bible after all, and in some cultures to use the wrong name means your good fortune will go to some one else–and yet to confuse bad spirits some people are given pet names and their true names are known only to them. To give someone your name is to give them power over you.

    I just can’t give my maiden name up. Or my middle name. I love them so and some days I make other people listen to the whole thing (maybe I’m an egomaniac) while other days I just use my married name and call it quits.

    You’ll be Kathryn to me!

  5. Julia Says:

    The French bureaucrats refuse to acknowledge my married (divorced) name and insist on calling me by my maiden name which wouldn’t be so bad if I actually liked my maiden name. Since I don’t I continue to cling to my married (divorced) name until such time as I come up with something better at which time I plan on changing it legally
    It makes for some interesting communications with The French Authorities though!
    What’s in a name????