Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Florida Man Accused of Fraud After Adopting His Wife's Last Name

Recently, a man in Florida was accused of fraud and had his driver's license suspended after he opted to adopt his wife's last name when they got married. 

Isn't that ridiculous?!

Photo of Mr. and Ms. Dinh, Courtesy of Reuters
The man says he followed the same process that a woman would follow to change her last name after she got married, but was later told that that process is "only for women" and that he has to go through a much more time-consuming and expensive process if he wants to legally change his name.

Apparently, only a few states have received the memo that women are not just chattel who are passed from their fathers to their husbands. Only nine states - nine! - have gender neutral marriage name change laws: California, New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Iowa, Georgia, and North Dakota.

The whole incident makes me even more grateful to be involved with The Last Name Project and reminds us all that our laws, not just our traditions, still reinforce the good ole' patriarchal status quo!

I'd love to hear from men who changed their names when they got married. Did you have go through an alternative route? Did you encounter legal resistance?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

[Maia] The Last Name Project

In this series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com.  

The following post is by Maia, a Midwestern transplant to the Bay Area where she is a chiropractic intern by trade (just shy of graduating!), and a modern dancer by passion.  She lives in a treehouse with her partner B (writer of urban half-truths,charlieupsidedown.wordpress.com) and dog Charlie (hiking aficionado, chaser of tennis balls and squirrels).  The non-traditional and varied relationship values of the Bay Area have provided endless food-for-thought about how she defines individualism, feminism, and partnership, and these views are continually evolving.

My last name has always held some frustration for me.  It’s difficult to spell, can be phonetically pronounced more than one way, and no one ever gets it right.  My first name is somewhat unique and seems to give people trouble as well—really, what’s so difficult about it? —So the name change dilemma has always been about aesthetics to me.  As I got older, I got in touch with the independence of keeping my own name, and I admire my father and the family I came from.  (As a side note, I can’t help but wonder; is keeping your father’s name much different than taking your husbands’, from a feminist standpoint?)  I also considered that I will become licensed as a chiropractor and begin a practice before I marry.  The logistics of changing my name later on become increasingly challenging and can pose professional risks after trying to establish myself by one name.

I don’t particularly label myself a feminist, mostly because FEMINIST seems to have taken on an extremist representation in a lot of ways.  I consider myself a strong woman, and I believe in fiercely embracing and supporting concerns close to women and modern female justice.   However, I don’t view keeping my own name as an act of defiance against the system which would take it from me, and I don’t view taking a partners’ as an act of submission to masculine oppression.  My sentiments may be shaped by a distinct early memory of my mom Christmas-gifting my dad her driver’s license in his name after 10 years of marriage.

B and I have been together 5 years, and while not engaged, we have a weightier task on our minds—choosing our own last name.  I like his last name.  It sounds good with my first, it’s German like me, it’s pronounceable and phonetically spelled, it’s right at the beginning of the alphabet and I’m tired of being at the end.  But he relates little to the family of his namesake; his relationship with his father has always been tenuous, and a shift in religious expression has widened the gap with the rest of the family.  At first I felt it was malicious to forego his father’s name, but I had to admit that I wasn’t thrilled about building a family on a name we didn’t value.

When B suggested we take his deceased mother’s maiden name, I liked his purposeful and honoring intent.  It seems like a logical solution, but superstition is holding us back—of a large family, none have survived to carry on the name, and that’s a little foreboding to us.  So we began to make up names, or try out ones we saw on publications or signs.  We have carved a nitch unique to us as a couple, and choosing a name that represents that is inviting.  Some are clever, some are silly, some are basic, some are rooted in reason or logic.  Some, we really like.  But it’s serious business to legally amend your formal designation.  It’s hard to come up with something you like and can live with, that also has value.   Currently, we’re weighing some frontrunners that allude to family but allow us to be original.  This way I can share a name with my children, further my individual identity, and feel no guilt for keeping OR changing my given name.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Feminist Wedding: Our Venue

Picking out our venue was one of the first things we did after getting engaged, and it really has been one of my favorite parts of wedding planning. There are countless possibilities, and different venues shape the look and feel of your wedding so significantly.

We knew from the beginning that we didn't want a traditional ballroom or country club. Both of us really loved the idea of having the reception outside under the stars, and we wanted something that felt cozy and slightly backyard-ish. We wanted it to feel slightly vintage, in the sense that we wanted it to be more like weddings in the "old days" when everyone celebrated at the bride's house (except no one was celebrating in our tiny apartment). I was really inspired, as strange as it might be, by the wedding scenes in Little Women and Little House on the Prairie. I also knew that I wanted it to feel slightly southern, but absolutely did not want a plantation. They were too grand for the type of feel we wanted, and I didn't like the idea of getting married at a place that was so deeply rooted in slavery and oppression.

Logistically, most of our guests are flying in and I wanted it to be fairly easy for them to get to the wedding from the airport. That meant I had to forgo any dreams of having a wedding in the North Georgia Mountains, which would easily be a couple hours drive.

In the end, it came down to two venues: one an old bed and breakfast and the other a polo farm. I thought the polo farm would be the easy choice, because I am obsessed with horses, but when I went to tour it I realized a.) that I would be walking around in my wedding dress on straw and gravel inches from horse poop and b.) that turning a working polo farm into a wedding and dinner-space is actually a large amount of work. In the end, we settled on the bed and breakfast.

The Veranda Inn is in this cute little town of Senoia, right next door to where I grew up (fun fact: it is also the filming location for The Walking Dead, so I get to see lots of zombies on my trips down there!). The Veranda was built in 1906 as the Holberg Hotel. It has fireplaces, tons of character, a huge wraparound porch, rocking chairs, and an old red barn in the back. It couldn't be more perfect for us and I am absolutely in love with it!

Here are a few photos, if you'd like to see.

The Funky Shack: the veranda

Veranda Historic Bed and Breakfast Inn | Senoia, Georgia

possible wedding location - The Veranda Historic Bed and Breakfast Inn, Senoia, Georgia, (GA) 


Margaret Mitchell's House

On Saturday, Brett and I did something I've wanted to do since we first moved to Atlanta - visited Margaret Mitchell's house!

As a little girl, I was obsessed with Gone with the Wind. I read it for the first time in fifth grade, again in seventh grade, and again in high school. I was so in love with Scarlett O'Hara. I loved her spunk, her passion, her grit, and her determination. She did whatever it took to survive, and I loved that about her. I still do. She was selfish and self-centered, and while lots of people (especially feminists!) hate her for it, I think it is a refreshing change for a female character to have her own ambitions and desires, and not just exist to support and love a man. Of course, this little ode to Scarlett isn't complete without an acknowledgement that the book is complicated and full of troubling depictions of racism and sexuality. But I'll save the feminist analysis of Gone with the Wind for another day and another post....

Back to the visit! My love for Gone with the Wind has always been coupled with a love for Margaret Mitchell. I've always been inspired (and continue to be inspired) by women writers, and completely idolized Margaret Mitchell growing up. I wanted to be just like her. And by just like her, I mean I wanted to write "the next Gone With the Wind." A look through my childhood papers will reveal many abandoned attempts to write such a novel, including some very in-depth costume descriptions (because everyone knows a good book starts not with an outline or a plot idea, but outfits).

I think Margaret is sometimes overshadowed by her famous protagonist, so I thought I'd share a little bit about her for those of you who aren't familiar with her:

Margaret came from an old and wealthy Atlanta family, and as a young girl frequently accompanied her mother to suffrage events (I'm slightly jealous ). After a year up at Smith College during WWI, Margaret's first fiance was mortally wounded in combat and her mother died of the flu. She returned home to run her family's house and believed that she had given up any hope of a career in journalism. But despite these hardships, Margaret did not resign herself to a demure life at home.After her society debut, she performed an Apache dance that included a kiss with her male partner and "shocked" Atlanta. She was a famous flirt, and in 1922, a local gossip column said of Mitchell, "...she has in her brief life, perhaps, had more men really, truly 'dead in love' with her, more honest-to-goodness suitors than almost any other girl in Atlanta."

At 22, Margaret married Berrien "Red" Upshaw, a young bootlegger who had been kicked out of the Naval Academy twice (I'm going to guess "Red" was the inspiration for Rhett). After suffering from ten months of physical and emotional abuse, they divorced and Margaret got a job as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal. She wrote articles about fashion and history, including profiles of several prominent southern women. The latter series generated significant controversy, and Margaret was criticized for portraying women who "did not fit the accepted standards of femininity." In 1925, Margaret married her second husband, John Marsh. Shortly afterwards, she broke her ankle and quit working at the Atlanta Journal. It was during this time, "a moment of weakness" as she described it, that she started on Gone with the Wind, although she wouldn't finish it until 1936. 

The apartment that we visited is the one she moved into after marrying John Marsh; the one she lived in while writing Gone with the Wind. Because I knew that Margaret came from a wealthy family, I had suspected that it would be quite a grand house. But it was a tiny, tiny apartment! Like, unbelievably tiny. There was a small living room, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a small bathroom. The dining table was in the bedroom, the desk was in the living room, and the kitchen was basically a closet with a sink, a stove, and a single cabinet. Reportedly, Margaret used copies of her Gone with the Wind manuscript to prop up their old and wobbly couch. Her husband was, by all accounts, incredibly supportive of her writing venture. When asked by a reporter if he was proud of his wife for publishing Gone with the Wind, he remarked, "I was proud of my wife before she wrote a book." Sounds like quite a catch! 

I loved finally getting to see Margaret Mitchell's house. I couldn't believe how tiny their little apartment was, and it was really inspirational in a strange way. I always envision writers having this perfect space, with a grand plan, and a swift book deal. To think of Margaret writing in their cramped apartment, just as a way to occupy herself while her ankle healed, and laboring over it for almost ten long years before seeing it published, was somehow encouraging and heartwarming. Sometimes you can't wait for things to be perfect, sometimes life throws you curve balls (or broken ankles), and sometimes you have to work at something for a long time to see it through. 

They didn't allow photos in the apartment, but here is an exterior shot. You should definitely visit if you're ever in Atlanta! 


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Motivational Monday

                                                                                         Source: lyrics2liveby.com via Shannon on Pinterest

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

2012 absolutely flew by! I really can't believe it has come and gone.

Looking back, if I had to describe 2012 in three words, they would be: the unknown, change, progress. We started out the year not knowing where we would finish it, not knowing which PhD program Brett would get into and where we would live for the next 5-6 years. I didn't know what kind of job I would have, or even if I would have a job at all. Once we made the decision to move to Atlanta, we spent countless hours apartment and job searching and coordinating logistics of a big move. We left the town and school where we met and said lots of tearful goodbyes to good friends. We set off on the Blue Ridge Parkway and spent days winding through mountains without knowing exactly what the future held. Brett started a new program. I started a new job (and in some ways, a new career). We got a new puppy. And we got engaged.

It was a whirlwind of a year full of big changes. In many ways, I think I'm only beginning to stop reeling from all of them. And while it was definitely difficult, at times, to deal with so much change, it was also a great year! I got a job within two weeks of moving, which is something I'm so grateful for in this economic climate. I'm not entirely sure development is the career for me, but I'm learning so much and working with great people for a great organization. We found a gorgeous apartment. Our little puppy has brought us more joy, laughter, and cuddles than we ever thought possible. And Brett and I really grew as a couple. Somewhere along the way, we became this much stronger team and learned to work even better together.

I'm grateful for the holidays and the new year, because it gave me some time to reflect on just how big of a year 2012 was for me - and for Brett and I. It also gave me some time to stop looking backward and just spinning to keep up; to pause and look forward. And when I did, I realized that 2013 can be an absolutely fantastic year if I try and make it one. I want to use my time intentionally this year to grow as a person, to advance in my career, to pursue the things I'm passionate about, to think about what it is exactly I'm passionate about and want to spend my life doing, to get more organized, to write more, to volunteer more, and to read more. Not a small list, I know. But I want to make sure that as we settle into life here in the south that I'm really taking advantage of my talents and gifts, giving back to the world, and creating a foundation for the life that I've always dreamed of living. I want to let go of self-doubt and fear of failure and really pursue my goals. I need to start going after the ambitions that I guard closely deep down inside - ambitions that are too scary even to write down as new year's resolutions. I don't just want to get through this next year, spinning faster and faster until another year is over. I yearn to flourish.

So here is to a new year! Let's spend it being the very best version of ourselves and making the world a better place for women.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Engaged Christmas Recap!

I head back to work today, and before I delve into my resolutions and goals for 2013 I thought I'd try and pretend I was still on vacation by sharing some of my favorite photos from the holidays.