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Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm not really Paula. I just play one on paper.

I always hated the first day of a new school year because it meant that I, the painfully shy girl, would be forced to speak aloud in class in order to correct the teacher during roll call, especially after I got to middle school and had not one, but six, teachers to correct. I suppose I could have just let them call me Paula all year but that would have made me feel like an impostor because although I played one on paper, my real name...the one I answered to and the one my parents and everybody else who loved me had always called me was...Diane...just Diane. 

Okay, so technically (and legally) my first name was/is Paula but I was always known as Diane. I don't know why it bothered me so very much to be called Paula because it's not a bad name. It just didn't feel like mine. I guess Diane Paula didn't sound right so my mom and  dad thought, "No big deal..we'll just name her Paula Diane and call her Diane". I remember actually feeling jealousy toward all the "normal" kids who went by their first names. Simplicity in a name. That's what is was. And I wanted my little piece of it.

Fast forward to 1997 when I married Darin, at the age of 26, and finally...finally was able to get Paula out of my life for good, using Diane as my first name and my maiden name as my new middle name. There was a little run-in with Mrs.Personality at the DMV who insisted I keep Paula and printed it on my new license even after I told her to drop it. But after raising a stink, I was able to go back in the same day deciding I just would not, and could not, live  another day as Paula. 

Okay, so it was actually Darin. Darin called the supervisor for me after I called him in a rage of tears over the matter. Mrs. Personality, needless to say, was none too pleased with me and paid me back by snapping my new photo as soon as my butt hit the stool, without so much as a "look right here". I lived with that less-than- flattering-droopy-eyes-half-closed-non-smiling mug shot for four years but hey, at least I was free... free at last! Nobody would ever call me Paula again!  

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to 2008, after I married Charlie and decided to keep Darin's last name (my children's name) and hyphenate it with Charlie's. So much for that simplicity in a name I'd always wanted, huh?  It just didn't feel right to drop that name. Being widowed (with children) is just not the same thing as being divorced. So I decided to keep Diane as my first name and hyphenate my last name, giving me three last names.

The lady at the Social Security Office said, "No. Not gonna happen." Apparently the laws on name changing got a little more strict after 911 happened. I didn't have the motivation or the energy to fight her on it so my maiden name was dropped and I was Paula once more, which I was surprisingly fine with this time. It would have been odd having three last names anyway. I think I prefer being called Paula over being mistaken for a law firm.

I didn't even feel the urge to correct the nurse at the dermatologist office last week when she came to the waiting room and called out, "Paula". I just stood up, smiled, and followed her back to the exam room, without so much as the tiniest urge to correct her because I've grown perfectly content to play Paula on paper. The hyphenated last name is the main source of my name complications these days, but I've had to loosen up on that too since I've found that hyphens in names really tend to confuse people (and computers) way more than a Diane-playing-a-Paula-on-paper ever did.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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  1. A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, right? Thanks for sharing,, Diane!

  2. It's kinda neat how it's all come around full circle. I guess part of it is that you're totally comfy in who you are as an adult now.

  3. Loved this! I have a super long hyphenated last name.

  4. I had to chuckle, very well written. I opted to change my nick name in 6th grade. My mother was offended, my extended family was confused and I spent years trying to get grandpa to agree! I got married, had my own kids, struggled over names, and apologized to my mother for the struggle years ago. Now I answer to all nick names ever given cause grandpa never gave up ;-)

  5. Isn't it funny how territorial we can be over names and how it doesn't bother you at all now as an adult. Definitely a good thing you didn't hyphenate the last one. Not sure why, but I find it a little confusing (perhaps a bit pretentious too). At least both first and middle names are totally pronounceable/spellable. People never seem to get mine right. :/

  6. My last name is hyphenated for the simple reason that I've signed my full name too many times for my brain to unlearn it. So I just add my married name on the end of it, for the sake of simplicity.

    Paula is a perfectly comfortable name, I hear, once you get used to it. ;-)

  7. Hahaha! I've always hated the spelling of my name! I have never been able to go into a cute store and buy a pencil, mug, or anything else with my first name spelled right. I always used to correct it.

    Fast forward to married name.... Really! How much worse could it be? Neither of my names are ever spelled right. And, I don't care! Believe me.... I've been called much worse. So, butcher my name, really. I'll just smile and answer:)

  8. Its kind of a southern thing... going by your middle name... I see it quite a bit down here. I go by a nickname... ie... LeighAnne is my full name, but everyone calls me Leigh, to the point that I forget to answer to LeighAnne... and it was annoying every year to tell teachers to "just call me Leigh" so much so that I tried to use LeighAnne in college, but I would accidentally ignore my professors and had to fess up.

    I took my maiden name back when I got divorced. It's rather dignified and I didn't really want to give it up... LB's last name is not what I would consider attractive and I"m going to have to come up with a delicate way to tell him I'm keeping mine and not hypenating!

  9. I know how you feel. My name is Alice Rochelle. Teachers would call me Alice and I would corret them, becouse eveyone calls me Rochelle. It is weird we someone calls me Alice.

  10. My husband goes by a nickname, based off his middle name. He said it always made him crazy in school for teachers to call him by his first name, but now everybody in his company calls him by the first name...he said he finally just gave up on it! He did put his foot down when we were naming our son, whatever his first name was, that's what he would be called!

    Visiting from Mama Kat's :)

  11. I have a hyphenated last name for a variety of reasons and my legal name is 21 letters long...and DMV etc are always quick to point that out to me.