Category Archives: Hippie-ness

The Big Doozy: Changing vs. Not Changing My Name

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One family=one name?
Source: http://www.truewoman.com

The name change issue can be divisive and controversial.  The changers and the non-changers too often pass harsh judgement on each other.  That’s not right!  We should all band together in realization that this issue is TOUGH and puts ALL women in a hard place.  I truly believe that what’s most important is that each woman realize the implications of either decision and truly give it some heartfelt thought and discussion with her partner before deciding.

That being said, my own name change journey involved lots of, well, changes- both changes of my own opinions and others’ expectations of me.  You see, growing up in a conservative family, I never considered NOT changing my name when I got married.  That’s what my grandmothers, mom, and all my aunts had done.  Until quite recently, I honestly never even gave it a second thought.  Like many of us growing up, I often matched my first name with the last name of whoever my current crush and doodled it in curlicued hearts along the margins of my notebooks.

Even early in my relationship with Zach, I first remember thinking to myself, and later actually admitting it to him, “It’s a good thing I like your last name.”  And I do like his last name.  It would sound good with my first name, maybe even better than my family last name.

Yet, as the prospect of marriage grew more real, I started to unearth other options…wedding blogs written by women who chose not to change their name, who hyphenated, or even women whose husbands changed their names (gasp!).  It was like stumbling into a whole new reality I didn’t know existed.  As I started researching and thinking more, I realized how weird/unfair/sexist it was that I had been so cultured into the idea that I HAD to change my name.  In so many other cultures, it is completely normal NOT to change your name.

Ultimately, I went through a lot of soul-searching of my own and a lot of discussion with Zach on the name change issue.  He (being wonderful) agreed with me that the concept is sexist, paternalistic, and unfair.  He didn’t care if we had the same last name or not.  He just wanted me to feel at peace with my decision and my name, whatever it ended up being.  Also, neither of us wanted to hyphenate; it just seems too cumbersome.  In the end, I decided not to change my name.  Woohoo not having to do all that paperwork!

Avoiding this is a definite perk!
Source: site.k2motor.com

Despite our comfort level with my current decision, we are both remembering that “nothing is set in stone.”  If kids come along, for example (a very big, and very far away “if”), and my feelings change, I can always change my name then, or we can choose to hyphenate.  I can change my name at anytime if I so choose; it’s not a decision that can only be made when I get married.

For now though, we’re happy with the idea that “You don’t have to have the same name to be a family.  You just have to be a family to be a family!”  (Quote stolen from a wedding blog I read but can’t find now, sorry!)

This issue has been much discussed but it is so important!  Did you agonize over the decision?

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#WEverb12: GROW

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12. toss [GROW]: 2012 was the last time for ________________

I finally, finally, finally went through all the clothes still loitering in my old bedroom at the parents’ house this summer.  There was stuff in there from way back in high school.  Man, I used to shop a lot!  I remember when I worked at Chick-fil-a and I did actually spend most of my money on clothes from Forever 21 and Delias and all those silly mall stores.  It was funny to reminisce about that with Zach because he’s never seen that side of me.  I’ve been shopping at thrift stores and penny-pinching for travel or bigger things since we’ve been together.

I was definitely more fashionable back then, but the importance of if has faded to me, rightfully.  Nowadays I find thrifting more enjoyable anyway because I can find things no one else has!

Needless to say, Ohio Thrift got a huge donation of early-2000s-era fashion after I cleaned out the old closet!

Veggie Vendetta

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I’m about to tell you something you might find shocking.  But hold onto your hats, because our wedding is going to be a….

That’s right folks!  I am a longtime vegetarian and Zach rarely eats meat nowadays.  So we won’t be serving anything that used to breathe and have eyeballs at our wedding.  I think a lot of our non-vegetarian friends and family members are surprised we’re doing this.  But really, even if we were hiring a caterer, I wouldn’t want to pay for people to eat in a way I don’t believe in.  Because we’re cooking all the food ourselves, of course we’re not going to serve meat.  I don’t even know how to cook it!

We’re having a vegetarian taco bar!

I hope that people aren’t upset about not eating meat and I really hope they enjoy our food.  If it forces them to try something new, then good!  Maybe some will realize that it is possible to eat a satisfying and delicious meal without meat.  Maybe some will freak out and slam burgers before they come.  I don’t really care.  At least we’ll be showing off our values (and our mad cooking skills, hopefully) on our wedding day!

As a side note, I have been to several weddings at which vegetarian options were not even offered!  Maybe I have a slight vendetta, but after not being able to eat at weddings I’ve been invited to, I am super pumped to turn the tables on everyone and not serve any meat!  I promise that the food will be delicious and that there will still be lots of protein (beans, guacamole) and cheese (we’re not vegan).

Is it crazy to have a totally-veggie reception?  Do you think people will freak out or enjoy the food?  Have you ever been unable to eat at a wedding reception?

#WEverb12: GROW

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Ruinas Tazumal, El Salvador

4. experiment [GROW]: What did you do in 2012 that you had never done before? Will you do it again?

So many things!  What did I do that I HAD done in the past?  Not much!

I traveled through 10 different countries, met countless new people, sailed on a sailboat, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, got engaged, lived in Toledo (yuck, not doing that again), moved to California, and bought a surfboard!  I also started my own business and it is continuing to GROW.  Not too bad, if you ask me.  I’d love to go back to Latin America again but there are so many other countries in the world that I have to see first!

#WEverb12: LISTEN

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3. stay [LISTEN]: How did you stay in the moment this year?

 

In general, I am AWFUL about staying in the moment.  I’m such a type-A planner aheader that my brain is almost ALWAYS a few steps, or a few years, ahead of my body.  I have tried harder to stay in the moment this year though.

Traveling through Latin America we experienced so many amazing moments and saw so many stunning sights.  It’s always easier to feel calm and present in gorgeous nature.  Not having a cell phone to be constantly tweeting and instagraming on helped also.

This year I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that talks a lot about presence.  In one scene the characters are hiking and the narrator philosophizes about how on a hike, oftentimes you miss what’s there by fixating on what’s next.  If you’re always anticipating getting to the next bend, the next summit, you’re missing the beauty of where you are!  This resonated with me and after reading it, I tried extra hard to enjoy the moment while running and hiking, rather than anticipating the next mile, or the end.

To Bling or Not to Bling and the MAN-gagement Ring

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Disclaimer: I totally understand that this is a touchy subject and I am NOT trying to diss anyone with a diamond.  I’m just trying to present my own opinion, which is no more than that–my opinion!

I’ve never been into fancy jewelry or diamonds.  If someone gave me a zillion dollars and told me I HAD to spend it on jewelry, I’d end up with 13 billion macrame bracelets and 16 million pairs of beaded earrings.  So call me a hippie, whatevs.  I also kind of HATE when people post pictures of their engagement rings on Facebook.  I know they probably don’t mean to trivialize their engagement, but to me that’s how it comes across.  Emphasizing the rock takes a momentous life event and turns it into a materialistic brag session.  Anyone else with me on this?  Okay, mini rant over.

“OMG! LOOK AT MY HUMONGOUS RING!”
Credit: http://www.ruccus.com

That being said, back in the day, as the prospect of becoming engaged drew closer, I found myself thinking about rings.  Specifically, did I even want one?  If so, what kind?  Zach also subtly dug for answers to these questions.  That’s right, we talked about rings before we were engaged.  We’re modern.  What I eventually decided was that I liked the symbolism of a wedding band but felt pretty ambivalent about an engagement ring.  In the end I basically gave Zach two little tidbits of information on the ring thing:

1. I didn’t need an engagement ring at all, BUT

2. If he wanted to get me one all I cared about was that it be ethically sourced.

Pretty easy, right?  Isn’t he a lucky guy?  Well, despite my insistence that I didn’t even need a ring, Zach wanted to propose with one.  So he found an awesome, inexpensive, handmade metal ring in a Peruvian crafts market and used it to pop the question!  Yay!

The proposal ring. I hope I don’t seem like a hypocrite by posting this but I thought some might be curious. I did not post this on facebook.

Then, because he is AWESOME, Zach decided that he wanted to wear an engagement ring too!  That’s right, without any prompting from me, he realized that if I was wearing one then he should as well.  I was all for that!  I mean, let’s face it, how unfair is it that a woman is suddenly marked as taken from the proposal onward, but the man is still ringless until the wedding?  My little feminist heart was thumping with pride!  Once we began looking for his ring, we decided we wanted our rings to match, since we might as well just keep using them as wedding bands once we get married.  After awhile, we found some handmade, matching silver bands from a silversmith in Ecuador and snatched them up.  I now wear the proposal ring on my right hand, and the silver band on my left.  We might upgrade our silver bands someday, as they’ll probably get scratched and tarnished, but because we didn’t spend a fortune we won’t feel bad if, eventually, we decide to change them up a bit.  For indecisive people like us, the simple/cheap ring route was totally the way to go!  Also, if you’re looking to save some money, buying from a local craftsman while traveling in a less expensive country is a great option!

Our engagement rings which will probably turn into wedding bands.

Zach has definitely encountered a lot of questions about his MAN-gagement ring.  I know it’s pretty rare.  The only other guy who I can remember to wear an MAN-gagement ring is Cory from Boy Meets World, the best show ever!  (Anyone else remember that episode?).  It’s just so weird to us that many people never question WHY a woman wears an engagement ring and a man doesn’t.  I’m so happy that Zach chose to wear one and that we are presenting a more egalitarian option!

Did anyone else have a two-ring engagement?  Or did you not care and go totally ringless?  What do you think of the incessant facebook ring pictures?

The Whole Cheesy Story, Part 4

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First read Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Finally, the end of the “how we met” saga!

When we last left off in my long, drawn out love story, Zach and I had finally said the big “L word”, and the next day I got on a plane to start my two years of Peace Corps service.  I went off to Tanzania to learn Swahili, live in a village, and do my best to contribute something, and he stayed in Ohio, working on his degree.  We left our relationship undefined and I had no idea what would happen.  I honestly expected him to forget about me and find a new girl who wasn’t an ocean away.  But he didn’t.  And the trouble was, I couldn’t forget about him either.  I did my best to adopt a “whatever happens, happens” attitude to the situation and focus on the present.  But I couldn’t stop dreaming about the future, imagining us ending up together.  Every time I got an email or a letter or a super-expensive phone call from Zach I would smile all day.  I had never wanted to be in a long-distance relationship while in the Peace Corps, as I imagined missing someone would make it even harder than it already was to be so far from home.  Well, even though our relationship was unofficial, missing him was still incredibly hard.

My Tanzanian life

So, when my bestie got engaged and told me I had to come back to be MOH in her wedding, I was unbelievably psyched!  Not only would I get to be in her wedding and eat American food I’d been missing, I’d get to see Zach!  So I booked a round trip flight home.  I’d been away for nine months and despite the ups and downs of Peace Corps life, I had every intention of sticking it out and returning for 17 more months.  In the weeks leading up to my return, I couldn’t concentrate on anything besides counting the days and wondering if Zach and I would still have the same chemistry.

Boy did we.  The sparks flew so intensely during that whirlwind two weeks.   The morning after the wedding, I suddenly found myself sitting in a Tim Hortons, hours before my return flight, sobbing that I didn’t want to go back.  Thus began the most difficult decision I have ever had to make.  I was an emotional wreck, and Zach was amazing.  He never once asked me to stay.  He told me that all he wanted was for me to be happy.  After a few gut-wrenching hours, crying conversations with my family and best friend (yes, I called her the day after her wedding, I’m horrible), and general stress over the prospect of ruining my whole life plan, I realized that I just couldn’t leave again.

I swallowed my pride and I quit the Peace Corps for a guy.  Honestly, there were other reasons why I wasn’t super happy in Tanzania, but Zach was definitely the biggest one.  If I hadn’t met him, or if I had never come home for the wedding, I’m sure I would have stuck it out for the whole two years.  Like I said, this was the hardest decision I ever made.  Life was all of a sudden full of uncertainty, and I was plagued with guilt and feelings of failure for quitting.  To this day, I still feel badly for leaving.  I never, ever envisioned myself becoming the kind of person who would give up her life plan for a romance.  But, Zach was the first guy I was ever with who I was willing to do that for, and maybe that’s how I knew it was right.  Looking back, I don’t regret any of my Peace Corps service, and I don’t regret my decision to quit either.

Anyway, all of a sudden I had the man of my dreams, no job, no plan, and a scarily insecure feeling about the future.  “What should we do now?” I asked Zach.  “Let’s drive to California.” he said.  So we did.  And the rest is (recent) history.

Pacific Beach, San Diego, a week after I quit the Peace Corps

Did anyone else make an impulsive/irresponsible-seeming/risky/life-changing decision for love?  How did it work out?

“Can you put a bow in it?” a.k.a. How to Get a Job with Dreadlocks

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Honestly, I was fearing the prospect of searching for restaurant jobs in conservative Ohio with my super-hippy dreads.  But, long story short, I got a job and I am already employed, only a week after returning!  The process was not without its bumps, however.

I went in for my first interview at this really classy French bistro/wine bar.  I thought it went okay, not great, and wasn’t really expecting to get it.  The next day, however, I get a call from them.  And right away, as the owner is hemming and hawing and obviously uncomfortable about what he’s about to say, I knew it was about the dreads.  He basically asked me if I was planning to keep them.  Yes, of course, I said.  He was totally apologetic about making it an issue and felt really bad about possibly offending me, but he was also really concerned about the restaurant’s conservative, rich, snotty-pants customers and what they would think.  He asked me about different ways I could style my hair and was being all iffy.  Then he asked me to come in for a “second interview”, which basically consisted of him looking at my hair again, going back and forth some more, and then asking me if I could “put a bow in it.”  “I can put whatever you want in it!” I replied.  Men are so funny when they’re trying to describe women’s hairstyles.  “Okay,” he finally said, “it’ll be fine.”

So, I got the job, provided I put a  black ribbon around my dread ponytail every night.  Lol.  As if that makes the dreadlocks disappear?

But, I am happy, because aside from that minor hiccup, it was the easiest job search I have ever had!  Yay for people putting stereotypes aside and hiring the best qualified candidate no matter what they look like!

Burning Man

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The reason it has taken me so long to write about Burning Man is because the task seems impossible.  To get it, you honestly have to be there.  Words cannot do it justice, and neither can pictures (which is good because I barely took any).  All I can do is ineloquently try to give you a glimpse of what our first burn was like and try to show you that despite the media’s portrayal, Burning Man is more than a bunch of drugs and sex.

For those of you not in the know, Burning Man is an annual week-long arts festival that takes place in the desert of northern Nevada.  In recent years, more than 50,000 people have attended the event.  One of the core principles of Burning Man is “radical self-reliance.”  This means you must bring EVERYTHING you need to survive for one week in the Black Rock Desert.  The only service Burning Man provides is porta-potties.  We arrived with all our camping gear, baby wipes galore (our bathing method), 20 gallons of water, 4 cases of PBR, and plenty of food.  Burners call the Black Rock Desert “the playa.”  The playa is an otherworldly environment.  Nothing but flat, white, sand for miles constantly blowing dust.  The dust was the hardest thing to cope with.  We had to wear bandanas around our mouths and noses to avoid breathing it in.  We kept all of our electronics in Ziploc bags in the car.  Our tent, ourselves, and everything else was immediately coated in dust.  Sometimes it would blow so hard that you just had to stop and close your eyes until it stopped.   Sound miserable?  It was, at times.  But keeping Burning Man here prevents a lot of the people who shouldn’t come from coming.  You have to be able to deal with the conditions physically and mentally, be prepared, be radically self-reliant.  That’s part of the purpose.

Another basic tenet of Burning Man is environmental preservation.  This was a huge issue, as it should be when 50,000 people descend on a barren desert.  Yes, 50,000 people come to Burning Man, but EVERYONE follows the “pack it in, pack it out” rule.  No garbage facilities to be found.  No trash was supposed to hit the playa and it was AMAZING how well everyone did at this.  Even by the end of the week, there was hardly any M.O.O.P. (“Matter Out of Place”, as trash is referred to in Black Rock City).  I was impressed.

The absolute BEST thing about Burning Man for me was the sense of genuine community and connection that I felt.  Everyone is there to interact with and help each other.  As soon as we got there, as we were struggling to set up our shade tarp, an old guy from a couple camps down rode over on his turtle car (made from a lawn mower engine and a kids’ turtle sandbox) and loaned us some poles to use.  Our neighbors were all seasoned Burners and they all kept checking on us to make sure we were having fun.  I think the thing that really fostered community the most was the “gift economy” setup.  No one uses money at Burning Man.  The only things that are sold are ice and coffee.  Everything else you get all over the city is “gifted.”  It is hoped that everyone will bring some type of gift to share, but that’s really on the honor system.  We brought five gallons of homemade peach wine and used that s our gift.  But it was really nothing compared to what we received everywhere we went.  The best way to give you a sense of what a “typical” day at Burning Man is like is to take you through a sample day of ours, so that is below.  Also, I didn’t look at a clock the whole week (radical, right?) so that’s why there are no times written.

Morning: Wake up when it gets too hot to sleep more, try to make ourselves presentable with baby wipes and crazy clothes.  Head down the road to Java Johnny’s.  He was an older guy with an RV who made tons of coffee for everyone every morning.  He also collected mugs all year and sandblasted them with the Burning Man logo and gave them away with the coffee (“to avoid doing dishes,” he said).  His mugs became our reusable cups for everything all week.  We would sit there and talk to people and listen to Java Johnny yell ridiculous things into a megaphone periodically.  (Ex. After several military jets flew overhead, something they always do just to check out Burning Man, he yelled, “Fly over again boys!  Spend another $5 million!!!!)  People kept bringing breakfast contributions (we brought fruit), so by the end of the week you could get coffee and a full breakfast there.  It was a great way to start the day.

Mid-Morning: After Java Johnny’s we’d go wandering for awhile.  Black Rock City was HUGE and we never even saw it all.  The main attractions were theme camps–big group camps that had planned and built amazing structures, art cars, you name it.  There was a camp for everything–circus performing and lessons, hula hooping, yoga, chanting, meditation, a whole LGBT neighborhood (the “Gayborhood” lol), many bars with outlandish themes (sake bar, whiskey bar, homebrew bar, Bloody Mary bar, etc.), henna and body artists, places where you could relax in hammocks, musicians performing, massages, giant swings, towers to climb, snow cone camps, diners, and enormous nightclubs with DJS and massive sound and lighting systems.  You name it, there’s a camp for that.  Sometime before noon a camp down the road from us would give away amazing fresh-baked bread they made in an awesome portable oven, so we’d usually try to get some of that.

Noonish:  After walking awhile we’d head home to chill a bit.  Sometimes we’d make some lunch, try to nap, or read.  Two times, we set up a ghetto wine stand in front of our camp.  We made a little sign, put it on a card table, and bought ice.  We’d yell at passersby, “Homemade wine??” and many would stop, provide their own cup, try our wine, and chat for a bit.  This was our little gift and people said they really loved it.  It was definitely one of the most fun things we did because we got to talk to so may awesome people!  On other days, we’d do other things…one day our neighbors had a “Chuck ‘N’ Cheez-It” party with “two-buck Chuck” wine , Cheez-Its of all varieties, and a foot wash (Woot!).  That was really fun.

Evening/Night: That same night, another camp had a “Spaghetti Taco” dinner party that went to.  We’d usually chill ’til almost dark then head out again.  The first night we went and looked at all the art, which I can’t even begin to describe.  Find some pics online for that.  We’d hit some bars and try to hop on some art cars as they drove around the city.  We’d go to some parties and dance for awhile but we never stayed up all night like a lot of people do.  I like sleeping too much.  So we’d wander back exhausted and pass out.  On Saturday night we did stay up late watching the man burn.  It was crazy–triumphant fireworks and thumping music and neon lights.  Everyone was in a frenzy that night.  After the burn we saw a psychedelic rock band play at the big Center Camp venue in the wee hours.  They were amazing.  It was a beautiful night.

So on to the tricky part–sex and drugs.  Were there people doing lots of drugs and having weird sex there?  Obviously, yes.  Burning Man is also about freedom and open-mindedness and people really embraced that.  BUT this was not Woodstock; it was not everywhere.  The people who wanted those things found them but they were not in-your-face 24/7.  The Black Rock City census they take every year also showed that it is a minority of people at Burning Man who engage in drug use and/or sex with a new partner.  Although present, these activities were not the emphasis of the event, as the media would have you think.  You can have a perfectly amazing experience at Burning Man while staying totally sober and totally abstinent.

It takes a certain type of person to enjoy Burning Man.  You have to be energetic, adventurous, and able to rough it.  But more importantly, you have to be willing to jump into the community and give of yourself to really get the true experience.  The parties are rocking and the art is inspiring, but I believe the one-of-a-kind community spirit is the reason seasoned Burners call Black Rock City “home.”  Burning Man was like glimpsing the way the world should be.  It was the better, more child-like, more cooperative, and more generous side of humanity.  Being there gave me faith and made me question, “Why can’t the rest of the world be like this?”  That’s a question for another post, but suffice it to say that until the rest of the world gets it, I’ll keep returning to the playa.

Dumpster Diving

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A few nights ago we made some delicious and spicy veggie curry with rice with our 2 Canadian couchsurfers.  They arrived at the same time we got home from work and immediately asked if we had ever heard of “dumpster diving.”  I said “Yeah, of course,” and they replied that they had just raided a grocery store dumpster, so did we “want to make a feast?”

OF COURSE!

They had TONS of stuff, all in totally fine condition and safe, clean packaging, that they had picked up from the dumpster behind one of Flagstaff’s smaller grocery stores.  Broccoli, potatoes, squash, onions, celery, canteloupe, strawberries, and even bagels and and unopened package of DONUT HOLES (demonstrating their Canadian taste buds, hahaha). 

We had a great time cooking and getting to know each other, and we picked their brains about dumpster diving since they were clearly experienced and I have always kind of wanted to try it but never felt gutsy enough.

Apparently they never pay for groceries while on the road and two of their best finds were several bottles of wine and a whole crate of unopened boxes of chocolates!!  (WHAAAA????  Who would throw those out!!!)  Here are their tips for successful dumpster diving:

1. Smaller grocery stores are better because they are less secure and care less.

2. Don’t worry about getting caught- most security guards are on your side andwill just “go inspect the other side of the building” while you’re doing your thing.

3. You do have to get in the dumpster and dig around but it’s not that dirty because everything’s still usually in packaging.

I think they convinced me to try it.  I know many people will probably be grossed out to hear me say that, but I think what’s gross is that we live in a country where SO MUCH EDIBLE FOOD is thrown out to rot every single day.  There are starving Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa, people!!!! (Hahaha, we PCVs always said this in Tanzania, but I hope you know I’m just being clever and not making light of world hunger.)

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Would you ever try dumpster diving?  And here’s the kicker:  Considering both health and ethics, which is better: buying organic or dumpster diving for not-necessarily-organic food?