With a "K"

With a "K." Karabell, with a "K." Not a "C." It's not like Caroline, or Carolyn, or Care Bear, or Coffee, or Caramel, though it does rhyme with the latter. Play a "K" in Scrabble, and you'll earn more points than if you played its evil twin.

Now that I am no longer a Murphy, at least legally, I have developed a deep retrospective appreciation for simple names, or, more specifically, distinguishable consonant sounds. I like the name Karabell. It has a ring to it, as we Karabells like to say. And I have to admit that the sonorous quality of the name had an effect on my adoption of it. Coupled with its consistent ring, it is unique, and it also has bestowed on me some quality initials: AMK. Say it aloud. Or you can say it how Jacob does: A to the M to the K! It sounds good. Much better than ANM. Sorry, mom and dad, but it's true. The tongue can only move so quickly from the N to M, whereas the tongue position for the K naturally follows that of the M.

Why do I tell you this? Well, this weekend, I had a wish come true. After being married for 15 months and being addressed as one these variations ...

  • Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Karabell (absolutely unacceptable) 
  • Mr. and Mrs. Karabell (decent, but not ideal) 
  • The Karabells (totally acceptable, but let's remember who the name Karabell first belonged to) 
  • Mrs. Jacob Karabell (the worst) 

... Jacob and I were jointly referred to as:

Well, hallelujah! Justice! Equality! Feminism! A big shout out to Jessie and Matt here, who remembered that I had been less than excited to be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Karabell at a previous wedding. Jacob didn't mind one bit, and as far as I'm concerned, people can address us as this for another 15 months, just to even things out, whereupon we can then be referred to as Mr. Jacob and Mrs. Annie Karabell. To make things even better, Jacob should be Mr. and I should be Ms., eliminating the gender double-standard when it comes to formal naming conventions. Why? Well, I have a name, too. Yes, I have a name. I took on his last name, happily of course, but I still have a first name. In fact, now that I think about it more, I'm considering pressing for a change in social etiquette: If a woman takes the man's last name as her last name, the couple should henceforth be addressed as Mr. and Ms. HER FIRST NAME THEIR LAST NAME. That way, her name--and her existence as an independent human being--is primary, and is more important than the fact that she has committed herself to someone else for the rest of her life. The union of names represents a joining of families, a sentiment I appreciate, just so long as the woman's identity isn't subsumed as part of the man's and disappears forever.

Jacob and I have a pretty swell thing going here. We make decisions together, we clean together, we share dog duties. I don't belong to him. He doesn't belong to me. In fact, he didn't even have a preference about whether I became a Karabell or not. I took on his name because of its aesthetic value, its uniqueness--beneficial if I hope to continue writing, which I do--and for the sake of simplicity with regard to hypothetical future offspring. So my plea to you is this: Think anew about how you want to be addressed. And insist on it.

On another note, one of the many reasons I have failed to write consistently here is because I cannot decide what to write about, or rather, what not to write about. Is this an education blog? If so, is it a compendium of teaching techniques and tools, a narrative of what I do, or way to share my voice about education policy? Or maybe it's a let-me-experiment-with-long-form-journalism blog? A book review blog?

Here is a sampling of topics I might write about here:

(a) Feminism and Society (above)

(b) Books

This week I finished listening to An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It's one of those books that is really worth listening to, mostly because the strain and cadence of her voice reveals so much more than the words on the page can.

I want to read Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart after listening to several interviews with him, especially the one by Michael Silverblatt on KCRW's Bookworm. Have you read it? If so, dish!

(c) Articles

Ron Suskind, a writer I admire, wrote this article about his son's journey with autism last week in the New York Times. From there, I meandered to Hanna Rosin's piece in The Atlantic about her son's Asperger's diagnosis and the end of Asperger's as a distinct diagnosis. It's now encapsulated within the Autism Spectrum Disorders and is considered a high-functioning form of the disorder because those afflicted still have speech and sometimes high verbal abilities.  That led me to The Atlantic's collection of responses to her article, when then led to me one mother's web site about her daughter's experience with autism. I'll post the links when I'm able to find them again.

(d) Education

Over the past week, my students have begun reading books in small groups called Literature Circles. They have had to make their own reading calendars, create their own vocabulary lists, and keep each other on track with their work. I am so impressed! It is working out much better than I thought it would, and they are generally much more engaged than they otherwise are. I made time to speak to them all (well, almost all) individually on Friday, and ALMOST EVERY SINGLE ONE (except two) said that he/she was enjoying the book. Moral of the story after week 1: Choice and ownership make a tremendous difference.

So I'd like your input ... what would you like to hear about?

(a) Feminism and Society

(b) Books

(c) Articles (and links) and my *ideally* articulate rants responses to them

(d) Education (meaning, what I do in my classroom, and how I am a real teacher, unlike those referenced in this article from the Onion, which, albeit satirical, is most reflective of trends in education these days. Special thank you to SD for sharing the article!)

(e) Whimsical story ideas (though no promises here!)

(f) All of the above, all at the same time (this option most closely resembles the play-by-play of my mind, though, perhaps, this does not easy reading make).

Please vote by posting a comment!