Why I decided to change my name

It’s been almost a year since I married the cutest guy in the world. (He’s going to hate that I put that in writing, but I say it to him about 4000 times per day so what’s the difference?)

A couple weeks before our wedding, we went over to the applicable government office and applied for our marriage license. I was still undecided and had been successfully avoiding committing to any sort of name change. When we were speaking to the county clerk’s office, though, they asked if I wanted a new name put on the marriage license. I panicked and got a huge spike of anxiety. The person who was assisting us mentioned that I never actually had to change my name to whatever I put on the license, which gave me peace, so I said that he could put my husband’s last name in place of my own.

Looking back on it, I truly wish that I had premeditated my name change more. It was so difficult for me to seriously think about it, because every time I did, I’d get anxious and sweaty and need air and had to stuff it back down. (This is not a healthy way to deal with anxiety.) I still can’t put a finger on exactly why it gave me such a visceral reaction. I don’t necessarily think it was negative or a sign that I didn’t actually want to change my name. I’ve always planned on changing my last name to my husband’s — before I even knew Tim. I’m pretty progressive overall and a thousand percent hate that the practice began essentially like transferring the title of a car — from parental “ownership” to husband “ownership” — but I also really love the symbolism of having the same name as a family unit. Plus, my husband and I very much have an equality-focused partnership, and just because the practice of sharing a last name is super antiquated in origin doesn’t mean that our use of the practice has to represent that negative baggage. And yes, it’ll be nice to have the same last name as my kids.

I think what I was really wrestling with was that I just didn’t recognize the name. When I said or wrote “Amanda Treese,” I kept hearing a voice in my head saying, “Who?” It was unsettling. I like my last name just fine, and I wasn’t in a hurry to change it. I didn’t know who Amanda Treese was, and I didn’t like thinking that somehow, this name that I didn’t recognize was actually me.

Many months have passed since we applied for that marriage license. We had the best wedding ever followed by an amazing honeymoon, traveled a ton, built a solid palate for and collection of wine, and took seven billion photos of our cats. The fact that my last name was different than his mattered not a single bit. And I realized, having the same last name as his also does not matter a single bit. Now, I know this sounds like a “don’t change my last name” post, but it’s the opposite. I decided that our names were really inconsequential and it changes absolutely nothing about who I am, and if I want to have the same last name as my husband, just do it. The only time I have to strictly go by that name is in legal documents. Plus, I was about to be in a rare time in life with absolutely NO flights booked for a couple months — the perfect time to change my last name, if ever. So I went for it.

I still wish that I had made my maiden name my middle name, but I didn’t put that on the marriage license and I didn’t feel like going through the process of getting a new one. Again, I realized, who cares what my exact name is? I’m in the middle of the extremely arduous process now — I enlisted HitchSwitch to help me through it all — but thankfully I’m at the perfect time in my life to take on an painstaking project like this. And when Tim and I move to a new city one day, no one there will even know my old name. It’s not really who I am. It’s just what was written on a birth certificate …a few… years ago.

For those out there who are undecided or chose to not change their name, I hope you know that this is just my personal experience working toward being comfortable with something that I did genuinely want to do. To change or not change your name is an extremely personal decision that involves no one but you, and nothing is right or wrong except doing what makes you happy.

In conclusion, does anyone know how to get a “Dame” honorific from the Queen? Because I think that would really spice up my new name.

Love,
Dame Amanda M. (Delzell) Treese

Changing your last name

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For my whole life I assumed I would change my last name. The main argument was always to have the same last name as my kids.

A couple weeks before our wedding, our (amazing, flawless) officiant asked how he should address Tim and me at the conclusion of the ceremony. The thought of it gave me the stress sweats. It didn’t sound like me. I’ve been Amanda Delzell for a long time. But I also had it in my mind that I was going to change my name. So I insisted over and over that he simply announce us as “Amanda and Tim.”

I was never one of those daydreamers who doodled her name with the last name of whatever boy she had a crush on. Maybe that would have helped me for this moment. When Tim and I picked up our marriage certificate, I assumed that I couldn’t put my new last name on the certificate because I had flights booked for our honeymoon and I didn’t want a legal change in my name because I wouldn’t be able to get on the flight. But at the office (of…marriage licensing? what is the name?) the person who helped us get our certificate said that I could put my new last name and then legally change it later. So I decided to do it, and possibly never legally change my name.

Well, I still haven’t legally changed my name. But I have tried on my new last name by adding it to my social media and email accounts. But when making appointments, I still use my old name. I introduce myself that way. I don’t really know why. It feels inauthentic still to call myself anything but “Amanda Delzell.” And I think I’ll probably come around by the time ~fAmiLy PLaNniNg~ begins. But I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I’m just not comfortable with it yet, and that’s OK. My cute guy husband is super supportive and doesn’t mind what I do.

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I found out later that a couple friends couldn’t remember Tim’s last name at our wedding, and they said, “We’ll find out at the end of the ceremony!” Of course, they didn’t. But it doesn’t really matter what my (or his) name is. We still got married, we’re still planning to spend our lives together, and I don’t need to have the same last name right away.

I could talk about this endlessly. Please, please share your experience in changing your name!

Book Club: The Girl with Seven Names

Since I read this book a couple months ago, I haven’t been able to shut up about it. The Girl with Seven Names is a real memoir of an escaped North Korean woman. You’re already hooked, right?

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Image from amazon.com

I don’t know about you, but I have a major fear of dying from and/or living in the aftermath of a major nuclear war. When a plane flies by and creates a sonic boom I sometimes stop and listen just to make sure it’s just on its merry way to my local airport. I never saw the movie The Interview, mostly because it didn’t look good but also because, like, what if one day everyone who watched it online is targeted in some hyper-planned attack? I’m even borderline worried about writing this post. Yes, this borders (or is?) paranoia and it’s not actually that big of a presence in my life but it comes up. Please don’t tell me how unlikely it is or how the US has gone through this before and we have more resources or whatever. I am allowed to be afraid even if you think it’s unfounded. This is just how anxiety works. Have we agreed to let me have my feelings? OK, great, moving on.

This book fascinated me in so many ways. First, it comes from the perspective of someone who had a relatively happy childhood in North Korea. The author lived through the Great Famine with enough to eat (though there are plenty of stories of her exposure to those who died of starvation in this time). She had a good family life overall and appreciated the natural landscape that she experienced in her home country. Then, as a teenager, she made a choice that caused her to never have any of that again. That — along with many other details in the book, including the social status of immigrants — made me realize how challenging it is for North Korean defectors to adjust to life outside of the place they’ve always known.

The book also details a lot of the horrors of North Korea and its propoganda-fueled regime. It seems fake and unthinkable and like a terrifying movie, but it’s real. The author attended public executions beginning at age 7. She saw a dead woman holding her barely-surviving baby. She forced herself to fake-cry after Kim Song-Il passed to avoid suspicion that she didn’t love the Great Leader enough (resulting in punishment, lowered social status, possibly eventual jailing or execution — yes, really).

The best part of the book, however, was getting the first-hand account of someone who lived and knew North Korea from birth. It gave me such a fresh and real perspective on how the regime works, and a great deal of empathy for the people who know nothing else. I was nervous to read it because I thought it would give me nightmares — my book club voted for it, not me — but it somehow made me less afraid and more in control of my thoughts because I learned so much.

When we finally got to discuss the book at our book club meeting, it was such a satisfying couple of hours. (Not to mention it was the first time I actually finished reading the book before the meeting.) The book isn’t a work of art — the editing is a little lacking and there are a few minor errors — but it’s a fascinating and very quick read (I read it on the flights to and from Kauai). Plus, there’s pictures. You get education, photos, and accomplishment of reading a book. And you have a guaranteed discussion partner (me) once you’re done! PLEASE read so we can discuss.

Now, what other books would you recommend?

“Shallow” mood boosters

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Whether you’re struggling with anxiety or just having a bad day, you probably have tricks to make yourself feel better. I recently wrote about one of my favorite tricks for when I’m in a slump, but what about all those other times when you’re sad or lonely or scared or nervous?

There are a lot of things that I thought were too shallow to be real remedies. I should channel it all into being one of those really hot gym chicks or reading a really good and deep novel about happiness and life journeys and stuff or some introspective buddhist poetry or something.

But I am not an eat-pray-lover. Those things just give me more anxiety because I feel like I should be doing that. (Cue Carrie Bradshaw’s ‘Are we should-ing all over ourselves?’ which is top 10 Carrie for sure.)

Some things make me happier, and some things just distract me. Distractions, by the way, are completely legitimate in the realm of anxiety. Distractions, in fact, are something that my therapist recommends, whether it’s counting all the “A”s on the seatback airplane safety card, or spelling out all the vegetables in the grocery store. But there’s also a lot of distractions that take away from real things that you’re avoiding. There’s a difference, and that’s a whole separate post to come. But there are a lot of things that make me happy that seem sort of, well, shallow. And that thought chipped away at the happiness I was getting out of these things. It took me a long time to finally accept these things as totally OK and acceptable and real and impactful.

  • Sun (even if it’s not warm weather). Growing up in Seattle, it was as rainy and overcast as you’d imagine. Some people love it, but some people are hormonally allergic to it. I’m in the latter group. So now, on sunny days — especially when the weather’s been overcast or rainy — I make a massive effort to go for a walk, or sit out by the pool, or just keep my home flooded with natural light outside. It’s a massive boost for me.
  • Planning a trip. This is by far my favorite activity of all time. I think I have as much fun planning as I do actually on the trip. If you’ve ever traveled with me or been exposed to me while planning, you know this. It gives me something to look forward to, to channel my anxiety into (planning is a major source of feeling in-control), and to play to my strengths and therefore make me feel great. The flip side to this one is that in the past I’ve used travel as more of a distraction from dealing with things in my life that needed fixing; I’ve had to work past that (mostly with my trusty therapist, which you should be able to guess by now).
  • Going out and doing something. I usually don’t want to leave the house or be seen or attempt to have fun when I am down. It doesn’t feel genuine. But for the times when I was accountable to someone else to show up to a dinner, or get coffee, or see a movie, or whatever: It almost always brought me out of my funk. It’s definitely a fake-it-til-you-make-it trick, which feels (duh) fake. So now if I’m in an unhappy place, I try to go out to dinner or do something from my spreadsheet of local places I want to visit (yes, I have a spreadsheet of fun things to do. I LOVE SPREADSHEETS LAY OFF ME). PS: Some people — especially those suffering with depression or similar — may not find this to be a helpful or even doable trick, so I want to note that this is simply something that works for me. If it’s not your thing, I do not intent to create any feeling of guilt over not being able to “suck it up and go out.”

  • Having a skincare routine. Early on when I was first seeing her, my therapist introduced the idea of creating rituals in my everyday. She would suggest things like “having a cup of tea” and “putting on a face mask.” I just thought that I had no time for boring stuff like that. But a few months ago (years after she first suggested this), I went to a skincare class at Sephora with my friend Mary, and somehow that experience completely opened my mind to the world of skincare, with which I am now obsessed. It doesn’t take long — only a few minutes every morning and every night — but it makes me feel like I’m really doing something good for myself. Skincare is not something that everyone gets into, but the real takeaway here is having a doable/repeatable daily ritual that prioritizes self-care.

This is a small cross-section of a much bigger list, of course. I’m always learning new things that give me a boost of happy when I most need it — and I’m always looking for more! What’s your favorite way to pull yourself up when you’re down?

Get you some gals who can do it all (Happy International Women’s Day!)

Four and a half years ago, I went to Europe for the first time. I’d saved up a little money and bought a spot on a loosely-guided tour through Contiki to London, Paris, and Rome. I went completely by myself, without knowing anyone or having much planned out.

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That’s where I met Kristina and Mary.

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Kristina was my randomly-assigned roommate, who had a cheery disposition and a habit of touring hard all day and still going out at night. She was also one of the very few people who went on to Rome after Paris, and we got some real quality power-touristing time in together.


Mary was that take-charge person who had all these guidebooks and knew what things we had to do in each city. I, like many others, gravitated toward her during the trip.

After the trip was over, we made a lot of promises to see each other. I didn’t really expect it to pan out, as hopeful as I was. But less than a year later, I met up with them for a US-based Oktoberfest celebration. We wore dirndls daily and drank way too much beer.

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Since then, we’ve been all over the world together (sometimes just two of us at a time, too).

When your primary relationship with someone is travel, it’s easy to not really get to know the other person. You’re not a part of their daily lives, so you miss out on a lot of the conversations about things like the person you’re dating, or the weird interaction with your boss, or the things that your parents said when you last saw them. But something started to shift in my friendship with Kristina and Mary. We would take breaks from sightseeing to watch trashy TV (mostly Bravo) and drink beers in our room. We’d have real conversations over dinner or while waiting in line. It started to feel like a genuine and meaningful friendship.

I began to learn a lot about them and understand our ‘roles.’ We are all major planners — which is probably an obvious, since we all travel so much — so we split the burden on putting together these trips. Mary always finds the deals and always has some sort of connection who can hook us up with some new experience (or, frequently, access to Vegas pool parties). Kristina handles a lot of logistics, like the time we went to Calgary Stampede in Canada and she had pre-purchased all of our transportation and scheduled us down to the minute. (It. Was. AMAZING!) And I generally will make sure we have reservations for any meal. (Priorities.)

I learned that Kristina and Mary are both engineers — one oil, one airplane — and I know where they went to college, where they grew up, where their parents live and how many siblings they have. We’ve talked about our exes, our partners, our plans for the future. We’ve taken painfully necessary naps after late nights and gotten each other Pedialyte and Sprite. And they put together a hell of a special Bachelorette experience when they accepted my request to be my two Maids-of-Honor.

They are the definition of rally-ers. They can dance at a Parisian club all night and get comp’d bottles of Grey Goose, then still make it on the bus to Versailles the next day. (True story.) They are true joy in woman form. They are intelligent, hilarious, amicable, contented, organized, weird, enthusiastic, confident, and two super fabulous human beings. They can wear un-laundered dirnls three days in a row and consume all-you-can-consume sausage and beer, then give a killer toast and embrace all your guests at your wedding. They can do it all. They are exemplary women to celebrate any day, but especially today on International Women’s Day. And I’m so glad they became more than just my travel friends.