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The Name Game

09/02/2014

Belle

Four years ago I married the Professor. Four years ago I thought it would be a great idea to change my middle name to my pen name, Belle, while also changing my last name (hyphenated with my maiden) to reflect my marriage. I filled out my paperwork and off I went to Social Security. I asked the young, pimply guy if I could also change my middle name from Beth to Belle at the same time I was changing my middle name from Maiden to Maiden-Married.

“Sure!” he said. “Why?”

“Because Belle is my pen name and I would like to take it as a legal middle name.”

“OK!”

“Is that all I have to do?” I asked.

“Yep. You are good to go.”

And that was that. I updated my bank accounts, my health insurance, my everything with the new name of Sarah Belle Maiden-Married.

My reasons for changing the middle name are complex. I had blogged under Belle for many years (even before Scrambled Eggs came along), I never felt any spiritual attachment to Beth, many friends at the time called me Belle or Sarah Belle and, honestly, I wanted the chance to reinvent myself. I knew our time in Kentucky was limited and looked towards our next home as the chance to officially shift to exclusively being called Belle.

Time passed and three years later we moved to New York. Here was my bright, shining chance to reinvent myself. No one knew me here so I could easily introduce myself as Belle but… I didn’t. It just did not flow off my tongue like I had hoped. I realized that Belle worked so naturally with my friends in Alabama because they were the ones who had given me the nickname. In Alabama, being called Belle is something that the people I know and connect deeply with do. Yes, I have made excellent friends in NY who I also hold dear, but it just didn’t feel right to have them call me Belle.

A year after moving to NYC and I’m still stalled in my career and identity, even with a shiny new middle name. I have irons in three different fires and not one of them feels “right.” Is this the fault of the name? Oh my gosh, no. I know that a name does not make or break the person. Taking the middle name Belle, though, had a lot of spiritual significance but at this particular junction in my life, I feel very little connection to it.

Belle is a nickname. My bloggers who I love know me as it and some of my nearest, dearest friends call me it. And that is all.

So now we get to the really sticky, annoying part of this journey – my social security card says it.

I have been trying for SIX freaking months now to get an NY drivers license so we can please get a car so I can please get to a grocery store and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GAWD select my own produce ( continued car rant for another day). Each time I go to the DMV, which requires excruciating planning with Sabine and a bus and train ride, I am turned down. The first two times I did not have proper documentation (you need everything just shy of a blood type here) and the third time I was rejected because I did not have court paperwork for changing my middle name.

What? According to the social security kid I had changed it when I changed my last name. And it was legal. And binding. And I did not have to do anything else. Turns out he was wrong. Quite wrong actually, and I never should have been allowed to change my middle name at the time of changing my last name due to marriage.

I have spent the past four weeks digging into what I can do to correct this problem. I can’t get a driver’s license and now my KY license is expired. My passport is still in my maiden name because I’m lazy and cheap and saw no reason to update it till travel made it necessary. I’ve been living under this assumed name for four years now and bought a house under it and no one questioned.

After a lot of researching (and being treated like a criminal at times) I was presented with two options:

  1. Go to court and legally change it.
  2. Go to the social Social Security Office and change my middle name back to Beth.

Honestly, neither are attractive and both require an insane amount of work. If I change it back to Beth I have to update everything that has Belle on it, including poor Sabine’s birth certificate. Changing it back would be a relatively quick fix, though, and should mean I can have a NY license in the next two weeks AND that we can finally get a car (so I can please buy groceries the old-fashioned way).

This entire ordeal has prompted a sort of identity crisis for me. Sarah Beth was a successful editor and communications pro. Sarah Belle… well, she is just stuck. The realist side of me totally knows this has nothing to do with what my name is, but my spiritual self is convinced otherwise. My solution? Hide from the problem and drink beer!

Not really, but boy do I wish.

Today I went to Social Security and had it changed back to Beth. Once I have my new card I will update all my other things and then proceed on like nothing happened, with a happy NY drivers license and, hopefully, a happy little NY car.

Do I feel any different now that I’m back to Sarah Beth legally and remain Sarah Belle in the blog world and with my dearest friends? Nope. Am I any more clear on my place in life and what I’m supposed to do career wise? Nope. Am I finally finishing this fiasco so I can hopefully start dedicating some real time to the core issue here (my career crisis)? Yep.

So there you have it. That is where I have been, and will likely continue to be for a while. I am sure this is not the last you have heard of the career crisis either.

Goose Poop

08/12/2014

Belle

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Today I had to clean goose poop out of my butt crack. But first…

I’m sorry for the silence the last few weeks. I have had a rough run and decided that when there is nothing good to say, it is probably best to say nothing at all.

I have not been feeling well. I have been very tired and my feet and ankles have hurt more than normal. When I wake at night to use the bathroom they hurt so bad I have a hard time moving from bed to toilet without falling. Other things have been happening that are unnerving as well. Unlike “normal” people, when I go to the doctor and am not feeling well I am not told to first improve my lifestyle (eat better, sleep more, exercise, etc.) Instead a battery of scary tests are ran to see if the lupus they think I have is escalating. My kidneys are meticulously examined. My liver. My lungs. My skin. My joints. This time 8 vials of blood were drawn and 12 x-rays were taken. I spent the next 8 days in a downward spiral of panic. Surely this was it. My good luck was out.

Today we rented a Zip car for the day to take my cat to the vet for her 6 month check to see how the radioactive iodine treatment we gave her worked. I was also waiting for my test results. Between the two I was a wreck. Since we had to drop Yum Yum off for the day, we decided to have a day trip and enjoy some family time. We went to Muscoot Farms to let our Old McDonald fan enjoy some real farm animals. Sabine had a blast and I enjoyed a little distraction from more pressing matters.

Halfway through the trip Sabine and I were playing in the grass and she crawled into me full force while I was crouched. I fell backwards and she giggled hysterically. Then I stood up and felt something wet at the top of my butt crack.

“Babe,” I said as I flagged the Professor down. “What is on/in my pants?”

He started to laugh. “Looks like you rolled in some goose poop!”

I groaned and he inspected further. “Um, it’s in your butt crack. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

He cleaned up the poo the best he could and then I went to the bathroom to clean some more and remove my underwear. Later that afternoon I texted my Mama friends and my eternally optimistic buddy pointed out that being pooped on by a bird is good luck. Surely rolling in fresh goose poop is SUPER lucky. And she was right.

Shortly after that my doctor called – the tests are clear. I am ok. Time to work on cleaning up my lifestyle and managing my stress better. Then my sweet cat was ready and we got good news on her, too. She is cured.

Stress is a powerful creature. It has completely ruled the last two weeks of my life and was an excellent reminder of how very important self-care is. We are heading to Maine on vacation at the end of this week. When we return it is time I make some changes. I need to eat better. I need to exercise again. I need to return to yoga. I need to take care of ME and that care does not mean letting the Professor watch Sabine while I cook dinner.

So that is where I have been lately – worrying that I might be dying while all was really just fine. Thank you to the wonderful readers who have reached out to me. I love you all and appreciate the kind words. I have a few posts brewing about self-care. Until then, go hug your spouse/pets/children/parents or whoever it is you hold dear and remember what really matters in life – not the goose poop in your butt crack, but the person who will help wipe it out of there.

Laughing

07/30/2014

Belle

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Sabine has been hitting amazing little milestones left and right lately! We are cruising like a pro, letting Mama hold her hands to help her stand, taking steps when supported by Mama and putting anything and everything into anything and everything (gotta watch that litter box even more closely now!)

Sabine has lots of baby friends in the neighborhood but in the last few weeks has formed her first real friendship. Baby Tommy and Baby Sabine are becoming fast friends. They squeal in delight when they see each other and they play so sweetly. Yesterday they practiced sharing toys back and forth. I’ve been told by more annoying old ladies than I can count that having an only child means she will struggle to learn share. Well take that old ladies! My only child is 13 months and sharing like a PRO!

Sabine is also babbling up a storm. She has so much to say and is constantly experimenting with new sounds. I love the occasional times she parrots me, too. I should start being a little more careful with the words I use around her I guess…

I think our biggest change this week is the shift of her laugh. Yes, Sabine fans, the gruff, silly little old man laugh is starting to be replaced by a very loud “normal” sounding laugh. I am heart-broken. Those gruff little chortles stole my heart from the first time it exploded from her tiny little mouth. People can’t help but laugh with her; it is just that infectious and adorable.

Much like her little newborn lamb cry, this gruff laugh seems to be a fleeting delight. Tragic. I am trying to capture special things on video so we can remember them always. I am so sad I did not record her lamb cry and don’t want to miss another thing! So last night we had a little giggle fest in the tub and I recorded it with the iPhone. Not the best quality but still much better than no recording at all. I also hate how loud I sound since my head is always closest to the microphone. Oops!

Do you try to record special baby sounds, too? If so, what do you use? Any cool, inexpensive gadgets that might make this easier?

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