I’m legally changing my first and middle names

Hawthorn Branch

I’m changing my first and middle names.

I am getting rid of Stephanie Ann. My first name is going to be Hawthorn. (no e- like the tree, not the author.) My middle name is chosen, but I’m keeping to myself for now.

This is something I’ve been actively planning for over two years, but I’ve been thinking about it for more than 20, because I’ve always disliked my name and did not feel like it fit me. I have always been more gender-neutral than my name is, and I am in a place where I can’t tolerate a name I don’t connect with anymore.

My wife Stephanie has known about this for several years and is supportive of me changing names. We have talked through all of my ideas together. I’ve let my immediate family know about this. Most of them are onboard with it. Some of them are going to have to get onboard.

I’ll be starting the legal name change process soon, and it will take a month or so before that is all in place, and I’ll start changing things like credit cards and bank accounts and then my online presence.

I realize this is a big change for someone who has had the same name for 47 years, and that remembering it and calling me that name and thinking about me differently is a pretty big challenge.

That weird feeling you may have about my new name feeling strange to you – that’s the feeling I’ve always had about my old name – it doesn’t feel right. It’s a period of adjustment, but I have confidence you all are smart and capable people and can rise to the occasion.

I know people will have ideas, opinions or commentary about this. Please share your thoughts with me directly in a phone call or face-to-face conversation, rather than gossiping or commenting on social media.

The decision tree of names I’ve thought through and discarded is 786 lines long. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of names in the past few years trying them on and seeing how they fit. Naming yourself is hard. But I’ve found a name I actually love – it’s unique, gender neutral, has an outdoors/natural quality to it. Hawthorn is unusual as a first name, so there aren’t hundreds of little kids running around with the same name, nor do I have cousins or family members with that name, which are also bonuses.

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2015 List of “Best of” Lists

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Five mycological highlights from 2015, including banana killers, rainmakers, and the zombie cure.

Source: Top 25 News Photos of 2015 – The Atlantic

The past year has been a series of tumultuous news stories, from the massive migration crisis and the war and terror those migrants are fleeing, to historic images of faraway Pluto, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling supporting same-sex marriage, and widespread protests about continued inequality.

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Check out more great covers at the NY Times, Buzzfeed, and The Casual Optimist. Compare with last year’s picks.

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‘This Goes All the Way to the Queen’: The Puzzle Book that Drove England to Madness | Hazlitt

An amulet, a treasure hunt, and a legion of readers mobilized by the false patterns our brains create to make sense of the world around us. 

[…]

When you look at a rock formation or a car grille or the moon and see a face, that’s a form of apophenia—pareidolia, the construction of coherent visual or auditory stimuli from noise. The Rorschach test: apophenia. Horoscope adherents who see correlations between their star charts and their lives or personalities are engaging in apophenia too. When several unrelated things go wrong in a single morning, it’s apophenia that tells you that you must be dogged by a curse. Most attempts to anticipate what will make newborns stop crying are tinged by apophenia. And if you know anyone who’s convinced herself she has food sensitivities she doesn’t have, based on a supposed pattern in how she feels after eating, feel free to tell her she suffers from apophenia (though you shouldn’t expect it to go over too well).

Source: ‘This Goes All the Way to the Queen’: The Puzzle Book that Drove England to Madness | Hazlitt

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“Arabian Street Artists” Bomb Homeland: Why We Hacked an Award-Winning Series | Heba Amin

The series has garnered the reputation of being the most bigoted show on television for its inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans, as well as its gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad- and the so-called Muslim world in general. For four seasons, and entering its fifth, “Homeland” has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat. The Washington Post reacts to the racist horror of their season four promotional poster by describing it as “white Red Riding Hood lost in a forest of faceless Muslim wolves”. In this forest, Red Riding Hood is permitted to display many shades of grey – bribery, drone strikes, torture, and covert assassination- to achieve her targets. She points her weapon of choice at the monochrome bad guys, who do all the things that the good guys do, but with nefarious intent.

[…]

At the beginning of June 2015, we received a phone call from a friend who has been active in the Graffiti and Street art scene in Germany for the past 30 years and has researched graffiti in the Middle East extensively. He had been contacted by “Homeland’s” set production company who were looking for “Arabian street artists” to lend graffiti authenticity to a film set of a Syrian refugee camp on the Lebanese/Syrian border for their new season. Given the series’ reputation we were not easily convinced, until we considered what a moment of intervention could relay about our own and many others’ political discontent with the series. It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself.

Source: “Arabian Street Artists” Bomb Homeland: Why We Hacked an Award-Winning Series | Heba Amin

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2015-10-13 Recently Read

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