Monthly Archives: September 2011
I know the issue of changing your name after marriage is contentious, but I didn’t quite realize the magnitude of this until yesterday’s comment explosion at A Practical Wedding. Now I know the magnitude is 570 (and counting).
I also didn’t realize quite how much baggage we all carry around about the choice we made (or are about to make) regarding our name. And how when we flail that weighty baggage around we might whack someone in the face with it. And hurt them.
Or more likely, piss them off.
We’re all guilty of it, myself included.
The comment I read yesterday (and I’ll admit I couldn’t get through all of them, I have a day job) that irked me the most stated (in not exactly these words as I don’t want to pick on anyone outright) that “I am a feminist therefore I kept my name” (emphasis mine).
I don’t think it was meant to be provocative – it was buried within a very reasonable comment – but I felt this sentiment floating between the lines of many commenters and this was the closest I saw to it being said out loud: if you’re a feminist, you should keep your name.
I took my husband’s name. I didn’t suffer a lot of angst over it, though of course I felt a bit of sadness. My reasoning: a common family name means a lot to me. And I first made that decision as a child, well before I was aware of the mission for women to exert their independence through their name. When my mother re-married, she took my step-father’s name and I insisted on changing my name too. Granted that was also partly due to moving to Canada – my Finnish last name would have been a challenge to say the least – but I knew I really wanted to have the same last name as the rest of the family. And so it was.
Frankly, it was easy for me to make the same choice for the family I am now creating myself. That doesn’t make me any less independent, in fact I think it speaks to my independence that I went with my gut rather than where the tide was pushing me. As someone in an academic field with very liberal friends, there was more pressure for me to keep my name than to change it.
Nearly all of my close friends have gotten married in the last couple of years and not a single one (besides me) has changed their name. I’ll admit that sometimes it bothers me to be the only one to have made the ‘traditional’ choice because it makes me feel like I am viewed as less independent and feminist. I know those things to be untrue about myself, but when I read things like “I’m a feminist therefore I kept my name” I realize where those insecurities come from; that belief is out there.
So let me say it loud and clear - I am a feminist and I took my husband’s name with pride.
P.S. I was motivated to write this post after reading Sarah’s smart and pointed comments on the topic at Little Pieces Everywhere.
I went to my first spin class yesterday.* It was one part exhilaration mixed with 37 parts nauseating exhaustion. I started off strong, feeling fan-freaken-tastic, cycling like a pro.** Then four minutes and 38 seconds in (there was a digital clock on the wall that was impossible to ignore) I remembered I am not in fact a pro. I am the furthest thing from it. Whenever I’m in a high-energy group setting I get pumped up along with everyone else and forget that I have the cardiovascular ability of a sloth. Also, apparently it’s not wise to shove a cheese string into your mouth while on the way to the gym.
Well I hit my wall, hard and fast. There was a good 10 minutes when I actually though I might throw up. And because I wanted to be able to show my face in the gym again, I eased waaaayyyy off. I swallowed my pride and actually sat down on my bike seat while all the fit people around me sweated through their warm-up. Yes, WARM-UP.
Speaking of sweat, I wish I could. I’m like a pressure cooker when I exercise. I don’t sweat, I just turn bright red as all the heat in my body tries to escape through my head. So while I started hearing steam whistles going off in my ears, I enviously stared at the healthy beads of sweat forming on the seriously fit woman in front of me. The woman next to her had the nerve to actually wrap a towel around her lower back to catch all her buckets of sweat. Show off.
Cardiovascular exercise has never been my thing. I’m not sure if I am terrible at it because I hate it, or if I hate it because I’m terrible at it. All I know is that my heart beating madly while I pant and struggle to force all the oxygen I possibly can into my lungs always feels completely unnatural and highly unsustainable. It is a state I want to get out of as fast as possible. Muscle exertion on the other hand I find pretty enjoyable and I have legs strong enough to crush cafeteria trays to prove it (Scrubs reference…. anyone?).
I did have to admit though that I have gotten a bit out of shape, even for cardiovascularly-challenged me. For a long time I’ve been able to sustain the illusion that I’m in decent shape. A few years ago I managed to get a good gym routine going and actually did get in shape (not in small part due to the fact that the gym I went to had a TV on every cardio machine and I timed my workouts with Sex and the City re-runs). After moving further away from my gym, my visits dropped off but I replaced them with other things like swimming and then later walking the dog. Lower intensity, but I felt like I had conquered this whole “active lifestyle” thing.
Then along the way I lost my swimming buddy (she just moved, she didn’t actually go missing) and “walking” my dog turned mostly into clipping her leash off at the park and watching her play. But because I regularly left the house in running shoes and own a sizable collection of Lululemon workout clothing, I had my brain believing I was active. The illusion was further sustained by my weight staying practically the same - the muscle was just quietly turning into flab.
Well last week, I finally upgraded my gym membership so I can use the gym that is two blocks from my office. And I’ll have you know I made it through that spin class without losing any of the contents of my stomach thankyouverymuch, even if it did mean my bike’s resistance was set at barely past “moves with its own momentum.”
I might even try it again sometime. But probably not this week.
*OK, not strictly my first, I did one about 3 years ago, but I think I have since earned back my spin-class virginity.
**In fact, like one of the pros I was staring at on the projector screen, which was showing footage from Tour de France. Is this a thing in spin classes? Or just in my show-offy downtown gym?
It’s Sunday morning. Cassie has woken me up early once again with her restless paws padding around me, on me. I don’t mind though – I kind of like being up early on weekends. With no one else around, it feels like stolen time.
I stay in bed, savouring the fog of sleep still clinging to my eyes and my thoughts. John is breathing deeply next to me, still in the depths of sleep. Outside, the rain suddenly picks up and a heavy sheet of water hits the windows; it is officially pouring now. There is a part of me that loves that sound and how completely it envelopes our cozy home, but I also know I’ll have to walk Cassie soon enough so I hope it slows down.
I lie there for a while longer, taking advantage of Cassie’s willingness to cuddle. She puts her warm little head on my stomach, so I settle in and dare not move a muscle because this is too adorable to disturb. I breathe in her lovely warm doggie breath and rub her favourite spot behind her ear.
By the time Cassie convinces me to get out of bed, the rain has stopped and the sun is periodically peeking from behind heavy clouds. We time our walk perfectly and catch the park right when it is glistening in the sun. It is a rainbow of green, every shade fully saturated. That is one benefit of living in a temperate rain forest – along with the rain you also get the forest.
When we get home, I decide to make pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast. John heads into the kitchen just in time to help me finish up and set the table. We eat at the breakfast nook by the window, so we can enjoy a few more glimpses of the sun before it hides behind the grey clouds, quite possibly for the rest of the day. A man walks by on the sidewalk and peeks in at us – I think he’s jealous of our pancakes, of our little nook. I finish my breakfast just in time to run to my laptop for my weekly Skype-date with my mom.
I could do without the fall and the eternal rain it brings, but I do cherish the return of my routine.