Tag Archives: names

Two Questions

Two Questions

I usually travel a lot. Of course COVID-19 has temporarily grounded me here in Aguascalientes at the moment. But when I do travel to new places there are two questions that people ask me and quite honestly these questions annoy me. Why? Because the answers are complicated.

The first question is What’s your name?

I was twenty-one when I got married and that’s when I legally changed my maiden name to my married name. When the marriage ended, I had just published my first book. My publisher suggested I continue to write under my married name. And I still write under that name and I use that name on my Facebook author page.

However I decided to revert back to my maiden name when the marriage ended but thought I’d wait to legally change it until the divorce was final. By then I was living in Mexico where I had yet a different name on official documents. Here in Mexico your surname consists of father’s surname followed by mother’s maiden name.

I never did get around to legally changing my name back and the fun started when I arrived in Leavenworth four years ago. In order to volunteer in children’s ministry in the church, a criminal records check and child abuse registry check were mandatory. I can still see the puzzled looks on the two pastors’ faces when I pulled out my ID from my wallet and couldn’t find two photo IDs with the same name. Thankfully I remembered my passport that was at home in a drawer.

I prefer to just use the name Karen and totally eliminate all surnames.

The second question is Where’s home?

Actually that seems to be American Immigration’s favorite question. Once again the answer is complicated.

Undisputedly my hometown is Winnipeg. I was born there and lived there until ten years ago.

Culiacán with my Mexican family is home to me in Mexico. When I walk through the door of their home a wave of familiarity washes over me. This is definitely home to me, especially with my loving family surrounding me.

Four years ago I discovered Leavenworth, Washington and that also has become home to me. COVID-19 has screwed up my plans for my annual six month visit this year. But once things settle down I plan to return to Leavenworth. I miss my friends and I miss the volunteer work I usually do there.

But another place that has become home to me is where I stay here in Aguascalientes. I spent three months here last winter, intending to stay only three weeks initially. This winter I’m now in my ninth month and still counting thanks to COVID-19.

So……….Where’s home?

Pollack? Hendin? What’s In A Name?


Yesterday one of my friends here in Mexico asked me why I hadn’t changed my surname now that I am divorced. And of course this got me thinking………….

When I got married I eagerly changed my surname “Pollack” to that of my husband “Hendin”. Then, when the marriage ended, I rather impulsively began using my maiden name again. However I have yet to legally change it.

Why? There are two very simple reasons. One is the financial cost and the hassle associated with this. Credit cards, bank accounts, investments, health insurance, passports, driver’s license, etc. But the more important reason is that for some forty odd years I have been known by my married name. That has been my identity. Professionally this has been my name. And I also firmly believe it’s the person that counts. It doesn’t matter what name I use. I am ME!

Back in the 70’s when I married, hyphenating the maiden name with the married name was common although it is today. And now many women choose to keep their maiden name rather than change it to the married name. It seems that the idea of changing a maiden name to the husband’s name has gone by the wayside along with the idea that marriage is forever, as supported by the high divorce rate in North America.

My daughter is about to marry a man with a hyphenated surname. When I asked her what she intended to do, I was informed that the jury is still out on that one. It is still in discussion.

As for me, should I ever decide to remarry, changing my name again will only happen if my husband and I are to use a completely new name, one very different from either of the names we have used in the past. And that is the only circumstance under which I will ever change my name again!