Thursday, July 29, 2010

Southisms part 2

Check out this awesome spider I found in my backyard! This lovely lady is a writin' spider (Supposedly if you mess up her web she will write your name in the new one, which is where the name comes from) AKA a black and yellow garden spider. There's actually two I've found so far, but this one is the bigger one- about 2 inches long. They are harmless to humans but like to kill mosquitoes, so she can definitely live here for now (every time I go out to the backyard if I don't douse myself in bug spray I get several bug bites- I'm working on pulling out all the crazy ivy back there so hopefully that'll cut down on all the bugs).

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but B and I have different last names. Apart from being a professional feminist (I've published in 2 feminist journals, so I think I can claim that title) and changing my name being against my deeply held beliefs that people shouldn't have to do things a certain way because of their gender, and the thought of changing my own name seeming super weird (like I'd be giving up my identity), I've actually begun to get some name recognition in my field -when I go to conferences people look at my name tag AND THEY KNOW WHO I AM AND HAVE READ SOME OF MY WORK!! Holy crap! So I didn't want to have to start over with that...building an academic reputation is hard enough as it is. Also, changing your name is a super huge pain in the ass, and I don't generally do things that are a pain in the ass when I don't necessarily agree with them to begin with (although having the same name might be nice, so I'm ambivalent about the whole thing). So I didn't change my last name when we got married.

In the northeast this was never an issue, but since moving down south it's like I've moved back in time 50 years..apparently no one in the south has ever heard of a married couple having 2 different names. My mortgage guy asked us if "we were *really* married" which I found incredibly rude because I had just told him we were married like 2 seconds before. Our home insurance/car insurance agent has now been informed on FOUR separate occasions that we have different last names, and yet when we needed proof of car insurance to get our drivers license yesterday she faxed over proof of insurance for "Abandoning and B Eden." B had to sweet talk the DOT into letting him get a license since they require proof of insurance, and it was technically not in his name. Luckily I brought our marriage license with us, and they were able to verify it was him by that + his birthday (which was listed on the proof of insurance).

Other southism (or maybe a "not a huge city-ism?")- when I'm walking Barkley, everyone driving by in their cars waves at us while passing! It is actually kinda annoying, cause I like walking and getting wrapped up in my head, and now I feel like I have to pay attention to all the cars that are passing to see if they wave to me, so that none of my neighbors feel like I'm slighting them.

People down here seem super nice in general. On Tuesday 3 of my new colleagues showed up to help us empty the last of our moving pods, and one brought over a bunch of freshly baked bread and muffins from the local bakery- and I'm meeting up with her again on Saturday morning to go check out the local farmer's market. We haven't really met anyone so far other than those colleagues and 2 of our neighbors. I seem to have chosen a very academic neighborhood, as at least two of our neighbors on our block are professors at the university I will be a professor at. Speaking of which, next week Monday I will officially have started my new job as an assistant professor of sociology! Monday I'm rearranging furniture and getting my computer set up in my newly-painted sage green office. Tuesday I hit the ground running, cause classes will be starting in 3 weeks and this semester I'm teaching two entirely new courses that I've never taught before- and all I have right now is a rough draft of a syllabus for each course. I like to prepare my lectures a few weeks in advance so that I'm always a few weeks ahead of my students- so I want to get at least the first 3 weeks of class prepped before classes start.


  1. I've been married for eight years, live in ultra-liberal Massachusetts, and I find that some people STILL have a hard time with the different last names. The nice thing, though, is if someone calls asking for "Mrs. X" then I know it's no one I know and I can honestly say, "She's not here" (as the only Mrs. X I know is my mother-in-law).

    But most folks eventually get it and now that my kids (who have their father's last name--by my choice, I might add) are in school, I find that a good half of the families have different last names. We were joking just a couple of weeks ago that we went on a camping trip--three families, six last names.

    I've also gotten a little less hardcore on it, and don't completely bristle when people get it wrong. Unless it people who should know better. Oy, did I used to get annoyed at my grandmother! Never could except that I had a perfectly good last name and that I planned on keeping it. :-)

  2. I didn't change my name either. A lot of people call me by my husband's name. Drives me kind of crazy but I've learnt to let it go.

    Oh and our car insurance agent did the same thing with our names. They are frum Jews, so I'm not surprised but I had to tell them like 12 times to change the paperwork.

    The envelopes STILL say my Mr and Mrs rather than both our names. But the insurance is proper so I don't protest.

  3. I would let the last-name thing go pretty fast, if I were you. I live in NYC, and even people here sometimes get it wrong. Getting mad about it doesn't help too much. When my husband and I were first married, I couldn't get on his health insurance. It took them four days to realize that the computer was refusing to acknowledge we were married b/c of the different last names. The only way I was able to get on was for them to put me in the computer as Katrina MAIDEN NAME HUSBAND'S LAST NAME.
    Yes, people in the South (and the Midwest, too) are friendly, which is good but also freaky for us north-easterners. If I were you, I would focus on the good and take a deep breath about the bad, while realizing it is perfectly understandable that getting used to a new culture takes time.
    Good luck with lecture preparation! I am in the throes of that now.

  4. yeah I know it shouldn't piss me off, but since we're moving and just bought a house and have been doing all this paperwork stuff, it's happened several times in a 2 week period. I'm particularly irritated with my car/home insurance person,cause when I set up the policy I made it clear that we had different names, and then she set up the home insurance wrong, and I had to call her to fix it then I asked again for proof of car insurance in B's name and made a point to say his name was different than mine, and she got it wrong anyways, and then I came home to another email from her saying "oh the home insurance underwriter is confused as to what exactly your husband's last name is- is it *my last name* or *his last name*. Did he change his last name?" (how does that even make sense to ask if HE had changed his name?)And this was after I had just told her on the's like she can't process that information or has amnesia about it or something...very irritating.

  5. You can change your name for official purposes and use a pen-name for academic purposes. However, my wife and I have not run into any problems having different names. It's never been an issue. But then in Australia marriage isn't very privileged over "de facto" relationships. My wife actually suggested yesterday that she change her name when she becomes an Australian citizen in about 1.5 years time (she just got permanent residence). Her family name is one of the most common Chinese names (so common that her step-father has the same family name as her father) and her first name is only one syllable and so she just has one initial. So there are heaps and heaps of other published academics with the same combination. My name is quite a common Jewish name. But with two initials it is actually unique in the Web of Science. If she uses her Chinese family name as a middle name there already seem to be two people with the same initials and my family name but they are both in very different fields. I don't think she is going to do it for real... In China, women do not change their names on marriage, though children take their father's family name.

  6. PS. at least a couple of times though I've been addressed by my wife's family name on the phone or in writing. In person it would seem a bit unlikely :)

  7. I went to a cousins wedding last night that only I attended (husband and kids stayed home). I looked for my placecard and found my husband's last name on their. I told a cousin "Look they spelled my name wrong!" And he was confused because the groom and I share the same last name. They KNOW I didn't change my name so I didn't understand it. But whatever.

    Another cousin had a hypenated name. She really wanted to change her name when she got married. Her husband had a really long, hard to pronounce russian last name so they both changed their name. I thought that was a nice concept - creating a new family witha new name.

  8. Shira- we talked about making up a new name, but that wouldn't change the basic problem, that I need my name for professional reasons. :)

  9. My wife changed her name, and the clerk gave her a fair bit of grief about it, and kept pointing out that she didn't have to.

  10. I have a colleague in Sweden who did what Shira suggested. They both changed their name when they got married. But that was before my colleague got a PhD or became an academic. As I said though, there is no need to put your legal name on stuff you publish as far as I'm aware.

  11. I just wanted to add that I like your blog, and I too did not change my last name when I got married. For the longest time, I had no trouble with having a different last name than my husband, and in fact it was my husband who got called by my last name. Until we had kids. I like my name, but being that it's rather hard to pronounce, I was happy to pass on only my husband's last name. Now, whenever it is the pediatrician's office or school, I get called Mrs. my husbands last name, and I think, oh man, that's my mother-in-law. I usually don't correct them and just say, yeh this is my son/daughter's name's mom.

  12. changing names really and truly *was* a huge pan in the rear! kind of surprising, actually, to my secretly lazy self!

    i just found your blog through someone's blogroll-- in the pink, maybe?) and i love, love, love it!

    having moved to the midwest from ca a few years ago, this post resonated with me especially so b/c you know, different parts of the country might as disconnect and rename-- they're *that* different!

    i'm really glad i found your work! thanks much for a good read and fascinating fodder! :)


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