Just Admit You Love Your Wife

The other day, I took my car in for an oil change.  It was a bit overdue, and I had a coupon, so I ended up at the local Midas with my fiance.  While we waited for the mechanics to get done with my car, we chatted some with the manager.  He saw that we were a young couple, so he ended up telling us the story of how he met his wife.  It went something like this.

“I’m not from here originally; I’m from up north.  I came down here 30 years ago for a two week bike trip.  But close to the end of the trip I got into a wreck; some woman hit me as I was driving down a mountain.  I ended up in the hospital for awhile.  Right before I was supposed to be released the nurse came to do one last check and I told her, ‘I’m only here for a day or two more.  Wanna go on a date?’ I didn’t think she’d say yes, but she did.  I got back up north, and after a couple weeks I called her and said, ‘I’m thinking of moving down south.’  And she said, ‘Okay.  You can move in with me.’  So I moved in with her and her roommate, and six months later we were married.  We’ve been together 30 years now.  That’s a lot longer than most guys my age.”

At that point my thought was, How cute!

Then he added, “Thirty years…it’s about time for me to get a new one, don’t you think?  Ha ha ha.”

The cuteness vanished.  Instead of thinking how sweet his story was, I felt sorry for his wife.  I don’t know his life, or his relationship, or his wife.  But I would bet that he doesn’t say stuff like that to her.  To me, it sounded like he still loves her.  I mean, he told us their story in detail, and seemed proud that his marriage had lasted longer than many of his friends’, even if it was because it began earlier.

I could be wrong, of course.  It could’ve been that they married when they were very young, and realized they weren’t right for each other, but stayed together anyway.  They could be having issues.  I don’t know.  But that comment really rubbed me the wrong way.

Making that thoughtless comment, in my opinion, devalues the person you’ve committed your life to, for better or worse.  Most marriages, at least in the beginning, are entered into because two people love each other and plan on doing so by combining their lives for, hopefully, the rest of them.  Thirty years ago, the man that did my oil change loved and valued his wife enough to envision a life with her, and to commit to her.  But now he feels okay joking that it’s been 30 years, and for whatever reason — they don’t love each other anymore? he’s restless? she’s too old? — he should “get a new one.”

It’s been said, but I’ll say again — women aren’t like cars that you can just replace when you get tired of them, or when they quitting running as well as they used to, or when you decide you like the newer model better.  Marriage is a serious commitment, and whatever your situation is, you’re not going to make it any better by joking about replacing your wife like you would a vehicle.

As I said above, I bet the man doesn’t say stuff like that to his wife, even jokingly.  And I do understand that the comment was meant as a joke.  But why is staying married to your wife for 30 years, which to me is an incredible accomplishment, something he felt like he needed to make an excuse for?  Does staying married to one person, admitting you love her to strangers, make you feel so uncomfortably vulnerable that you have to joke that oh, I don’t love her that much?

know he didn’t mean any of this.  Even my fiance, when I mentioned it later, didn’t think anything of it.  It’s seen as normal, because tons of guys make this joke.  Everyone gets that it’s a joke, so it’s okay.  Right?

I don’t think so.  To me, a woman who will be a wife very soon, it sounded harsh and stinging.  I wouldn’t have wanted to have been his wife, even though she wasn’t around to hear the comment.  I’m tired of jokes like this, about wives being the “ball and chain” and about how 30 years is too long to have one wife, especially given the fact that marriage is more beneficial for men than women.  See this quote from the link:

“Not marrying or cohabiting is less detrimental among woman than men,” said Dr George Ploubidis, a population health scientist at the UCL Institute of Education.

“Being married appears to be more beneficial for men.”

I’m ready for us as a society to quit devaluing women as wives.  Not spouting off comments like the one he made would be a great place to start.

Getting Stretchier

Back in April, I discovered a new yoga app. It was a side effect of getting a new phone — I had to re-download all my apps. On my old phone, I had been using Sworkit, an aerobic/stretching/yoga app, but found it repetitive and unchallenging. I decided to replace it with a dedicated yoga app, and I found DownDog. 

As a mini-review, I absolutely love this app. I haven’t ever splurged on in-app purchases for any app, but I’m considering it for this one. I’ve been using it consistently since April, and I don’t see myself stopping. Its fun, it’s challenging, and I’m seeing benefits from using it — why would I not support that?

The app has 5 difficulty levels: Beginner I, Beginner II, Intermediate I, Intermediate II, and Advanced. (I’ve made it to Intermediate I.) While each level gets more advanced, every level offers a great workout. And each routine is different, so you’re not doing the same routine over and over again. An actual yoga instructor narrates the whole session, so you know where to focus your energy and how to position yourself so you pose properly. And if you want to pay the upgrade fee, you can customize your background music and which muscle groups your sessions focus on. It’s an incredibly well-made app, and I definitely recommend it. 

I struggle, though, because my legs and hips are very inflexible. I’ve been trying to focus on lengthening my hamstrings and my inner thighs, and I have seen progress. When I fold forward, I can now almost place my palms flat on the ground without bending my knees — almost. I’m getting there. 

But even know though I am seeing progress, I wish it was going faster. Not being that flexible is limiting me a bit. There are a lot of poses I can’t do, or can’t do as well as I’d like, because my legs just will not bend far enough. My strength and balance are improving, and I’m trying to get to where I could do a yoga sequence on my own, without the app. But I’m just not physically able to do as much as I’d like yet. 

I realized this is kind of a metaphor for my life right now. I got a job working as a bank teller, which I am actually really enjoying. I love the people, and the work is a good balance of challenging and simple. But the fact remains — I was doing this exact same job in a different city during college. It may have the chance for promotion, but it may not, and while I am grateful to have a job I don’t hate, a part of me would rather be doing something else, something that pays a little more, something that made use of my two degrees. I had hoped to be a little higher up in the job ladder at this point — I wasn’t expecting anything glamorous, but I did hope for a little something more. 

My whole life right now is one huge lesson in patience and living in the moment. Sometimes I have to remind myself to enjoy what I have right now instead of always wishing for something better. And I’m having to reevaluate my values a bit. I have always dreamed of some sort of a career, but there’s also a lot to be said for having small hobbies that satisfy me and only me. 

Blogging is one of those things. You may not have noticed, but I’ve been in a bit of a blogging rut for awhile. I’ve missed a few weeks, and several recent Thursdays. Part of this is because I’m struggling to find interesting things in my life to write about. Who wants to hear my rants about bank customers, or my complaints about meal planning, or my lengthening list of home improvement projects I now want to do? I think. In college, there was plenty of fodder for interesting discussions and opinion pieces. Now, it’s harder to find something interesting enough to write about. When I sit down to write about my life, though I enjoy it, it bores me. 

I guess it’s an opportunity to stretch my creativity. I want to continue blogging, because I love it, so I’ll just have to look harder for quality content. I need to get stretchier in all areas of my life — a cheesy metaphor, but an apt one. My hobbies and interests and goals need to stretch around my new life situation if they are to continue to grow and develop. And like with yoga, I’m getting there. Slowly, but I am. 

All opinions expressed about the app are my own, and I was not compensated for the mini-review. 

Evolution of Envy

Everyone gets envious.  It’s not a good feeling to have, but it happens.  I’ve definitely had my fair share of envious feelings.  But I haven’t always been envious of the same things.

I don’t really remember feeling truly envious of anyone until middle school, when all of my friends suddenly looked like women and I didn’t.  I’ve mentioned here before, I believe, about how ugly I felt a lot of the time.  To me, it seemed that everyone else was becoming effortlessly beautiful, while I was stuck with frizzy hair and acne.  It was hard to feel not-pretty.  I felt undesirable, and that was something I really wanted.

Growing up helped, of course.  I wasn’t an awkward teenager forever.  I learned how to at least control my hair, and I learned how to wear a little makeup, which really helped my self-esteem.  And it didn’t hurt that I did well in school and other activities.  And then, once I graduated high school and started college, freshman year did absolute wonders for my confidence and self-esteem.  I met friends who liked me and continued to like me even when we had disagreements, and I met the man who is now my fiance.  Freshman year was a dream come true for high school me, and I was really lucky to have that.

But that didn’t mean envy went away completely.  Instead, the things I was envious for changed.  At first, I was envious of those who could speak Spanish better than I could.  I had had Spanish classes before college, but I felt a little behind during those first couple years.  There was always something I missed in class because I couldn’t understand, or someone who could figure out how to say what I wanted to say faster.  That, though, I overcame as I learned more.  I still wish I spoke and understood Spanish better than I do, but I have achieved my goal of being able to communicate in another language, so that envy has largely been alleviated too.

After that, I became envious of students who knew exactly what they wanted to do.  I was surrounded by a lot of highly driven people, who were good at what they did, who were involved and held high positions in campus organizations, who got great internships, and who had job offers before they even graduated.  I didn’t want to do all the things they did, but I wanted that drive, that passion, that talent.  I got a little lost senior year, trying to find a job, and realizing how little experience and knowledge I had.  I had a plan, but not a very concrete one, and the people I saw did have that.

Now, I’ve been graduated for a month, have just started a new job, and am still fighting envy.  Social media is a cruel invention, because I see people I haven’t seen since high school also graduating, getting their dream jobs, and basically just being beautiful people in a beautiful world.

I’m not trying to sound ungrateful, because most of the time, I really am.  I just graduated with no debt, am living with my best friend in a house that we can afford to rent because we both have fairly well-paying jobs, and I’m getting married in four months.  I am happy with my life, and I’m excited for the future.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have those moments of oh, why can’t my life be like that?  (Even while I know social media doesn’t paint a full picture.)

I have to remind myself often that everyone is different, and just because someone looks like they are doing better than me doesn’t mean that my life sucks.  I’m working on striving for bigger and better things while at the same time being grateful for and happy in the life I have now.

The things we are envious of change as we get older, but it never goes away.  Do you get envious of people’s jobs or homes or lives?  What do you do to alleviate envy??

What I’m Reading: June 2016

One thing I hoped for after graduation has come true: I have a lot more time to read.  I finally have a full-time job, so my days are spoken for, but I no longer have to make room in my evenings for homework.  So books have made it back into my life on the regular, thank goodness!

Resultado de imagen para my not so perfect life coverIt’s not summer for me without a Sophie Kinsella book, and this is the newest one, published in February of this year.  It follows the classic Kinsella style of zany characters and hilariously ridiculous situations, but it felt a bit more serious than her earlier books, especially the Shopaholic series.  In this, Katie Brenner is a recent college grad (like myself) who is trying to break into the world of branding.  She lands a job at a prestigious firm, but is a bit intimidated by her boss, whose social media accounts make it look like her life could not be more perfect.  Katie is simultaneously in awe and repulsed, but when she gets fired she has a whole host of new problems to deal with.

I enjoyed this because it’s the first Kinsella protagonist I’ve read who was just starting out in life.  I identified with Katie, and I admit felt a bit jealous that she is working in her field so soon after graduation.  But Katie is definitely not perfect either, and that made her so easy to root for.  I saw myself and my friends in her, and I wanted her to succeed.  She learns a lot of hard, adult-y lessons throughout the book, but it still has the nice, satisfying ending that is characteristic to Kinsella books.

Resultado de imagen para universal harvester coverUniversal Harvester is one I wish I could have read in school, or even in a book club, because it begs to be re-read and pondered and analyzed.  Set in the late 90s, it follows Jeremy, who works at a video rental store.  Jeremy, who has lived alone with his father since his mother died in a car accident, is settled into his routine, and likes it that way.  But he can’t help but be curious when several tapes get returned with extra scenes edited in, scenes that seem to have been shot not far from his house.

When I started this, it felt like a creepy thriller.  The mystery surrounding the tapes seemed dark.  Once I realized that — spoiler alert — the narrator is not the author, but another, unknown character, it got even creepier.  But as I got even farther into the book, the creepiness melted away, and it just felt horribly sad.

I know I’m being vague about this book, but it’s the kind that demands to be read to be understood.  You can go read the description on Amazon or Goodreads if you want more info.  What I will say is that Darnielle’s writing style is incredible.  Reading a novel with an unreliable narrator is one of my favorite things in the world, and he executed that perfectly.  This is going to be one I beg other people to read so we can talk about it.

Resultado de imagen para yo julia alvarez coverYo! is by the same author who wrote How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, which I loved.  This I have not loved nearly as much.  But part of it is because at first I didn’t realized that this book continues the story Yolanda, one of the Garcia girls, throughout her lifetime.  It’s an eventful one, too — she angers her entire family by writing about them, gets kicked out of college, and marries — three times.  If I had realized that this Yo was the same as the Garcia Girls Yo at first, maybe I would’ve liked it better.

But another reason I haven’t loved this is because I am reading it in Spanish.  While I have no trouble reading and comprehending words, comprehending voice is a different story.  In this book, each chapter has a different narrator.  Sometimes they are named, and sometimes they aren’t.  I also didn’t realize that at first, because it does take a little more effort for me to understand Spanish novels.  I found that it helps immensely if I read out loud, but I can’t read the entire thing aloud to myself.  I did finish the book, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more in English.

That said, it’s still an incredible work.  (Also, some of my issues may stem from the translation, since it was written in English originally.)  But even with my somewhat foggy understanding of the book, Alvarez’s unique writing style comes through.  Her characterization and place settings are both beautiful in their own way, and the fact that she wrote every single chapter in a different voice speaks to her talent.  Even though I haven’t enjoyed this nearly as much as How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, I’d still recommend it, and I may end up reading it again in English in the future.

 

Hello, My Name Is

I have one of the most common names there is — Sarah.  Everyone knows a Sarah or five.  It’s one of the female names that are timeless, like Elizabeth or Anna.  Names go in and out of style, but there are always those few that hover near the top of the list no matter what.  Of course that goes for boy names, as well — how many Johns, Christophers, or Michaels do you know?

I was named after my grandmother, and despite having one of the most common names of all time, it’s never bothered me.  I like the name Sarah.  And while I’ve had close friends named Sarah, distinguishing us hasn’t really been too much of a problem.  One of us will go by our last name, or we’ll add an adjective to our names — I’m the short Sarah.  It’s annoying occasionally, but it’s more often funny.

But while having a common name doesn’t bother me as a Sarah, it bothers me as a learner of other people’s names.  My fiance and I just moved to a new city, and at his job, he works closely with a group of four other men.  One of them has the same name as his brother, and since I’ve never met the coworker, I always end up thinking my fiance is talking about his brother.  But he usually is not.  It’s confusing.  And I can’t tell you how many Samanthas, Rachels, and Emilys I know.  Having to add descriptors to a few like-named people is fine.  But having to do it for everyone gets exhausting.

When I was in middle school, I wrote a lot of stories for fun.  At that time, it was popular for parents to name their kids something normal, but spell it really weirdly.  I liked that trend, so I ended up with a bunch of characters named Emaleigh, Haeli, or Lorynn.  (I also only did it for girls.)  Looking back, I seriously cringe at that.  Thank goodness that stage happened before the appropriate kid-bearing age.

But while I scoff at that attempt at uniqueness, the idea of having more unique names appeals to me now.  Why do we use the same names over and over, when there are literally millions of words we could be using instead?  Does the world really need another Sarah?  Wouldn’t that hypothetical person be the same with the name Juniper or Desdemona?

Names do have an effect on us, of course.  I’ve read before that children named Joseph Allen III, for example, think better of themselves than children named Joseph Allen Jr.  (One gives a sense of a whole identity while the other makes one feel like a mere shadow or copy of their parent.)  Names that are traditionally non-white get turned down more for job interviews.  And people with names like Storm or Ocean might be less likely to be taken seriously (even though people don’t usually name themselves, so it’s not their fault…but I’m getting off topic).  Naming a child is an important task, and one that should not be taken lightly.  Parents know this, and know that there are many factors to take into consideration, so more common names are often the safest options for multiple reasons.

But you don’t have to sound like a hippie to pick a more unique name.  There are plenty of “normal” names below the #100 mark on popularity lists that work just as well as the more popular ones.  Parents could decide on a meaning first, and then search for names based on that.  They can search cross-culturally and cross-religiously.  I’ve even seen ancient place names listed as possibilities on baby name sites, and not all of them were that weird.

There’s an infinite world of possible names out there.  Giving people more unique names will definitely make them more memorable, and it may even make the world a better place — if a kid has an uncommon name, who’s to say it won’t give them uncommon confidence?

Realistically speaking, I know it won’t happen that way.  Humans are creatures of habit, and that won’t change.  I also don’t really want kids of my own, so unless I change my mind, I can’t even do anything to make my dream world of unique names a reality.  Until then, you can call me Arazou Kaegan — it means wishful thinker.

Goals Summer 2017

I’m in the midst of two huge life changes.  I just graduated, and I’m still job hunting.  I thought I would be able to hold out for a permanent, full-time position, but I’m getting to the point where I just need an income, so those plans have changed some.  I’m also in the beginning stages of planning a wedding.  My life is weird right now.  I’m back and forth between the place I now share with my fiance and my childhood home, and it feels a little like I’m just drifting along.  A job would ground me some, but obviously I’m not there yet.

As far as goals go, my floaty situation makes it a little more complicated than normal.  Typically, I like to make concrete goals based on what I’m doing.  But right now, I’m not doing anything concrete.  So my goals for this season, from now until my wedding at the end of September, have had to be more introspective.  It’s only been a month since I’ve graduated, but it has been very frustrating not having an income or a set plan of my own.  I tend toward pessimism anyway, but this situation has definitely made that worse, and that’s not good for me or anyone around me.  So these goals are my attempt to change that.

  1. Be more selfless — nothing I do in my life affects me and only me.  This is kind of a broad goal, which is not how you’re supposed to make goals, but this is something I need to work on.  One specific thing I need to do is plan my wedding for my fiance.  I get hung up on the fact that we’re having a traditional wedding at a moment in our lives when we ourselves can’t afford it, which really bothers me.  Sometimes it bothers me so much I feel like scrapping everything and going to the courthouse.  But both our parents have told me multiple times that they want to give us a beautiful wedding.  Weddings are family affairs, and I also know that my fiance wants a traditional wedding.  So when I get overwhelmed and exasperated, I have to remember that I’m not doing anything for just me.
  2. Communication Goals:
    1. Talk to myself!  This sounds crazy, but this is actually a proven method of motivation and emotion management.  Speaking to yourself out loud offers the most benefits, but even talking to yourself in your head can have a good effect.  I usually feel too silly to talk to myself out loud, but sometimes, when I notice how negatively I’m thinking, I try to turn that around and tell myself the good side of what’s happening, or why what I’m thinking is wrong.  And it does help.  (Try it before you call me crazy.)
    2. Make it a point to speak to people I don’t see on a regular basis.  I’m bad about not texting or calling people when I haven’t seen them in awhile.  I haven’t had to deal with this, really, because I’ve never spent more than a few months away from my close friends.  But now we’ve all graduated, and we’re all over the place.  I need to initiate contact once or twice a month at least if I want to keep up the friendship.  And I’m much better about keeping up with my parents, but I need to make it more of a point to say hello to my siblings once in awhile, too.
    3. Always, always tell my fiance if something is bothering me.  Sometimes I find myself repressing emotions, and it just makes me bitter and angrier at things that go wrong.  He has never once failed me or ignored my perspective when I’ve told him something that had been bothering me, and I need to remember that and give him the chance to help.  And on the flip side of this, I need to make sure I’m not ignoring his needs, either.
  3. Be assertive.  During the past couple months, I’ve made decisions that I thought through carefully.  But then I would find out that one or more people didn’t like that decision, or didn’t think it was best for me, and I would end up changing my mind or waffling back and forth.  It caused a lot of stress, and I’m tired of that.  In decisions that I make from now on, I will of course consult the people that decision may directly involve, and will think through all my options.  But once the decision is made, I’m not changing because of differences in opinion.  Even though not having a job makes me feel like a child, I’m not.  I’m an adult, and adults make decisions that others don’t like.

I’m giving myself a little wiggle room to change/modify/add to these goals as the weeks go by.  But I think these are good starting points.

Introducing NerdyWordyBirdy

No, not me.  You already know me.  And since you already know me, you probably already know that in trying to keep up my Spanish skills, I decided it would be a good idea to start a blog in Spanish.  So I did.

Si habla español y quiere leer mi blog nuevo, haz clic aquí.

This blog was started solely to practice my Spanish.  I could have just created a folder on my Google Drive, but I like blogs too much, and posting my work where anyone can (hypothetically) read it makes me more careful about grammar and good content, and gives me more accountability and incentive.

As of now, the plan is to post once a week on Mondays.  I may end up using essay prompts, or even write short fictional pieces.  I’m typically not a fan of fiction blogs, but I’ve been having writer’s block of late, and the point of the new blog is to practice, not to write the most profound posts ever.  (Although if I stumble upon a really good idea, you won’t find me complaining.)

So, if you speak Spanish, feel free to take a look.  If not, or if this doesn’t interest you in the slightest, please ignore my shameless self-promotion.

Discussion: Political Statements in Jane the Virgin

I posted awhile ago about all the reasons the TV show Jane the Virgin is one of my favorites.  As season 3 comes to a close, every one of those reasons still holds.  Jane the Virgin is definitely in my top five favorite TV shows ever (up there with Parks and Rec and Breaking Bad, in case you’re wondering).

Jane the Virgin is also one of the most politically active fictional TV shows I’ve seen.  Other shows may use politics as a small plot point here and there, but Jane the Virgin sets itself in modern day, where the characters can react to politics and other current events as they happen.  It makes the show even more relevant than it already is, and may serve to get viewers more interested in current events and activism.  And it makes so much sense that the show is like this, because Gina Rodriguez, who plays Jane, is very politically and socially active.  She advocates for many minority groups on social media, and has an Instagram feature called #MovementMondays where she highlights minority actors and activists to get her followers learning and excited about change.

One example of current politics done well in Jane the Virgin is the status of Jane’s grandmother, Alba.  Alba is a Venezuelan immigrant, and when the show begins, she is completely undocumented.  For this reason, she is deathly afraid of police and other authority figures, and wants to apply for her green card but is afraid her lengthy illegal status will get her deported if she applies.  Jane and her mother help Alba overcome her fears and apply for her green card, and she later ends up marching in a protest to advocate for herself and for her boyfriend, who is undocumented when they meet.  It’s a very real situation for many here in the US, and Alba becomes a stronger character because she overcame her fear.

But there are other political statements that feel like they’ve been forced into the plot.  For example, Jane begins dating Fabian, one of her father’s coworkers, and feels she is ready for casual sex.  So she goes for it, showing up at his apartment dressed to impress, but Fabian ends up talking to her for two hours about books.  She’s frustrated, obviously.  But at the beginning of the scene where Jane tries to bring up her intentions, Fabian first asks a question about one of the books, to which Jane replies with a statement about free speech for everyone.  Then they launch into the sex conversation.

To me, that interaction felt forced.  It didn’t flow like a real conversation might have.  We didn’t see any of the previous book conversation, and after that one statement was made, there was no follow-up.  It wasn’t part of the plot, or part of any character’s development.  It was social commentary with no basis in the story, stuck into a conversation seemingly at the last minute.

Another thing that bothers me is the use of Jane’s child, Mateo.  At this point in the show, Mateo is about 4 years old.  Like any 4-year-old, he notices things about the world and wonders about them.  But I don’t know if the statements he makes are ones that a 4-year-old would think to ask.  He asks about abstract and complex concepts often.  Of course, young children are often much wiser than we give them credit for, and can surprise us with incredibly deep questions.  But the way they ask them is different than the way an adult or an older child would ask them, and I think Mateo’s writers may need to further study the way 4-year-olds process information.  Also, the fact that Mateo is even used at all to further the show’s political agenda (because it’s clear there is one) is a tad cringe-y to me.  Kids themselves do ask intelligent, political questions, but Mateo is used more as a mouthpiece for the writers than his own character, and that’s not the high quality storytelling that Jane the Virgin has shown previously.

Another show that makes political statements often is the comedy Last Man Standing.  Its views are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from those on Jane the Virgin, but the statements are usually more tastefully made because the characters’ political leanings are often a crucial part of the plot.  The father character on the show, Mike, holds opposite political views from his oldest daughter and some of his friends, and these differences are sometimes the basis of entire episodes.  As a sitcom, political differences make good fodder for jokes intertwined with the characters’ (and presumably the writers’) deeper values.

Last Man Standing, which aired on ABC, was discontinued on May 10, 2017 after 6 seasons.  Six seasons is a pretty good run for any show, but some are saying that ABC stopped it because the show is staunchly conservative.  I hope that’s not the case, for two reasons.  One is because TV shows should be protected under freedom of speech and expression, and removing a show because it differs in values is a little sketchy.  The other reason is because having different perspectives represented in TV is important.  People use TV for a ton of different reasons, but arguably the biggest is to relax.  Most people have come home from work or school and vegged out in front of the TV for a few hours, because it gives us a break from our own reality.  It gives us a reason to laugh or cry, and it gives us something to enjoy even when we’re so exhausted we can barely move.  Different perspectives need to represented on TV because everyone watches, and we all like to see ourselves.

Since we’re all watching TV anyway, adding some political and social commentary in there can be beneficial.  When it’s done artfully, it gets people thinking, and then maybe acting.  When it feels forced or not genuine, it alienates people from the perspective it’s trying to portray.  That’s why the best way to insert commentary is to do it subtly, make it an important plot point so that it doesn’t feel forced, and don’t overwhelm the show with it.  Regardless of my complaints, I feel that Jane the Virgin, overall, does an excellent job balancing social and political responsibility with superb storytelling.  I just hope the writers don’t go overboard.

The Maiden Name Dilemma

This has been on my mind since before I even got engaged.  To change my name, or not to change my name?  That is the question.

Lately, the more I think about it, the more I lean toward no.  I’m pretty traditional, but this is one thing that doesn’t sit quite right with me.  At risk of sounding feminazi (the horror!), I feel like it’s an antiquated practice that I could do without.  In the “olden days,” women changed their names to signify that they were now under the care of their husband rather than their father.  It was a sign of commitment, yes, but also a transactional symbol.

Obviously, that’s not really how name-changing is seen these days.  Most women change their names as an added symbol of commitment and as a public symbol of the switch from single-ness to marriage.  And if that’s what you want to do, that’s all fine and good.

To me, though, there are enough symbols without me also having to change my name. Our commitment to each other will be displayed through our marriage certificate, our rings, and our wedding.  Everyone important to us will see us get married.  We will both make the mental, emotional, and financial commitment (which really has already been made).  And after the ceremony is over, we will both wear rings on our left hand that say to everyone who sees them, I am a married person.  To me, that’s plenty.

Marriage, in its proper form, is a legal, emotional, and financial commitment between two individuals.  I am already a whole individual, and so is he.  Therefore, I think that the legal documentation, the rings, and the ceremony are sufficient public symbols.

There are obviously some cons to not taking his name.  The first and most obvious is that he is a traditional person as well, and I know he’d like for me to take his name.  That, honestly, is my biggest hangup.  It’s a little difficult to balance my own wishes with his, but that’s what marriage is.  Two individuals essentially becoming one unit comes with a ton of issues like this, as I know most are well aware.  Probably (definitely) more aware than I am.  We will have to discuss this and come to an understanding.

The other big issue is potential children.  I don’t particularly want any children, ever, but in case we do have children, whose name would they take?  I would be fine with them taking his — again, I’m fairly traditional, and I got my last name from my father, so I have no problem with them having his.  But that would be something that would have to be discussed.

I haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do yet, and I have some time before I really have to make that decision.  But it’s definitely something to think about.

I know many people have strong feelings on this; feel free to tell me what you think and/or share your own experience!

 

I Want More Spanish Books Everywhere

You all know I love reading, and that I just graduated with a degree in Spanish.  I posted here (before my impromptu graduating-and-moving blogging break) about how I’m planning on keeping up my Spanish skills.  One of the biggest ways I’ll be doing that is by reading in Spanish, so every time I go to a library or bookstore I browse the Spanish section.

Just in the last week or two, I’ve been to four bookstores and library branches.  And of the places who actually have books in Spanish (some don’t have any at all), all of the ones they have are condensed into just two, three, or four feet of shelf space.  That’s not a lot, when you consider that entire niche sub-genres — like, say, vampire young adult fantasy novels — may have the same amount of shelf space.

Here in America, we have vast bookstores.  We have sections for bestselling fiction, literary fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, Christian fiction, and chick lit fiction.  We have romances, erotica, sci-fi, thrillers, epic fantasies, and crime dramas.  We have biographies and memoirs, how-to everything, travel sections, technology books, books of just photos, books to read in the bathroom, every type of cookbook you could think of, and dozens of different magazines.  We have books on every religion imaginable, and many bookstores have one or more aisles dedicated entirely to different versions of the Bible.

Aside from books, bookstores also typically have huge sections of stationery and notebooks, small gift items, and coffee shops.  Barnes and Noble has the Nook e-reader section complete with its plethora of accessories.  Bookstores have sections just for kids, with books and toys geared towards them, and entire sections blocked off for music and movies.  Do you want me to go on?

We have all of this in some form in almost every bookstore you could ever walk into.  Now, there are almost 43 million Spanish-speakers in the US as of 2015 (and not all of them are of Hispanic/Latino origin), which is almost 10% of the population.  This number is only getting higher as the years go by.  And yet, despite this, bookstores allow only a small fraction of their shelf space to books in Spanish, and this tiny amount of shelf space is expected to encompass the highlights of every genre that is offered in English in the rest of the store.  It’s ridiculous.

Now, I do have to admit that while I couldn’t find any statistics on it, I don’t think Spanish speakers read in Spanish as much as anyone reads in English.  I discussed this with one of my Costa Rican teachers when I spent a month in Costa Rica studying abroad.  We were in the “getting to know you” stage, and she asked me what I liked to do for fun.  I told her one of my favorite things was reading, and she asked me how many books I read a year.  I told her it’s probably 20-24 on average, and she was astonished.  She told me she reads maybe 1 or 2, and that most people she knows haven’t picked up a book since they got out of school.  Of course, this was a small town in Costa Rica, not in the US.  I have no way of knowing whether reading is something that is valued in Spanish-speaking households here, because apparently it hasn’t been studied.  That’s something I’d like to see.

I also want to mention that I have never been in a bookstore or library in, say, New Mexico or California, where the number of Spanish-speakers is much higher than in Tennessee, where I live.  Maybe in those states it’s more common to have larger sections of Spanish books since the customer base is larger.

Regardless, though, there are Spanish speakers everywhere in the US.  It’s the second-most-spoken language here after English, and as such, I feel like it should be given a tiny bit more than a measly three feet of shelf space in a bookstore.  Maybe more Spanish speakers would read and write if bookstores offered more than the same old Harry Potter translations and copies of Cien años de soledad in the Spanish section.  Maybe more people would learn it as a second language if they could read different types of books at different levels in Spanish.  Maybe brick and mortar bookstores could save themselves from going the way of Borders if they tapped into the Spanish-speaking market.  I don’t actually know if any of this would actually help anything (honestly it probably wouldn’t).  But I’d at least like to see some more effort.

For now, I’ll have to stick to reading through every small Spanish section I can find, and I’ll also try to find translations of works originally in English.  But I would truly love to see just half an aisle of Spanish books when I go into a bookstore or library.  I might have to take another trip out west.