Reasons We Are Keeping Our Names

This has been controversial and I’m guessing will be a super hot topic as the day approaches – for me, a hundred times more than Nathan. It’s so regressive that nobody ever asks him if he’s changing his name, it has all been directed at me so far. It’s also kind of shocking how many people are completely shocked that I will be keeping mine, like it has never occurred to them as an earthly possibility. But that’s our decision, which is completely ours to make.

There are a bunch of reasons for what we are doing. Both of us are attached to our names, and they have been a part of our identities for a long time. I have an image in my head of what Johanna HisLastName looks like, and it’s just not me – it would feel wrong. There would also be the gigantic hassle of changing our name records all over the place, getting new passports and Medicare cards, etc. Then there is also the fact that we both have university degrees under our names, and I have writing published under mine.

My biggest objection though stems from something that I have already seen in practice, receiving mail for Mr and Mrs Nathan HisLastName, before we are even married. I cannot even describe how uncomfortable it made me feel. Like I’m a non-entity, not even deserving of even my own first name, completely erased. It’s just a little thing and I’m sure it’s just second nature for a lot of people, especially of a certain age, but it floored me how easily a name could make me feel so irrelevant, so unimportant, like Nathan’s accessory rather than a fully realized person in my own right who is entitled to a name of my own.

We debated the possibility of both of us hyphenating and gave it serious thought. For us, it was a case of… we’ll both do it, or we both won’t, but it wouldn’t be fair for one person to bend and the other person not to at all. We didn’t feel strongly enough about it, and in the end, why fix what isn’t broken? We will still ultimately be just as married with separate last names.

There have been a lot of objections thrown around though (some of which I’ve been confronted with, some I’ve heard from others), so I’ll answer a few.

It’s not even feminist for a woman to keep her maiden name, because it’s just her father’s name anyway…
It may be, but it’s not just my dad’s name – it’s my name. It’s what I was born with. I can’t control whose name my parents gave me, but I can say that I was given one name at birth and I’ve had it my whole life – how does this not belong to me? It may come from him originally, but so did his name from his dad – surely I can say that my name belongs to me just as much as it belongs to my dad.

If you don’t take your husband’s name, it’s like you are rejecting his family.
So, if he doesn’t take my name, is he rejecting my family too? Because it’s the exact same deal. Plus if I did change, by that logic how could I not feel like I was rejecting my own family? I like the fact that we will be forming a new primary family, but retaining our names as links to our families of origin. It would feel so lopsided and unfair to identify solely as members of just one side.

But it’s traditional. 
Lots of things are. Doesn’t mean they are for everybody.

It’s an insult to your husband to not take his name.
Then conversely, it’s an insult to me for him not to take my name (so many of these objections look so silly when you apply logic). Nathan is not insulted that I won’t take his last name because he respects that I am just as attached to my name as he is, and I’m super proud of him for being so mature about it. It’s so unattractive for a man to throw a tantrum about his wife not taking his name without ever considering that whatever he feels about the situation, she’s entitled to feel the exact same way about him not taking her name.

But how will everybody know you’re married / a family?
This one is kind of irrelevant, especially in this day and age of blended families all over the place where there could be three or four surnames among siblings that don’t match their parents either. There are lots of things that women can do to broadcast that they are married – a name, a ring, mentioning a ‘husband’, or just telling people. But even if you do none of these things, it doesn’t mean you are somehow less committed. Nathan and I will know we are married, and I’m sure that our nearest and dearest won’t magically forget that fact because we failed to have the same name.

But surely you’ll change it when you have children?
I’m sure my kids will know who their parents are regardless of our different last names. Besides, we already made plans for that long before ever getting engaged – to be revealed in due time!

bali – part three

Although we spent most of our time together, there were a few activities that we did alone. On Saturday, I went out again by myself on a bike tour. According the website, this was meant to start with breakfast overlooking an active volcano and then a leisurely downhill ride through the countryside, stopping at a temple and a traditional Balinese village, finishing with lunch overlooking some rainforest. Everything was correct, but they neglected to mention the hellish bits where we were riding on main roads. It was terrifying. The edges of the roads were unfinished, often with steep drop offs down the mountain, and trucks and buses were zooming past with less than a metre clearance, beeping their horns like crazy the whole time. The surfaces were so rough that I fell off my bike a couple of times and still have some lovely bruises on my legs. The whole experience rattled me so much that I gave up at the 3/4 point, and got the van to take me straight to the restaurant instead. I did manage to get a couple of nice photos along the way, though.

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It wasn’t the most enjoyable day, unfortunately. There was nothing objectively wrong with the tour or the organization, it was just terrifying and too much sun for a ghosty girl (you can see how pasty I am in comparison to the other girl above). Nathan had gone back to Tulamben for another scuba dives, and I was a bit jealous that I hadn’t gone with him.

We spent our last day in Bali mostly relaxing – running out to buy a cheap suitcase to haul all of our shopping home, and lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I begged to go, just for the novelty factor, and Nathan rolled his eyes at me the whole time. At one point during lunch, the entire staff of the restaurant accosted a couple at another table and sang a song at them. We sunk so far down in our seats, praying that they wouldn’t come over to us too!

After a swim and a few more mojitos, we made our way to the airport, a little too early. So naturally, we took a billion photos while we waited:

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Can’t you tell what a brilliant mood Nathan was in? It got worse – the airline had changed their schedule, so instead of doing a direct flight, we had to endure a four hour stop at Sydney at 6am. By the time we finally got home after nearly 20 hours in transit, we collapsed, and we’re still recovering now. But it was worth it. Despite everything, it was a really great trip, and it was even better to get away from everything and do it all with Nathan. Bring on the next adventure!

treading water

Big spanner in the works! So mid-year intake for honours is not a thing, which throws my course plan out by about six months. Which means I will be graduating at the end of 2016. It’s only six months, and it will be fun to (hopefully) throw myself into a retail job for that time. But I would be lying to say I’m not disappointed. Photos of my friends keep coming up on facebook, dressed in their robes and trenchers, smiling at their graduation ceremony. I’ve been struggling through uni for such a long time, I’m just ready for that smiling graduate to be me.

Of course, this tiny little setback has thrown me into a total existential crisis. Sometimes I get so nervous about the direction my life is going to take, how it will all turn out and whether or not I’ll fit in all the things I want to do. I’m turning 27 this year, and I feel like I’ve already wasted so much time. Of course, there are amazing things on the horizon, like going to Japan. And I’ve heard so many times that by keeping an open mind and an open heart, so many wonderful things can come your way. Maybe they will (I hope they will). It would be nice to find a time machine and speak to myself on the last day of my life, and ask myself if I had good time. But I guess, like everything else, I just have to have faith that it will all work out.

I was talking to someone a few days ago, about perspective and experience, and she pointed out that I have had to deal with challenges that most people have not. Not just relating to me personally, but things that have happened in my family, choices that we made that didn’t work out, other people’s actions that I had no control over. Some people just cruise through life, but that hasn’t happened for me. Nothing huge has happened, just a combination of imperfect circumstances. So I guess this idea that my life should be perfect, or I should be perfect, is a bit stupid. All I can do is try my best with the hand that I am dealt.

If uni is going to take an extra six months, I will survive. And so many wonderful things could happen in the meantime.

summer’s end

Yesterday, it rained.

I know – how boring, but seriously, rain is so rare around here that when it does happen, it’s a big event. It was actually a pretty huge downpour too – the football stadium and some supermarkets flooded, and some buildings fell down. I watched the big, fat summer raindrops fall on my scorched garden and was filled with gratitude for the fact that I wouldn’t have to water it myself, but it reminded me of an inescapable truth: summer is nearly over.

Today, it is cold.

Not really cold, but cool enough that my feet have turned greyish-purple (circulation issues). It’s hilarious watching the puppies trying to burrow under blankets so they can stay in bed all day. Poor things. It must be so hard to be an animal, with no understanding of weather or how the temperature corresponds to how uncomfortable they are. During the heatwave, Posie was so irritable and frustrated. She skulked around the house, hid under the couch and every so often she would let out these huge, melodramatic sighs, like she was angry with me for making the house so hot. On purpose.

lady of leisure

This weekend, we:

Went to the Portarlington Mussel Festival and ate far too much (spiral potatoes, paella, sangria and a cone full of fried calamari).
Despite my diligent efforts to stay in the shade, I got sunburnt. It was looking pretty nasty, but Mum broke some leaves off an aloe vera plant and rubbed them on the burns – instant relief!
Got to hang out with our brand new niece Arielle, even though all she did was sleep and eat.
Ate three course of mussels at my mum’s house (cold with green mango salsa, in a hot laksa broth, and in a traditional butter and white wine sauce).
Went to a four year old’s birthday BBQ at Torquay.
Played in rock pools at the beach and saw a baby crab.
Had my family over for dinner, for Mussels, Round Two: The Revenge.
And I got absolutely no work done.

I’m really loving Nathan being home, so we can do these sorts of things on weekends. It used to feel like such an obligation whenever we were invited anywhere, but now, we can take our time and actually enjoy it. Next weekend isn’t looking so rosy though. I have a feeling we’re going to be utterly exhausted by the heatwave that is predicted for this week. Four days above 39! Our air conditioner is in the living room, so we’re making plans to drag the mattress off our bed and stick it in the middle of our living room floor for a few days. I’m sure the puppies won’t mind – they like to stay in bed all day anyway.

new year

In 2013:

I went to Hobart with Nathan, drank the best ginger beer of my life and saw St Vincent and David Byrne on stage.
I did well and not-so-well at uni – I got one of the highest marks I’ve ever received, as well as the lowest. This has been a learning experience for me, and it made me realize that the world isn’t going to implode if I don’t get perfect marks.
Nathan changed jobs and actually gets to spend some time at home now.
I’m gradually starting to get the hang of this ‘cleaning the house’ thing.
I visited Boston, Washington DC and NYC.
I had a fairly complex eye surgery, looked like a zombie for a couple of months, but managed to come out the other side with a perfect result.

In 2014:

I want to cast off self-doubt and uncertainty and start writing for publication again. There is so much intimidation in reading poetry or stories by talented people. Suddenly, everything I’ve ever come up with looks so gauche in comparison; anything of mine that is ‘good’ is just a sad imitation of other peoples’ magnificence. There’s no easy way to deal with this, other than just to remind myself constantly: get over it.

I want to teach Posie how to do some tricks. She’s so smart.

I want to go somewhere with Nathan. For a number of reasons, this doesn’t seem to be the year for a grand adventure, but I’ll settle for a little one.

… however, if a big adventure presented itself, that would be amazing too. I’m not sure about my chances, but I am keeping fingers (and toes) crossed that there might be another study tour to apply for this year. America was so amazing, and although the schedule was full on, I had an opportunity to learn so much more about my destinations than I ever would have as just a tourist.

I want to plant more roses in my garden.

I’m going to stop letting people get to me. I wish it was as easy as just cutting all toxic people out of my life and never seeing them again, but things don’t always work out like that. If they have to exist in the same space as me, I’m not going to let them bring me down anymore.

Most of all, I want this year to be an improvement on last year: not that last year wasn’t amazing, but I want every year to be better than the last. Onward and upward!

christmas

I think we’re getting better at Christmas*. Things seem to run more smoothly, like our practice from every other year is starting to pay off. We still have at least four different places to go, but it’s not such a marathon as it has been other years. Maybe it’s because we have so much unstressed time leading up to it, and Nathan’s not trying to fly home on Christmas Eve.

My favourite moments of Christmas 2013:

Laying in bed on Christmas morning as the puppies jumped all over us, trying to get their presents out of their stockings! Posie and Rupert each got a toy and a megabone; Posie got a frog with dangly legs and a squeaker in each foot, Rupert got a plush pink pig to snuggle with.

My sister first made this salad (leafy salad with pomegranate and feta) last year, and it was so good, that we decided to make it this year, to take to Nathan’s parents house. The smell of the almonds toasting in the pan permeated the whole house, and it was gorgeous. The salad was pretty awesome too.

Nathan’s parents’ dog Gizmo has me completely figured out. At dinner, he started snuffling and yowling and headbutting my legs. I knew he’d just been outside, but he was insistent. So I eventually let him take me for a walk, down by the shoreline as the sun was setting across the water.

My sister (who is 23 years old) and I were in the spa at my aunt and uncle’s house, and a distant family member who doesn’t know us too well walked past and asked if we wanted a beer, then backtracked and said, “Oh, I mean, I guess you’d have to check with your parents to see if it was alright”. We were really confused, but realized that she thought we were under eighteen. There was a time that I would have been so offended, but now, I’ll just be grateful that someone thought I looked that young!

 

*Except I forgot to take any photos. Oh, the regret of someone who has a nice camera but continually forgets to use it!

wax on, wax off

Tonight I went to my first karate class in a long time. Maybe ten years? It’s definitely been a while. My whole family did karate once upon a time, but we all eventually gave it up as life got too busy. I’m starting again, mainly because I need something – anything! – to kick my butt into gear and start getting fit again. I cannot and will not be fat forever.

The karate school has just opened a new branch in my area, so I am currently the only student. It’s nice getting some one-on-one tuition, especially as they are starting me off as a green belt, which is where I left off. I have so much catching up to do, but the first major hurdle seems to be my overall fitness. In the class, we ran through all the kicks, punches, blocks and knife-hand strikes, and started on some of the combinations and kata. I surprised myself so much with how much I remembered – I guess it must be some sort of muscle memory.

It was fun and nice to get back into it, but boy, I’m going to be sore tomorrow.

 

(literally) cold feet

After almost three weeks of gorgeous heat (though I could have gone without the humidity), it’s a bit of a rude shock to be back home, where it is undeniably winter. Since I’ve been back, we’ve had squally winds and pouring rain punctuated by little moments of sunshine, but it’s not enough.

Jonquils are sending up their little flower buds in my garden, and I keep telling myself that winter is more than half over. I’m trying to romanticize some of the things I can’t really do in summer, like snuggling with the puppies under a mountain of blankets, or eating hearty stews and soups. But if I’m honest with myself for five seconds, I just can’t wait for summer.

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From my garden, last year.

I love…

Going to the beach after the heat of the day has passed, then heading to Mum’s house for fish and chips, with sand and salt in my hair. Being barefoot without my feet turning a lovely shade of ‘zombie’.
The way that flowers wilt in the hot sunshine, then come back to life at dusk, releasing their perfumes.
Eating endless icy poles, and always having a gin and tonic within arm’s reach.
The freckles that appear all over my face, even when I wear a hat.
That everything seems to start later in summer – the day is for dozing, the night is for doing.