The Whale Warehouse

The Whale Warehouse from KPCC on Vimeo.
THIS IS SPECTACULAR. It has so many of my favorite things:

1) Specimens in jars.

2) Card catalogs.

3) Whales, my favorite animals.

And hey, if you also love my very favorite kind of whale, the orca, and you want to simultaneously completely ruin your day and be fascinated by the intelligence and complex social structures of a marine mammal, then you should watch the horrifying and totally fantastic documentary Blackfish. Warning: I had crazy nightmares for days after watching this movie.

THE WHALE WAREHOUSE was produced by AudioVision, a publicly funded project associated with radio KPCC.

This Is What I’m Feeling Like These Days

I love The Moth very much, and this story is just so exactly perfect. I too occasionally mourn the loss of the first date, the first kiss, the first few months when you are just an absolute loon in love. But sometimes I’ll be lying on the couch after dinner, and The Boy is doing dishes in the other room, and he’ll come in to grab the last few plates, and hand me a fresh glass of seltzer even though I didn’t ask, and I think, “No matter what happens, or where I go, I’m so glad you’ll be there to bring me seltzer, and braid my hair when I can’t quite get it right, and remember an extra pair of socks for when mine inevitably get wet, and do the dishes, and be mine.” Sometimes I try to tell him all this, but it usually just comes out like, “I love you.”

Story by Jeff Simmermon, via The Moth.

Just Another Friday

I haven’t done one of these guys in awhile, but today felt like a good day to get back on the horse. The Boy and I are going shopping at a new architectural salvage shop, and then perhaps out for some bites to eat, using this handy local guide. My very dear friend Lorenza is coming to stay with us soon, so I’ve been trying to scout around the city in search of the best places to take her. Married life is pretty grand so far; I know this goony honeymoon stage won’t last forever, but I sure am enjoying it. Without wedding planning taking up all that space in my brain, I’ve had time to get back to writing every day, either here or on my own private projects, and that’s pretty excellent.

My one of my favorite authors on my favorite band, and of course he sums it up perfectly.

Curious ABCs!

Pin up remix.

Story quilts!

Sleeping with another person, AKA: night acrobatics. I relate to that top photo so much.

I actually spat something at my computer looking at these.

Dancers Among Us.

Nifty treehouse elevator.

And another fabulous tree home.

How well do you score? I did pretty well, but The Boy kicked my ass.

JGL makes me question the institution of marriage.

A compilation of teeny houses like mine!

I’m loving the idea of a whole wall of these busts. They have elephants and horses, too!

Image via.

The Best Ones

Photo by Katch Silva

When I applied to college, I wrote my essay about how I didn’t know how to drive (I didn’t get my license until I was nearly 21). Each paragraph was about a different car in which I’d ridden, and the lessons I’d learned from the people driving. Well, one of the paragraphs was about a little red Saab with a leaky roof, and a girl with square green glasses whom I drove around with one summer when both our boyfriends were out of town, drinking milkshakes and listening to Sleater-Kinney way too loud.

Well, a couple weeks before my wedding I was sitting once again in the passenger seat of a car, and even though the Saab had been sold and she’d upgraded her glasses, the very same girl was sitting next to me. We were driving on the exact same roads with our music a little too loud on a hot summer’s day, and right before I took this giant step in my life I had a little smile over how much was still the same. And I think that’s kind of a cool thing: no matter how old I get, I have these relationships with certain people that remain so solid and steady. The Boy is one of them, obviously, and Maggie is the other. So today, on the day that she turns 24 years old, I just want to thank her for being one of the best ones.

The kind that you don’t talk to every day, but as soon as you need her she’s there.

The kind that constantly reminds you that it is time to start crafting for your wedding, so you’d better give her a job.

The kind that you call when your high school boyfriend dumps you, and she says, “Come over and watch Gilmore Girls and cry with me.” For that matter, the kind that introduces you to the wonder that is Gilmore Girls.

The kind that is not afraid to tell you when you’re being a jerk.

The kind that is so wise, every time you give her advice you have to preface it with, “I know you already know this, but…”

The kind that never loans you her clothes, because she knows you’ll never give them back.

The kind who knew, before you even really knew yourself, that you were kind of in love with that boy. The kind who told you to just call him up and tell him.

The kind who casually whips out her phone on your wedding day, and takes hands down the best photo of the entire night.

The kind who is always a better friend to you than you are to her, but still loves you anyway.

The kind who has known you since you were fourteen, and no matter how old and mature you get, will never let you forget that you once wore white kitten heels, a denim mini skirt, and a Harley Davidson crop top. At the same time. The kind who doesn’t hold that sort of thing against you.

I moved around a lot growing up, so I’ve experienced a plenty of friendships that were wonderful while they lasted, but faded away over the years. And sometimes that’s sad, but mostly it’s just normal. Relationships grow old and decay, much like anything else.  But sometimes you meet someone, and you probably don’t notice it at first, but little by little they become an inextricable part of your life. Because some friendships aren’t meant to last, but the best ones do.

Photo by Katch Silva.

How To: DIY Wedding Photobooth

Kylie & Xander Wedding Photobooth_189Kylie & Xander Wedding Photobooth_114Kylie & Xander Wedding Photobooth_13Wasn’t our photobooth adorable? And I will say: our guests had a blast using it. I was a little concerned, because we had originally wanted to set the thing up outside, but the weather forecast predicted storms, and we couldn’t chance the camera getting doused. I actually said to The Boy: If we move this thing inside, no one will use it. I really ate my words on that one, but I was glad it got so much use!

Kylie & Xander Wedding Photobooth_243Kylie & Xander Wedding Photobooth_45

Photobooths are super trendy at weddings right now, but renting one can be expensive. Of course, our photobooth did not give our guests the chance to print and keep their photos right on the spot, but we posted them all to an online gallery, and I don’t think anyone minded. All in all, our photobooth cost under 200$, and you could probably do it for less by borrowing equipment instead of renting. But here’s how we did it…

Kylie & Xander Wedding Photobooth_375Kylie & Xander Wedding Photobooth_371You’ll Need

A DSLR camera (someone you know owns one)

A sturdy tripod

A laptop

An extra long USB cord

A ring flash (This isn’t a must, but it’ll make the photos look a lot more professional. There are many kinds of flashes available, we chose the Ring Flash because it was the most efficient in terms of space, cost, and flexibility as far as light power)

A soft box (see above)

You can probably borrow a lot of this equipment. We had some things on hand, and rented the rest from Borrow Lenses.

1) Mount your camera, ring flash, and softbox to the tripod. It’s important to go with a tripod that has a sturdy head, because this equipment combination is a bit heavier than just your average camera. The distance between the camera and the spot where people stand will vary depending on the kind of lens you’re using, so play around with this until you get the framing and focus right. It’s a good idea to mark off the area with tape, so everyone knows when they’re in frame. Pro tip: Have two people of different heights try the booth out when you’re working out the framing. The Boy was the only one who sampled ours, and he’s very tall, so we could only see the tops of our little kid guests’ heads!

2) Set up your ring flash to go off whenever you take a photo. There’s a couple ways you can do this, the easy way and the proper way. First, the easy way: flip up the flash that comes with your camera, when this goes off the ring flash will also go off. There are some problems inherent with this, like weird shadows, so I’ll explain the proper and (slightly) more complicated way. You’ll need a hot shoe sync adapter. Plug it into the hot shoe on your camera (usually located on the top, near the flash). The particular ring flash we rented came with a sync cable, which we connected from the flash to the hot shoe adapter. You’re ready to go! NB: We were using a Nikon camera, so the equipment you use may vary depending on what kind camera you’re using. A little research should clarify what you’ll need.

3) Tether the camera to your laptop with the USB cable. The purpose of tethering camera to computer is twofold: 1) The laptop works as a viewing station, as people take photos, the pictures will appear on the computer’s screen for people to see, and 2) We were using a Mac remote to fire the camera, so the Mac computer was necessary to make that whole thing work. You can actually purchase remotes that will work directly with the camera, but we just happened to have a Mac remote on hand.

3) We used a software called Capture One so that every time the camera took a picture, the picture was automatically saved to the computer and displayed on the laptop screen. Capture One is on the pricey side as far as software goes, but The Boy already owned it. There are lots of less expensive options for tethered shooting software, and many camera companies (like Nikon) actually make their own. The idea behind tethered shooting is that the computer is controlling the camera, so once you have your software you’re going to want to go in and play around until you find the command keys that will trigger the camera to shoot. For Capture One every time you hit the “apple-k” on the keyboard, the camera would take a photo.

4) Download this app. This will allow you to set the Apple remote’s buttons to application-specific commands, which is a fancy way of saying that we programmed the remote to hit “apple-k” for us. The Boy set up the remote so that every single button would trigger the camera, which was useful as the night went on and people got drunker. Nobody was pawing at the buttons wondering which one to use.

5) Type up some brief instructions, basically to the tune of stand in the box and hit the button. It might be a good idea to remind people not to steal the remote!

6) What’s a photobooth without props? Maggie downloaded these free printables, which we had printed at the local copy center. Maggie had the brilliant idea to mount all the props on foam board, which made them extra sturdy. It was a little extra effort, because we had to print the props on paper, then adhere them to the foam, then them out again, then color in the edges of the foam board with sharpie to make them look nice and clean. But it’s your wedding, so a little extra effort can be worth it. We also threw in some fun over-sized sunglasses, and the Mardi-gras beads and leis that Maggie made me wear to my bachelorette party (I am so getting her back for that one when she gets married).

7) That’s it! Shoot away!

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This is just the way that we did it. There are lots of other ways to create a photobooth, many of which are much simpler. For example, you could forgo the laptop and just do this with a camera and camera-specific remote. If you go that route, your guests will not be able to view their photos, unless you hook your camera up to some kind of video output, like a TV. There’s a great post over here that talks through some other alternatives for a DIY photobooth.

And of course, don’t forget to charge your camera battery!

Photo by Katch SilvaA Note on Our Backdrop

Our awesome pinwheel backdrop was created by the ever-rocking Maggie and our incredible friend Serena. Pinwheels are not especially difficult, and there are a billion and one tutorials online, so I won’t bother explaining it. We originally planned to attach ours to The Boy’s tennis court fence with zip ties, but when we had to move the whole thing inside we found that nails worked pretty well for attaching it to the kitchen wall. Something about the way we attached it to the wall, or perhaps all the moving back and forth while we figured out where to put the thing, made some of the pinwheels come apart. Not a single person noticed or cared.

Oh, and guess what? Our wedding is being featured over here today, go check it out!

Bottom photo by Katch Silva. All other photos courtesy of Xander Keeping.

Goodbyes

Xander-Kylie-285A few months ago I was lying next to The Boy in bed. It was one of those lazy afternoons, sunny and pleasantly cool. A plane droned by overhead, and a breeze carried the scent of trees through our window. Without really meaning to I started to cry.

“What’s wrong?” The Boy asked me. I didn’t know what to say. Something about the smell of trees, and the sound of the plane, and my head resting on his shoulder… I was suddenly nineteen, and lying on his bed in his mother’s house on a summer afternoon. And it was one of those sweet memories that makes you a little sad, because you can never go back.

The Boy’s mother sold her house today. We knew this was coming, and it was definitely past due. It’s time for everyone to keep growing up and figuring things out, and there are other places to do those things now. We had the wedding in that yard, and it was a great way to say goodbye. But today I’m sad, because it was such a special place for me, so inextricably tied to the ecstasy, and sorrow, and wonder, and all those other feelings you can’t quite name but have something to do with waking up one morning and realizing you’re not a kid anymore, but not quite an adult yet either. It’s all rather impossible to explain, but I know that you know, because we all have places like these. And no matter how right or how just, it’s never so easy to leave them behind for good.

I don’t know anything about the new family that will be moving in, but I hope they have a little boy. I hope he walks out his back doors one morning, and realizes he has a yard the size of the whole world. I hope he explores it, really explores it, so that he comes to know it in all its intimacies. I hope he touches each tree and each rock with the confidence that they are his trees, and his rocks. I hope he sees the magic, and rules wisely over his kingdom.

And I hope he meets a little girl. I hope he does not listen when she tries to act tougher than she is, and holds her hand anyway. I hope he sees through all her little cracks, and reminds her that sometimes there is magic, if only you know where to look. I hope he takes her around, and shows her all his trees, and rocks, and blades of grass, and I hope he is kind enough to share them with her. I hope that they are best friends, and maybe a little more. Maybe a lot more. More than they can ever say.

The Boy and I have well and truly grown up now, and our life could not be any more perfect. But I just hope that while our adventure starts a new chapter, someone somewhere is waking up in that house, with the scent of trees, and the drone of a plane overhead, and the promise of magic in the air.

Photo by Katch Silva.

How To: DIY Your Wedding Flowers, Part Two

photo(1)photo(7)photo(9)So as you can see, we had a lot of fun arranging flowers for the wedding. A couple weeks ago, I offered up some general advice on DIY wedding flowers. Today we’ll talk about the subject in a little more detail. I’m going to break this post down into a few parts: how to source your flowers, what to order, and how to do your actual arrangements.

How To: Source Your Wedding Flowers

Let’s start off at the very beginning: where should you be getting your flowers from? This is necessarily tied into another question: what kind of flowers do you want? Most suppliers will carry a finite selection, and while some local florists might be willing to special order things for you, it will probably be more cost efficient to choose from their existing stock.

I started this whole process off by getting a feel for what kinds of flowers I liked. I spent a lot of time on google and Pinterest, but this was only somewhat helpful. I wanted a wildflower look, but every time I looked at a picture of someone’s so-called “wildflower” bouquet, it seemed to consist of normal flowers arranged in a more rustic and undone kind of way. I wanted actual wildflowers. Turns out, lots of places don’t carry actual wildflowers.

So this played a big part in my decisions regarding flower suppliers. Sourcing your flowers can be a little tricky, but it’s getting a lot easier as more and more brides are going the DIY route. Professional florists buy their flowers from wholesale suppliers, who sell their stock at seriously discounted prices. Most wholesalers will not sell to non-professionals, but I’ve heard that many vendors at the NYC Flower Market will sell to regular people if you go at a certain time of day. Driving into New York to pick up flowers was just a little too stressful for me, so I had to look into some other options. I found a local florist who sold bulk flowers at wholesale prices, and an online vendor who would ship flowers to me.

For most people, online vendors will be the most convenient and cost effective. There are quite a few of them these days, and they all seem to have pretty competitive prices and high quality stock. At the beginning, I was really leaning towards using the online vendor for all of my flowers. They were the cheapest option, they came well reviewed, and I could even purchase certain flowers that would otherwise have been out of season in my area. However, I had a few hesitations. One: they didn’t carry all of the flowers I wanted, and that seemed to be the case for pretty much every online supplier I considered. Two: Even though 99.9999% of their reviews were positive, I was fixated on the handful of situations where flowers didn’t arrive on time, or they arrived dead, or some other catastrophe arose. Three: I had a slight ethical dilemma about buying flowers that were out of season and grown in Ecuador (I think), as opposed to locally.

This led me to Butternut Gardens, a local flower farm. Evelyn, the owner, had some of the most beautiful flowers in the world, and she carried many of the varieties I wanted that were impossible to find online. However, the online retailer’s prices were much lower, and if I went through the flower farm I would have to give up on certain flowers that were not in bloom in July. In the end, I split the order. I sourced most of my flowers from Butternut Gardens, but I bought my dinner plate dahlias, delphinium, and larkspur from the online seller. The dinner plate dahlias would have been prohibitively expensive to buy locally, and the other two were currently out of season (but only by a little bit!).

Here’s the last thing I will say about my suppliers: My experience with Butternut Gardens was infinitely superior. Fifty Flowers made a couple of mistakes with my order, including delivering one of my boxes late, so that my poor dahlias were sitting in a hot warehouse for six hours. Ultimately it worked out fine, and the flowers were stunning, but it was stressful. Evelyn, the owner of Butternut Gardens, was impossibly sweet, knowledgeable, and when she forgot to give me five of the sunflowers I ordered she actually drove to my house the next day to drop them off. For FIVE flowers. (PS: She runs a monthly flower subscription service, which is totally awesome. If you’re in the Fairfield County area you should check it out!)

How To: Calculate Your Flower Order

photo(2)

The key to the final flower order is a trial run. I visited Butternut Gardens a month before the wedding and walked home with about fifty blossoms. I went home and unpacked some of the jars and bottles we had ordered, and set to work. I was using these two images (1, 2) as loose inspiration, but I knew I wanted even more flowers. I worked on my dining room table, which was almost the same length as the tables we had ordered. I tried to include as many of the other items that would be on the table as possible, such as candles, so that I could get a clear sense of how many jars we would need.

Once I had the whole table set, I counted how many flowers I had used. Keep separate totals for large blossoms and smaller, filler blooms, this will help you achieve the right balance between the two in your order. Once I had the total, I multiplied the number of flowers by the number of tables. One thing that’s important to bear in mind: I still ended up with way more flowers than I needed. When I did the mock arrangement, I did not have all of the glasses, and silverware, and plates, and placemats, that would eventually go on the real tables. These things made the tablescape much busier, and that translated into fewer flowers needed. I knew this was going to be the case, but I ordered extra flowers anyway. Better to have too many than too few.

However, I still needed to figure out exactly what I was ordering. I wanted a lot of natural texture and variety, so I ordered smaller quantities of lots of different kinds of flowers. This was another reason why ordering from a local supplier was super beneficial: I visited Evelyn’s farm twice to look at what she had in bloom, and she even offered up some amazing suggestions when I was at a loss. This is what my final flower order looked like:

60 Dinnerplate Dahlias

25 Regular Dahlias

80 Larkspur (Mixed Colors)

80 Delphinium

60 Black Eyed Susans

30 Brown Eyed Susans (Similar to above, but smaller filler flowers)

60 Prairie Sun Coreopsis

50 Coneflowers (also known as Echinacea)

25 Sunflowers

90 Zinnias

3 Bunches Mountain Mint

3 Bunches Goldenrod

Now, some notes on my order. I had also ordered 40 cosmos, but it was so hot in the week before my wedding that they didn’t bloom properly. I think we replaced them with something else, but I can’t even remember what it was. This is important to bear in mind when you’re working with a local supplier: they’re at the mercy of mother nature, so you want to be as flexible as possible with your order. I wanted a really organic, natural look, so it was no problem at all for me to go another direction.

When placing your flower order, think carefully about balance. You want to have tall thin stalks, like larkspur and delphinium, as well as round blooms, like black eyed susans and zinnias. I ordered more small to medium sized flowers than larger ones, like sunflowers and dinner plate dahlias, because larger flowers make a greater impact when they’re seen on their own. Don’t forget to include some greenery in your order, like the mint and goldenrod. Professional florists always include some greens in their arrangements, but this often goes overlooked by DIY arrangers.

How To: Do Your Actual Arrangements

Photo by Katch Silva

First of all: this happens the day before the wedding. Keep your schedule clear of other activities for that day, because flower arrangements should not happen any other time. Truth be told, we probably would have gotten away with doing them on Thursday, instead of Friday, but the stress about whether or not the flowers would make it would not have been worth it. All in all, with four people working on the flowers, this took less than four hours. I was done with plenty of time to help The Boy hang lights before our rehearsal dinner.

Necessary Supplies

Floral Shears (do yourself a favor and buy one for every person helping you; no one should be sharing)

Floral Tape (you only need this for bouquets)

Flower Food (I had two kinds: little crystal packets and spray)

Buckets

Pitcher

1) First, prepare your space. You want to work in a cool room with limited natural light, so a basement is really the best option if you have the choice. We laid out garbage bags to act as work stations, theoretically to assist with cleanup. This was basically a failure, and stems got everywhere. But if you’re neater than me, maybe you want to give it a try anyway. Have all of your jars out and easily accessible; once you start putting flowers in jars you want to just be able to keep reaching for empty ones. I had lots of different kinds of jars, so before I even started arranging things I decided how many of each jar I wanted on each table. I wrote this down for the person who would later be moving jars to tables.

2) Once your space is set, you want your flowers all prepped and ready to go, sitting in water. To prep your flowers, use the floral shears to snip off the bottom inch or so of the stem. Make your cut at about a 45 degree angle; this creates maximum surface area through which the flower will absorb water. Next, strip off all but the very topmost leaves. You don’t want any leaves below the water level, because leaves are filthy with bacteria. Place all prepped flowers in buckets filled with water and a couple drops of bleach. The number one reason that cut flowers die quickly is bacteria, so a tiny amount of bleach helps to prevent that. Regarding water temperature: you want to listen to any instructions from your flower supplier, but as a general rule stick with super cold water for already blooming flowers, and lukewarm water for buds. Tip: if you’re also making bouquets, set aside those flowers first, so that you don’t get stuck with the loser flowers at the end.

3) Once you have all your flowers in buckets, it’s time to start transferring them to your jars, bottles, and other vessels. This kind of needs to be done by feel and personal taste, but try some of these combinations: a large flower all on its own in a small squat vessel, a large group of all small flowers, one tall flower and one large flower, three different flowers in the same color scheme, a handful of greens in a tall vessel. Those are just some ideas to get you started, but as my friend Maggie says, it’s basically impossible to screw up flowers in jars. If you want to be really anal about bacteria snip the stems once more before you move them to the new jar.

4) Start out with all of your jars completely dry, but keep a pitcher filled with water and a couple of drops of bleach nearby. Every time you complete about seven to ten jars, pour in a couple inches of water. We had literally hundreds of jars lying around that basement, and if they’d all been full of water before we added flowers I would have kicked over at least five of them, guaranteed. Once you’ve added water, move the jars to a safe location away from stray limbs, windows, or air vents.

5) As you’re placing flowers in vessels, don’t worry about keeping all of the jars grouped together by table. I just grabbed all the jars that were nearest and set to work; the person who moves your arrangements to the dinner tables gets to be in charge of making sure the right kinds of jars end up on each table. This is why you made your list.

6) A note on bouquets: there are plenty of good bouquet tutorials so I’ll keep this brief. The traditional way to create a bouquet is to start with three central flowers and then keep adding layers in a circle around that core, alternating between fillers and central blooms. I started with this theory and then just sort of pulled on things until it looked a little less perfect. Ultimately, I found that my bouquet looked prettiest when I just picked things up randomly, but then again that’s my taste. I also have an eye for color and shape, so if you don’t then feel free to pass this job off to a friend. Wrap your bouquet in floral tape, then tie ribbon or twine around it to hide the ugly green tape. Give the stems another angled snip and place in water.

7) Once all of your arrangements are done, I highly recommend spraying them with this. It came recommended by some fancy New York florist, and I’m positive it helped preserve my flowers for a few extra days. I sprayed all of the arrangements, and then added flower food to the bucket with my bouquets, and a few other vessels per my supplier’s instructions. Say goodnight to your flowers, and whisper a quick prayer to the flower god that they last the night. As long as they are in a cool, dark place, they will.

8) It’s your wedding day! Now, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it is not your job to move the flowers to the tables. This needs to be delegated to someone else. Hand them a list of how many of each kind of jar goes on each table, and trust that they will do you right. Make sure the flowers are the last thing to go out, because you don’t want them sitting in the sun all day. Now go get married!

It really was much easier than I thought it would be, especially to create the kind of look I was going for. And I got almost as many compliments about the flowers as I did about the food, which is really saying something.

A few final recommendations: for inspiration I read this post and this book. Lots of pretty pictures and useful information about flower care, plus it’s written like a cookbook. Much like with cooking, if you pay attention to the general technique rather than the specific ingredients, you can apply the lessons to your own arrangements, even if they’re not exactly identical.

Good luck!

Last photo by Katch Silva. All other photos by the incomparable Maggie Jo Shapiro.

The World of Lisa Frank

“The World of Lisa Frank” – A Short Film from Scott Ross on Vimeo.

This is a really important documentary about Lisa Frank: beloved designer of rainbow-maned unicorns and puppies wearing necklaces, and icon of my childhood. Three things:

1) I want her office.

2) Why is Lisa Frank the JD Salinger of this generation?

3) Did you spot Mila Kunis?

Video by Scott Ross and Karl Beyer, produced by Urban Outfitters

The Name Game

Photo by Katch Silva

I have been married for over a month, and I still have not figured out what I’m doing with my name. Some people seem to have decided for me. To them, I am Kylie Keeping, no questions asked. Honestly it hasn’t bothered me too much, and for the most part I haven’t gone out of my way to correct them. I suppose it’s sort of a sneaky way to try it on, see how it fits, how it looks on me.

The fact of the matter is it’s adorable. It’s a great name. A name many other actors or writers would kill for. And then we look at my old name, clunky and German, awkward to spell and say, the bane of substitute teachers and telemarketers alike. My mother and sisters were baffled when I told them I was unsure if I would be exchanging it for something cleaner and, well, cuter. Why on earth would I want to hang on to Schachte? Why did I always have to be weird about these kinds of things?

To be perfectly honest, I’ve wondered the same thing myself a few times. The last name issue has been an ongoing debate between The Boy and I for years, and on more than one occasion I have woken up in the middle of the night, turned to him, and said, “I think I’ve decided. I’m changing it.” And then the next day I’d wake up, suddenly unsure all over again.

Because that name, that clunky German name, odd as it may be, is mine. It’s been my identity for nearly twenty-four years. And the nineteen-year-old liberal arts student wearing too much eyeliner who still lives inside me demands to know: why didn’t The Boy even think about changing his name? Why do we live in a world where it’s assumed that this is my issue, not his? Why aren’t there more guys like this? Why are we hanging onto these outdated labels of propriety that don’t even make sense in modern society? And then the part of me that does not spell women with a y rolls her eyes, because Keeping is a great last name, and it’s kind of a nice idea that everyone can automatically tell that The Boy and I are a family, that we’re a unit.

I feel like either way I lose a little something. I know that if I do change my name I’ll probably mourn the old one awhile, and then get over it and move on. I know that if I decide to keep Schachte that we will not be any less of a family. I know that there are alternatives, ways for me to decide without really deciding, but hyphenation feels like a cop out, and The Boy wouldn’t even discuss both of us changing our names to something new, like Adama or Stark. I know that this decision is really not all that important, and either way it will be just fine. But the question sticks in the back of mine, and every once in awhile I take it out and weigh it up and down, like a loose tooth you can’t help but play with.

So as you can see, there is no end to this in sight. But I did just get my new California driver’s license, which means I can’t step foot in a DMV for at least another two years, so I have awhile longer to decide. Hell, I have our whole lives.

Photo by Katch Silva