Me & Amelia‎ > ‎

The search ends

This has been an interesting process. Names are (obviously) so tied up with basic issues of identity that unexpected emotions start pouring in everywhere, and it becomes really difficult to make a decision of one's own let alone actually agree with one's partner. In my case, for instance, even though I had been a fervent proponent of picking a new last name ever since I was a kid and some close friends of the family became the Saxifrages, when it came to myself I found I had a lot of very hypocritical difficulty with the idea of letting go of my name.

The last time I wrote about the matter, we were still looking at our four possibilities (Birch, Brandt, Isaacks and Linden) with no clear sense at all of how we were going to move forward. Amelia was very much in favor of Birch, and I was sort of holding out for Brandt but to tell the truth I just felt fairly grumpy about the whole thing.

Around the Solstice we basically let go of Linden: it's a really beautiful tree, has neat connections to Baltic mythology which obviously is a plus for me, and is phonologically pleasing, but not something either of us felt strongly enough about to make that kind of decision.

When we were visiting Amelia's family over Christmas, she had an idea that basically narrowed our choices down to two: we could take Brandt as our last name, and Isaacks as our middle name (so Josh Isaacks Brandt, etc.). For about 24 hours we were about 99% sure this was what we were going to do, but then things sort of changed for me.

In proper schizophrenic fashion, I realized that, now that Amelia was willing to take my name, I wasn't at all sure I wanted her to anymore. I started thinking again about the symbolism of picking a new name for the family that had always so inspired me, and the more I thought about it, the more "Josh Birch" sounded a lot more like me than "Josh Brandt."

I feel like I'm drivelling on about my process without saying anything about Amelia. I need to ask her and get back to you, but my impression is that she was really hoping for Birch from the beginning to the end. For her even more than me the idea of starting anew was, I think, really important, and there's the whole thing with the letters ("birch" is spelled with the "br" of Brandt and the "hic" of Hicks -- if you know her at all, you probably know Amelia is endearingly crazy about this kind of stuff).

So anyway. I told her about all this somewhere around January 8th, and we made the final big decision. I'm still a little terrified, but the longer I sit with it the more I feel sure that it really was the right choice, both for me and for us.

Okay, okay, I know, you've been patiently waiting this whole time for the charts and graphs of our survey results. Here we go...

A total of 26 people took our survey, which was a 1-5 point rating of each of our four original name choices. The raw data is as follows:

  Fabulous
So-so
 Terrible
Average Score
 Isaacks9%
(2)
35%
(8)
44%
(10)

4%
(1)
9%
(2)
 3.3
 Linden32%
(8)
12%
(3)
36%
(9)

8%
(2)
12%
(3)
 3.4
 Brandt33%
(8)
33%
(8)
29%
(7)
0%
(0)
4%
(1)
 3.9
 Birch17%
(4)
21%
(5)
33%
(8)

8%
(2)
21%
(5)
 3.0


...still under construction...
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