Babas, in the secret language of the menehune

We just got back into town from NJ and had such a wonderful holiday. Most of my family was together and we all were psyched for Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed the days surrounding. Today Husband had to endure a five hour car ride home with me: I alternately broke down into tears and snapped at him. Then I broke down into more tears because I'd snapped at him, and what kind of crappy wife does that to her husband for no reason? I just miss my family (already) so much that my heart hurts.

Thankfully we had Karen in the car with us to cut through the tension. She's our new GPS navigation system (Christmas gift). She speaks Australian English - it was a language option and we find it to be very amusing. Eventually we may switch to Emily, who speaks British English, or Madalena, who speaks Portuguese. But for now, Karen instructs us on where to turn and how far to go. The problem today is that we already knew how we wanted to go, me having driven the route from New England to NJ so many times before. But Karen had new ideas. Which we weren't about to follow. So, every time we took a turn (or didn't) that differed from her designated route, she'd say, "Recalculating." My stepfather has the same GPS system, and he swears that his voice (Jill, American English) gets snippier and snippier as he continues to mess up or disregard her navigation. I might have to agree with him now, after listening to Karen repeatedly "recalculating" today until finally she told us "There is a better route!" I didn't know she might say that so it shocked me a little bit and sort of made me feel bad. Like I was pissing her off. Which I may have been. Husband didn't hear the nuances in her voice, but like any overly sensitive person, I did. Can't get anything by me, Karen. I pick up what you're throwin' down.

Another great Christmas gift which I received from Husband was a SmartGlobe. I've had my eye on the SmartGlobe for about four years because, not that I have low self-esteem or anything, but I know I suck at geography. And this insecurity was proven as not distorted perception but fact once I got my hands on that globe. I do suck, but already I suck a little bit less! The SmartGlobe is awesome! You can play games, competing against up to three other people to see who can find and touch locations the fastest with the special magic pen. I did learn something new about Husband through all this - he is a geography wiz. Like freakishly fast with that magic pen. He is definitely smarter than a fifth grader. I am quite clearly stupider than one.

You can also learn about currency, population, leader, and interesting facts just by touching a location with the magic pen. If only I'd had this when I was eight! But not to worry, I'll make good use of it now. Look out work functions and cocktail parties - I'll dazzle with worldly knowledge in addition to my already witty repartee.










My stepfather Jack also received a very cool gift. It's a replica of the USS Constitution. (That's us looking impressed by such a great present as we struggle to unpack it.) My sis and TO gave it to him. I gave him a remote meat thermometer that tells you when your dinner's ready. I didn't know how stiff the competition was going to be.

There were many highlights of our time in NJ. I'll try to recap.










C, TO, Husband and I spent a day in NYC. (That's me and C pretending to be jack-in-the-boxes.) We ice skated in Rockefeller Center, ate at the Carnagie Deli (and ran into none other than Mr. Carnagie himself, who, as it turns out, is kind of a schmo). We swung by the Plaza and spent some time in FAO Schwartz, which is truly one amazing toy store. I wish I could get accidentally locked in there over night so I could sleep on top of their giant stuffed animal version of Iorek, the armored bear from the Philip Pullman books.

One tiny snag in the NYC trip was that we had to run to catch the train on the way there, and missed the train entirely on the way back (despite sprinting and dodging people on the crowded sidewalks all the way from 44th to 33rd Street). It was actually even more stressful than just missing the train: we got separated. Or rather, TO got separated because his ticket wouldn't work for the subway and the line to get a new one was too long given our time constraints, so he decided to run to Penn Station. The rest of us were supposed to take the subway. But then, after TO had left, we realized we were at a subway station that would take us in the wrong direction. So we had no choice but to leave the subway station and run too. But we weren't fast enough. TO, it turns out, was fast enough, and he made it to the train with time to spare (TO leads the pack when we go running in the park, so this was not entirely surprising). The rest of us did not make out so well. Which meant TO felt compelled to get back off the train, out of solidarity and in keeping with our NYC motto: leave no man behind.

At the end of the day, we caught the next train and all made it home. Husband and I even managed to get back in time to meet our friends C and D, who recently moved to NJ from Boston, for pizza. All's well that ends well.

Husband and I also got to catch up with an old high school friend of mine while we were in town. That was fun, especially because N hasn't changed a bit. Whenever I see people from high school, they always tell me that I haven't changed a bit, and now I see what they mean. Some people just always look the same. We also met her boyfriend, and he was nice. He threw back quite a few screwdrivers throughout the course of our dinner, but I'm willing to bet he'd have been nice even without the alcoholic sedation.

By far, though, most of our time in NJ was strictly family time. We ate meals together, stayed up late chatting, and Husband and I spent countless hours playing with my nieces. Who are, I have to brag here, ADORABLE. As you can see.




















The oldest is four going on five in February. The youngest (who is me, exactly, when I was that age) is three. Together, they are SO MUCH FUN!!!!! And they just love Husband to pieces. He's wicked fun to play with. I've always thought this about him as well.

So, most our days were spent at the park like this:






































Or the beach like this:






















My nieces are very funny little girls. Husband and I call them the menehune, because when we were in Hawaii we learned about menehune. They're small dwarf-like people that live undetected in the valleys and forests of Hawaii and, as legend has it, build things in one night. I'm not sure what kind of things exactly, but I think entire cities and what not. If they can't finish a project in one night they leave it forever unfinished. That's just the way they roll.

We've also decided that when we have our own kids, we'll refer to them as mene Macs. I'm realizing you won't get this, most likely, because you don't know our last name. But it's cute, trust me.

Our relationship with the menehune is actually very serious. Husband and I are their appointed guardians should anything happen to my sis and TO. We don't take that lightly. We want them to know us, and to be excited to see us, so we try to be very interactive with them and engage them as often as possible while we're together.










One thing about the menes that cracks me up is that they have this secret word (and, who knows, maybe an entire secret language!) that they use for both good and evil. It's "babas." They say it instead of "cheese" if you're taking a picture of them, or say it randomly to be silly and giggle. They also say it to be mean sometimes. Once my youngest niece hit my oldest niece and was 'encouraged' by my sis to apologize. She wasn't in an apologizing mood, so she said, "Sorry, BABAS!" and apparently that negated the entire apology in their world, because my oldest niece started to cry and whimper, "She didn't mean it! She didn't mean it!" You never quite know about "babas," but they know. I guess that's all that's important since it's not meant for us anyway.

One sad part about our visit to NJ is that I had to leave my wedding dress behind. It's just too bulky to have laying around in our apartment for the next several months, so we loaded it into the trunk for delivery to mom's closet, the storage unit of all things never to be worn again. I tried it on one last time, and said my goodbyes. I also helped my nieces play dress up.






















That pretty much sums up our Christmas holiday. Fun, quality time, bonding, playing. Oh, and good gifts. But that is clearly the least of all blessings.

Happy New Year!

 

Along came a...

Over the course of our honeymoon, I overcame a lot of my fears. I snorkeled in open ocean water (hello, sharks?), swam with giant sea turtles (which pop up out of nowhere and bump right into you - hello, ocean creatures bumping into me reminds me of sharks!), swam with dolphins (hello, slimy and grey - love them, but 'nough said!), showered at night in an empty camp ground bathroom shower stall (no shark reference, but hello horror movie waiting to happen!), and slept in a bare bones cabin with giant spiders on the ceiling (which is just plain gross).

Mostly, I think I came out braver. Now I'm no longer afraid of sharks in the pool AT ALL, and am only mildly irrational about swimming in any sort of water where I can't see my toes. Definite progress. I'm also less jumpy when I'm home alone, because clearly if I'm tough enough to handle the Psycho shower scene I'm tough enough to, um..., be tougher.

But sadly, a new phobia seems to have cropped up. I now have developed a fear of spiders.

Over the weekend, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was on TNT. Husband and I had a ton of work to do, and he was paged constantly, but we managed to watch all three movies anyway. Or at least, we managed to have all three movies on in the background. During the third movie when the giant spider almost eats Frodo, I nearly lost it as I came to the realization of just how disgusting a spider, and its hunting method, is. That's some seriously sadistic sh*t.

Think of it: first, it paralyzes its victims. THEN, it wraps them up in its nasty sticky web, and THEN it sucks the blood out of them WHILE THEY'RE STILL ALIVE!

I mean, that is just so repulsive I can hardly stand it. The only thing that keeps me from stepping on every spider I come across just for fun is the fact that I can still hear my mother's voice in my head, delivering her typical response whenever my sister or I shrieked about a spider in the house: "That's Charlotte! Do you really want me to kill Charlotte?"

Thanks for that, mom. Now, what should be simple is complicated.

 

Stitched

Last night Husband and I went Christmas shopping. We essentially finished all the shopping we needed to do, which was lovely. Now we just have to wrap everything. That'll be tonight's project. Wrapping I don't mind so much, even though I'm terrible at it. At least it's something I can do in my pajamas on the floor with my feet nestled into my puppy dog slippers. I love this holiday season, but I'm so tired of being busy every night. It's reminiscent of our wedding planning days, when we longed to just stay home and do nothing and instead were forced to go out and do... well, whatever it is we did.

I think the stressful part of all this is that I don't see our lives slowing down much in the future. After the holidays I'm taking an intensive class at a college (which is two hours away once you factor in traffic). I'm taking the course for a certification exam, and after I finish the intensive winter session course I start a prep course for the spring semester and then sit for the exam in April. In the end of January I have my biggest work event (the five day one).

During this time Husband and I need to figure out where we're going to be next (Boston, Minneapolis, or Austin), where we're going to be living in said chosen area, and what we're going to be doing for work. Which doesn't seem to completely flatten Husband in the same way it seems to completely flatten me - I HATE moving, I HATE change, and I HATE starting over. So anything other than Boston is going to result in a very long and painful adjustment period for me. Even something different in Boston is going to result in a painful adjustment period for me.

I could just choose to adapt gracefully, but at some point in your life it's easier to accept that if you haven't managed to change how you react to things yet, you may never do it. As I said to Husband when we were talking about my being a neat freak, I organized my toy box for Christ's sake. It's sewn into the seams of my personality by now, like those annoying labels that are so tightly stitched into the side of your sweater. If you attempt to cut them out, you're left with a giant hole in your sweater and nothing else to think besides "I should have left well enough alone."

 

Short order

Last night Husband and I manned the omelet station for EC's Late Night Breakfast event, where staff don aprons and chef's hats and cook for our students, presumably to fuel them through finals. We've been at the omelet station before, but this year was intense. First of all, for some reason I was way worse at making omelets this year than last. Second, the students seemed a little more like food critics this year than last. Maybe those two are connected...

We climbed into bed after midnight with cooking spray grease on our faces and egg product in our hair, glad to be off our feet and away from the fire.

 

Cranked up a notch

The pressure. That's what.

It's hard to find Christmas gifts for my family period, but to find them with two weeks to go after returning from your Hawaiian vacation is incredibly stressful. We did a lot of present hunting today, but now I'm panicked that nothing will be delivered on time. Thankfully, I finally did the last of the honeymoon laundry this morning, so that feels like measurable progress.

 

Pay off for the snow dance

Snow day! Early closing! Off work at 2pm! Snow day!

Woohoo!

 

Deck the dining room server

We shelled out money on a photographer for our wedding. Now we've just shelled out more money ordering prints for folks in time for Christmas, since the dvd with all the photos (strategically) won't be delivered to us for another few weeks (because if we had it, we could print our own Christmas presents). (Notice how I didn't say "we could print our own *goddamn* Christmas presents" like I normally would have? I told you I'm ridiculously mellow lately.)

The task of choosing photos to frame for our loved ones was daunting. There are so many beautiful pictures, but there are just as many that are goofy and weird. Not surprisingly, the goofy and weird ones seem more true to life than the beautiful ones. There are a lot of goofy and weird pictures of me alone, and of me with Husband. Once we get the dvd I'll post the weird ones of me for your amusement; Husband would prefer not to appear on the internet. Fair enough.

 

All the Whos in Whoville. And then there's me, too.

I'm so excited for Christmas! This year we're spending the holiday in New Jersey with my parents, my sister, her husband, and my nieces. It's perfect - I'll have most of my family there, and this will be the first Christmas I'll spend with Husband. For the past couple of years Christmas was always bittersweet - home with my pampering parents but missing my boyfriend like crazy. (Hard to imagine that we weren't even engaged last Christmas...)

Now when Husband and I share Christmas stories from growing up it's so much more meaningful - I know our childhood experiences will influence how we choose to celebrate with our own family, and it's nice to imagine how we're going to do things now that it's our turn to determine holiday traditions.

We've decorated the apartment with white lights, Christmas candles, and the limited seasonal kitchenware that we own. It's cozy and festive. We spent Sunday night watching Love Actually and got reacquainted with our favorite holiday tunes while in Hawaii (our theory is that because the weather doesn't get Christmas-y on the islands they overdo the music, decorations, and early holiday greetings to set the mood).

I have cool presents for the girls, and can't wait to spend some quality time with them. I also have some great ideas for Christmas presents for the family, mostly revolving around wedding photos. Making it easy for me is the fact that my family was, as a whole, very expressive and silly at the wedding so we have loads of very funny shots.

Recently I received an email from an old high school friend I'd lost touch with, so we're planning to catch up over the holidays while we're both at our childhood homes. I'm looking forward to seeing N again after all this time - it sounds like she's doing well, and it's always fun to reminisce about the past and exchange "where are they now?" gossip about our old classmates.

We're also trying to plan a trip to NYC over the holidays to eat at the Carnegie Deli, skate at Rockerfeller Center (Husband's never been), and catch a show. A visit to NYC at Christmastime is always festive.

Oh, and we have our annual holiday party for work on Wednesday. We only get one drink ticket apiece, which limits the quality of the people-watching since you can't laugh at drunk co-workers, but it'll still be a nice evening. And some really sweet students made me a care package (which they created for finals time as a morale booster for their peers) that had lots of yummy snacks, and that was just very adorable of them.

Other than that, I'm not sure what's gotten into me - it's been years since I've been super excited about holly, mistletoe, and presents under the tree. But what can I say? I'm blissfully happy. And Christmas, by nature, is blissfully happy. So this year the holiday spirit just piggybacks off the spirit I already have. My cheer and goodwill is probably so annoying to most normal people.

 

From this day forward

Our wedding week included the early arrival of our parents, siblings, and friends, a Thanksgiving celebration, a rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, and the reception. Which is to say it started on Monday and didn't end until the last of our friends left our apartment on Sunday night. And the whole thing, from start to finish, was amazing. When I look back at the pictures, I feel like a kid at Christmas experiencing something that's just slightly magical.

It was great to be surrounded by so many people who care about us. And it was nice to get to hang out with our family and close friends for an entire week. We were stressed, and had errands, and were overtired, but we loved every minute of it. The wedding seemed to bring everyone together.

Our wedding ceremony was short but sweet, and a very sacred moment for us. We were married by candlelight at Old North Church at 6pm on November 24th, just one of the many couples throughout the church's 200+ year history to solemnly promise our lives to one another before God.

For most of my adult life, I worried I'd never be able to commit to a person enough to get married. I also figured I'd never accept religion into my life. So all in all, it was a series of leaps of faith that brought me to that altar. With Fiancé (whom hitherto I will call Husband in keeping with the tradition of my rather uncreative aliases for my man) it's always been clear that the leaps were never in vain. God, on the other hand... well, we have an evolving relationship, but it was a powerful moment when our union was blessed in the church.

Our reception was relaxed and (so we've been told!) lots of fun. We listened to some lovely (and amusing) toasts, ate (minimally in my case because my corset was too tight), made the rounds, and danced the night away. We had a blast, and based on the pictures and feedback we've received everyone else had a pretty good time too.

Sunday we met everyone in the hotel restaurant for brunch (I was starving because of the aforementioned corset-induced starvation), and then spent the afternoon opening presents and entertaining at our apartment. Then we packed... and on Monday morning it was off to sunny Hawaii! Which is a whole other post. We had a fabulous time, but the weather wasn't very welcoming.

So the short answer to the question "How'd it go?" is that it went very well, thank you for asking :) Pictures to follow.

Most importantly we're married, and it's everything I'd hoped it would be.

 

Reprieve

I have a cold, a zit, and Fiancé and I just sent some emails back and forth that inadvertently went out to an entire professional listserve.

I'm appealing to the universe here: please stop.

 

A bride unveiled

On Monday I had a trial run of the body bronzing treatment I'm getting done at a nearby spa the week before the wedding. As I was walking home from the spa, getting bronzer by the moment, it occurred to me just how often I'm naked in front of people I don't know. It's kind of a lot when you consider bronzes, waxing, dress alterations, massages, dermatologists. The price of being high maintenance. I wondered if men are naked around strangers that often. Fiancé says they are not. He seemed pretty clear on that point.

 

Beauty doesn't worry

A couple of months ago my dermatologist told me that if I didn't stop furrowing my brow I would need botox before I hit my mid-thirties. Which really only made me furrow my brow even more. Since then, I've tried to do it less, but it's really a very natural facial expression for me. It's a combination of thinking and stressing, which are two things I do almost constantly. Today a coworker pointed out to me that if I don't stop furrowing my brow my face will get stuck that way.

I kind of wish people would stop telling me these things.

 

Don't let the door hit cha

Our secretary at the CHW has given her notice. Two weeks. Not overly generous, but fair. The shady part is that now that she's turned in her two week notice, she keeps calling out sick. Like for 3 of the last 10 days she'll be working with us. This causes chaos for everyone, and just more work for me because I'm occasionally called on to man the front desk (where I don't know who needs to fill out which forms or how to remove anyone's health hold, so the students don't particularly like having me out there either). I just think it's kind of crappy to call out sick when you've already given your notice. She could genuinely be sick, but in the three months she's worked here she's been sick an awful lot.

 

The one two jump

When my sister had her second child the workload more than doubled from the first - it quadrupled. Similarly, when I had only a major work event to organize, or just my wedding to pull off, it was way simpler than the two combining. I am a walking spreadsheet of tasks.

That being said, 16 days to go! Yay!!!!!

 

Wow, what a lovely ?????????

Fiancé and I got a gift from a colleague of mine who can't make it to the wedding. We can only identify the proper use for part of the gift - the other part has us a bit baffled. This colleague has very sophisticated taste, so I know that whatever these things are (they're like giant ceramic keys only instead of being key-shaped at the bottom they're pointy, but it's a thick, blunt point) they're something we ought to know about. Fiancé thinks they are used to label pieces of cake (chocolate, vanilla, mine, Bernie's) but I'm not sure a piece of cake would hold them upright - they're kind of heavy. We did some internet research but couldn't come up with an answer. I applaud her for giving us a present and a teachable moment all in one box.

 

Son of a...

I just went swimming over my lunch hour a day after receiving my flu shot straight to the deltoid. A smarter person could have predicted that was gonna hurt.

 

The music won't play itself

Our DJ is bailing on us less than a month before the wedding. This is almost funny to me in how completely unfunny it is. He's offering a replacement, but it's still ridiculous to change the plans this late in the game. I'm starting to understand why women become bridezillas. I'm tempted to go psycho bride just to teach him a lesson. But the wedding has worn me down so much I'm not sure I could muster the energy to kick his ass.

 

Unbrave new world

Last night at around 2am someone lit off fireworks downtown. 2am is when the bars close, so this is not entirely surprising. But it scared me half to death. Fiancé is in Vegas this weekend with his best friend so I'm home alone. But it wasn't being home alone that put me so on edge. It was that I could hear the explosion, and feel it, but I didn't know what it was. It's the post 9-11 response - textbook overreaction and fear coupled with the assumption that whatever was happening constituted an immediate threat to my personal safety.

It really is different now. The unexpected used to be fun.

 

Oh my, starry eyed surprise

I totally forgot to mention, I saw Manny Ramirez at the movies on Monday night!

 

Guess what?

A colleague of mine called today to talk business, but in the process mentioned that he (a bachelor as of last spring) is now engaged with a baby on the way. Life can change so fast. I don't know why his news makes me so happy, but it does. You never know what's around the corner. And it's refreshing to be reminded that sometimes what's around the corner is really good.

 

Volumes happening, nothing to say

Lately for some reason I have nothing to say. I haven't posted in so long because I've been busy, but also because I have nothing to tell anyone. So I figured rather than posting nothing I'd just write a post about having nothing to post. But since I have nothing to post, there isn't much to write other than what I just wrote.

Oh well. Had to give it a shot.

 

Wicked good

Last night after a lovely dinner at Troquet Fiancé surprised me with tickets to Wicked. It was fabulous! I don't think I've ever enjoyed a musical more. I hated the book, but the show is amazing. If you live in Boston, I strongly suggest you catch it before it leaves town.

 

Back to reality, almost

Tuesday I got back from a long weekend at the spa with my sis and mom in Austin, where it was over ninety degrees every day. We spent our time lounging by the three-tiered infinity pool, going down the water slide, or soaking in the hot tub, depending on our mood. And we ate. We lounged and we ate.

Today as I was getting my dress fitted I looked down and noticed the scrape on my hip that resulted from going down the water slide head first (the slide had notches where its sections connected, and my hip bone sticks out just enough to catch on them) and had to smile. I'm a little bit sun kissed and looking in the mirror reminds me of how much fun we had, just us gals.

 

Toxic Poison

Last night Fiancé and I spent the evening at a barbeque with his colleagues. Toward the end of the night we all got sucked into watching the season finale of Rock of Love, the reality television show that's like The Bachelor only instead of a young, handsome single man the prize catch is Poison's own Brett Michaels. You can imagine the classy contestants. It's awesome! After several weeks and just as many gloriously trashy eliminations, Brett's decision came down to a stripper and another woman who actually wasn't half bad. Brett chose the other woman. Which made us sad for the other woman, because she got... well... Brett Michaels. But happy because the stripper was a skanky b*tch.

The wierdest thing is that our colleagues are well-educated, interesting people. But we were all hooked, and none of us was new to the saga. Which means we've all spent at least one afternoon glued to the couch watching reruns on VH1. Fiancé's boss was the only one who was appropriately disgusted. I'm not sure he looks at us the same anymore. Which is too bad. Because normally we have very good judgment. Every rose has its thorn, I guess. Poison is so wise.

 

The end of an era

Last Friday night my belly button ring fell out. I'd been wanting to take it out for a few years, but I was a little sketched out by the hole it would leave behind in my stomach. Because that's gross.

I'd stalled and stalled and luckily my abs are in great shape so I figured I could get away with still having a pierced navel over the age of 30. But it plagued me. I knew that sometime soon it would have to come out, and I was worried that every time I looked down at where it used to be I'd pass out.

When I realized it was gone, my first instinct was to get a new one. I'd promised to take it out after the honeymoon, so I figured why jump the gun and do it early? There's so much transition as is - why make a huge change to my very core? But after a few hours I realized it was just meant to be. Holes heal.

 

If there's a wedding planning wall we've definitely hit it. Hard.

Fiancé and I are pretty much in agreement that wedding planning is getting OLD. We're excited for the wedding and honeymoon, but we're also exhausted. I can't remember the last time we had a free weekend. Monday almost feels like a relief.

Yesterday evening we went to a church picnic and spent some time talking to a parishioner who's really into acupuncture. He swears by it. I wonder if acupuncture could help me feel more energetic? I just wouldn't want any needles in my feet. That's too intense.

 

The moments that pass us by

I've never gotten into the whole eBay thing. But Fiancé sells some of his artwork on eBay, so I've been taking more of an interest in it lately. Tonight I wondered away from the art section and into the wedding dress section. You might wonder why, since I already have my own wedding dress. I guess I just wanted to see why people end up selling theirs.

I have to admit I'm a little tempted to bid on an ugly one just for fun. I can't ever go try on wedding dresses again, and I totally rushed through the process. I could go back and do it some more. I'm still engaged, so I could make a day of visiting other bridal shops with some air of legitimacy. But I'm in that vulnerable place where if I go and try dresses on (just for fun) and accidentally stumble upon one I like better than my own I'll be tempted to make a (second) colossal financial "investment."

I adore my dress. It's my dress. So I'm okay with not trying on any more. It's just that when it came to buying it, I was so intent on getting it done that I forgot to realize that I'd never get to do it again. Like I said in a previous post, you don't realize when it's the last time you're going to experience something. Even when it's really pretty obvious that you're about to blow right by a once in a lifetimer.

 

Ah, the anxiety

Hello old friend.

I keep getting "count down" emails from The Knot, and everyone keeps reminding me how many weeks are left until the wedding with the idea that this will make me happy and excited.

It freaks me out, people.

It's not the marriage, it's the wedding. The wedding is freaking me out. I'm not sure we're ready. What are we forgetting? What needs to get done?

It's like ice water running down my spine when I think of all that could go horribly wrong.

 

Do you want endorphins with that?

A McDonald's in Eaton Ohio has constructed the Ronald McDonald Gym. It's a play area with interactive activities to get kids moving after they've wolfed down some good ol' artery clogging Happy Meals. It's even got exercise bikes, disguised by bright colors and flashy mechanisms.

I want to say that it's insane, what we're doing. But I guess it's not. Whatever gets people moving.

 

Pity party of one

Lately I've been feeling sorry for myself. My family from Germany can't make it to the wedding, except maybe one cousin. Most of my step-siblings can't make it. And a few of my friends will be having babies. Which is so happy, but it still means they can't be at my wedding. So I've been feeling like a friendless orphan. Fiancé's family is HUGE, so in comparison the feeling kinda fits.

I am of course ignoring the fact that most of our mutual friends, many of my friends, and all of our colleagues are able to make it. My best friends and immediate family will be there with us through all the wedding festivities. But when you're hosting a pity party you don't invite the bright side.

Tonight I finally went back to yoga. Or to yoga, since I wasn't going back. I've never gone to yoga at my new gym. Which isn't new anymore, since I've been going there for over a year. The completely remodeled floor dedicated to studios named after the 4 elements and ultra serious members caused me to keep my distance.

But in the tranquility (and the new studios are amazingly tranquil) I realized what I've been missing. As I stood with my legs together, my arms above my head, reaching backward and staring at the sky, I realized that my life could certainly be a lot worse. I've always wished I had more people to call my own, but in my longing for an endless abundance of love I've completely overlooked everything in my life which fulfills me.

 

Walk on

Friday night Fiancé and I watched Elizabethtown (don't bother). In the movie, Orlando Bloom falls for a stewardess on a red eye flight (Kirsten Dunst) and a murky, flirty relationship develops over several marathon phone calls and a few late night/early morning meet-ups.

The movie made me realize that part of my life is over. Which isn't a bad thing (in my opinion that part of my life lasted too long anyway), but it didn't really hit me until that moment. It's the first time I felt like a movie about young love didn't really apply to me anymore. Don't get me wrong - I like the next chapter of my life. It's exciting and romantic in very different, very meaningful ways. I just no longer fit into the Elizabethtown category.

But I guess when you experience something for the last time you don't necessarily realize it's the last time you'll experience it. Then again, any time you move on you have to leave something behind you.

 

Just sayin'

Watching marathon Desperate Housewives on dvd makes me want a boob job.

 

Rewarded

Last night on my way home from the gym I stopped at the café and picked up a sandwich and Fiancé and I walked down to the Charles river and sat on the docks watching the sun set. It was a great evening - clear and bright with just a little chill in the air. The last time we were on the dock we didn't have any snacks for the ducks, so this time we were happy to realize we could give them part of our dinner. Fiancé tore off pieces of bread from his half of the sandwich, but I didn't really want to part with any of my bread. So I threw them the tortilla chips that came with the sandwich. Fiancé doesn't think the tortilla chips are good for the ducks, but whatever - I saw a little girl feeding them swedish fish last weekend and the ducks lived to tell the tale.

After a while, we had a group of five ducks at our feet. Fiancé tore off a piece of bread and left it just at the edge of the dock - an experiment to see if the ducks would want the bread bad enough to come up and get it. They didn't, but one duck claimed the bread as hers and sat in the water directly beneath the dock. If the other ducks approached, she would nip at them to keep them away. Curious, I upped the ante and added a second piece of bread. Still no bite. But the duck wouldn't leave, either. Finally after many minutes it seemed to give up, and so we tossed the bread after it as it started to swim away. Perseverance should count for something, even if it wasn't absolute perseverance.

 

Bad wrap

Tonight Fiancé's at an overnight work retreat. So what have I been doing? Housework, laundry, honeymoon research, and watching Myth Busters, Fiancé's favorite show. Not quite what I imagined I'd be doing with my precious eighteen hours of alone time. But tonight's Myth Busters was really interesting. They busted the myth "bull in a china shop" by setting up a china shop in a bullpen and letting one bull, and then many bulls, loose. The bulls navigated their way through the makeshift aisles of china with agility rivaling that of a ballerina. It was so cool! Who'd have thought that bulls are so conscientious?

 

Communicable

Last weekend I was so grumpy. I didn't really have anything to be grumpy about, but I was grumpy anyway. Every once in a while I'd snap out of it for a bit, but then something minor would happen and my whole face would contort into a hybrid pout-scowl.

Now I'm not really grumpy anymore but my coworker M just told me she's very grumpy. Her office is the closest to mine. I think I infected her. Haha. I look innocent and lovable but I contaminate others. I'm like that monkey in Outbreak.

 

End it

My contacts are in the correct eyes today (long story, totally affirming my decision to have Lasik surgery in December), so I don't have a headache. I did, however, just sit through a 3 hour staff meeting, and am now ready to poke said eyes out with my finger.

Why do staff meetings always disintegrate into contention? Usually we all get along. My theory is that the family dynamics inherent among any small staff emerge when you're sitting around a conference table for an extended period of time with limited caffeine and no snacks.

 

There's no need to overreact

I have an appointment with Heather at her new salon in the beginning of September. All is well.

Not at all related, I have a toxic headache today and everyone is annoying me. Also, I moved my trash can at work and, as old habits die hard, I keep throwing sh*t on the floor.

 

This. Can't. Happen.

I just found out that my stylist left Salon Luna. They called me this afternoon so I can reschedule with someone else on their staff.

I CAN'T RESCHEDULE WITH SOMEONE ELSE ON THEIR STAFF!

Heather and I have an understanding, a relationship.

She's doing my wedding hair! We were working on my highlights to have my color perfect for the wedding!

I don't want to see another stylist!!!

For god's sake, why are people CHANGING THINGS!!!???

 

Companion

Today I was thinking how lucky I am to have Fiancé. He's always the person I want to be with, no matter what I'm doing. And now he's around all the time!

I know. Not really a ground-breaking revelation.

But it makes me smile every day when I wake up and see him beside me.

(Okay, okay, I don't wake up and see him beside me because he gets out of bed WAY before I do, but I wake up and see him near me, because he's usually waking me up, and so it's as if he were beside me... Oh whatever, it's still romantic.)

 

In the car on the way to Brockton for a cake tasting

"There's a braaaaaand new hori-zon..."

"What are you saying?"

With confidence ebbing from my voice, "Brand new horizon?"

"The words are 'bad moon rising'."

"Oh. Yes, that does make more sense."

 

Shortcomings

Usually I don't mind that I'm a slow reader. I love to read, and I read all the time, and it's fine with me that it takes me longer than most people to finish a book. I was always in the advanced reading groups in grade school, so I've never doubted that I'm a good reader. I'm just not a fast reader.

But last night I minded. I was so close to finishing Harry Potter, but I fell asleep. Because I couldn't finish it fast enough, and I couldn't stay up past 2am. Now I have about forty pages left. I can't wait to go home!

 

Dinner for 150 of my closest friends

Today we have our tasting for the wedding reception.

When we met with our DJ at a posh hotel bar I spit out a wasabi pea that Fiancé dared me to eat. That display included many exaggerated facial expressions and a few gagging noises. I'm going to try to keep my facial expressions neutral and my food in my mouth this afternoon. The wedding coordinator at the reception site doesn't seem like she'd appreciate theatrics.

 

Roots

Yesterday one of my favorite students came by to chat. She told me about a trip she'd taken to Seattle. Knowing my love of all things Starbucks, she made sure to mention her visit to the original store. She'd taken a picture of the Starbucks logo, before it had gone corporate.

S: "Want me to show you? I have it here on my camera. The mermaid has boobs!"

Me: "What mermaid?"

S: "The one on the original logo!"

Me: "What's on the current logo?"

S: "A mermaid without boobs!"

Me: "Seriously?"

S: "Don't you drink Starbucks every day?"

Me: "I guess I never really looked at the logo."

So I pulled my Starbucks cup out of the trash and sure enough, it's got a mermaid logo. Then S showed me the photo in her digital camera, and sure enough the original mermaid logo had boobs.

Me: "Wow."

S: "I know. How cool is Seattle???"

Me: "Very cool, I guess. Racy cool."

S: "They also have a space needle - want to see a picture of that?"

Me: "Nah, the space needle's boring. Show me the boob mermaid again. This is kinda like finding out you're adopted and your real mom was a stripper."

 

Man vs the natural order of things

Last night I got a little cocky as I was headed to pick up Mookie from the airport. I know how to get to 90 East from our place, and 90 East takes you to Logan. But it was rush hour and traffic along that familiar route was annoying. So I decided to try a new route. If you're from Boston and you're reading this, you're probably laughing. Fair enough.

I headed toward a different junction that I knew lead to 93 and at least one direction of 90. I wasn't positive that it lead to 90 East, but I believed I could figure it out as I went along. If it didn't lead to 90 East, I could probably figure out how to get to the airport from 93 South. Unless I was too far past the exit I needed, in which case I would need 93 North. Never mind - how hard can it be? I'll be able to wing it.

In the end I saved a few minutes getting to that junction versus the tried and true one, but paid the price in a forty minute detour thereafter.

The funny thing is, all week I've been watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. And I always get angry when the scientists or conservationists seem to have more confidence in themselves than I think man should ever have when dealing with sharks. Or anything involving nature, for that matter. Why would anyone think they are capable of predicting shark behavior? Standing or swimming in shark-infested water without protective gear is suicidal. Or, if the investigator is lacking in suicidal tendency, then just plain STUPID. It has little to do with instinct or intelligence - neither gives you ample understanding of the behaviors and whims of a prehistoric predator.

As I was in the car bemoaning my unexpected (and far more complicated than anticipated) detour, I couldn't help but recognize the comparison. Driving in Boston is a beast I will never truly be able to predict or control. Why take unnecessary chances? Stay on the boat and watch with the camera, lest you come out of the ordeal with fewer limbs.

 

Chomp!

Ahhh, summer. It's that time again!

 

When worlds collide

Tonight Fiancé and I have the apartment to ourselves after five days of house guests. Fiancé's mom (we'll call her MIL) is in town with her friend Julie to scout out restaurants for the grooms dinner. Our apartment is many things - it's cozy, it's in a great location, it's artsy, it's colorful. But it's not spacious. So after five days of company, and five days of nonstop restaurant reviewing, we're pretty content to be left to ourselves for a bit. MIL and Julie will be back again at the end of the week and will stay in town until next Tuesday, but for a few days we're breathing in the peace and quiet.

Mookie comes to visit on Thursday! It'll be an interesting weekend, since MIL will meet one of my parents for the first time. It could be the stuff of novels.

 

And I think it's going to rain today

I just ran outside to mail something, and it looks like the sky is going to open up at any second. The air smells like McDonald's, which is weird and probably not related to the coming storm.

 

Booked

I am halfway through Harry Potter and tempted to call in sick tomorrow to spend the day reading in bed :)

 

Just visiting

Today we had lunch with Fiancé's cousin, H, who has a new baby boy! He's so cute I couldn't take my eyes off him! Babies are so wonderful! I got to hold him for ages, until he started getting cranky and I handed him off to his mom.

 

When work and fun intersect

This morning I received an email notification about the availability of scholarships for an emergency preparedness conference for health educators in Chicago in September. I LOVE emergency preparedness! The topic has just recently come full blast across my radar screen. I'm so excited! It's one piece of my job that knocks my socks off :) Drama!!!!!!!!

 

Patience

This made me laugh but also made me a little sad. How useful would this have been a few years ago? SO useful. But I have absolutely no use for it now, which is great. But just the teeniest bit sad.

When I was single, I was consumed with the fear of never finding a husband. I should have just enjoyed my freedom, but most of the time I didn't. I blame this on myself, but on society as well. If people hadn't continually harassed me about settling down perhaps I would have been calmer. Now that I'm about to be married, I'm consumed with the fear of never having a baby. So I'm guessing that my childless days will go by in similar fashion.

 

A pair of them

I was wrong about the Brit. He's got a real life fiancée. She came to swing class last night.

He still hops around like a bunny on speed. She hops too, so at least they sort of fit together.

 

Good morning

I'm a Potter fan. I can't count myself an original Potter fan, because it took me until the first movie came out to actually read the first book. But since then I've been a faithful follower.

This morning, Fiancé woke me up at 7am to bestow upon me a hot-off-the-presses copy of the last HP book. Beats breakfast in bed any day. I've landed myself a pretty great guy.

 

Little orhpan Elle

Today almost my entire immediate family is flying to Germany. My mom, C, my two nieces, Jack, and TO. Mookie is staying stateside, but he's currently in Nevada racing cars.

I'm feeling a tad bit vulnerable.

 

Back where we started

Last night at swing class we did the awful inevitable: we switched partners. Several times. Which is supposedly great for learning, but totally sucks. I can't learn when I'm being swung around the room like a f*cking rag doll.

I'm spoiled, and I know it. Fiancé's a terrific dancer, and honestly with swing it's all the guy anyway - you just follow their lead.

There are some very funny characters in our swing class. There's a guy we've named the Brit (so named because he's a Brit). He says some really funny stuff and is generally very serious about swing class. He's getting married soon. Lots of people who take dance class are about to get hitched. But his fiancée is always "unable to make it." Which makes me wonder if the whole engagement thing is an elaborate ruse to disguise the fact that he's a normal guy with no extenuating circumstance who might actually like to dance. Or... maybe she's quite busy.

The Brit's got no lead. At all. And he kind of hops around a lot. And he tends to go nuts with the turns. Which is forgivable, except that he 1) is in position right by a set of open french doors leading outside and 2) comes to class schnockered. I can smell the alcohol wafting off of his sweaty skin, and I fear that at any moment I'm going to be flung out the open doors and down the stone steps.

I think a lot of people assume that a drink will take the edge off, making them better dancers because it relieves some of the anxiety. Which might be true. One drink. But this guy hits happy hour harder than a frat boy hits the keg at homecoming. I can speak from experience that drinking too much makes you a bad dancer - I always want to quit dancing once I get tipsy because I have no balance and I get the spins really easily from all the, well, spinning.

We continued to switch partners all night, with the followers (women) moving down one person to their left after each song. By the time I got back to Fiancé I was SO happy to see him. He looked pretty happy to see me too. We're used to each other, which makes a HUGE difference. And we're both pretty calm dancers who watch the footwork and focus on form. When we finally got to dance, it was like heaven. We kept our steps small and stayed close, and I whispered into his ear about the Brit being a boozer. He laughed, and it felt like coming home.

 

New Hampshire goddamn

My whole family (sans me of course, because I'm planning a wedding like it's a second full time job) is headed to Germany for six weeks. My sister has a nightmare passport story, which I thought I would share. She filed for her new passport in March, they leave on Thursday, and she just got her passport last night. Travelers beware. If your passport is about to expire, start the renewal process now.

Here is a copy of the email she sent telling us her horror story:

So Jack and I drove the hour and a half to Philadelphia and joined the line at 6:30am. There were already 40 people ahead of me. The people waiting in line with me were all very nice and we passed the 4 hours of wait time by playing fun games like "Guess where I would go if I had a passport" and "How many minutes until my plane is departing". We practically wrote a screenplay for that Fahrenheit 911 director to produce entitled "Expedite This." We swapped war stories of how many inconsistent directions we had been told over the past two weeks from the passport hotline. I bonded with the 20 other people whose passports were in the black hole office of New Hampshire.

But then at 2:55pm it all became worth it as I was handed my reissued passport with a slightly frazzled picture of me and my named spelled correctly (not everyone was as lucky at this stage and there were a few typos that had to be redone). I am happy to say that all the nice people waiting with me also got their passports today. I pretty much won the "most-wronged" contest because I had submitted my application the longest ago (March) and had traveled the furthest (from Austin). But I felt particularly bad for a woman who flew up from Miami, stayed in a hotel (costing her $700) and was flying back to Miami tonight to catch her plane to Ireland tomorrow. She had been saving for this trip for two years. She and her husband are taking their autistic daughter on a trip that the daughter requested. She got her passport and left with enough time to get to the airport for her flight home. She was right in front of me in line so we had a lot of time to bond. And P will be making it to Greece on Saturday and S will be able to attend her family reunion in Jamaica this weekend. B will be celebrating his 35th birthday at Hedonism in Jamaica where apparently everyone walks around naked all the time. (B won least sympathetic story. We told him he better come up with a new one before talking with the passport officials).

So all is well on this end and we will be traveling as planned on Thursday. If your passport expires within the next two years, I would go ahead and start the process tomorrow. And if you know of anyone else with a story like mine, tell them to go to Philly with or without an appt. When we get back, I will be starting a petition to remove New Hampshire from the union and I would appreciate everyone's support. I already have 20 signatures.

 

A sidewalk education

On Saturday night EC had a fire evacuation. Something to do with a water pipe. So about 200 EC summer students filed out in front of EC's main building. The incident happened around 2am. This was about the same time the bars were emptying out on the downtown street the College shares with the city.

Now, our LGBT population at EC is a bit higher than at most schools. This isn't something I often consciously think about - it just seems the norm to me, since that's the environment I'm in. One of tolerance and individuality.

The number of homophobic comments our students endured while gathered on that sidewalk was appalling. First off, the number of stupid drunk assholes who wanted to enter the building to use the ATM while the fire alarm was blaring and the strobes were flashing was a bit appalling in and of itself. They got belligerent when our student staff tried to stop them FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY. And then they turned into raging, raving bigots. Oh, and one guy tried to strangle Fiancé when he put himself between the drunkard and the door to the building, blocking the guy's entrance after he'd bullied and pushed past the student staff. That was appalling too.

I guess I knew that lots of people are homophobic. I just didn't believe it. Our sweet, kind, good natured students. They were so nice to everyone involved. They were so helpful. They usually are. They're good kids. They're good people. And they're just so sweet.

I wonder how often they're faced with unprovoked attacks because of who they are and how they look, or how they talk.

People disappoint me.

 

Almost out of battery power

That's not a metaphor, my laptop is actually starting to sound the warning signal. God, I don't want to get up to get the power cord.

I'm taking a week-long intensive class out in Milton Massachusetts. I leave the apartment at 7am everyday and don't come back until after 5pm. I stay up until the early morning writing research papers. The wedding plans are in a constant state of catch-up. We were traveling last weekend. I'm still settling in at Fiancé's. We have a to-do list this weekend that has erupted into hugeness while we weren't looking.

I am so tired of doing stuff. We are always doing something. I want to go to the beach, but that's not the kind of something we're always doing.

I miss my blog :(

 

College kids - gotta love 'em

Written someplace it shouldn't be in one of EC's main buildings:

Need weed
Need beer
Need mom
Hoes

I like that 'hoes' is simple enough to stand by itself as a statement.

 

Blunder

I'm scrupulously organized. But today I did a very stupid, uncharacteristically flaky thing that makes me feel (and no doubt look) like a total asshole. And the very worst part is that I actually had the nerve to believe the other person had made the careless mistake, until proven otherwise. I hate it when that happens.

 

Queasy

So I have a new home now. I live with Fiancé. At his home. Which is now my home. Except that in my head it is still his home. The boxes are almost unpacked, and by almost I mean at least more than 50%.

I'm going in on Saturday to try on the prototype of my wedding dress again, because it's still in the process of being delivered and won't arrive until September 15th, and I forget what it looks like. I called the store today and they directed me to a photo on the designer's website. It's a beautiful dress. But I'm terrified that I will hate it when I try it on. Is that possible? Could I LOVE my wedding dress in March and hate it in June? I feel a little sick to my stomach.

I also need to pick up some accessories I purchased, and choose earrings and shoes.

Last night Fiancé and I had our first argument as roommates while we were setting up our home. It went like this:

Him: (As I was placing a picture frame and ceramic bowl on an end table near the front door) "I was going to put my obelisk on that end table."

Me: "You were?"

Him: "Where did you want to put it?"

Me: "The trash?"

Him: "I like it."

Me: "It looks like it belongs in a frat house."

Him: "I like it."

Me: "Really???"

Long pause as we both glanced over to where the obelisk in question sat in a corner.

Me: "But..... seriously???"

Not the proper response. I see that now.

 

Boxes, boxes everywhere

That about sums it up right now :)

 

Letting go

Not really. More like having someone pry my fingers off a ledge I'm desperately clinging to.

Today I was reduced to putting my face in my hands and whimpering inconsolably: "I'm usually SO organized!" This I swore to the woman at the bank who had to order me another debit card because I seem to have thrown out the first one they sent me for my new joint account with Fiancé. To think I worried that he'd be the weak link when it came to monitary diligence.

My life is out of control. There's been so much to do, and so much travel to throw it all off schedule. I can't even recognize the scattered, flaky person who has inhabited my body. Someone who actually has come to accept the mantra 'eh, that's probably good enough'. But with so much going on at once, good enough is just about all I can deliver.

 

Velocity

The next few weeks will be interesting. I've packed up most of my apartment, gone to some off-site work events, changed my address on some (not all) important things (credit cards, but not my driver's lisence, registration, or the post office, which shows you where my priorities lie), registered for the wedding, opened a joint bank account, and am now leaving for a week long conference in San Antonio (where I'll get to see my sis, TO, Mookie, and the girls all in one shot, yay!). When I get back from the conference, Fiancé and I have about 3 days (evenings, really, since we'll both be working) to move me. Then we're off for our 10 day Minnesota trip which will include a shower, a 'ladies lunch' (don't ask me, I don't know), and a college reunion.

After we get back, we'll have a few days to move my clothes and I'll hand over my keys. I needed the clothes to be a separate move cycle, since I can't pack for our Minnesota vacation with my clothes in flux. My life can withstand a certain amount of transition, but my closet cannot.

You'd think I'd be exhausted by now, and depressed that there is no end in sight. But I'm not. Because I have horrible allergy-induced headaches, which means I have Sudafed. I am a girl on speed.

 

Everything's a competition

When I came back from the gym today my coworker asked me how my workout went. I told her that I'd gotten a really bad cramp while running, but that I'd pushed through it.

"Why did you push through it?"

"Because if you grit your teeth and keep running eventually it stops hurting."

"Doesn't it also stop hurting if you stop running?"

"Yes. But then it wins."

 

Words of wisdom

"It is almost always a clumsy balance between the things you try to make happen and the things that happen to you." Tom Freston, May 14th, 2007

Amen to that, Tom. Sometimes you need to let go of the wheel and see where you end up, and sometimes you need to steer. If only it were clearer which time is which.

 

Outed

This morning I walked into my therapist's waiting room and saw a coworker sitting on the couch, waiting for her own therapist to come out and claim her.

That's a bit awkward. I smiled, and said as much.

"No, it's not," she replied. "This only makes me like you even more."

Really? Why does this make me more likable? I'm pretty sure she never liked me very much to begin with, so this probably only helps my case marginally.

 

Straight shooter

In a previous post I mentioned that I like the new Carrie Underwood song "Before He Cheats." The reason I gave for liking it is that it has the words 'Louisville Slugger' in the lyrics. And while that reason stands, I bought the song on iTunes last night and realized I like it even more.

In an age of excused bad behavior, we forget that sometimes simpler is better. The act of smashing in the headlights of her unfaithful boyfriend's car might have more therapeutic value for the song's protagonist than hours on a psychologist's couch.

It is what it is, and occasionally an evened score might be all we need for some good old-fashioned closure.

Maybe next time he will think before he cheats.

 

You can't put a price tag on love. But this is gonna cost you.

"You're selling dreams, and you can charge anything."

I think Fiancé and I are reasonable people. We're romantics, but we've got our heads on straight. We shell out for the things we really want, and bargain hunt for the less important things in life. We're money savvy, sort of. And so we went into wedding planning with the unrealistic expectation that we could afford to get married, we just had to be smart and avoid overspending.

Hahahahahahahahaha!

Wait.

Hahahahahahahahaha!

Okay.

I've already learned a lot since this whole process started, so I'm going to expose some of the best tricks of the wedding business trade.

My first mistake? The wedding dress purchase. My dress is obscenely expensive. But I wasn't prepared when I walked through the door of Allegria Bridal. I fell victim to the most powerful pitch in the biz. The saleswoman stood behind me on the podium and placed a veil on top of my head. "This is the most important day of your life," she told me. I have heard this statement time and time again. And it's loaded. The. Most. Important. Day.

Now, I'm an almost-32 year old woman. This is the most important day of my life? What have all the other days been?

So I handed over my credit card. What have all the other days been? Oh, right. Of course. Practice.

Now, just when I thought I'd learned from my mistake and could anticipate the lure, I fell into a whole other trap. "This wedding isn't for you," the reception site coordinator told us. What this does is very effectively corner you once again. You can't be overly frugal, because you're not spending the money for your own benefit. Even though they've just finished telling you it's your day, now they're going to convince you that it is in fact your duty to provide the perfect day for everyone else. This translates into upgraded china and linens, top shelf liquor, and the brie display instead of the domestic cheeses.

Then there's the classic statement that catches you in a tandem web: "This represents you as a couple," the woman at PaperSource reminded us. We went into the store with the goal of spending as little as possible on invitations and response cards; after all, it's just paper. But suddenly overlay vs. mounting, bows vs. buttons, square vs. rectangle, engraved vs. letterpress... it all has new importance. It's how we announce ourselves. To the world.

All these cliché phrases, they're just words. But they pack a punch. This sounds very silly from a distance. Surely an intelligent couple can navigate through this emotionally charged minefield and dismiss the crap and the sales pitch for what they are? But once the platinum diamond ring is in place, they've got you exactly where they want you. It's as if the very weight of it on your finger throws you off-center.

These are the tricks of the trade we've run into so far. I don't doubt there are many more, as we're only two months into the planning process. But this has been enough to open our eyes to the monster we're up against. Why we thought we, unlike everyone else, would be able to resist the hype is beyond me. These people are skilled. If you're resistant, they just work harder to make you realize that you're being cheap and irreverent. Because they know: the shittier you feel, the more important chivare chairs become.

 

Why don't you like me?

Every time I walk past the scowling security guard in my building I sing the refrain of Mika's Grace Kelly over and over in my head until the elevator comes.

 

Great expectations

Have you ever had a reaction to something that you didn't expect to have?

Today I got an answer I was looking for, and instead of saying "yeah, that's how I thought this would go" I started to cry. What's with me?

 

Taco hell

On Saturday we went out for Cinco de Mayo with some friends of ours. We chose a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant near my apartment (okay, okay, I chose it). When we drove up there were tons of people standing outside drinking margaritas and eating chips - that should have been our warning sign, since there wasn't an outside eating/drinking area. People were just crowded on the sidewalk.

We waited two hours for a table. Thankfully, the company was good. And since our friends are relocating, we had a lot to talk about.

Still, we did the inevitable - we ordered up some margaritas and chips and milled around like everyone else, and we were stuffed by the time we got seated.

 

Sunday schooled

Last Saturday I told Fiancé that I thought we should get an SUV as a second car when we move out of the city. For convenience... to fit the (future) dog, the sporting equipment, and the (future) kids in the back. Fiancé had some environmental concerns with the SUV plan but I brushed him off. Then on Sunday I got totally schooled at church, when our priest chose to focus on global warming and personal responsibility in her sermon. Timely.

 

Cryptic

Yesterday after work I swam. After I finished my final lap I took off my googles and swim cap and sank down in the water. I was worn out. I came back up for air, and grabbed onto the wall, letting my body float up behind me. It was in this position that I noticed a new sign painted on the pool floor right above my lap lane. I looked at it, turned my head a little, looked again. Wha?

The guy in the lane next to me, a swim buddy who I see once in a while at the pool (I've nicknamed him HG for Happy Guy) pulled off his goggles and followed my gaze. "Hey, Elle."

"What does that mean?" I asked him, pointing to the sign. It was a picture of a stick figure swimming backward and seeming to hit his head on something hovering above him. It was inside a circle with a bright red line through it.

"Ummmm...."

"It looks like it means don't do the back stroke and hit your head on the wall?"

HG thought about this, and shook his head. "No, I think it means don't swim with a kickboard over your head."

The guy sharing his lane, who I think is his partner but I'm not sure, paused to check out what we were so carefully examining. "No," he chimed in, "I think it means don't dive and hit your head."

I wrinked my nose. "But the stick figure is hitting his head above his head. If you dove in you'd hit the top of your head on the bottom of the pool."

He considered this. "Maybe it means don't dive in backward?"

HG wasn't buying it. "Even if you dove in backwards you'd still hit your head beneath you."

"Maybe it means don't hit your head on the ceiling?" I offered.

Both men looked over at me with raised eyebrows. But they didn't have anything better.

Cut to this morning, when I saw this on the car in front of me:





It took me a few minutes to figure out what it meant. At first I murmured to myself, "End this endless war? This endless war?" My inability to decipher the message is probably a result of stupidity, or nearsightedness. But I still think that's a bit too complex for a bumper sticker.

Keep it simple folks. That's the moral of the story.

(See how I spelled that out for you? Case in point...)

 

"When you reach the end of your rope...

tie a knot, and hang on." Thomas Jefferson

All weekend Fiancé and I worked on wedding stuff: we finally chose a reception site, checked out the driving route to the church, and created a wedding website. It's all great stuff. But, it's starting to feel like exhausting stuff. Mostly when things go wrong. Like when the website program times you out and you lose all your unsaved work, or when people email complaining about a date which they, incidentally, were complicit in choosing. It doesn't help that it's a rainy Monday. When Fiancé and I have talked today (several times via telephone to hash out last minute details, contracts, etc.) our voices sound hallow. We're a team, but we're an overworked team at the moment, and it's hard to keep the relationship at the forefront when there are so many things vying for that position.

 

Oops, I did it again

So the Britney/Paris/Lindsay set has been criticized many times over for getting out of a car in a mini skirt and flashing their whoha because 1) they can't get out of a car with their legs closed and 2) knowing this they still don't bother to wear any underwear. I'm certainly not saying they're above criticism, but I must say that for the past two days I've worn short skirts to work, and have flashed the empty parking garage as I tried to climb out of my giant sized luxury rental. Granted, I was wearing underwear and no one cares enough to take my picture, but it made me think, just for a second, that maybe it's easier than we all think to make that mistake.

 

Secret agent Elle

Yesterday I had to change my Telcom password. Our Telcom department makes us change our voicemail system password with ridiculous frequency. I'm not actually important enough for anyone to want to break into my voicemail. Neither are most of the people who call to leave me messages. Nonetheless, every month we need to pick a new password, and our system is so iron clad that it won't let you reuse a previous password... ever. And there are so many rules that most meaningful permutations are rejected. That's twelve random passwords I need to come up with over the course of one year. Fat chance I'm gonna remember twelve separate passwords.

Right now my phone is flashing its voicemail notification light. It's mocking me. The system has already locked me out, since I tried too many times to guess my newest password. Telcom is closed for the night so I'm outta luck, as is whoever called and left the message in the first place. The real kicker is that Telcom is going to charge me $25 for having to reset my password tomorrow.

 

It's a train wreck, and you can't make yourself look away...

I just spent the past hour getting sucked into the message boards on TheNest.com. Two of my married girlfriends told me about these entertaining message boards at a dinner party on Friday night. That's right ladies - you know who you are. That hour is lost forever.

 

So nice outside!!!

I know the warm days are numbered, but they're fabulous.

We just had a picnic!

 

Sprung

Finally, spring weather!

Friday was a great day, with warm temps and a balmy night. Yesterday was the same. And today it's been lovely - Fiancé and I opted to walk home from church this morning!

Today is the annual Greek festival outside on the Common. As I write this, I can hear people laughing and shouting, and Greek music wafts up through the windows. It's unbelievably annoying, but in a really nice way :)

 

In the grand scheme of things

I suppose if my biggest problem today is finding a decent strapless bra before the warm weather hits, I should consider myself lucky. It's just hard to remember that sometimes.

 

In the water, in the air

April is always a time when life on college campuses gets a little nutty. Mostly because the students on college campuses get a little nutty. They're bogged down with work, stressed about finals, and excited about whatever promises the summer holds. So they go crazy. And as college staff, we're bombarded with the work brought about as a result of said craziness.

I wish I could share some of the stories with you. Because this stuff makes for some very entertaining stories. Unfortunately, that'd be inappropriate.

May 2nd can't come soon enough. I believe that sentiment is shared by many at EC.

 

Excitement!

We're getting married on November 24th (2007)!

Yay!

 

NOT AGAIN!

7:25am:

"... Street cleaning, no parking on even sides of the road, you will be tagged and towed. Street cleaning, no parking..."

F*ck!

 

Provisions

I get the house all to myself for the next week and a half!

After which I will never get the house to myself again for my entire life, because I'll have my roommate back and then I'll be married.

The only thing muting my ecstasy is the fact that I'm scared to sleep alone in the house.

That might be a bit problematic.

I'm also scared to go down to the basement to do laundry, but I have enough underwear to make it through so don't you worry about that.

 

And... I'm up

"... Street cleaning, no parking on odd sides of the road, you will be tagged and towed. Street cleaning, no parking..."

This coming from the loud speakers on the vehicle that drives up and down every street, announcing street cleaning for those of us who were stupid enough to forget.

I bolted upright in bed, eyes wide. Shit shit shit.

(Cambridge tows, so my terror was legitimate.)

With no available parking on the even side of the street, I had no choice. I got ready for work today in under three minutes. And I was out the door.

I don't think I officially woke up until I hit the Boston Common parking garage.

 

Left holding the detonator

With all the sadness and confusion surrounding the Virginia Tech shootings, I can't help but wonder why there's such a focus on the administration's handling of the situation. I understand that lives could have been saved. But that's always the case with hindsight. We could always go back and do something different to create a better outcome, if only we'd known.

It reminds me of the circuit board debacle in Boston, when folks rained down criticism on the BPD for "overreacting." Overreacting or under reacting - take your pick. I'm with the BPD - knowing our current climate, err on the side of wasting tax payer money.

There are actual examples of mishandling crisis situations. For instance, New Orleans. But there are also situations where the only thing that could have led to a better resolution would have been a fast forward/rewind button.

Not every single incident shooting leads to a mass casualty. Can we really know when it will before it does? Is the problem the response, or the fact that something so f*cked up happened to begin with?

 

The space between

This weekend was a whirlwind of errands and work. This week will be a whirlwind of wedding reception site visits and final decisions. Next weekend's schedule is already full.

When does it slow down?

Last night Fiancé worked late. I tried to wait up for him, but fell asleep about an hour before he made it home. This morning I saw him for about 10 minutes.

It's weird - we've been spending a lot of time together lately. But I miss him. We're always busy, and suddenly our lives include so many other people. I miss when it was just us. I guess that's the reward for the wedding though. Years of just us, if we can only get through six months of everyone and everything else.

 

It's not what you eat, but how you eat it, that counts

I just had a cup of Ben & Jerry's frozen yogurt, a 1/2 of a fudge brownie, another 1/4 of a fudge brownie, and another 1/4 of a fudge brownie after that. I maintain that this does not equal one whole brownie because it was eaten in stages.

 

Something you may not know about me

I really like the new Carrie Underwood song Before He Cheats. I like any song that can work 'Louisville slugger' into the lyrics.

 

A comfortable lap to sit on

Luxury.

I didn't even know I was missing out on it.

We have a rental car this week because our Honda is in the shop (repairs from the accident, but we don't talk about the accident). It's some kind of Pontiac, which didn't thrill me when I first heard about it. I mean, who drives a Pontiac? But we got an upgrade because they didn't have any lesser vehicles on hand. So here we are, with this giant silver fully equipped Grand Prix.

I love our Honda. It's a standard, so it's peppy and fun to drive. It's small, so you can weasel in between things and into tight parking spaces. And it's more us. We're a casual kind of people.

But my commute in this morning was lovely, I can't lie. No hassle with shifting in traffic, no clutch foot necessary, I couldn't feel the bumps in the road. It was a smooth drive, fit for a lazy person. I had nothing to do but steer. When I was at a light by the movie theater I checked out what was showing. I had time to look at the cars around me, and at the scenery as I passed. I never realized shifting took so much concentration! I could have applied makeup, if I were so inclined to bother wearing makeup to work. I could have called someone. I could have multitasked A LOT with a the newfound freedom of an entire hand and foot.

The rental is not me. I know that. I wouldn't like to drive it forever. It feels... boring. Unchallenging. But even though it's not my thang, it sure is nice to pretend for a little while.

 

Could swing either way

This morning I sat for my TTS exam (to be certified for tobacco cessation counseling). I was the last one in, and the first one out. Is that good or bad?

 

We have to work harder

I was changing today at the locker room in my gym when a group of little girls, fresh out of the pool, took over the area. They were cute, even though they were dripping everywhere.

As I was tying my shoes, I noticed that they were all attempting to change out of their bathing suits and into their clothes while still covering themselves with their towels. Their coach came over and said, "You know, girls, you can go change in a shower stall if you're really uncomfortable. But, at some point you have to say 'This is me, accept me for who I am, I'm beautiful'. You have to love your body."

I smiled at the woman. What a great coach. I liked her comment.

But then the newfound optomism I had for a generation of girls raised to resist societal pressure and actually treasure their bodies went up in smoke. A tiny little girl looked up and said, "Except for fat parts."

She's seven.

 

Noquil

I haven't taken any medicine for my cold (this time I'm seriously sick, not the kind of *sick* I was when I snuck out to the movies with J a few weeks ago). I keep forgetting that I haven't taken any medicine though, and when I feel funny/dizzy/nauseous I keep thinking, "Oh, that must be a side effect of the medicine." Then I remember I haven't taken any medicine. And then I go lie down.

 

I'll tell you where you can stick your fluoride treatment

I went to the dentist this morning and can I just say OUCH. Holy sh*t! It really hurt. My hygienist was super nice, but a little rough with the scraper thingie. My teeth now feel smooth as marble but I honestly had tears in my eyes as she was de-plaquing them.

As she wielded her mini pick ax, I sat quietly in the chair. I didn't tell her she was hurting me. I believe steadfastly in my 'no pain no gain' mantra. If you want results, you have to suffer for them. In almost anything: work, exercise, beauty (come on, those of you who endure the infamous bikini wax can't tell me you don't subscribe), relationships. But what I'm left wondering in this particular scenario is, am I really the better for the added discomfort? Are my teeth somehow cleaner? Brighter? Shinier? Healthier? Probably not. I guess what I'm realizing is that my mantra has its limits, and those don't extend down Mass Ave and through the door of Dr. Piskor's dental office.

My teeth still throb. I don't think teeth are supposed to throb. I don't think you're supposed to feel your teeth. I feel my teeth. OUCH.

 

B is for...

On a commercial for Nutrisystem for Men:

“My wife says I’m not as disgusting to her as I used to be!”

I hate to break it to you after all your weight loss efforts, but the pudge might not have been your biggest problem, friend.

 

Chillin' in backwoods Maine

I like UMaine Orono. Right now I’m in the Student Union waiting for my student to finish a session so we can hit the road. I’m in a comfy cushy chair with my feet up watching a remake of Steven King’s The Shining on the SciFi channel on a huge mounted flat screen tv. There’s a cafeteria down the hall, with a makeshift Starbucks (essentially worthless) and institution-style pudding (my favorite, don’t ask me why). What a great place to hang out.

They really shouldn’t have done a remake of The Shining. As a general rule, no room for improvement when Jack Nicholson is involved in the original product. Plus they replaced the ax with a mallet – not the same effect when he’s breaking through the bedroom door.

When I was in high school, I went to an independent theatre that was showing The Shining on the big screen – it was fabulously scary.

 

Well, you won't be getting a call from me this weekend...

I'm in Orono Maine, at the Black Bear Inn, for a conference. I have absolutely no cell phone reception. I do, however, have free high speed wireless. A little bit weird.

 

Sunday school

We've only faithfully been going to church for a little over a month (no pun intended). But so far here's what I've learned:

1. You should count to ten, and think about the reasons someone might be acting the way they are, before responding with anger.
2. You should not bully other people in order to get what you want.
3. Even if you don't agree with others, you should always come to the table.
4. Extravagence, in giving and in loving, is acceptable sometimes, even if moderation is preferable most of the time.

I'm not religious per se, but I listen really hard during sermons. I like sermons. Priests spend a lot of time thinking about how we can all be better people. For those of us who struggle to be a better person all the time, it's like a handout.

 

"My D-I-V-O-R-C-E

becomes fi-na-lized today..."

What the homeless guy at the Government Center t stop was singing as Fiancé and I were heading home tonight after scouting a potential wedding reception site.

It's a catchy tune, really. It's been in my head ever since.

 

Stress: A perspective offered

"Remember: the wedding is one day. Children, however, are forever."

These words of wisdom imparted during a phone coversation with my sis over a cacophony of little girl screams in the background.

 

When they say reconstruction, they mean reconstruction

Today I left work and walked over to the Church of the Advent in Beacon Hill. Last minute cold feet before committing to Old North Church. It was pouring rain and a miserable walk. When I turned the corner onto Mt. Vernon I realized that the Church of the Advent is covered in scaffolding.

Oops.

That's not gonna work.

 

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Last week, over the course of a telephone conversation, a colleague at another college had told me that my reputation preceded me. I told Fiancé this, thinking it was a compliement. He asked me if this colleague specified whether it was a good or bad reputation.

Doubt sucks.

 

Hindsight

The new Sandra Bullock movie Premonition? Skip it.

 

Can you put a pricetag on complete crap?

I'm contemplating scheduling a massage for this evening. It's $99, which just seems like a lot of money when you're not walking away with something in a bag. Shopping is more of a permanent solution to stress because you're soothed and you have a legitimate addition to your wardrobe. But my week might very well have been $99 worth of shitty.

 

The precious

Me wants it.

 

Would returning it as 'defective' be a very bad thing?

This afternoon a skirt I ordered from the Gap arrived. It's a replacement for 'The Skirt' as dubbed by my friend S. My favorite summer skirt - a green cargo skirt - that somehow lost its color in spots. I've been trying to replace it for at least two years now. So when J threw the package down in front of me, I was excited to see my New Improved Skirt. I couldn't get the bag open, so I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut it along the very top. I pulled the skirt out, and as I did a piece of green fabric floated down toward my feet.

Ooops.

Note to self: cut more carefully next time

 

A Bun(dchen) in the oven

Last night I had a dream that a guy I know was marrying Giselle Bundchen. This guy's effort level/commitment related to women and relationships had recently been a topic of conversation. In my dream Giselle was pregnant, so he decided to step up. What a guy! He said he wanted to 'do the right thing', but even though I was asleep I think I managed to roll my eyes ;)

 

Sometimes sick is subjective

When I was a kid I always wanted whatever my sister had, even when she was sick and what she had was medicine. I'm not sure if I liked PeptoBismol and baby aspirin or if I just hated to miss out on something. I'd stand behind her with my little hands held up above my head while my mom doled out the medicine.

This morning was J's first day of unemployment. It was really hard to get up and out of bed in a quiet house - she was asleep and happy in her bedroom while I was awake and grumpy in mine. I thought about calling in sick. I'm not sick, but I felt left out.

 

Jubilant

This morning I had to t into work (long story, we had a little car accident, did I forget to mention that?) and I was looking at all the iPod advertisements posted up on the wall. The people in those ads look so... energetic. It made me tired. I think my iPod is broken. It doesn't make me dance or leap around.

 

Uncontained

I've been anxious lately. The overarching kind of anxious. The anxious that seeps into everything. When we start to talk about the wedding conflicts I can feel my heart beating in my throat. Today at work things seem tense in the CHW. It's everywhere. I HATE this feeling. It's like my body is made up of 1000 watt nerve endings.

 

Wake up, sunshine

I had a dream last night that I woke up and sipped on a vodka and lemonade first thing in the morning (like before I was even out of bed). As I was sipping I remember wondering if this was problematic behavior.

I might be a little stressed out.

 

Comforting thought

You can make toast, forget about it, leave it sitting on the counter for an hour, and when you go back for it... it still tastes good. Toast is very dependable.

 

Running on empty

Today was my final weekly class in a two-month series - it's where I've spent eight consecutive Wednesdays. I'll miss all my classmates. They were fun. After we were set free early today I took the #10 bus to the red line and spent most of the trip home chatting with a fellow colleague. She asked me how the wedding plans are coming. Then she got an earful.

I walked through my front door, threw my jeans and t-shirt on the floor in favor of my Mizzou running shorts and a sports bra, and hit the road. It was a beautiful day today and I had some steam to blow off. I drove to Fresh Pond and did a quick loop around. Just being outside was calming and rejuvenating.

Without disclosing personal issues or being passive-aggressive by bitching in my blog, suffice it to say that Fiancé and I are having some issues. They aren't necessarily even our issues. But we've been going to the mat about them nonetheless. And it feels shitty to fight with Fiancé about our wedding. We should just be happy. I wish everyone else would remove themselves from an equation that they don't factor into to begin with.

And therein lies the problem: Fiancé and I feel differently about how much of a say anyone else should have in our lives. I'm from the 'it's my life and I'll do whatever I damn well please' camp, while Fiancé isn't quite as fierce in guarding his adult-given right to choose for himself. He's independent, but he's not independent on principle. I'm independent on principle: I earned it, it's mine, don't encroach on my territory.

There's been encroaching.

I know that I'll have to deal with all of these issues productively and collaboratively very soon. My stubborn reactions aren't fair to Fiancé, or at least not helpful to him. But for today it felt great to succumb to my frustration and duke it out with my sneakers and a decent stretch of pavement.