Monday, February 16, 2009

How to Start A New Blog

Since we're married now, feminist fiancee doesn't really work for us any more. And we were running out of clever titles that begin in "How to..."

So come visit us at The Hyphen House

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How to Navigate Patriarchal Bureaucracy

So I haven't blogged in a really long time, but I thought I might update everyone on the name change in progress. We scored a major victory yesterday at the Social Security office. We managed to get my last name changed to our new hyphenated last name without having to show a court name change document or having to bribe any officials. While free married name changes are legal for both men and women in Texas, no one seems to be aware of this recent change in the law, so getting people to actually allow me to change my name has been a challenge. Here are a few of the highlights.

1.) People think I am crazy. They just cannot comprehend why I would want to hyphenate my last name. They (and by they I mean complete strangers, my students, and even close family members) assume that my wife is making me change my name. My only response to this line of thinking is, "What?!?!" See, when people make this assumption, what they are basically saying is that my marriage is not about equality, rather it is about me being enslaved to my wife. That is utterly ridiculous. If that were the case, wouldn't I just take her last name and drop mine completely? No one believes me when I tell them that I was the first one to suggest we both hyphenate our names. Either that or they think that my wife somehow used mind control to get me to bring it up.

2.) Most attempts at name changes have been easy. People at my job have made the change with no questions (some are even very supportive). The bank just needed a copy of the marriage certificate. The Green Mountain energy representative was utterly confused though. I must admit that I was quite surprised by that reaction. I assumed the people working for Green Mountain energy were a little more progressive than average (okay, I assumed many of them were hippies). I figured they would at least aware let alone hypothetically comfortable with the idea of a man hyphenating his name.

3.) The DPS was utterly uncooperative. The woman working there looked at me like I was insane for asking to change my name. She refused to cooperate. The highlight of that trip was when my wife told her, "That's discrimination." It is true. It is discriminatory to refuse a man the same right to change his name as his wife has. There is just something ironic about the fact that in this case, it was an African-American woman passing on this discrimination to a Caucasian middle class man. I should make the disclaimer that I do not blame her. She was rude, but she was just participating in bureaucracy, not designing it. I really just wanted to tell her, "The bureaucracy you are participating in right now is only reinforcing patriarchy by denying me the opportunity to change my name. As a woman, patriarchy probably hurts you more than it does me, but you are in the unique position of being able to do something about it, so join the revolution!" Alas, I did not say any of these things. Score one for patriarchy.

4.) Yesterday, however, my wife and I pulled out our hammers, on our mission to smash patriarchy. The official at the Social Security office at first did not want to grant our request. Her exact words to me were, "Sir, you don't have to change your name when you get married." I won't rant about how loaded that statement is because after some convincing, she decided to check on whether she could change it or not. That was all we really wanted because we knew if we could just get her to look it up that the law would be on our side. It was, my name is now officially hyphenated. Now I just have to get the other bureaucratic institutions to recognize my legally sanctioned rights - easy right?

Monday, September 22, 2008

How to Weather the Storm

Sigh. It has been a long week and a half for all Houstonians and others who suffered the wrath of Hurricane Ike. Really, really long...

It started for us with an evacuation to my parents house an hour north of the city. We packed for a few days, thinking we'd be home soon. Four of our friends came and we had a "hurricane party" that began with a movie marathon until we lost power, and then lots of board games and long walks.

By Sunday we realized it was going to be a while. My parents were fortunate to have their power restored, and most of their water, that afternoon. But we couldn't go back to our house, so we stayed put.

Tuesday we went back to our house and felt very emotional about it all. Some of our favorite places were severely damaged. The early curfew that took everyone off the streets at 6 pm made everything a little eerie. The long gas lines and grocery stores run off generators made for a lot of stress. So many trees were uprooted.

And of course there are so many good people, handing out water and ice and MREs and helping rebuild. I've never seen so many people at one time working in their yards.

Our house sustained minimal damage... Three outer windows were lifted off by the winds and shattered to the ground (thank God for double-paned windows), a leak in our kitchen ceiling, and some tree damage. Our back yard looks like a jungle now.

I headed to Ohio for a history conference on Wednesday and my husband went to his parents (where they had power). Ohio also suffered a lot of damage as a result of Ike. It's like it wouldn't end. Of course every time someone learned I was from Houston, they inquired about the state of things. I talked about Ike as much as I talked about my dissertation. I went to Ohio hoping when I returned Sunday things would be back to normal. But as the days wore on, I realized things would not be back to normal for a very, very long time. I got more and more emotional about it.

So now I'm home, sitting in my house which now has all the modern conveniences again, and things are far from normal. My husband is back at school but feeling disoriented, and I'm trying to work on my dissertation but distracted by the damage and trying to catch up on all the things we couldn't do the last 10 days. There is, in the city, a collective sense of struggle. We're all trying to be normal but literally taking it one day at a time. People who have nothing have even less now.

And now it's time to rebuild. Oh for the strength to help...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to Change Your Name

We had a monumentally terrible experience at the DMV trying to change our driver's license, but my husband wants to rant about that. So here is a phone conversation I had today with a representative at Green Mountain Energy (an otherwise fabulous company that provides our pollution-free home energy):

ME: Hi, I'd like to change the last name on our account to our new married name.

GM: You want to change your last name?

ME: Yes, and my husband's.

GM: I can change your name.

ME: OK, but we need to change his name too.

GM: Um, let me put you on hold.


GM: Let me ask you a question. Why would we change his name? You didn't take his last name when you got married?

ME: No (trying to stay calm), we both changed our names, so his name is different. He changed his name too.

GM: To what?

ME: (sigh) We both hyphenated.

GM: Oh. Well I don't think we can change his name. We can change your name. We can only change the names to a legally married name.

ME: Right. That's his legally married name.

GM: Maybe if you faxed your marriage license? I can't just add a name to his name.

ME: But it's his name...

GM: Maybe I can talk to my supervisor, do you want to hold?

Argggh. It's just a hyphen, people. Chill!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

His Vows

I am writing these vows at the end of a really long and stressful week, after we have completed list after list of wedding tasks only to find more lists. What helps me most to get through all this craziness is to imagine myself saying these words to you on the best day of our lives, when all the anxiety takes a back seat to your radiant smile and your gleaming eyes. This is the moment that sometimes seemed like it would never come.

I promise to love you forever. I can't promise that it will always be easy or pretty, but I promise that it will be true. I promise to always try to be the husband you deserve, even when we are tired, stressed, angry, or just confused. I promise to hold you when you feel alone, fatigued, and overwhelmed. I promise to provide for you, that is to provide silence when you are still waking up, provide corny jokes when you really don't need them, and provide poorly executed massages when you ask for them. I promise to cherish your laughter and tears even when they come all at once. I promise to respect you even if I think you are wrong, unfair, or just plain crazy. I promise to respect you as my equal in Christ. I promise to trust you in all circumstances, especially when my instinct says I should run and hide. I promise to remember all these promises even after eleven o'clock at night when I have lost the ability to think rationally.

You are more than I dreamed of, and the longer I love you, the more I find to love. You are God's gift to a truly undeserving man, and with His help, I promise to love and honor you with all my heart and soul for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to Boil Water

Receive an awesome cookbook from your aunt.

Choose recipes--Tuscan chicken stew, Eggplant parmesan, chocolate chip cookies

Grocery shop

Cook... for a really freaking long time. (lesson learned... if the recipe says one hour, it will take at least 2)
Place what you think is a dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Apparently though it's a casserole dish and will spontaneously combust in about 2 minutes... exploding and shattering all over the kitchen.
Skin the chicken, even though the recipe was really clear you should have bought skinless in the first place.
Cut up the eggplant. Realize you don't know what the inside of an eggplant it supposed to look like and yours might be bad. Look on wikipedia for a picture. Decide you're ok.
Pour in Italian seasoning on the "pour" side not the "sprinkle" side. Try to scrape as much out of the dish as possible, although what remains is roughly 4x what the recipe calls for.

Make a huge mess. Use a different dish for everything. Curse the day you rented an apartment without a dishwasher.

Enjoy a lovely meal and the wine you didn't use in the recipe.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Vows (the Mrs.)

I respect you as my equal in Christ and I promise to love first God and then you.

You have set me free to be who I am. You love me with a phenomenal and unconditional love that is the most perfect picture of Christ’s love for which I could ask. You have far surpassed my expectations of a partner and you have opened up my heart in such beautiful ways. I love the light in your spirit, your kind heart, and your constant seeking of truth.

I pledge to make Christ the center of our life and to pursue His love and justice together with you. I will honor your dreams, nurture your gifts, and embrace your deepest parts. I will not abandon my individual calling in favor of yours, nor will I allow you to sacrifice your individual calling in favor of mine. Rather, I will live our life together as we are one, pursue our collective callings, and seek interdependence with you. I will always try to fully communicate my feelings, fears, desires, and hopes.

Falling in love with Christ prepared me to fall in love with you, and I know that His love will sustain us, guide us, and impassion us forever.