What’s in a Name?

I have been married for nearly seven years, and have never been able to decide exactly what to do about my name. Every new bride in the United States must decide whether to keep her maiden name or take her husband’s. In effect, society views it as a choice between showing your support for family values or asserting your identity as an individual equal to your husband. The debate is fraught with cultural significance, and you’d better believe that you will be judged by everyone (including yourself) on which choice you make.

What happens to those of us who would rather not choose between the two?… Read more

The 2010s in Review

The 2010s in Review

I am still trying to wrap my head around this being the beginning of a new decade, as well as a new year. My approach towards New Year’s resolutions is basically nonexistent, since I am apt to reinvent myself on the spot whenever I feel the need, which tends to be multiple times in a year. However, I do love telling stories. In fact, the only possible way for me to ever make sense of my life is by telling it back to myself. Not once, but a thousand times. Memory is a funny thing. Our brains are constantly arranging and rearranging the past to make meaning out of it; reinforcing the parts that fit our own internal narrative and discarding the other unhelpful bits.… Read more

Genealogy, I am Doing It

Genealogy, I am Doing It

The terrific thing about having left your religion several years ago instead of yesterday is that you’ve already gone through all the stages of grief, you’ve worked through whatever family drama ensued from the big announcement, and you’re now free to make peace with your past. Which includes deciding which elements of that past you choose to keep, and which you let go.

There are parts of me that will always be Mormon. Like my propensity to hoard nonperishable food; a year supply of wheat in 15-gallon buckets is well beyond even my capacity to fit into my tiny Amsterdam apartment, but I am always overbuying things like pasta and dried beans.… Read more

Are You an Expat or an Immigrant . . . Revisited

Are You an Expat or an Immigrant . . . Revisited

Nine years ago I wrote a blog post where I posed this question, mostly to myself: Are you an expat or an immigrant? That post was the summation of a couple of years of self-reflection navel-gazing; i.e. expat blogging. Being an expat–or a “serial expat”, as I started calling myself when we seemed unable to stay in the same country for more than a few months–began as a grand adventure. I think one way to describe those years is to say that I spent a lot of time back then seeing myself through other people’s eyes. It is almost impossible not to do that when you suddenly uproot yourself and move halfway around the world.… Read more

Choosing a High School in Amsterdam, Part 3

Choosing a High School in Amsterdam, Part 3

See also Part 1 and Part 2.

While I was chatting with Donna Bardsley at Amsterdam Mamas after she interviewed me last week about this whole process, she said something that I can’t stop thinking about. She had asked me during the interview what I thought about the Dutch education system, and in particular about the streaming system that separates kids out by ability at the age of eleven. I’d responded fairly positively (as I have on this blog), partially because I’ve always had an inherent hesitation about publicly saying something overtly negative about the culture in which I live at the time, and partially because I really do see some clear benefits to the system.… Read more

Book Reviews: Proud Tower, Delivered, Infernal Devices, And Then There Were None

Besides my slow but productive progress through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, I’ve made some time for a few other books lately. Among which:

The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 by Barbara W. Tuchman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been thinking a lot about World War I during this centennial year, and I am fascinated by anything to do with the Long 19th Century, so when I was browsing for commute audiobooks on Overdrive and saw this, I knew I had to read it. It’s an engagingly written history of the Western world before WWI that tries to paint that world as it was and seemed at the time to those who lived in it, and not as it looked (or looks) through the rosy glasses of war-wearied remembrance.… Read more

Going Anonymous on Google+

I’ve had an enjoyable time playing around on Google+ for the past few days, and I think I’m ready to talk about my impressions. First, here’s a little recap of my social(networking) life so far: I never got in on Myspace. I’ve only ever tweeted for work. My Linked-In profile is still only halfway filled out, I think. I don’t do anything more social than watching science videos with my kids on Youtube. Mysterious concepts like Orkut, Foursquare, Hi5, and all the rest, just haven’t even hit my radar. And as you know, I have a “like”-hate relationship with Facebook.

Although I’ve been a loyal Gmail user since early in the Gmail beta days, I only dinked around for about five minutes total with Google Buzz.… Read more

Where to Find News on the Arab Revolutions

So, it looks like somehow, bizarrely, we managed to move to what looks like it might be the safest country in the Middle East right now: the one that’s already finished its revolution. I never would have thought it when we arrived. Back then there was a 6 pm curfew, our neighbors were out manning the barricades every night, and prisons were still getting broken into and emptied.

Of course, we’ve been haunting the news over the past few months, and especially lately, as the situation in Libya has gone from bad to worse to we’re not sure what. Many Egyptians voted for the first time in their lives last week.… Read more