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Why I’m changing my blog name

In 2007, my dad and I legally changed our last names to my mom’s maiden name. We did this for a few reasons:

  • My old last name was utterly unpronounceable – 12 letters long and about 2/3 of them consonants (I thought about including it here, but googling my old last name will only lead to embarrassing piano recital videos, so I’ll refrain)
  • We were just about to become U.S. citizens, so there was something right in the timing.
  • I never quite liked the way my first and last names sounded together (I know we can’t choose the last names we’re given, but the doesn’t mean we can’t complain about them).
Changing my name wasn’t quite a ‘re-branding’. Yes, people were now able to pronounce my last name (which matters a lot in settings like a high school, where people still have a need to pick you out of a crowd) , but I was still myself. My new last name isn’t perfect and there are definitely things I don’t quite about it, like the fact that my first name and last name end and start on the same letter, or the fact that I still need to play the ’T as in Tiger” game when calling my bank. But truthfully, I don’t really care, because I’ve had this last name for 8 years and it’s become a part my identity.

I’ve changed my name once, so it shouldn’t be hard to change it again and I do think that I’ll change it a second time, if I ever get married (getting a new passport will be a hassle though). Feminist ideals aside, there is something nice about sharing your last name with someone you care about, and while it would be progressive to be a hypheneated-last-name type of family, my seven-letter last name is already 4 syllables long. Adding anything else would just defeat the point of a simple last name. I also don’t think it would mesh well with anything non-slavic (although in reality my last name isn’t really slavic, but that’s more complicated).

And so, after that long (and frankly unnecessary) introduction, I’ve arrived at my main point: I’m changing my blog name. Why (no one in in particular asks)?

  • For one, my current blog name never made sense
  • Eating wheat makes my throat swell within minutes and the name Pasta Republic is a reminder that I’ll never have regular pizza again (or if I do, it’ll be the last thing I eat).
  • I’d like to buy a domain name for my blog and it seems a bit silly to buy ‘’ when this isn’t a cooking site (also, someone bought last October).
  • Truthfully, the last name name was a spur of the moment choice, and I feel like I can do better.

In the next few days, I’ll be re-branding as Skipping Customs. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and haven’t been able to come up with a name that I liked, simply because while somethingShanghaisomethingsomething seems like too an obvious choice. I won’t be here forever (I hope).

I'm still not quite sure whether this is a travel blog..
I’m still not quite sure whether this is a travel blog..

But Skipping Customs somehow makes sense. It makes sense because I’ve been having a hell of a time getting through TSA checkpoints because of my new hair color (It would be nice if TWB – traveling while blonde was an actual TSA term for these difficulties). I got extra screenings returning to the U.S. and leaving the U.S. and the Chinese passport control agents made me pull all of my hair back from my face to prove that it was indeed, me (trust me, if I were faking my identity, I wouldn’t have chosen the crappy passport photo I have circa 2007, which is incidentally when I changed my last name).

On another level, Skipping Customs also relates to my difficult relationship with my own culture, in terms of skipping cultural customs and the ways I’ve been trying to balance my Russian/Middle Eastern identities while living in China.

So yes, this is a fresh start. I’ll miss my old name, but I’m sure, as with my new blog layout (which is from last September and not new at all), this will soon feel right too.

9 thoughts on “Why I’m changing my blog name”

  • I’ve always wanted to change my last name. I don’t identify myself with the British side of the family and my mom gave me the name Eileen before she left me. I felt like she doesn’t get to name me. I will name myself. I bet your mother’s maiden name is beautiful. <3

    I have a question, was it hard to change names? I thought about it for years.

    I really like your new name. It's perfect!

    • Thank you! I’m really glad people are responding well to the new name 🙂

      At the time it wasn’t difficult to change my name, mainly because I didn’t have documents like a passport or a driver’s license yet, which I can imagine would make things more difficult. The process was very straightforward though, it was just a matter of filing a petition at the courthouse, waiting 30 days to make sure no one objected (though I feel people rarely do) and then getting a notarized piece of paper that allowed us to change our legal documents.

      I actually still have to carry the piece of paper with me when flying home to Russia though, because my last name there is still the old one, largely due to Russian bureaucracy making it impossible to change..

  • I was worried when you changed it, like other people who have upgraded, that I would have lost you as with others doing this the ‘like’ button disappeared and it became so difficult to comment that it wasn’t worth the effort. But you’ve changed already…? And everything seems fine, of which I’m glad, as it’s so hard to find new interesting blogs these days on WordPress.

    p.s. I always imagined that Altyeva was your Russian name and that you had an American Mum. Where you have room to fit in a middle eastern identity, as well as all the rest, I do not know.

    p.p.s. By proper pizza I presume you mean the big thick crust sorts. I have managed a wheat free pizza for my Dad, but then I’m used to cooking the thin crust anyway. For other stuff I have found brown rice flour to be good and have started using, as you predicted, the xanthan gum.

    • I actually do hope to do a little bit of custom coding to the blog in the near future, just to add a few menu bars, but I like the way this theme works. I’m still getting a hang of a ‘premium’ account, whatever that means.

      Ahh yes, my ethnic identity is a bit muddled, but my mom has a large part of a middle-eastern heritage, although I look nothing like her and don’t really have any of those features in person.

      I actually prefer the New York-style thin crust, but a lot of pizzerias in the city do special gluten-free crusts which are a mix of the two. Unfortunately, the pies only come in one size, but that makes me feel a little less ashamed about eating a whole one! 🙂

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