That, in my mind is often the question. At what point do all the obstacles and bullshit simply make a thing not worth it?
I have been working to get my name changed. Keep in mind that THIS IS MY NAME so why do I have to involve, pay, conform and submit to representatives of the State just to change MY NAME?
In Ohio this was a rather straightforward procedure. I walked into an office, paid $90 and filled out a little form, which asked for my name, the name I want to use, my social security number and address, and the reason for the name change. The first time I changed my name it was to get out from under my father’s name, so I wrote on the line that asked why I was changing my name: “Because my father is a worthless turd,” they notarized it, and 90 days later it was done. How delightfully simple, and now I had not only a new legal name, but I had a paper notarized by the state on file that said that my father was a worthless turd–this, by the way, is literally true. But, oh no, it’s not that simple in Florida. If you plan to read all this (I’m not sure I’d bother if I were you), get some tea, a nice snack, and play your favorite Mahler symphony, ’cause this is gonna take a little while.
Seriously? You’re still with me? OK…. let’s go.
Now keep in mind, I actually love Florida, but this is madness. The first thing you need to know is that in order to get MY NAME (my own personal name that Florida should have no claim over) changed I have to pay the State $400! Seriously, do you have to be rich to be allowed to change your name in this state? Well, I don’t have that money, so I found a legal clinic who could help me through the process and make this cheaper for me.
So before I even was accepted by the legal clinic I had to file paperwork. OK, even if you’ve only ever seen pictures of me on-line I’m sure you have figured out that I am not the kind of girl that likes to fill out paperwork. Does that make me childish? It does? Eh… I’m OK with that.
So, I go through that process and get legal representation through a clinic, now the next step is to file for indigency so that some of the exorbitant fees can be bypassed. The catch is, it’s possible that I could go through all that and they still may not accept it and I may still be forced to pay the full amount… if I want the goods. Here’s the absurd part… we all know that I am declaring indigency because I’m not merely poor, I’m fucking goddamn third-world-wiping-my-ass-with-my-bare-hands-and-fingers poor… the absurdity is that in order to have the other fees waived I have to pay $57 just to be recognized as legally poor!
Seriously, I didn’t make that up. In order to be claimed legally poor, it costs $57! If I fucking had $57 I would be a lot less poor than I am, wouldn’t I?
OK, so the next step is that I have to fill out a complete rectal examination style form that demands I list the address and dates of every single place I have ever lived. Seriously? I’m supposed to remember the address of the attic I lived in after college? I can’t even remember what I had for lunch. Actually, I had homemade chili, but I still have NO idea what the street address was of my attic apartment. When I was complaining about this step I was told to stop whining as they’ve just made this a lot easier. Last year I’d have had to fill out all that plus the addresses and phone numbers of every restaurant I’ve ever eaten in.
So I start filling out all my paperwork, as part of this process I email Abu Dhabi to see if my ex can remember any of the crap I can’t, and in the end my lawyer is worried (much to her credit) that the half-ass information I have given her is not going to cut it. OK, Florida, I just want to say this for the record, if you want to change your name, I won’t ask you to pay me or run anything by me, just change your fucking name!
OK, the next step is we have to take all these damn papers and go get fingerprints and a background check. What the fuck? I’m just trying to change my name… not buy an assault rifle! Ironic, isn’t it, that buying an assault rifle is by far easier than changing your name in the gunshine state? Is there a rational person out there for whom this makes sense? That process costs a good $50 or more. So now we’re totaled up over $110 already. You see the irony in this, right? Even after I jump through all these flaming bunghole hoops required to make all this happen, it’s still gonna cost MORE than it did in shitty Akron.
But wait there’s more, now I have to file all my name change paperwork within 48 hours of the background check or the background check will not be valid.
Then my lawyer drops the bomb on me that in addition to all this hedge maze of bullshit I have to appear at a court appointed hearing, stand before a judge… and do what?!?!?!?!?!
I just want my name changed, I don’t want an assault rifle–sorry, I already did that bit.
OK, so we’ve filled out all my paperwork, I have begged and borrowed to get the money I need for this, ’cause I can’t pay for it myself–I’ve just spent all my money declaring indigency! My lawyer (an extremely patient woman) arranges to meet me so we can file indigency, get the background check, then within 48 hours file the rest of the paperwork so we can be sent our court-appointed time for me to stand before the judge and bow and have my shoulder tapped with a sword, or whatever the hell ritual the State demands, before I can change MY NAME!
Well, I’ve gone through all these hoops, have the money, have the appointment to get all this done, and am now ready to hand over the ransom money and the paperwork, submit to the rectal examination/background check, so I go out to my car, try to start it up so I can go to the courthouse…
And it’s dead.
CRANK CRANK CHURN WIND GRIND… Nothing, it just makes this weird grinding sound, that sounded for all the world to me like a sinister chuckle.
And at this point I am asking myself, at what point does it cease to be worth it? Personally, I had passed that point twice over by the time I got to the bit about the hearing.
What’s in a name, anyway? A Justine by any other name is just as barefoot.
Fuck all this. I’m sitting here with a wine glass full of juice, Harry Nilsson cranked up, and I’m just going to watch it rain and know in my heart what my fucking name is, even if the state of Florida doesn’t. And maybe I’ll just save that money I had to spend to be a state approved indigent, and buy a fucking assault rifle, they’re a lot easier to get than a name change.