A really, really long name change journey

My favorite photo of us from early in our relationship.

My favorite photo of us from early in our relationship.

Three years ago (!), Zach proposed, and I was so, so happy. We started discussing Big Things almost immediately: Would we have kids, what would we teach them about religion, and who has to do the dishes?

Somewhere between a discussion of the virtues of poodles and Jack Russels, we discussed the name change.

Zach said he didn’t care, which I immensely appreciate. I believe (as a feminist, duh), that it should ultimately be something that a woman decides for herself, but if a man wants to have an opinion, that’s fine too. At the end of the day, though, it’s not his name, and not his choice. He’s awesome, so he agrees with me.

With the stress of the wedding weighing on me, along with a million other things, I just didn’t reserve enough mental space for making a decision. Suddenly, the wedding happened, and we were officially married.

The decision to change my name (or not!) was not quite so sudden. Some weekends I decide I’m going to do it, and I start gathering paperwork. Other weekends, I decided I’m not going to. Other days, still, I decided I was going to go the Beyonce route and just go by my first name.

After a little soul searching, I’ve finally, finally decided that I’m not going to officially change my name. It’s the name I first saw in print, and the name I’ve used my whole life. It’s just not the right decision for me to change that now.

If you want to call me Whitney Gibbs, I’m totally cool with that, though. I really couldn’t care less. I still LOVE “Gibbsi” as a couple name. It’s amazing, don’t ever change it. But, officially, Whitney Lee’s going to be it for me.

Much love to everyone!


Facebook privacy settings aren’t that difficult, I promise


Maybe it’s because I’m a Millenial and I was raised on tech and over-sharing. Maybe it’s because my life is relatively dull—no illegal substances, no scandals, minimal drama. But I really can’t wrap my head around why people freak out over Facebook sharing settings.

There has to be some sort of expectation at this point that Facebook is going to sell pretty much whatever information it has about you. And really–does it even matter that Best Buy knows that you like action movies? They’re not going to raid your home with a display case of movies they’ll force you to buy. They’re just going to show you more relevant ads.

More often than not, it seems like people are just getting squicked out about their “rights” (please imagine dramatic finger quotes) to privacy instead of the actual micro-shares that are taking place. Let’s be clear: You definitely have a right to privacy. But if you put something on a social network, you’re giving up a piece of that right.

If you find yourself still questioning Facebook privacy, it’s a good thing you’re here. I have a definitive guide to understanding privacy options on Facebook:

*Don’t post it if you don’t want it seen. It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are. If you don’t want it seen,  leave it entirely off of Facebook. This advice is repeated more often than “Don’t shoot your eye out” around Christmas (and is starting to sound just as corny), but people still don’t seem to understand. Don’t want your boss to see you bitching about that customer? Tell your friends in private. It’ll make a better story than a post anyway.

*Understand the nature of the beast. Facebook is a business, and its currency is data. When you give them something (birthday, email address, information on what products you like), they’re going to use it somehow. They’re not making their money by ad sales as much as they’re making money by knowing you. If this makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. Stop feeding the machine.

*Craft a public image. Since we’re assuming that everything is going to be seen by everyone, go ahead and think of yourself as your own PR expert. Unpleasant things like your political opinion, that fight you had with your husband and your child’s poop don’t belong on Facebook. If you really want to create a space where you can talk about that, consider a more private application.

Hopefully that’s helpful if you’re privacy paranoid. Thoughts? Opinions?

In defense of embracing labels


Confession time: I haven’t always called myself a nerd. In high school, I would’ve called myself “studious,” and then gone back to outlining my essay comparing the treatment of women by Tolkien, Hemingway and Scott. After that, I went home to play Need For Speed on the PS2. But you know, I wasn’t a nerd or anything.

Once I got to college, I got even more into video games, and even more into traditional nerdy stuff. I still tried to be conventionally cool, but I also tried learning Elvish. Weekend consisted of epic Risk games just as often as they did of parties and shopping. I didn’t constrict myself to “being” anything.

Then, I met a lovely nerd who loves me. And, my life got even nerdier. The first time I played Dungeons and Dragons is almost as fond a memory as setting up my first dorm room. I branched out from Risk and started playing Dominion and Carcassone. The Spiel des Jahres seal (which represents the German Game of the Year) started meaning something to me.

And that, dear homies, is when I started calling myself a nerd.

It was enlightening. I allowed myself some nerdy t-shirts (but only when I felt “worthy” of a fandom), and started skipping a couple classes every month to get some more video game time in with my best friend.

Today, I’m rocking a black sweater and Batman earrings. I’m going home and reading comics in my Superman pajamas. Thursdays are  Minecraft days during lunch at work. Let’s not even talk about how many video games I manage to squeeze into a week.

The main difference when you’re not afraid to label yourself is that it’s easier to find something in common with people. Sure, they might not actually be nerds, but they may have a tabletop game obsession, or go home to play an MMO. It’s a conversation easy button, which is great when you’re not particularly conversationally adept like me. I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to talk about their own hobbies with me. Labels also give you room to grow inside a community. Maybe you’re into hobby trains or tea, or makeup. If you embrace a community, you instantly get to experience your hobbies in a new light.

Obviously, we’re all more complex than our labels. But sometimes labels-as-shorthand can be incredibly helpful! Thoughts?

Running at scissors

I’ve been on a hair hiatus for too long. As soon as I got engaged (almost three years ago!) I put a cease on all planned haircuts. I was going to grow it out for the wedding, and pay an exorbitant amount for a really fancy hairstyle.

A year went by, and I couldn’t find a really fancy hairstyle that my hair would actually do. Fed up, I called my favorite hairstylists, my Aunt Sherry, and she performed an emergency chin-length chop the week before the wedding. Aunt Sherry’s great. She asked the same kinds of questions that I imagine tattoo artists ask drunk people who stumble into their shops (Are you sure you’ll be happy with a koi fish on your elbow? Is a chin-length cut really what you want on your wedding day?).  Mercifully, she chopped it for me.


Super excited to be rocking the short wedding haircut. And you know, to marry Zach.

After rocking the short hair at my own wedding, i kind of wanted to grow it out a bit. Mostly, I’m too lazy to go get it cut. So, it grew.

And then, I really wanted to cut it. But, I had a slew of weddings coming up, and I didn’t want brides to be limited by what I could do with my hair. Logically–they weren’t the type to care at all. But it still felt like I *should* grow it out.

And, then it got long.

And, then it got long.

A couple (?) weddings later, I was with a close friend and a few of her attendants at a salon, waiting for her to have her hair and makeup trial done. In the salon, I realized that I just missed having my hair cut. Watching a woman walk out the door, smiling and cupping her newly-shorn tresses, sealed the deal. I wanted that happy, and it could only come from a pair of scissors.

A year and a half after my last cut, I bravely stepped into Great Clips. Then, I stepped out. People apparently are willing to invest some time in waiting for a $7 haircut. I am not.

Fifteen minutes later, I bravely stepped into the JC Penny salon. I checked to make sure the cut was under $40 (we all have standards), and I signed up to see Paula.

I showed her the inspiration pic I had snapped with my tiny phone camera earlier that morning, and told her I didn’t really care, I just wanted it shorter, and I wanted some pieces to frame my face. Done.

Not the best picture, but roll with it, mmkay?

Not the best picture, but roll with it, mmkay?

I love my new cut, it’s awesome. But ever since then (and since I dyed it), I’ve been wanting to do more. Maybe I’ll color it purple and get it chopped to chin length? Or get an asymmetrical bob with pink streaks? I could be a redhead again! Or I could do spiky hair! I have a gap between weddings, so I can’t promise that I won’t sport some sort of crazy color post-May and pre-October. I’m looking forward to it!

I read an article about how to cut your own hair, and it’s not helping. I’ve been reminding myself daily (hourly, let’s be real), that I have a finite amount of hair to mess with, so I should probably leave it alone. In the meantime, I’ll be hiding the scissors around my house.

I can’t donate blood, but you totally should

Picture it: Me, Zach and the blood bank. I finally convinced him to donate blood with me because they were giving out $10 Outback Steakhouse giftcards. I had only donated blood once before at work. The process wasn’t terrible, and I loved the thought that I was helping people will relatively little work (so sue me, I like efficiency). However, I’m a chicken, and I wanted him to be there.

We were separated into little tiny rooms with people who took down our information immediately. I checked to make sure that enough time had passed that it was safe to donate again. I checked all the little boxes to verify that I don’t have any blood borne  diseases. I didn’t know it, but in the other room, Zach found out that because he was born in Germany, he has a tiny, minuscule chance that he has some weird rare blood disease that would basically drop dead at 50, but can’t be detected before. It’s highly, highly unlikely that this will happen (we’re talking a decimal point, multiple, multiple zeroes and a one in this percentage), but it meant he couldn’t donate.

So, he sat down in the lobby, and I sat in the oddly dentist-like chair to have my O+ pumped into tiny vials and a medium-sized bag. All was well. The dude who did my interview asked me if I felt dizzy–nope. Not at all. Was feeling pretty perky, actually.

Let this be a lesson to the masses: Don’t underestimate the power of doing something good on your blood pressure. Temporarily, that is.

I sat down with a Diet Coke (gross, I know), and some of those peanut butter crackers (also gross). I took a couple of sips, and then I felt drowsy. Whatever, it had been a long day of work. I slumped my head onto my fist, and decided to make do. Then, that seemed to be too much work. I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

About 20 seconds later, I realized I was in the floor. Zach was standing over me (boy can hustle), looking at his watch. It’s nice having a trained EMT as a husband. He always knows to time any seizures that may happen during the course of your relationship. I tried to get up, but I was basically told to stay down until my blood pressure rose a bit. You know what’s not fun? Lying on the ground of the blood bank with your feet propped up in a chair in your very favorite new dress. While I was in the floor, a peppy older employee chirped that next time, I should drink juice before donating. Which would be fine, except…the floor. I was lying in the floor.

That’s when I decided that I wouldn’t be donating again. However, I can’t shake the feeling that Ms. Juice-Before was right, and that I had probably done something wrong. I’m not sure that’s accurate, since I tried to be incredibly conscious of the rules, but it’s possible.

Every time we have a blood donation at work, I feel super guilty about not going. I mean, you sit there, you lose some blood, and you leave. It’s like being a Spartan, only with less effort and  less blood. How can that be a bad thing? But still, I’ve said no every time because I’m pretty sure Zach wouldn’t be nearly as sympathetic the second time around.

HOWEVER, donating blood is awesome. You should do it. It saves lives! Just don’t expect to run into me at the blood bank, k?

Guys…I’m cleaning our bedroom.

Imagine this, only it's tinier and more adorable.

Imagine this, only it’s tinier and more adorable. 

It’s crazy. In so many ways. Fair warning: This post is pure narcissism. Here’s what I’m learning about Zach and I:

  • Zach should’ve married someone who could sew him a cool marching band t-shirt quilt. The best I’m doing is folding and storing them.
  • I apparently have a towel fetish. Seriously…what are all these towels doing in here?
  • My darling other half hasn’t gone on a good clothes shopping trip since high school.
  • He was a way cooler kid than I was. Space Camp? German Lederhosen? Color me green!
  • I’ve been clothes shopping a million times since high school, but have failed to throw anything out.
  • I get an immediate sentimental attachment to clothes once they get a hole.
  • Zach has a tiny alligator skull in a box. He’s cleaning out that box.
  • We’ve subconsciously been doomsday preppers, but only for clothing, towels and sheets. If pillowcases become the currency of the future, we were totally set for life. Sadly, Goodwill is about to get our bounty.

Sometimes a Furby is just a Furby

Demonic eyes, much?

The Furby perched silently on the closet shelf. No longer was it begging me to play that weird game that never actually worked for me, or to pet it, or for God’s sake, just give it all my attention. Some of my attention. Any of my attention.

I could tell you that in staring at it I saw how what was important to a child didn’t matter to an adult. I could tell you that it was the grand metaphor of my life—that what I had once strived to be the best at (Furby care, natch), didn’t even warrant more than an annoyed look now that I was in college. That glance should’ve been poignant; it held all and simultaneously none of the mysteries of growing up. It should have occurred to me that it was a symbol that the old me was now gone, wrapped up in purses and clothes and cello lessons; not taking care of freaky toys that crave attention more than Lindsay Lohan.

But—I’m not that deep.

All I felt at that moment was a stab of annoyance that it was in my way, trying to make me feel guilty for not taking care of the inanimate (yet somewhat possessed) former toy of the year. The Furby sat, glaring at me, unblinking and unforgiving.

Then—it leaned forward. “Furrrrbyyyyyyyy,” it wailed.

Damn, I thought. How long do those batteries last?