Unpacking the Complexity of Taking a Name

Parenting & FamilyMarch 13, 2014 • 4~7 min read • 0

Most accounts made after the wedding have the username “ampoland.” It was simple. It was easy to remember. It was going to be my name for the rest of my life, after all.

It’s an irritation these days.

We had a post-reception party in my apartment, because our wedding was thrown together in 8 weeks and our reception was at a dry location.1 We got outrageously drunk. Alex (engaged at that point), Danielle, Lu, and I sat in the corner of the apartment while talk of changing names went on. I don’t remember a lot of this: on top of being drunk, I was freshly married and giddy. But I believe it goes something like this:

Lu makes points about holding on to her identity by holding on to her name. Alex makes points about taking her husband’s name as a way of making theirs a family unit; that as a child-free couple, people will already buck their family as “non-traditional.” Danielle hands me the bottle of wine we’re drinking out of. I make points about taking Andy’s name both as a “show of honor and respect,” and because I’m not particularly attached to my maiden name. I pass the bottle on. The conversation probably derails as the boys get increasingly drunk while playing Street Fighter. They’re shouting over my sister — who is foolishly trying to sleep on the floor.

There were other complications, of course: Miles was a big one. When I was pregnant, Andy’s mother once asked, “Will the baby have Andy’s last name or yours?” I quickly assured her that of course he would have Andy’s name, and that someday I intended to as well.2 The idea of matching my family appealed to me. I came from an unmatched family, and it was always a little odd. So many times my mother and father were referred to as “Mr. and Mrs. Hill,” less often that I was mistaken for a “Huston.”

Still, it seems weird to me now that I clung to the name “Hill” as a young Ashley, when the possibility of being formally adopted and having my last name changed to match my mother’s was discussed. (No, no, a thousand times no, this is my father’s name how could you?)

I was only passingly sad when I traded in my old social security card and driver’s license the day after the wedding.

The first thing I did when Andy and I blew up was erase his name everywhere I could. I changed my name on Facebook. I changed my Twitter handle from the intended “professional” ashleympoland to my old social scatteringashes. (Later, I locked that up and started a fresh “professional” Twitter account that has yet to find its feet.) I cut up my debit card for our joint bank account.

I snarled at him in the car as we talked of counselling, “Even if we work it out, I’m getting rid of your name. I’m done with your name.” I pretty much said, “I’m done honoring you as my husband.” Maybe not the most effective thing to say during the maybe we can work it out conversation, but to be fair, it had been less than 24 hours since the great big blow-up.

I’ve always had this idea of my work as adding value to my name. I used to lovingly imagine book spines that said Ashley M. Hill. I wanted to prove my value to my (very dead) father and his family by doing something with my name. When I changed to “Poland,” it was both a regret and promise. I’m going to do something good with this name; thank you for sharing it with me.

I have a baggage about names; it comes up in my novels a lot.

I was glad when the divorce was done and my name was legally “Hill” again, less because I was actually rid of “Poland” and more because I could finally have a unified identity.

And yet we’re more than two months out from the divorce and I haven’t changed much. Half my bills still come to “Ashley Poland.” I haven’t changed the name on my driver’s license yet, thus I haven’t changed it on my financial accounts. I haven’t changed it on my work sites because I haven’t changed it on my license. (Yet my car title is under “Ashley Hill. “)

I was also sad. I was much more attached to “Poland” than I ever was with “Hill.” “Poland” was a name — an identity, a life — I’d chosen; “Hill” was just the one I was born with. And I could have kept my married name, sure. (I can’t really imagine a greater “Fuck You” than “Get the fuck out of my life but leave your name, kthnx.”) I could have continued to match my son. I could have skipped all the frustration and paperwork that comes with a name change. (Again.) I could have kept the initials “AMP.”

Instead, I chose a name that was mine without attached baggage. It wasn’t the name I chose, and there were no hopes or dreams attached to the name that weren’t exclusively my own. It was a weird experience — like slipping in to an old pair of jeans to discover that they still mostly fit but still don’t feel quite right.

I don’t think about my name a lot. But when I do, I’m always unsure exactly how to parse my feelings.

1. This is my only real regret about the wedding. I mean, I did so much wrong and this past summer I sent Andy a 2 AM email full of “I’m sorry about our wedding” apologies, but I really don’t regret the thing.
2. We were engaged at the time. I wasn’t just being weird.

Today, Miles Turns Five

Parenting & FamilyMarch 11, 2014 • 1~2 min read • 0

There’s really not much to be said this year that I haven’t said before. So, lets do it a little differently. Miles’ can talk now: he can take over from here:

I’ll add a photo dump of my favorite pictures from the past year, and boom! Birthday post.


Let’s Talk Movies, Bitches.

EntertainmentJanuary 30, 2014 • 2~4 min read • 0

Hello, my darlings. I come to you now from my phone, on my “couch,” with a mild fever and in a bit of pain. But fuck it. I bet a head cold never stopped God from creating the world, so I can manage a shitty blog post about Ever After.

I just watched Pacific Rim and I loved it to pieces. But I can’t think of anything to say. Go ask Tumblr. I’m sure 7 people loved it, 2 found it racist, and 1 hasn’t seen it yet. Pretend I used percentages there because we’ve gone too far.

Anyway, I watched a good movie and then went, “Life is the worst, I’m going to fall asleep watching a movie.” This is what I do when I’m sick, distressed, bored, or am not tired but don’t want to commit to a whole movie.

Because I can’t fall asleep watching a movie while paying attention, I try to pick a movie that I know well but don’t find distressing. That leaves Ever After.

I love Ever After. Other than my adolescent feelings about Drew Barrymore — which are perfect and meant to be, by the way — its just. It’s nice. There’s a prince who learns not to be a giant douchebag. There’s a common girl who gets to engage her inner princess and fucking waltz around in glitter and fairy wings.

I mean, it’s not great. It’s ridiculous and hammy and Drew Barrymore I’m not buying that accent. But whatever. I love bad movies.

I also sort of hate Ever After, in the same way all romances sort of leave me elated and warm and indescribably lonely. But that’s what they’re supposed to do, so no worries.

It’s about fucking Cinderbarrymore.

No, not having sex with her. Fuck you, you knew what I meant.

Okay, you see, it’s about projecting yourself onto a movie and then remembering that real life is a shithole and then you decay until your bones are dust.

Here we have Danielle, who is coarse and bookish. I bet people would call her sturdy. If you’re a certain kind of girl (read: me, we’re talking abut me), you get this thrill from seeing her get to be awesome and smart while wearing a pretty dress. She gets out of the rut of other people’s perceptions. She gets to be delicate without being treated like she’s weak.

The movie even embraces that reality is shitty. It does not let this girl (meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) be anything but common and sturdy. She’s turned away when her true identity is revealed. Her family doesn’t change. Her life doesn’t change. She gets sold off to a gross creeper because he is the only one who sees her as valuable. WHAT UP REALISM.

Just kidding, the prince has character growth, begs her forgiveness, and they live happily ever after.


Whatever. We’re not Cinderella, dear reader. That’s fine. So few people are. We can relate to Jacqueline. That character isn’t bleak at all.

Maybe I should start watching Shaun of the Dead before bed. Oh God, my whole head is stuffed with cotton.

My Kid Has a Chore List

Parenting & FamilyJanuary 22, 2014 • 4~6 min read • 0

I feel weird implementing a chore list. It’s simultaneously pleasing to my internal sense of organization and antithetical to how I feel about lifestyle regimentation. (I live in a constant state of frustrated list-making.) But as I’ve finally fit into a rhythm of keeping my home at a level of cleanliness and order that works for me1, I’ve also started realizing that Miles needs to share a part in this. In part because I hate picking up his shit. There is so much of it. We tossed a bunch (and put some in a donate box), and there’s still a ton to sift through. It’s sort of a nightmare.

I was dimly aware that at some point Miles would probably get an allowance; this 2011 post over on Hobo Mama had me convinced of an allowance’s value when I read it, though at the time Miles was too young. Now he’s old enough to have wants, such as renting a movie or getting a treat. I obviously don’t mind buying him things — my child has actually become more spoiled in the time since the divorce. I’m getting better at curbing the impulse to try to “fix” this thing we broke in his life by buying him things.

In the long run, I decided to tie his chores to his allowance. (After talking to Andy, of course; when it comes to things like this, it’s pretty important for us to be agreed on how it goes over.) I’ve read good theories that chores ought not to earn money — that a child ought to contribute to the household as part of caring for the home and the family, not for the want of money — but I opted against it because I’m shitty at managing money.

I can’t speak for Andy these days, but learning how to be a fucking grown up with my money has been a bit difficult for me. My family was pretty well off when I was in my teens; while I did earn money in the form of babysitting, I never really wanted for anything. We got treats and fun things pretty often, and I never really had a sense of how difficult it was to manage money. I’m hoping that Miles can avoid this by understanding that his money must be earned, rather than simply given. I know that not every 20-something suffers from my utter lack of personal responsibility. I have friends that are brilliant at managing their money, and I can’t help but wonder if their parents managed to instill a better sense of money management in them.2

Hey, look, that got heavy. Let’s get to the photos of me fucking up a craft! I’ve never met a craft, recipe, or life that I couldn’t fuck up, aesthetically or otherwise.

The original chore list was in this weird plastic insert I had laying around, because I figured we could reuse it and just draw stars on. Then we could also change our icons to, like, happy faces or hearts and shit. Unfortunately, the marker didn’t come off of the plastic. Womp womp.

Luckily, I had a frame laying around from a different project that I had fucked up months ago. It cost me something like three dollars at Walmart, so I’ll swing out tomorrow between errands and grab one for Andy’s apartment.

So, all was great and wonderful… until I discovered that my carefully measured chore list was both too long and too wide. Too long was no big deal; there was a bunch of blank space at the bottom anyway. But the chores go riiiiiight up to the edge of the paper. Poor “Away” got a quick cosmetic change to “Up.” Miles probably won’t notice.

And finally, the chore list in its natural habitat:

1. It only took me something like two years of constantly reading Unfuck Your Habitat to take what I already understood about cleaning and finally apply it. Oh my god it is so nice.
2. This isn’t intended to be a jab at my parents. It’s not their fault I’m shitty with money; it ties into personality type and personal value structure just as much as it does my upbringing. But I do feel like never really wanting for much contributed to me not knowing how to want without gratification, if that makes sense.

A Revised Track List for The 1975

EntertainmentJanuary 21, 2014 • 2~2 min read • 0

If we’re friends on Twitter, you know that I talk about The 1975 about once every 6 to 10 days. I can’t quite help it. “Sex” is one of my favorite songs (pretty much ever, really) and none of the rest of album1 is quite like it, except that it (sort of) is.

“Sex” is a song about fooling around with a girl who just will not have sex with the lead singer. And that theme is pretty much the whole album: getting fucked up and pining after girls who are totally disinterested or too messed up to actually reciprocate.

Thematically, it’s actually a little fascinating (if young). And when the songs are good, they’re good. The singer has an interesting cadence and rhythm, and I think the music is great. It’s a little weird, and it took me several listens to come around to some of these songs, but now it’s a CD I generally enjoy.

But is’s a 16 track album, and at least three tracks are, like, minute-long things that do not (IMO) add much to the CD. You can hear the whole CD on The 1975′s soundcloud account.

I think it’s a weak album that suffers from being too long and underwhelming. I would like to propose a revised track list, as the title of the blog suggests. I’m not totally sold on all of these — I was actually going to nix “Talk” until the last second. And I’m not 100% on “Menswear” either; I love it, but it’s weird and I could see how that overly long intro is off-putting.

This brings us down to 10 tracks, which is a bit short. It’s not even that the tracks I skipped are bad; they’re actually decent tracks in their own right, but they’re not my thing most days.

The Inevitable Divorce Post

Parenting & Family, PersonalJanuary 7, 2014 • 1~2 min read • 0

I am legitisies divorced now — all restored to the former glory of my maiden name (and my boring initials booo).

We were divorced before noon, after 60 days of waiting and months of being like, “What is this paperwork? Why is divorce so expensive?” Then we got breakfast, and did some clothes shopping because we both had Kohl’s gift cards from Christmas, and you know, retail therapy and all that.

<TMI>(For those playing along at home, on the 19th it will have been a year since I’ve had a cock in my person. Well. Okay, let’s say “penetrative sex,” which sounds like a health class. Probably closer to 13 months since I last had sex that, you know, accomplished anything. I miss so many things about sex. LET US TALK ABOUT SEX SOME MORE SOME OTHER TIME.)</TMI>

SEE LOOK I RESPECT YOUR “boundaries.” Unless you’re on a mobile device. I make no promises that the spoiler text thing works on mobile devices. Basically, you’re on your own.

Staff: Ashley (503), Guest Author (1)