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…
I like purses.
I have a lot of them.
Different shapes. Different colors. And…different sizes.
They make me happy.
But I must admit I tend to gravitate toward larger bags.
For me…size does matter (you knew it had to show up somewhere in this one).
I’m not sure why. It’s not like I put more in a large bag than any other bag (the proverbial “evening” bag being the exception since you’re lucky to fit a lipstick and license in those).
I put the same stuff in every purse that I assume other women put in theirs. Wallet, checkbook, phone, lip stick(s), Advil bottle (filled with a variety of pain relieving substances), pen, and reading glasses.
Oh…and tissues, card holder (with my She Thinks business cards), tic tacs and loose change of course.
And sometimes my e-reader. (You never know when you’ll have the chance to finish a chapter.)
And a sweater or scarf. (You never know when you might get chilled.)
I think a big purse makes me feel secure. Like I have options.
Ya know…the option to carry more stuff should I have the need to pick stuff up and carry it somewhere.
Maybe it’s a girl thing.
Or a mom thing (God knows, we moms seem to carry a lot of stuff).
But there are women out there who use really small bags and seem to have everything they need in them.
I admire that. I couldn’t do it. But I admire them for it (it makes me think they must be VERY organized and efficient).
The other day someone (a guy) saw me with one of my big purses slung over my shoulder and asked me if I always carried my “luggage” around with me.
I wasn’t offended. Guys don’t understand big purses. They’re intimidated by them. Like they’re scare of ‘em (or they’re scared of what they might find in them).
How many times have you heard a guy say “what do you carry in that thing?”
As if we carried a bunch of deep dark scary stuff like poisons or snakes or bags and bags of feminine hygiene products that we’re ready to whip out in public at any time.
But the bag in question wasn’t that big. It was a hobo bag and it was just a bit stretched out from months of swinging it from my shoulder to the floor, or over into the backseat of the car, or onto the end of the banister where it lives when I’m at home.
But the comment did give me reason to take a good hard look at what had become my “go to bag”…and I was forced to admit that it did look BIG.
Or rather…long. Months of daily use and abuse had caused it to look more like a woven laundry sack (albeit with a nice leather strap and matching leather bottom) than a stylish shoulder bag.
Not what I was going for.
Apparently I had become too lazy to change my bag and I had entered into a purse rut.
Normally, I love to change my purses to go with my outfits. It’s part of the game of mixing and matching different colors and textures to make a full outfit, with purses adding another piece to the puzzle.
But over the course of the winter I seem to have ignored all the other bags lining the top shelves of my closet…and my one “go to bag” was obviously now showing the worse for wear.
I’m so embarrassed.
I guess I have no choice but to seek out one of the many big purses I have at the top of my closet, so I have the option to fill it with lots more stuff.
I don’t know what (if anything) purse size means. Maybe that you’re an important person with important things that you need to carry to important places?
I’m trying to come up with a reason as to why I carry bigger purses. Is it because I need that much room? Is it because I have so many things that I need to lug around?
Is it because I’m important?
I love purses, and usually I adopt the motto of “the bigger the better”.
I have plenty of smaller purses that I think are adorable, I just don’t use them as much as the gigantic ones.
Why? Because I have shit to carry that I need!
Actually, I only have a few things that I actually need to carry.
My wallet (which is pretty tiny) my book or e-reader (which goes everywhere with me), my phone, and my keys.
Other than that, there’s really nothing I need to take with me.
So why do I insist on carrying around an oversized purse?
Because they’re pretty.
There’s really no other reason than that.
It’s personal preference.
I guess I like that I have the room to shove snacks (I like to carry snacks everywhere in case I get hungry, because if I get hungry I get cranky. I’m basically 3 years old), or a sweater (I’m also basically 78).
But as long as I can carry those few things that I need (like my book), then I’m fine.
Do I like the name Cindy?
I guess its okay. It’s not a bad name. It has two syllables (I like names with two syllables). And it’s kind of cute. I mean when I think of the name “Cindy” I think of a cute girl, probably with blonde pigtails, sitting on an old wooden swing hanging from the limb of a single tree on top of a hill, on a bright cheery day.
(What a strange vision I seem to have.)
So I don’t really relate to the name.
I know I’m blonde, but I never did the pigtail thing…or the swing thing for that matter. Now that I’m 54 years old…it’s really an absurd vision of the name. OY.
I, like millions of other folks, had no control over the name I was given, and was always referred to with my shorter nickname (Cindy) of my longer, more formal, real first name…Cynthia.
I like Cynthia, but I have absolutely no personal relationship to the name. It was the name that I had to learn to write in Kindergarten, but I knew that even though I had to learn how to spell it…nobody would ever use it to reference me.
I was Cindy. From the day I was born.
My mother used to tell me that she named me Cynthia after Elizabeth Taylor in the movie with the same name. I never saw the movie. I’ve seen just about every other Elizabeth Taylor movie, but somehow, Cynthia has eluded me over the years.
So, when writing this post I decided to look it up (love that Google) and see what my namesake was up to in the movie. Here’s the first blurb I found…
Cynthia (1947) was Elizabeth Taylor’s coming-of-age film, the one in which the intense and determined young girl who had become a star at the age of 12 in National Velvet (1944) became an intensely lovely and just as determined young woman.
Nice! Mom named me after a girl of intense loveliness and determination. I could live with that!
But then I read on…
Based on an unsuccessful Broadway play, Cynthia is the story of a sickly, sheltered teen who rebels against her parents’ overprotectiveness, finds a boyfriend, goes to the prom, and gets her first kiss.
Really? First…they made a movie based on an unsuccessful Broadway play? NOT A GOOD IDEA.
And then…she was sickly and sheltered and her only great accomplishments were that she rebeled against her parents, finds a boyfriend, goes to the prom and gets her first kiss.
And…It was a flop. According to a critic for the New York Times, “Cynthia is a synthetic morsel — right out of the Metro candy box.”
But…more than 40 years later, British critic Alexander Walker re-evaluated, calling Cynthia one of Taylor’s “unjustly forgotten triumphs of tact, sympathy, pathos and insistent self-assertion; and the identification with Cynthia by the bobby-soxers who saw it must have been total. It is one of the most likeable movies of adolescent independence.”
AHA! “One of the most likeable movies of adolescent independence.” Now I understand why my mom loved the movie.
She also used to tell me that she named me after the Character/Movie because she thought Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most beautiful women EVER and she wanted her girl to have the name that embodied that beauty.
Woohoo!!! What a mom.
But she never called me Cynthia, even when she was mad at me. I was always Cindy.
(And just for the record, I haven’t been able to find any beautiful girls in the movies named Cindy)
The funny thing is…I don’t feel like people actually call me by my name…directly. I know they refer to me as Cindy (to others), and once in a great while…someone begins a sentence to me by starting out with “Cindy….” But it doesn’t happen all that often.
It actually feels strange when someone calls me Cindy (to my face). I feel like I jerk my head up and wonder who they’re actually talking to. It’s like an out of body experience somehow.
I know I’m Cindy. I sign my name easily as Cindy. I respond to it on those occasions when someone uses it. But I still don’t really relate to it.
It’s just kind of there. A label separate from me, but somehow, a part of me.
I wonder if others feel the same way about their name?
I wonder what Alexandra B thinks about her name?
There’s nothing wrong with my name.
Alexandra is beautiful and elegant and unique.
But I’m not called Alexandra (unless I’m in trouble; when Mom breaks out the full name, it’s bad news).
Until I was 14, my name was Alex. Growing up, I was the only girl named Alex that I knew. I was made fun of constantly because I had a “boy’s name”.
(Especially from boys named Alex. I think they felt threatened meeting a girl with the same name.)
(Knowing that didn’t make it any easier for me, though.)
On top of being a source of ridicule for me, the name “Alex” was also a pain in the ass. In elementary school, it was hard to do those poems where you write your name down the side of the page and then use the letters to write words to describe yourself.
Like A is for Awesome.
And L is for Likable.
And E is for Excellent.
And X is for… well, shit.
(My teacher once told me to just pick a word with “X” as the second letter, like “eXcited” or “eXtra special” or “eXtremely uncomfortable in social situations”. It totally ruined the poem’s flow.)
So when I got to high school, I changed it. I wanted high school to be different, and I didn’t think I could do it with Alex as my name.
So I asked everyone to call me Ally.
(Truthfully, I don’t really see myself as an “Ally” either, but I liked it better.)
Now that I’m “grown up”, I actually like Alex, especially for a girl. But I still don’t think that I can pull it off. I just don’t look like an Alex or Ally.
(I’ve actually had one girl say that I make a terrible Ally and should really be an Autumn or something. I didn’t really know what to say to that.)
Now my middle name? My middle name kicks ass.
My middle name is all mine.
It doesn’t stand for anything, so it’s “B” with no period after it. (And even though I told both my high school and college that a period after the B wasn’t correct, they insisted on putting it on my diplomas.)
It symbolically represents my maternal great-grandmother’s names (they were both named Bessie) (yes, both), but “Bessie” doesn’t really go with “Alexandra” (seriously, “Alexandra Bessie”?), so my parents just made it B.
Plus, with a super long first name like “Alexandra”, and an eight letter last name, a single letter middle name is pretty necessary.
(Do you have any idea how long it takes me to fill in the bubbles on those standardized testing sheets?)
I love it. I’m the only person I’ve met with a middle name that’s one letter (so if you have the same thing, please don’t tell me and burst my bubble).
And with B as my middle name, I’m ABC (just like my daddy), and that? Makes up for any problems I’ve ever had with my first name.