Monday, February 7, 2011

What's In A Name?

So I changed my name when I was thirteen.

It wasn't the first time.

When I was five and my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Rummel refused to call me Danielle and insisted upon calling me Daniel, I marched straight home and demanded that from that day forth I would use my middle name, Kelly, while at school. You see there was another kid in my class named Daniel and he was a boy! I really loved the way Daniel folded his construction paper, but I digress...

My stint as "Kelly" was short lived, I think after all the commotion I caused and steps that I had taken to be referred to a Kelly was a little enlightening for dear Mrs. Rummel, and she finally figured out my very challenging pronunciation. (Can you imagine? I was only 5!)

The second time I changed my name was on my terms. I was thirteen and about to embark on the wonderful world of employment. I applied for my work permit from the State of California and made my very first visit to the social security office. When I went into the social security office the lady behind the counter asked me my name and I said, Dani, Dani Hawkins... and it was so.

In hindsight I'm a little confused at the apparent lax of the social security office, did I have to bring my birth certificate? Did it not matter that they were different? That one choice that I made at 13 has compounded over the last 25 years. When I got my driver's license three years later, I chose Dani once again. But all my formal education, including college, was experienced as Danielle. First as Danielle Hawkins and then as Danielle Pisors. Every paycheck, come to think of it, even that very first paycheck from Lake Don Pedro (where I made a whopping $3.35 an hour) was made out to Danielle Pisors.

I purchased a home as Danielle Pisors, I file tax returns every year as Danielle Pisors.

When my husband and I took a trip to Mexico in 2001 I had the first "issue" with my name. My plane ticket was reserved as Danielle Pisors and my drivers license said Dani. Oops. I had to pay a notary public in the airport an arm and a leg to approve an Affidavit of Citizenship so I could leave (and return to) the country.

After that I was careful to buy plane tickets as Dani just to avoid those little hiccups.

When I applied for my U.S. Passport for a trip to Costa Rica I was careful to apply as Dani Pisors. Was I now Dani Pisors? I still have a birth certificate that says otherwise.

The reason all this is coming up now is because my new state will only hire me as Dani Pisors. This is weird to me. Phoenix-Talent School District, Ashland School District and Medford School District all hired me as Danielle Pisors. They didn't seem to have an issue with what was on my driver's license or social security card. Huh?

The thing that seems weirdest to me is that my friends call me Dani, and I love it. But I have always been known professionally as Danielle.

Am I now officially Dani? And if so where did Danielle go?