My Maiden name was Kram.
It was nice and short and went well with Cindy.
Easy to remember, and easy to spell.
And the fun part of the name was that it was ”Mark” spelled backwards.
My dad named his manufacturing company “Mark Industries” (a nice little family inside joke). And, I’m pretty sure I have a cousin out there named Mark Kram (funny family huh?).
People used to tell me that my last name was almost certainly shortened from “Kramer” (a well known German name) when my grandfather immigrated to this country, but my dad denied it…adamantly…as did his dad.
But I didn’t care. I just thought it was cool that it was Mark spelled backwards.
Growing up, I never felt a strong attachment to the name. But I identified with it. I was Cindy Kram.
I guess, as a girl, I got the message early on that it was a temporary moniker that I’d someday shed for another, so don’t get too close. Boys are raised with the expectation that they will keep their last names and “carry on” the name throughout the generations, but none of that pressure (or expectation) is bestowed upon girls.
But I was raised in a pretty progressive family where most of the gender expectations were being challenged on a regular basis. So when it came to actually changing my name when I got married…I really had to think about whether or not I wanted a new name.
I felt like I could choose to take on a new name…or not, (which actually ended up causing me lots of angst).
Should I hold onto my given name and buck tradition? Did Cindy Kram carry an attachment to my heritage and history that I should hold on to? Did giving up my last name for a man mean that I wasn’t an independent woman? Did I want to have a different last name than my husband? Or… my (future) kids?
Finally…it came down to the most important question of all…did I like the name?
Carrillo. Cindy Carrillo.
It kind of flowed.
I liked the two “C’s.”
But I couldn’t roll my “rrrrrr’s” when saying the name (unless I used the phlegm in my throat) and felt a bit intimidated by a name that I knew carried a whole new ethnicity with it.
Most folks think its Italian, but it’s actually Hispanic. Or rather Spanish…as my mother-in-law used to tell me.
But even so, she said I didn’t have to role the “rrrrrrr’s.” She said they pronounced it with a hard “r” and “l” sound (Car-ril-lo)…not (Carrrrr-eee-yo).
So I tried it on. Played with it. Wrote it down. Practiced a new signature. Pretended that I was being introduced at a party, “I’d like you to meet Cindy Carrillo.”
And I started to like the way it felt.
Only then did I start to embrace the idea of taking on a new name with true enthusiasm (and let go of all the other stuff).
But not my mom.
She never really loved the name Kram herself (her maiden name was Dankner – so not all that wonderful on its own!), but I think she liked the married identity that the name brought to her. And that it was shorter than her maiden name (she loved having a full name that was only 7 letters – Del Kram). And (if truth be told)…that it was Jewish.
And Carrillo was not.
So she came up with an alternative that she carefully proposed to Brian and me.
She explained that since Brian was becoming a doctor…and we were now living in a time when women shouldn’t have to change their names to match their husband (ALWAYS the feminist)…she thought we BOTH should change our names to…
Cohen. A nice Jewish name.
Brian would be Dr. Cohen: a nice Jewish doctor.
Except I kinda liked the whole Hispanic (sorry…Spanish) thing. It’s not often a blonde haired- blue eyed-Jew-from the suburbs of Detroit, could get a new layer to her identity without anyone judging her.
So I took the name Carrillo (mom ended up embracing the whole idea), with all its history and richness, and wore it with love and pride.
I never felt like I “gave up” Kram. I just wore Carrillo over Kram like the layering of a perfect outfit.
And…when Brian and I split up, I asked him if it would be ok if I kept Carrillo (I asked his mom too).
It had become a significant piece of my identity. I had two beautiful Hispanic (sorry…Spanish) kids with the name, and the name had been with me for almost as long as I had the name Kram, so it felt like it was mine.
So, I’ve kept it, and I’m glad I’m a Carrillo.
And a Kram.
P.S. Now that Ally is getting married…to a “Kohn” (I know, the irony is almost scary), I’m leaving her alone to make her own decision.
P.S.S. My mom would not.
First off, I’m changing this topic to “Should ALLY change her name when she gets married?” I’m super selfish like that.
(And also because I don’t believe that there’s a rule. There’s no “should” when it comes to this. It’s up to her (and him).)
We’ve wanted to write about this subject for quite a long time, and now that I actually have to MAKE A DECISION about this in the near future, it’s time to talk it out.
I love my last name. I identify with it. I like having the same last name as my family.
I LOVE that my initials are ABC (just like my Daddy).
And with all of that said, it seems obvious that I should keep my last name when I get married to Mike.
I never even thought about this when I was growing up. Sure, Alexandra Taylor Thomas or Alexandra DiCaprio sounded fun, but I never actually thought that I’d have to change my name someday. My folks never brought it up with me or anything (which I now resent you guys for because I feel a little blind-sided).
Over the past decade, I think I’ve always assumed that I’d keep my name.
But now that it’s HERE (which is awesome), I have to think about what to actually do.
Even though I love my name and initials, I also want to have the same name as Mike (which is Kohn).
And, even more than that, I want the same name as my future kids.
(I don’t even have children yet, and they’re already making shit complicated…)
Mike says he’s completely supportive of whatever I decide, which is ABSOLUTELY NO HELP AT ALL.
So, I’ve been compiling a mental pro and con list about what I should do.
PROS OF CHANGING MY LAST NAME:
- I’ll have the same name as Mike… everyone will know we’re Mr. and Mrs. (Though, with our luck – and the fact that we look vaguely similar – people will probably just assume that we’re brother and sister… or at least cousins.) We can be introduced as Ally and Mike Kohn, not Ally Carrillo and her husband Mike Kohn. It’s a symbol of us as a couple, as a team…
- I’ll have the same name as our kids. Now I know our future children don’t HAVE to have just Mike’s name, but I don’t want to hyphenate. Carrillo is long enough on it’s own – I’m not adding four more letters to it. I think that’s just mean.
- Speaking of length, Mike’s name is half as long as mine. My full name is Alexandra B Carrillo, and that is one long ass name to fill in on standardized test sheets. I loose valuable test time filling in name bubbles! Plus, I’d be able to cut my email address in half, and spelling it out for people would be way easier…
CONS OF CHANGING MY LAST NAME:
- I won’t be ABC anymore! ABK just doesn’t have the same ring to it… If Mike would just change the spelling of his last name to Cohn, this wouldn’t be an issue…
- I’ll have to change all of my online accounts. I know, that seems like a silly thing to say, but damn if it isn’t a pain in the ass. I mean, on top of changing my driver’s license, I have to change my Facebook URL!
- I have perfected the Alexandra Carrillo signature. I’m proud of my signature. Learning a new one makes me feel sleepy. (It’s a lot of effort…)
- I like that my name is Spanish.
- Yes, most of these CONS are silly and stupid, but this one is real – and the one that matters: I have an indescribable, irrational, overwhelming fear that I’ll loose part of my identity. Again, this seems foolish – even as I write it – but it’s a strange, lonely feeling thinking that I won’t have Carrillo attached to the end of my name. I know that I’ll still BE a Carrillo, but still.
I tell myself to listen to my gut, but my gut is as indecisive as my brain.
And so, to sum up, you all decide for me.
YOU HAVE ELEVEN MONTHS (!) to get your pro and con lists in.
PS: While were at it, tell me whether or not I should work during my first year of Graduate School, and whether I should cut my bangs again. These are all super important things I need to think about.
PPS: Maybe I should just change my last name to INDECISIVE… but that’s even longer than Carrillo…
At different times in my adult life, vacations were designed for different purposes.
And let me begin by saying that I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout my life to have had both the time and the resources to go on some amazing vacations.
When the kids were young, it was all about seeing new and exciting places and building memories of special times together. Whether it meant a trip to Washington DC to visit the museums, a week at a Disney Theme Park, or camping in the beautiful Rocky Mountains…it was all about exposure and memories.
Living in Boulder, Colorado we can get quite insular. We don’t have a lot of diversity here. So it’s easy to forget that there are many different types of people, with different cultures and viewpoints making up the world. So I always felt it was important that we make an effort to travel around in order to expand our understanding of the world we live in.
When the kids were young, I thought of vacations as an opportunity to learn. Yes…it was also about fun. But when you’re raising kids, it’s also about seeing new things and learning about our history, different cultures (even within the same State!), and the vast beauty of our country.
We’d start months in advance and I’d get the kids involved in the planning process as much as possible. We’d get out maps, read books on the locations we’d be going to and talk about what we hoped to do.
We’d also start with a work chart about 2 months ahead of a vacation. The kids would earn .25 for each chore they’d complete, and by the time we’d leave on vacation, they’d have earned anywhere from $35-$50 (each) to spend along the way.
It was a great strategy.
Brian and I never had to ask the kids to do anything around the house leading up to a trip (Woohoo – they actually wanted to do chores so they could earn $$) and…once we were on vacation, they never asked us for anything.
None of the typical “Mommy…can I have that T-shirt/sweatshirt/banner/poster/etc?”
Instead, they would count their money and decide if they really wanted an item (or not) and would end up being incredibly frugal along the way. It was HEAVEN!
During those early years, our vacations were also about balance. A bit of activity, a bit of rest, and a bit of adventure. As long as the kids were happy…we were happy. And, as any parent knows, their happiness was based on maintaining that balance. If we screwed with the balance, they’d quickly deteriorate into cranky, unhappy children. And that…would not make for an ideal vacation for anyone!
As the kids got older, our ideal vacations became more about exploring the world. We’d venture farther and experience more. Whether it was a 3 week RV trip up through Canada, or across the Atlantic to destinations in Europe – each vacation was jammed packed with new adventures and explorations of new cultures.
Those vacations were “active.” We did a lot. We saw a lot. And…still trying to maintain some level of balance (this time because mommy and daddy would get cranky if we didn’t), we would also fit in a couple of quiet days to just enjoy our surroundings.
Now…as I take more vacations on my own (without the kids I mean) I love those restful, quiet, sit by the pool kind of vacations. Oh I still like a bit of adventure once in awhile. But honestly…I’m really good with going to one place and just hanging out.
When I’m in the mood to both explore and relax however, my ideal vacation is a cruise. I get to unpack once, see a bunch of places, eat well, dance a lot and still have some time to sit by the pool and hang out with a good book and a great fruity rum drink.
I’m really curious how it will be when the house in Ridgway is complete though (we’re about 50% of the way through that project). Will I still want to travel? Or will I feel like I have to “use” that house now that I have it?
I think I’ll figure out the balance…and still do a bit of both.
But I mean really…either way…it’s all ideal!
I’ve been insanely lucky to be able to travel as much as I have.
When I was a kid, we traveled a lot. I didn’t always appreciate it (because, hello, kids are stupid), but I’m so happy to have been to the awesome places that I’ve been with my family. My favorite memories growing up include many, many family vacations.
(It helps that my family kicks ass.)
Travel continues to be an important part of my life, especially in my life with Mike. We’ve been to some amazing places, and I feel very fortunate to look back and think about them.
Some of these vacations have been very busy, switching locations every couple of days. Some have been long, with a week spent in a single location.
A few have been lazy, spending days lounging around and getting too much sun.
And others have been adventurous, spent in tiny hostels, with days spent exploring – and getting lost – on foot, freezing because we didn’t pack enough warm clothes.
But this question is about my ideal vacation…
When I think of “vacation”, I automatically think of the beach.
This is funny, because I have quite the aversion to sand… and copious amounts of sun… and I think salt water is kind of icky.
(It’s a good thing I live in a land-locked state, huh?)
But what’s more ideal than sitting on the beach (or at least near a beach), reading, dipping your toes in the water, and drinking frozen beverages with little umbrellas in them?
I’m a fan of the relaxing vacations. The ones where you don’t really have to worry about much.
I’ve had some great vacations in busy cities where we always had something to do and somewhere to be. The big cities are fun and exciting, but I can only handle those for a few days.
But the sitting and reading and sipping in the sun? I can do that for muuuuuuuch longer.
When Mike and I first started traveling together, we had different views of travel. For me, it was all about lounging around and afternoon naps and reading half a dozen books. Mike liked that stuff, but he also didn’t want to waste our time or miss out on things.
After nine years of traveling together, and lots of different destinations (huge cities, remote beaches, and quiet mountain towns), we’ve perfected a nice balance. We spend about half of our time on the exciting stuff: the sightseeing and visiting and running around. But in between those busy days, we have times to relax and hang out. To spend all day under an umbrella on the beach, reading and eating sandwiches out of a cooler.
(And Mike knows he has to keep as much sand off of me as possible.)
(Because it’s gross.)
So, my “ideal” vacation? Somewhere beautiful with big, bright flowers. Days that are a mix of adventure and afternoon naps. Some tour buses or sightseeing, but also days by the pool.
And if there are frozen alcoholic beverages thrown in? Well then it’s pretty damn perfect.
(ESPECIALLY if those frozen beverages are served IN A POOL. But I’m not too picky.)
(But really, a bar IN A POOL. What genius came up with that gem?)
I’ve been a good boss for most of my career…but I was really lousy at it when I first started.
My first chance to step into a supervisory role was when I worked at the Jewish Community Center in Denver as their Children and Youth Director. I was in my early twenties…and I knew nothing about being a boss.
During the school year I ran children’s programs for kids in elementary school. Programs like vacation camps, before & after school programs and specialized classes like woodworking, and craft making on weekends. I had a small staff to actually teach/supervise kids in these programs (although I learned how to teach kids to build a mean birdhouse) but most of my responsibilities focused on the administrative side of the department. I wasn’t really anyone’s boss for these programs…I was more like a coordinator who ran around setting up rooms, printing out worksheets and making sure supplies were on hand.
During the summer months however, I was in charge of a 25 acre summer day camp, complete with a full swimming program, horseback riding, arts & crafts, music and tons of sports activities….and I had to supervise about 40 young college-aged staff who were counselors, wranglers, and program specialists for more than 200 campers.
It was during these summers that I discovered I knew nothing about being a boss. I could fill out P.O’s (purchase orders), work with the maintenance staff to get the facility in order, make sure we had all of the supplies we needed, and even figure out how to “lease” over 2 dozen horses for the season…but I had no idea what it meant to supervise or lead my staff through the course of a summer camp program.
I was terrible.
I thought the word “boss” meant that I had to “boss” everyone around! I yelled incessantly. I yelled at my staff, and I’m embarrassed to say…I also yelled at the kids.
I went through the summer yelling and bossing, and basically bullying everyone around to get them to do what I thought should be done.
I had no idea what it meant to actually be a boss…let alone, a good one.
And then I went to graduate school. I think it was there that I first began to learn new and effective ways to communicate. But it wasn’t until I left the JCC and started my own company and started to hire my own employees…that I started to really understand what it meant to be a boss.
I still had no idea what it meant to be a good boss…but at least I figured out that it wasn’t about yelling and bullying people to get what I wanted.
It was about leadership. About inspiring people to join me in whatever work needed to be done.
I realized after about a trillion mistakes, that being a boss wasn’t about proving that I was in charge. It was about leading the charge.
And that took time to learn.
It’s not something that I learned in graduate school however, because they don’t teach leadership in school. It was something I had to learn on my own and grow into overtime.
Moral of the story
Maybe we should teach leadership in school so that there will be a lot more good bosses out there.
2nd moral of the story
Maybe that’s something I should try to do at some point in the future…
I’ve never been a boss (officially, at least…), but I’ve had quite a few.
(One of them was my mother. That’s a different topic, though…)
I’ve had great bosses, and not so great bosses.
Bosses that I would consider friends (and family) (though I don’t “consider” my mom family… I’m sorta stuck with her…), and bosses that I’ve damned to hell (NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU, MOM).
Bosses that have inspired and encouraged me, and bosses that have scared me and made me cry in the bathroom.
(This makes it sound like I’ve had a lot more jobs than I have.)
What sets the “good” bosses apart from the “not-so-good” ones?
First, it’s the way they lead. What they do to motivate, inspire, and get shit done. The good bosses that I’ve had have made me WANT to go to work and WANT to do a good job. Because my boss made me happy to be a good employee, to go above and beyond, and to make them proud. Good bosses encourage you, and you’re better because of it.
Next, it’s the way that they manage. A good boss clearly tells you what they want from you (COMMUNICATION), what is expected, and then they let you do it. They guide, they don’t push. They allow you to do your job, because they have enough faith in your ability to do it. If you get off track, they’re watching close enough to catch it and get you back on track, but they don’t look over your shoulder all of the time, or berate you when you mess up. I think this is probably one of the hardest things for managers (in any capacity) to do, but the good bosses I’ve had have this skill down.
Last, it’s the atmosphere that they encourage and cultivate. A good boss finds the balance between working and getting things done, and having a good time. If you walk into a place and see people smiling or laughing while they’re working, it’s probably because the boss encourages that. And I don’t know about you, but I love going to a business that’s full of people that actually look like they want to be there. When there’s a boss that pushes for a positive and inspiring work environment, work is done faster and better.
At the end of the day, work is WORK, and a good boss can make all the difference between a job that’s meaningful, or one that makes you want to poke your own eye out with the corner of your pay stub…
(It’s worth noting that most jobs make you want to do BOTH of those things, but if you have a good boss, then it’s a lot easier to show up after those eye-poking days…)