Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Making room

Last week's harp performance at the Ohio Statehouse ended with my accompanying a wonderful gentleman who asked me to play on his CD when he finally records. Please record -- you have a gorgeous voice! And I think it's wonderful to have met someone among the circular red and blue flashing name tags who so relishes music and waited all night to connect.

Regrettably, I did not run into Governor Strickland -- I already took care of that at his inauguration two years ago when I unwittingly walked in with his private entourage. It's an involved story but the two most important points: I didn't know it was Strickland, and I stomped all over that building and not one of the million security officers questioned who I was or where I was going.

A week or so before that, I had the wonderful opportunity to play for a Black History Month celebration. I followed rousing presentations by Columbus City Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson and Sojourner Truth (aka thespian Annette Jefferson) who painted beautiful examples of African American women who pushed boundaries to make a difference. I was inspired to mention Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane and their fantastic contributions to the harp world before I played "At Last."

As the weather warms here (and tonight cools again), I am reaping the benefits of feeling lighter on every level. UPS gladly took the massive amounts of packing material that had been taking up a corner of the garage. Another load of miscellany went to Goodwill. Yard supplies are exiting this property via Freecycle. And the big adventure of the day = the BMV.

This year requires a driver's license renewal, and I was looking forward to taking care of that in addition to acquiring new tags and making a long overdue name change -- yet one more step in my shedding what no longer fits.

The license was the only place the name change was reflected. At the time I had the necessary documentation for that name change, though I was changing it for all the wrong reasons. Today I had the necessary documentation to return the name to its previous incarnation by removing a hyphenated ending. The BMV folks were confused.

"We can't make this name change because nowhere in your paperwork does it say that's what you want to do."

Clearly the nature of this paperwork and my verbal explanation indicated I absolutely want this name change! I calmly said that there was no reason to state that in the paperwork as the name didn't officially change in the first place. Several calls were made and I was told I needed to go to Probate Court.

Marching up the hill to Probate Court, I decided this counted as part of my daily 4-mile walk I found myself sacrificing to take care of this before student lessons this afternoon.

Probate Court said the only way I could make the change was to fill out a one-page petition for a complete name change. That would be $84. They would then schedule a hearing in eight weeks, at which point the change would be official. But in order to schedule the hearing, I would need to submit this change to the local paper. That would be $32. And why to the paper? She couldn't exactly explain. I said my driver's license would expire before a hearing could be scheduled and my intent was to renew my license. Maybe, she offered, they could schedule the hearing six weeks from now if I filed the paperwork today.

I don't think so.

I tramped back down the hill and called my attorney. She said that this was a first and was ridiculous. There wasn't any additional documentation she could provide and she was sorry. She recommended that I just renew the license and avoid hassles by not making the name change.

I don't think so.

The word "ridiculous" was enough ammunition to drive to the other BMV, step up to the counter and announce, "I need to renew my license, get new tags, and remove this name from my license. Here is the documentation." She smiled, looked over the papers, and then muttered that it would be no problem.

My license photo sports a small smirk.

At the risk of sounding ultra-feminist and bitter -- which I am not -- I will refrain from sharing all that I feel about societal norms that involve a woman having to pay several hundred dollars and waiting two months to make room on her license and in her life.

When I turned sixteen and got my license, I sang all the way home, "I got my license -- yeah, yeah, yeah!" I sang it today, too. My eyesight may be poorer, my weight neither here nor there, and the color of my eyes and hair questionable, but I'm clearer than ever, making room for better.


  1. Lol! In New York, we call what you did "getting gangsta" which basically means being...um...firm. Though not necessarily threatening...it's that weird combination of being self assured and simply connecting with someone on their level and saying "Yo, can we just cut the bureaucratic B.S. and Git R Done?" (Southern expression...that's a good one too...)

    I'll be in touch soon with some more questions about recording harp long distance! I have some ideas...Take care.


  2. Wow. How infuriating. I'm really glad that you could get it changed without any hassle at the second office. You sounded so good yesterday--it really cheered me up. We should speak more often. Whether you know it or not, you're quite an inspiring person to me.