I spent most of last weekend in Northern California with my family. My cousin, Ashley, is getting married in Portland next month, so my mom and I went up for her bridal shower and to spend some time catching up with our kin. Ashley’s actually my third cousin (I think?). Our moms are first cousins. As a child, I’d known of most of my third cousins’ existence on that family branch, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2007 that I really became close with Ashley, along with her first cousins (my third cousins?), Nicole and Danielle. Now that you’re thoroughly confused, I’ll continue.\r\n\r\nThis past weekend was the first time the four of us were all back together in six years. The days were full of good food, tons of alcohol, and a lot of laughs. It was also full of a poor digestive system on my part. I had had some issues before we headed up there, but it definitely wasn’t clearing up. I’m sure downing margaritas with every meal didn’t help either. Despite the annoyance of it, I had to chuckle to myself, because the last time my cousins and I were all together, it had ended with me being best buds with my toilet. Maybe they’re poisoning me?\r\n\r\nIn August of 2007, I went on a family cruise to the Mediterranean to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of my Great Aunt and Uncle (Ashley, Nicole, and Danielle’s grandparents). During the days, I was sightseeing with my mom, but back on the ship at night, I was hitting the bars with my cousins. Our final docking point was Barcelona, and we all decided to stay there a few days before heading back home. During this time in Spain, my mom and I spent more of the daytime with our family, since we were no longer obligated to attend the separate tours that each of us had signed up for during the cruise.\r\n\r\nOn one such day, we all sat down to a delicious seafood lunch of clams and mussels. We then decided to walk the shore and share pitchers of sangria at a dockside restaurant. Afterwards, most of the family decided to catch a ride back to the hotel, but Nicole, Danielle and I, just getting our buzz on, opted instead to walk back home and grab a beer or two along the way. We stopped at the first bar we saw and ordered a beer each. They were so cheap, that I remember only throwing down a few coins, which covered the drink and tip. Armed with this knowledge, we made a pact right then and there that we would stop at every bar we encountered along the way home to have a beer.\r\n\r\nWe did.\r\n\r\nAnd I lost count.\r\n\r\nBut I do recall being at one of the last stops, and feeling the urge to vomit. I’d figured I had finally met my limit. The restrooms in that bar turned out to be downstairs in a dank, blueish-green basement, which was not easy to stumble down in my toasty disposition. Somehow, I made it down unharmed, did my business, felt better, and continued on with our journey, not letting on that I puked. When we returned to the hotel, we made plans to sleep off our drunk and meet back up for dinner and dancing in the nearby clubs.\r\n\r\nSleeping would have been lovely, if only my stomach would have allowed it. I quickly realized that my vomiting from earlier was surprisingly not, in fact, due to the copious amounts of beer I had consumed, but rather, to food poisoning. I was constantly running to the toilet, and it wasn’t to puke. Suffice it to say, I skipped out on dinner, and sadly, missed the nightlife I had heard so much about.\r\n\r\nRegardless of my intestinal issues, that trip was one of the best of my life, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to bond with my cousins. The four of us are scattered across California, and it’s a shame we can’t all be together more often, but I cherish the times that we are. It’s always a blast for me! Figuratively and literally.\r\n\r\n
I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t feel a twinge of sadness in losing my last name when I marry Greg this October. For 32 years, I’ve been a Schatz. That’s a pretty substantial amount of time! Yeah, my last name gets butchered all the time, but it’s fairly unique, speaks to my heritage, and is a big part of my identity. I’ve also got a pretty big feminist streak that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong in taking Greg’s last name of Brown.\r\n\r\nThe thing is, as strong as a woman I am, and as attached to my last name that I am, I still have a streak of traditionalness running through me. (And yes, I know that “tradionalness” isn’t a word, but I really think it should be, so I’m using it!) I plan to spawn a few minions with Greg, and I’d like us to be a family unit with the same last name. Hyphenation could solve this issue, but the thing is, I actually, kinda, sorta, don’t like hyphenated last names. I’m pretty sure my hippie card is being revoked at this moment. For one, if Greg and I were to hyphenate our names, we’d be the Schatz-Brown family. Let that sink in for a moment, pronouncing it the way most people do: “Shats.” Reversed isn’t any better.\r\n\r\nWhile I like the unity of the two names, and even IF we had compatible last names, I just feel that it would then leave my future offspring (especially a female) in a conundrum when they got married. Growing up in a family of blended names, they might want to blend their names too. So would we be breeding a Schatz-Brown-Johnson for instance? I doubt anyone would want to have 3 last names, so we’d basically be forcing our female child to either keep her name and be different from the rest of her own family, or give up her name completely; something her mom (me) was trying to avoid. It just doesn’t seem fair that I would get the choice to blend my name, but my daughter wouldn’t.\r\n\r\nI know, I think too much.\r\n\r\nBesides, Brown is a nice, traditional name. If I ever get to teach again, I won’t constantly be asked how to spell Schatz, or get a note from a parent with some letters missing from my last name. Brown was a first grade spelling word, so I can imagine the kids would LOVE the freebie for the spelling test, assuming I taught first grade again. And I’ve gotta admit, I’m actually kinda giddy over the whole becoming a Missus thing. I love Greg with all of my being, and I’m so excited that we are going to become one and start our own little Brown family.\r\n\r\nWe joke that we’ll become a mixture of the two names: the Bratz family. It MUST be said forcefully with a heavy German accent. The more we laugh about it, the more normal the name sounds, but I have this thing about genealogy and it’d be a shame that my ancestors couldn’t find anyone before us because we created a whole new line. That, and I’m sure we’d regret naming ourselves after big, fat, sausages.\r\n\r\nWhen my mom married my dad, she made her maiden name her middle name, and I’d like to do that too. Except, I want to go a step further. I share a middle name with my Grandma, and I’d hate to lose that part of me, so I’m going to ask the state of California if I can have two middle names, and cross my fingers they don’t tell me I can only have two first names or two last names. I’d like to be Erica Jane Schatz Brown. It might be a pain in the ass to sign on legal documents, but really, it’s not that often that I have to sign my entire name. On a trip up the coast a few years ago, I ran into this dude in a Santa Barbara thrift store:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIf Fire Panda could do it, so should I.