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.