Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What’s in a Name? A Newlywed’s Thoughts on Keeping Her Name

I foolishly believed that keeping my maiden name would not be a controversy in America in 2012.  I cannot believe how wrong I was!  I keep being questioned, and even berated, for daring to keep my own name.  While all other traditions of marriage have been easily discarded, this one seems to be here to stay.

I shouldn’t have to justify to anyone why I want to keep my own name.  However, I feel the need to explain my reasons in order to enlighten people who do not seem to understand.

First of all, my last name is, quite frankly, awesome.  My mother and sister-in-law were happy to take the name of my father and brother because they loved the idea of having the last name “Diamond.”  My mother’s maiden name is a lovely Italian name, but she was happy to be rid of it because she was tired of her name being mispronounced and misspelled.  Diamond is a beautiful last name that everyone can spell and properly pronounce.

A more important reason, however, is my career.  I am 35 years old.  Had I gotten married at 20, I probably would have changed my name.  Now, however, I have had this name for three and a half decades.  I have built a career with this name.  I have many honors and awards in this name.  When I apply for other jobs, or even just network, my name is very useful.   My students call me Ms. Diamond, and I can’t imagine answering to something else.   I have a house, passport, college degree, and teaching certificate in my name.  All of these accomplishments were made with my maiden name before I even met my husband, and I do not want to lose them by changing my name.

My family and culture are very important to me.  My husband has a great last name, but it reflects his heritage, not mine.  His English ancestors came to America in the 1600s.  My ancestors immigrated around World War I from Romania and Italy.  I am proud of my heritage and want to continue to honor it with my family name.  I cannot imagine no longer having a Jewish last name. 

I have been told that regardless of my reasons, changing my name is “tradition” and “honors my husband.”  The tradition argument is a ridiculous one.  Not one person has criticized us for living together before we were married, which is also a “tradition.”  I have also not been criticized for continuing to work, for owning the house which we both live in, for not throwing my bouquet and garter at the wedding, etc.  Therefore, I cannot believe anyone would have the audacity to use “tradition” as a justification for wanting me to give up my identity.

As for honoring my husband, he didn’t have to change his name to honor me did he?  Does that mean he does not honor me?  No.  We love and honor each other every day, regardless of what our names are.  I honor my husband by my love and faithfulness.  I do not have to prove my love to my husband by changing my name.

However, I may end up having to change my name or at least hyphenate it, simply for convenience.  I realize that although I do not wish to do this, keeping my name may make hassles in my life because other people and institutions do not honor my decision.   My husband and I have been married for only 4 days and we have already encountered issues.  Wedding checks were written to us as Mr. and Mrs. (my husband’s last name).  His bank would not let them deposit them without me present, and I had to endorse them with my first name and his last name because that is what the checks said.  I worry we will run into similar issues in the future.  Of course, no one asked me if I was keeping my name or not when writing said checks, it was just assumed.  I am not upset about this at all, and grateful for the gifts.  I understand that right now people still just assume that the bride will give up her name.  My hope for the future is that someday this tradition will go the way of other outdated traditions, and women will truly have a choice to change or not to change their identities.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I am a difficult Employee

Or…you can’t take the East Tulsa out of the girl

I realize I am a difficult employee and coworker.  I am highly passionate about my work and my students.  It is my mission to provide my students with the highest-quality education and the best opportunities.  If someone or something stands in the way of this, I can get angry and a little bit scary.

I care about my students, and while I do care about the adults at my school, sometimes I just do not care about their feelings.  It is not that I am cold-hearted or mean, it is just that I do not have time to sugar-coat what needs to be said or done.

My passion stems from my upbringing.  I was raised on 28th Street in East Tulsa, which may as well have been Sesame Street.  As a child, I was not aware that my neighborhood was unique.  I had friends of many races, nationalities, and religions.  I spent time in homes where English was not spoken.  I knew at a young age that I was not a fan of Indian food, but that some Vietnamese dishes were excellent.  I never thought seeing a man wearing a turban was odd, because my neighbor, and father of my friend, wore one every day. 

I attended ***** Elementary School, ***** Middle School, and ****** High School.  I received a quality education.  I still remember what I learned from my elementary school science teacher, Mrs. Harris.  My high school teachers mentored me when I became a teacher myself.  I would not have changed anything about my education courtesy of ***** Public Schools and the East Tulsa community.

As I became an adult, I realized that my experiences were, in fact, unique.  I would tell people that I graduated from ****** and immediately the negative comments began, ranging from “I thought that was a black school” to “did you have to wear a bullet-proof vest?”  As a teacher at *****, the same thing happens when I mention where I work.  “How can you teach those kids?”

My response is, “I am one of those kids.”  While I did have some advantages that many of my current students and former classmates did not, the fact remains that I owe a lot to my *****Public Schools teachers.  I had two loving parents who worked three jobs combined, so we always had food and anything we needed.  However, we were not wealthy.  I was able to go to college because of a full academic scholarship.  My brother went to college on academic and athletic scholarships.  So, yes, those kids can and do go to college, regardless of their economic circumstances.

Therefore, when anyone implies that my students are not capable of going to college, or learning, or behaving, or pretty much doing anything other than ending up in prison, I get angry.  I get angry when those in charge think we should focus our students on careers that do not require a degree because they believe they are incapable of attending college.  I get angry when our students are denied technology because they believe the students will steal or destroy it.  I get angry when we are told to teach our students differently than students at other schools because our kids are somehow damaged and cannot learn the same.  I get angry when someone who knows nothing about the students or the community makes assumptions about our students based on their race or socioeconomic status.  I get angry when our students are seen as so worthless that the only way to get someone to teach them is by bribing recent college graduates with student loan payoffs.  I get angry when our students are talked about as test scores instead of human beings.  I get angry when the egos and feelings of adults are more important than the lives of our students.

I get angry because anything that is said about my students is actually being said about me.  I take it personally, which is breaking one of my own personal philosophies.  However, my identity as a graduate of ***** is something I cannot and would not ever change.  Therefore, when I see my students being mistreated, ignored, and belittled, yes, I will get angry, and I will not apologize.
****Edited to remove school names, due to the new social media policy of my employer.  Yes, it is ridiculous, but I like my job and don't want to lose it over a blog no one reads :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reducing my "Stuff" by Half

I am getting married in November.  I have lived alone since I was 19.  I have lived in my current house, which I had built myself, for 10 years.  As I prepare for my future husband to move in, I have had to admit that I am somewhat of a hoarder!  I have lived alone for 16 years, so I was able to pretty much keep anything I wanted, and I am suffering the consequences now!

It has been really hard to get rid of half of my stuff.  Getting rid of old clothes was easy.  I donated them to people who need them more than I do.  However, getting rid of my more sentimental items has been really hard.  I love going through old things, it is like my own personal archeological dig.

The photo is a sample of a few of the fun things I have found while going through my things.  My dog is in the picture because she pretty much photo-bombs every time I get out my camera!

The good thing is that I do not have to get rid of everything.  A lot of things I found I didn't really want to keep.  However, the special things, like family albums and beloved toys, I will pack up and put in storage.  Some things I will just have to make room for and keep them with me forever.  I understand that it is just "stuff," but it is the stuff my memories are made of!

Friday, June 8, 2012

I sell these in my shop.  Now that I am getting married, I should make some new styles!  I need to make some for my reception.

Unsolicited Advice from a 35-Year-Old First-Time Bride

I see many Facebook posts from my younger friends, mostly my former students in their late teens and early twenties, that break my heart.  I understand how you feel.  I understand what it is like to think that you will never find someone.  I was hurt so many times before I met Kevin, the man I will marry this November.

I cried on many shoulders of friends who assured me I would find someone.  I cried on my mother’s shoulder, as well.  My mother was married when she was 21 and is still married to my father.  I felt like her words meant nothing because she couldn’t understand.  She found the love of her life at a young age.  I felt like no one really understood.

However, this is not a “don’t worry, you will find someone, I did” post.  It is a “don’t worry about finding someone and enjoy your life” post.  Even though it hurt to not have a special someone, even though I was afraid I would never find the one, my life up until I met Kevin was great.

I didn’t sit around waiting for him.  I didn’t settle for someone else.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  Of course, it would have been nice to have met Kevin years ago, but that was not meant to be.  I am glad I was single for 33 years, instead of settling and marrying someone who was not as amazing as my Kevin.

Instead of sitting around wondering why no one loved me, I lived my life.  I bought a house, adopted a wonderful dog, and I traveled the world.  I went to Ireland by myself, instead of waiting for a man to take me.  I traveled alone to other places, as well.  I had many experiences in my life that I will always treasure, and none of them would have happened had I been married at a young age.

Although I did enjoy being single, being with Kevin has enhanced my life so much.  I can’t imagine life without him.  However, I am grateful that I lived my life to the fullest until I found him, instead of wasting away waiting for him.  I am not saying my life is better than the lives of people who got married young, because that is not true.  I know many happily married couples with full lives.  What I am saying is that my life was definitely better than the lives of people who settle for someone unworthy, or who fail to live their own lives because they are too caught up in trying to find a partner.

I have many single friends, my age and older, who have spectacular lives.  You do not need a significant other to have a fulfilling life.  Ignore what movies tell you.  Even if I had not met Kevin, I would still be happy traveling and enjoying my friends.  Of course, having Kevin makes my life better, but I was definitely not miserable before we met.  Your significant other should do just that—he or she should make your already amazing life BETTER, not save you from a miserable existence.

Here is my advice.  Do not make finding love your goal.  I know it is hard, but I promise it can be done.  In fact, don’t make any life goals that depend on another person.  Your goals should all be things you can accomplish on your own, such as traveling, getting an education, excelling in your career, etc.  Make yourself the most amazing person you can be, and when the right person comes into your life, you will know it.  You will know that you are worth being loved by a wonderful person.  You will know that you are not settling for fear you will not find someone else.  You will know that you have indeed found true love.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teacher Notebooks Part I

I made these for my classroom.  A tardy log and a notebook for me to keep notes, to-do lists, etc.

Mini Soccer Album

I made this a few years ago for my brother, who is a teacher and soccer coach.  It features pictures of his team from that particular season.  I gave it to him at the soccer banquet at the end of the year. Some of the cardstock shapes were pre-made, others I cut out myself.  I made some of the embellishments digitally.