Almost 2 years after our marriage we finally made the move to share a surname. As always R&H were ahead of us and had gone through the legal mumbo-jumbo just a few months earlier and were able to lay it all out for us.
Sounded easy enough...file a petition, run an ad for 4 weeks then the judge should sign off and ta-da...you've got a new last name.
Everything seemed to be going as planned. I received all the paperwork from the courts and newspaper regarding my petition and ad...and earlier than expected I received a court hearing date of January 25th.
The 25th rolls around and I head on downtown to get myself a new last name. Or so I thought. After sitting in the courtroom for 2 hours the bailiff (who I don't actually think is called that, they are actually Sheriffs, guess my years of People's Court did not pay off) asks all "name changes" to go out into the hall. In the hall we are all asked to confirm we have the final affidavit from the newspaper confirming our ad has run for 4 weeks. Panicky I tell the woman I don't have this document. No problem she says...the Fulton Daily Report is just a block away...all I have to do is go there and get a copy. She rattles off directions and reminds me to be quick about it as I should not waste the Judge's time.
Okay, for those of you who know me, you know my choice of footwear is not exactly dependent on comfort...for those of you who know me well, you know I may have the worst sense of direction possible. Lets just say the odds were stacked against me.
After walking 3 blocks in the wrong direction me and my throbbing feet finally made it to the newspaper...where I was told that I couldn't have this affidavit until Monday. Through the tears welling up in my eyes I could see that this woman meant what she said and my debating skills would be lost on her. I leave defeated and start heading back to my car, until I remember that I have to go back to court where I am sure to found guilty of wasting a Judge's time. I hobble back to the courthouse where the Sheriff informed I could come back on Monday and they would "work me in".
Monday morning I head back downtown to get myself a new name...go to the newspaper, get my paperwork and up to Courtroom 4C where I sit...and sit...and sit. The court opened at 9am, it was now getting close to 12pm and as much fun as I was having trying to guess what crimes the people sitting all around me were going to be called up for I was getting nervous that the new name was not going to happen.
I have never spent any time in a courtroom but quickly learned that your only choice is to sit down and be quiet. If you don't have an attorney there is no one to ask what is going on or when you are going to be called. One woman got thrown out of the courtroom for refusing to spit out her gum and don't even think about standing up unless you want the entire courtroom to stop and stare at you as the Sheriff bellows out "TAKE A SEAT SIR/MADAM, TAKE A SEAT".
When the judge annouced at 12 that they would be in recess until 1:30 I got up the courage to approach the Sheriff who I had spoken with on Friday. She was very kind and said she would ask the Judge to see me in chambers so I wouldn't have to wait but not to count on it. 30 minutes later she came back I was taken to the judge's office.
The judge's secretary told me she would take my paperwork back but that the judge may need to speak to me. As I sit there waiting I have to admit I was nervous. I had been watching this judge for two days and he didn't mess around. On Friday he had told a woman who was pleading for her boyfriend's rape charge to be dropped so he could get out on bail that it was his photo that was kept on file at the AJC and if he let this guy out and he killed her it would be his "picture that would be in the paper and she'd be dead" and he didn't want his picture in the paper. Just that morning he told the DA that of course he didn't want to talk to the victim of an employee theft case because obviously if she hadn't noticed that her office manager had stolen over $650k over a ten year period she was a "complete idiot".
Luckily he signed off without the need to speak to me and I left the Fulton County Courthouse with a feeling of relief, a strong need to take a shower and finally my new name.
I'll say the DMV went a lot faster and the social security office took me only 40 minutes thanks to a lazy employee who was calling all the easy cases up to his window...although I was struck with that same strong need to take a shower after leaving.
I've applied for my new passport and am slowly but surely working through the list of bank accounts, credit cards, memberships, etc to officially shed myself of the old and in all aspects of my life become MAV.