Ways In Which My Mother Has Lied to Me #457: My Name

August 24, 2009 5:54 pm

I've had two items at the top of my to-do list for some time now: change my name with Social Security and get my CA driver license. Well, it took a while to get the official marriage certificate, and then I had to make sure I had a valid ID while we were flying to UT, so they got put off for a while, but I started on them last week.

So last Wednesday, I went down to the DMV. I was somewhat nervous about the written test I was going to have to take (yes, I know how to drive, but I struggle with remembering numbers and such, so I'm concerned about my ability to regurgitate things like following distances), but I needn't have worried. After waiting for over an hour, I was informed that I couldn't get a license in my new name until after I'd changed it at Social Security, even though I had my marriage certificate with me. Of course, I'd not been told this on my previous trips, but whatevs. As Kyle pointed out later, is was only my third visit, so I shouldn't have reasonably expected to get my license.

Anyway, the lady offered to start on my temporary license, in my maiden name. There'd be no charge to get it finalized in my married name, and I figured sure, why not? In case you were wondering, this is where this post transforms from mildly annoyed venting to mind-blowing craziness. She's typing away on her computer and pauses to look down at my application. "Are you sure this is your social security number?" "Ye-e-es." She gives me a weird look, so I reach into my wallet and pull out my social security card and show it to her. She looks down at my birth certificate, declares, "Oh, that's the problem," and starts scribbling things out on my DL application. A little exasperated, I say, "What's my problem?"

Apparently, my problem is that I was born in Puerto Rico. And now DMV Lady is rewriting my name as follows:

First Name: Jessica Holly
Middle Name: Olsen
Last Name: Johnson

For those who don't know, my actual name is Jessica Holly Johnson. Olsen is my mother's maiden name. Which has never been part of my name. Evar. And even on my crazy Puerto Rican birth certificate, it's labeled as such: Mother's Maiden Name. So I'm not sure why DMV Lady was so convinced that it needed to be part of my name. Well, except that she kept saying that she couldn't find me in The System unless she put in Olsen. I don't know which system this was. When I finally got to Social Security (more on that later), they didn't show Olsen as part of my name, which makes perfect sense because the card I pulled out of my wallet to show her my number shows my name as Jessica Holly Johnson. But in The System, my name is Jessica Holly Olsen Johnson. So that's what she wanted to put on my license. I tried explaining to her that that was not my name, and that that's not what the birth certificate said, but that didn't matter because that's what The System said. [sigh] But she said it didn't matter anyway, because I was going to change my name in any case. So I left, not getting a silly temporary license with not my name on it. Stupidstupidstupid.

My favorite part is that when I went home and called my mom to harass her (just in fun, y'know?) about how she'd lied to me all my life about my name and now I was having an identity crisis because my name was actually Olsen, she said and I quote: "I know. But only in Puerto Rico!" There may have been yelling at this point. Apparently, she had to fill out all sorts of paperwork with both her maiden and married names there. Go figure. Of course, none of this makes any sense at all, given that this is the third driver license I've applied for, and this has never been an issue. I'm almost 29 years old, for goodness' sake. Kyle's theory is that this is some Homeland Security database that got put together since the last time I applied for a license, and some flunky put the data in screwy. It's a possibility, I guess. I certainly don't have a better explanation.

The next task, then, was to get to Social Security and change my name. With a print-out of Google directions to a closer office in hand (my last attempt sent me into an apparent black hole, which caused obvious problems when I tried to re-cross the event horizon and come back home), I set out on Thursday, full of confidence that now that I had an official marriage certificate, this would be simple. Wrong! Though the lady helping me was very nice and she was able to confirm that Olsen was not part of my name according to Social Security (which actually makes me nervous; if theirs is not The System, how am I to get Olsen out of my name and off my driver license?), she couldn't change my name. See, though my marriage certificate does have official seals and signatures, it doesn't have a certificate number. Not, like, it's blank; there's isn't even a place for one. Of course, it was 3 pm in CA, so it's not like we could call anyone in Massachusetts and figure anything out. She asked if I had the marriage license, though, and I said yes. She said to come back on Monday (she wouldn't be in on Friday), and she could use that number to process it.

I got home and told Kyle all about it, and he called me a liarface. Not about what had happened, but about having the marriage license. And he was absolutely right; we'd turned that in at the temple. Silly me. So I called the Belmont town clerk on Friday morning to ask them for advice; it was their marriage certificate, right? Surely they could help me out. Not so much; that was the only kind of certificate they issued, and they'd never had this problem before. Of course not. He did say that the social security office could call and talk to the actual town clerk on Monday, though, and gave me her contact info. Lovely.

So today I set out again for the SS office. SS Lady didn't end up calling the town clerk, but she did call a SS office out near Boston. (The three-hour time difference between the two coasts really doesn't make arranging things any more convenient!) That worker basically snorted at the "quirks" of small towns (I hadn't realized Belmont was tiny or that they would be such a hassle; we just picked the town closest to the Boston temple!) and told her what she would have to do. So what's happening now is that she's submitted a request to have the certificate/marriage verified; somebody out there will have to go out to Belmont and make sure everything's legit, then get back to her, so we can change my name. No idea how long this will take, either. All because Belmont doesn't put numbers on their marriage certificates! Even Puerto Rico puts numbers on their birth certificates! Come on, people!!!

I wouldn't mind the wait, except that my current driver license actually expires on my birthday. In less than a month. So I'll give this a couple of weeks, but then I'll have to go get that temporary license. With crazy not my name on it.

One thought on “Ways In Which My Mother Has Lied to Me #457: My Name”

  1. Holy cow. And I thought I had craziness in my life...

    BJ: Who knew she was hiding such things from us! I think we should be morosely offended.

    I think I might agree. And here I thought I was your best friend for so many years, and here I didn't even know your real name... [sniff]

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