Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Graduation and names

I turned in my application for graduation the other day. Did you know, out of all the degrees Jeremy and I have (or almost have, and to be honest, it's mostly Jeremy - BA and almost-MA for me; BA, 2 MAs, and PhD for Jeremy), we have never once walked in or even attended any of our graduation ceremonies? (Except Jeremy says he was in the graduation ceremony for his Associates Degree (?) at Rick's College back in the day.) So this graduation for me is symbolic of all the ones we've missed, I suppose.

Anyway, on the application, it asked for my First Name, Father/Middle Name, Grandfather Name, and Family Name. What gives? - you might be asking. Well, the university is operating on the regional practice of people here taking their father's first name and grandfather's first name as middle names, followed by their family name (that's last name to us Americans). So a girl named Nora with a father named Ahmad and a grandfather named Abdullah, and family name Shamsi, would be named Nora Ahmad Abdullah Shamsi. Yes, even though Ahmad and Abdullah are both boys' names. And when Nora gets married, she won't change her name at all. Some people have many, many more middle names - as many of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers as they can remember, or at least fit on the page.

In any case, I was just happy to have four clear blanks in which to write my four names.

However, then the graduation registrar lady called. First, she wanted to make sure that my names as I listed them matched my passport (they do). Then she said that they only allow three of those names to actually be read at the ceremony. So which three of my four names did I choose??? It was an on-the-spot decision...but I chose to be Bridget Walker Palmer for the ceremony.

And you guys, that is the beauty of having kept all of my names, even after I got married (actually after I had Miriam, which is when I got around to legally adding "Palmer" to my name). If I want to be regular old Bridget Palmer, I can be. If I want to be Sister Palmer at church or Mrs. Palmer socially or at work, I can. But Maureen and Walker are still there and I can break them out any time I want, for example, in my official signature or what I put on professional or MA work - Bridget M. W. Palmer. There's no need to mess with hyphens. The IRS is the only entity that has ever specifically even asked if Walker is a middle name or a last name (for them, I made it a last name). My name is whatever I want it to be, because I still have all my options right there in front of me.

I know there used to be (is?) a practice of not giving girls middle names, in part because maybe it would complicate things when they got married. I understand this, even as I disagree with it. I submit for your consideration these little-known facts:

- You can keep your maiden name after you get married and still go by your husband's last name socially. Really! I did this for four years and no one ever noticed or cared.

- You can add your married last name after your maiden name - without a hyphen, if that scares you for some reason - and it works just fine.

Anyway, just some thoughts brought on by a graduation application. I'm happy to be  BMWP on my MA diploma and BWP at the ceremony.

May 3rd, outsourced

April 2013 books