Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Princess Wedding Dress I Bought on Ebay

Princess in the Front.
I bought a wedding dress.

But don't get too excited. It's not THE DRESS.

It's a beautiful dress. A total, 100% Princess Wedding Dress. I mean, if a big-eyed, rags-clad heroine with evil step-relations is told by her Fairy Godmother to close her eyes, and Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo, wand waves, sparks fly -- when the air clears and she opens her eyes, this is the sort of dress the newly-revealed princess-to-be is wearing.

I've been stalking wedding dresses on ebay for a few weeks now, not as a serious buyer, but just to see what's out there, what I like, and that sort of thing. But this baby caught my eye. She was elegant. She was new, with tags still attached. And somehow, her siren song missed most ears, and so amazingly, I bought her for $50 plus shipping.

I made the purchases for a few reasons, ranging from silly-but-understandable (this retailed for $750, was an overstock floor model never actually worn - did I mention I got it for $50, people!?) to dumb-and-admittedly-ridiculous (I've done nothing else, planning-wise, all month, and this somehow felt like, well, something)... but mostly, I bought it because I just needed to know.

Is this going to be me? Is this what I want? Am I going to be a princess bride?

That's what I would have wanted to be, ten years ago. (Closer to twenty years ago, I would have coveted a princess-y wedding dress like this, but only if the Prince Charming who would meet me at the end of the aisle was Dean Cain, specifically Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman, since all other boys were still gross.) A beautiful, glamorous girl, transformed and almost unrecognizable in my resplendent royal white gown.

(Elegant Bridal) Party
in the Back.
The dress is chiffon, and has the sort of train that requires attendants, or at least solid arrangement and a reliable floor to drag it across; it even has a dainty little wrist strap, so the wearer can hold up the train when it can no longer be safely dragged.

When it arrived, the box was heavier than I had expected it to be. I tried it on, all by myself. Somehow it was even heavier out of the box, weighed down with layers and detailing... and, if you'll forgive me a little purple prose spilled across the pure white dress, it also shuddered with the weight of dreams and expectations now expired.

The dress is beautiful. But it isn't me.

Some part of me already knew it wouldn't be. But I had to buy it; I had to really and truly know.

Don't worry, Mom: I'm not really going to buy a dress on eBay, sight unseen, to just rip off the band-aid, forego the Ritual of Dress Shopping, and have done with it.  We can go and try on dresses. But when we do, I'm pretty sure I won't be trying on a lot of big, poofy princess dresses. They're lovely. But they're not what I want anymore, just like I don't want red roses or Fairy Godmothers or Dean Cain.

I want something that feels like me. The best, most beautiful, polished-and-shined me, of course - but me. Not some pining princess, at last saved by the arrival of magical helpers who make everything a picture-perfect fantasy. All grown up, I'm the sort of girl who prefers the cupcake to the frosting. I don't like it when things are too sugar-y, too pretty to be believed. I didn't outgrow my old dreams. I grew into goals and a life that I find even more appealing.

So the dress is back on eBay. Hopefully, I'll get at least some of my money back on it, which I'll squirrel away for when I find THE DRESS, and maybe in the meantime I'll get to make some other couple happy when they score the princess dress of their dreams.

Want to hear something funny? Can't make this stuff up: the current high bidder's user name is MrSappy####. 


(PS I know, I know, I should never refer to anything as Princess Bride without referring to the movie. I promise an overt reference to TPB in a later post, to make up for it.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On Equal Hearts and Broken Glass (Or, One Mississippi Bride-To-Be Reflects on Today)

Today. Because of today’s Supreme Court decisions, I am going to jump ahead to a topic I wasn’t going to address here just yet. But here we are, so here we go: equality, y’all.
Cake Topper Couple-Approved (Image from Reuters)

Today’s news from the Supreme Court is causing big reactions. In most of my personal circles (most, but not all) the reactions are overwhelmingly joyous, hopeful, relieved, proud. But even among those reacting joyfully, there is hesitation. A quick tempering of the joy. Because this not an end-all, be-all victory. It’s just one more step.

The SCOTUS blog provides  “in plain English” a good, succinct overview of what today’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 (Prop 8) do and do not mean. Cracked puts together a pretty snarky overview, as well, for those who need it (incidentally, d’you see which state they give as the example of “you’re still outta luck?” Yeah, that’d be Mississippi).

I have always considered myself equality-minded, but over the years I have developed a more nuanced relationship with the equality movement, on all fronts. I believe equality means everyone, at the expense of no one. That whatever your ethnicity, orientation, identity, financial reality – by virtue of being a person, the baseline should be that people are equal.

We are so far from there.

I’ve been made hyper-aware of my own privilege – and while equality does not just mean marriage equality, let me tell you, thinking about my own upcoming marriage, not as a hypothetical but as an on-the-calendar-reality… that privilege has been highlighted, underlined, and exclamation-pointed in my mind lately. Something to think about, something to act on, something not to take for granted. A little over a year ago, I was thinking about the difference between hoping to get married vs. hoping to be legally permitted to do so, and pondering the inequality inherent in that difference.

So, it's probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me well that I’ve been thinking, already, about ways we can acknowledge equality at our wedding. The two of us making a contribution to an equality-focused charity in honor of our nuptials. Distributing white knots for equality on the big day. And something very personal, spiritually speaking: shattering some glass.
Caution: Breakable.
Breaking a glass is a traditional part of the Jewish wedding ceremony. It’s the one part everyone knows about – you break a glass and yell mazel tov, right? Right! But why do we break a glass? There are many explanations; most of them revolve around the idea that even on your most joyous day, you should take a moment to acknowledge that there is pain in the world. Whether it commemorates oppression, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the fragility of life—or inequality. 

And that’s what I’ll be thinking about when the cup shatters on our wedding day: inequality. The pain that will exist until everyone has equal rights, including the legal right to marry the love of their life.

I know some straight folks who have vowed that they will not marry until all of their friends can, too. That is noble, and to be honest, I considered that choice. But in the end, I want the legal protections of marriage. I want them for myself, for my partner, and yes, for everyone – and I couldn’t see how refraining, myself, would help anyone. And I can see how raising my voice, as a married person, to say: “Our marriage is not threatened by marriage equality, it’s strengthened by it!” might even be helpful.

Because that’s what I believe. DOMA was never defending our future marriage, or anyone else’s – what it was doing instead was attacking the marriage rights of many.

It wasn’t defensive, on any level. It was offensive, on many.

Today’s news does not represent the end of a movement, but it does represent forward movement. A big, important step. And if you ask me, any step forward is worth celebrating; and while I still know that my partner and I are incredibly privileged to be planning the wedding we’re planning, I’m also feeling a little more optimistic today that soon that privilege will become a right for so many more people.

Talk about off season. This day is long overdue. So, with a little tempering of the joy but also a good dose of mazel tov, here's to dancing with each step forward, white knots, broken glasses, and hearts full of love.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something 32

“Have you heard that parody song, ‘32’?” My friend asked.

“What’s that?” I said.

“Ohmigawd it’s awesome,” she gushed. “It’s making fun of Taylor Swift’s heartfelt song ‘22.’”

“I haven’t heard that, either,” I said.

“That’s because you’re old,” she said. “Tell you what. Skip Taylor Swift’s song, but go watch the parody.”

I watched both. Because I needed to know. Without further comment, I shall simply say that yes, the one for and by my fellow 30somethings is the one that looks a lot more like my life. And hip size. Enjoy the parody:
 As for the original Taylor Swift song, well, you’ve probably already heard it – because I’m not that old (thanks, friend) but I am a nerd. Which means my radio is usually on NPR.  

This little ditty is particularly well-timed, though, because when my friend mentioned it, I had LITERALLY JUST STARTED COMPILING A LIST OF HOW DIFFERENTLY I WOULD’VE APPROACHED THIS WHOLE BRIDAL/MARRIAGE THING 10 YEARS AGO.

Here’s just a sampling of some of the things I feel differently about now, in my thirties, than if I had been bride-ing it up in my twenties – which, incidentally, also constitutes a preview of the next few posts you can expect to see here:

1) Expectations (i.e., my own)
2) Expectations (i.e., other people's)
3) Changing my name
4) The Dress
5) Equality (i.e., everyone's)
6) My Body
7) Ritual & Tradition
8) Bachelorette Parties
9) Bachelor Parties
10) Bridesmaid Dresses name just a few. I'll be walking down the aisle at 32, and yeah, Taylor - I'll be feelin' it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sanity, Squared

So, there was the stress-creeping-in post earlier this week. It was a relief just to put that out there a bit, before diving back into the madness that is this week. Because this week is just one of those weeks.

It's one of those weeks that I have work gigs pulling me in several different directions.

It's one of those weeks where there is something on the calendar for the evening, EVERY evening.

This chat message happened in real life.
It's one of those weeks where I was super proud to carve out half an hour to go to the gym yesterday... only to realize, when I got home, that I'd been wearing my drawstring shorts backwards.

One of those weeks.

But luckily, I have resources and allies. People that help keep me sane and smiling.

Like my mother, now known as THE MOB (Mother of the Bride), who sent a sweet and supportive message my way.

My friend Nicole, in from out of town, who just kept fist-bumping me about how awesome this part of life is - yeah, dude! (She also survived a fall from a six story building and is kind of amazing for perspective and inspiration, in general).

And of course, The Fiancé, who can always make me laugh. See the image in this post? Up and to the right? That'd be the opening to a chat conversation we had yesterday. Welcome to my life. It's pretty nerdtastic.

All that to say - more soon. And it'll be good. Even if it's "off"... it'll ultimately be good. 'Cause it'll all work out in the end, and if it's not okay, it's not the end.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'm Savin' Up For Some Therapy!

My friend and former roommate Brent bought me this little piggy bank awhile back:

Pyromaniac Patsy here should probably go
ahead and ask her parents for therapy-money
I think he bought it for me because when we lived together, he used to do things like tuck creepy faceless mannequins into my bed (WEARING MY CLOTHES) and carefully place a life-sized Yoda for me to find when I stepped naked into the shower (THE LITTLE PERV HAD HIS HANDS OUTSTRETCHED REACHING FOR ME). I'm pretty sure his entire goal as my roommate was to get me to scream. And then when we were no longer living together, and he was no longer constantly distracted by waiting to hear me wail, he had time to reflect and felt bad and bought me this as some sort of strange apology.

Anyway. I'm pretty much over the scarring episodes of mannequins and Jedi masters taking me by surprise. But I think it's time to start dropping pennies into the little yellow tin again, because W-WORD nightmares have started jolting me from my slumber (think The Actor's Nightmare, but, like, instead of not knowing your lines, you're getting left at the aisle, or you forgot to invite your best friend to the big day, or you yourself sleep through the whole damn thing). I can tell you why the nightmares have begun. It's because venue-selection needs to happen, like, now. And we should probably decide on our wedding party members. And get some engagement photos taken, and send out save-the-dates. And W-WORD planning aside, I'm behind on a major writing project, swamped with client work, and starting to foresee mini-panic attacks.

Therapy's expensive, though. So now that I'm back in town (did I mention I've also crossed state lines pretty much every other week for the past three months?) I'm gonna make a bigger effort to vent here, frequently. As needed. So that the writing can be my therapy. And the pennies can go toward paying for things like rings. A venue. Food. Photos. Invitations. Dress.

And, like, paper bags to breathe into...

Monday, June 10, 2013


"When do we get to hear The Story?"

I've been getting that question a lot. Truth be told, it's a bit disappointing for a writer to suddenly have everyone asking her about The Story, only to swiftly realize that they don't mean that novel you're working on, they mean OMG HOW DID HE ASK YOU TO MARRY HIM WAS IT SUPER ROMANTIC THIS IS BANANAS I'M ALREADY CRYING!!!???

Seriously, though, it's sweet.

When people ask about The Story, I mean. That's sweet: friends' excitement, exuberant curiosity, wanting to know how this fabulous news came to be. The Story itself, well - at first glance, it's not actually what a tale that would be universally characterized as sweet. It's certainly not epic or flowery. No one gets down on one knee and there were no flash mobs. If you want to see something like that, watch this couple instead:

ALL THAT SAID, I'll oblige all of y'all and tell The Story. Then we'll see if it's sweet (or OMG-BANANAS-worthy) or not. So here it is:

How We Got Engaged
Or, The (Lack of a) Story

Once upon a time, there were two lovely, brainy, and romantically-inept people who loved each other and were already pretty ding dang committed to each other and had started finally talking about the fact that honoring and formalizing that commitment might be nice. There was discussion about a ring, and two things were decided about said ring:

1) Spending a crazy amount of money on a ring actually is crazy - or, said in a less judge-y way, spending more than they could afford on a ring just wouldn't do for these two.
2) One couple's joy shouldn't be symbolized by anyone else's misery; in other words, no blood diamonds or shady-gems allowed.

This led to the decision to procure a certified-ethical, sustainably-produced diamond from Canada. Aboot time, eh?*

Speaking of time. It takes some time for an cruelty-free international engagement ring to arrive at one's doorstep. No matter what the tracking information says. Which means that on two separate occasions, planned romantic proposal situations were thwarted by the postal system and its tediously slow delivery of The Canadian Ring.

To make a long (and, for real, not that interesting relative to all the other crazy awesome stories we could tell you) story short, the ring dawdled and no romantic proposal happened.

Then one Monday night, after a somewhat long and stressful day, our heroes were sitting on the couch. Feeling like they needed a pick-me-up, they decided to have an upscale takeout night, and were eating some delicious gourmet pizza and drinking some good red wine. After finishing an episode of Game of Thrones (clearly, the most romantic show ever... um, not really) while snuggling with the pets, this conversation took place:

Me: This is just a really good night.
He: Hold that thought.
(He runs upstairs, and comes back down with a small box.)
Me: Hold on.
(I chug the remainder of my glass of good red wine.)
He: Let's see if this fits.
Me: Is this really happening?
(He puts a ring on my finger.)
He: Yes.
Me: Don't you have to ask me a question, or something?
He: Okay. Do you want to love me for the rest of your life?
Me: That's the plan. Do you want to love me for the rest of your life?
He: Already doing it.

I had to go to a jeweler later that week-- because, as it turns out, the ring didn't fit.

But the proposal actually did.

*I grew up near the Canadian border and would just like to go ahead and apologize to my Northern neighbors for that cheesy accent joke, even if it's pretty accurate. Also, thanks for the cruelty-free sparkler, Canada!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I Didn't Go To My 10 Year Reunion

Class of 2003
This weekend was my 10 year college reunion. I didn't go.

However, thanks to social media, I've seen posts aplenty about the event. Though I've been busy with other commitments all weekend, I've had these little reminders keeping this milestone in the back of my mind.

And so, in honor of my 10th college reunion, here are the top ten reasons I didn't go back to campus.

10. Facebook. I seriously blame social media in general, and Facebook in particular, for making reunions seem increasingly obsolete. You got married? Had a baby? Spent time in Ghana? I'd ask you to tell me about it, but I already totally liked all of this. As it was happening.

9. Denial. I can't believe it's been ten years since I went off to college! It seems like only yesterday I was packing my bags to head to Boston and -- wait wait wait, what? It's been ten years since I finished (not started... finished) my undergraduate career?! Nope. That can't be right.

8. Budget. Plane tickets, hotel room, public transit or rental car, class gift, meals out, registration - um, that'd all add up really quickly. (I think I'd also be the only member of my class traveling from Mississippi to Massachusetts. From what I've seen, it looks like most folks are coming from, say, NYC to Boston; an easier trip.) This year has already been stacked with travel, with more ahead... oh, and, yeah - kiiiiiinda planning a wedding, which apparently, isn't cheap. Also, re: plane tickets - that could also mean puke.

7. Weddings & Funerals. The honest truth is, between weddings, funerals, and planned encounters... I'm lucky enough to be able to say that within the past couple of years, I've seen all of my best college friends; more than once, in some instances. We don't need reunions to connect us with those we hold most dear. Reunions are for bringing "the gang" back together.

6. Gang? What Gang? Right, speaking of which... I was part of several different circles when I was in college. But some of them were multiple-year (i.e., sophomores, juniors, seniors - with so many of my friends a year or two older or younger than I, they wouldn't be at this reunion) and others, frankly, fell apart as soon as we tossed our caps in the air. What "gang" would I have at a reunion?

5. I Suck at Schmoozing  The next critical consideration, for a girl without a gang: I suck at schmoozing. More accurately, I don't enjoy it. I'm actually a pretty decent small-talker when I need to be (Theater Background + Life In The South = Excellent Small Talk Training). But I find it exhausting. My introverted self shivers just thinking about it. Reunions are a small talk smorgasbord, and I. just. can't.

4. I Said Bye-Bye, College. Since I haven't made it clear yet in this post, I should say - I appreciated, valued, and (mostly) enjoyed my undergraduate experience. But when graduation rolled around, I was ready. I haven't been missing the college, or wanting to re-live those years. I didn't meet my future husband there (just went through some nasty breakups). I don't have any "special campus spot" I need to re-visit. Most of the moments that resonated most with me were fleeting - onstage and backstage, off-campus with friends, in the classroom (YES, I'm a nerd and some of my fondest college memories were in a classroom). Moments that had to be let go as soon as they happened. I let them go; and when I graduated, I let college go.

Romy & Michele: Winning.
3. The Game. This is sort of the classic reason people dread reunions: The Game. Who got married? Who had kids? Who has a successful career? Who got fat? Who's unemployed? Who's winning at life, and who's losing?

In addition to already pretty much knowing all of this information (see #10 above), the idea of competitive chit chat makes me break out in hives (see #5 above). As for me, am I where I thought I'd be, ten years out? Nope. But I don't feel like I'm losing.

2. I Had Other Plans. Legitimately, this weekend was a bad one for me: my life, here and now, had multiple demands on me. An organization I'm currently president of celebrated its 10th year with a big event; I had to skip out on an annual banquet for another organization I'm on the board of here in Mississippi. Reminiscing about then might have been more appealing if I didn't have even more going on now.

1. There's Always Our 20th. Right, y'all? Excuses aside, I'm not off the reunion hook - at least, not nostalgia-wise. I'm still thinking about the milestone; all that has and has not happened in the last ten years, all that may or may not happen in the next ten. I wish only good things for my classmates. I'll continue the visits and Facebooking. And who knows? Maybe in another ten years, I'll be a better schmoozer.

In the meantime, The Fiance confessed that he didn't even know when his ten year reunion took place, though it would have been five years ago. The reminder that I'm always and forever five years younger than he is made me feel better. ;-)

Friday, June 7, 2013

THE W-WORD: Optional?! (Don't Worry, Parents, We're Not Eloping)

My good friend Scott just told me about some friends of his who decided not to call their big day a wedding, but instead avoided THE W WORD altogether by inviting friends and family to join them in celebrating THE FIRST DAY OF THEIR MARRIAGE.


So. Brilliant.

(Especially as stress around THE W WORD is starting to trickle in a bit, I'm, like, totally head over heels for this idea. I mean, we'll see. But good God, that sounds healthy. It's not about a one-day-W-word. It's about every freakin' day, for keepsies.)

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I think the title for this post says it all.

It all started when I began researching some wedding necessities - venues, caterers, that sort of thing. I started to get just a little bit stressed out. I reminded myself that the goal in all things wedding is JOY. So to ease the stress, I did a search for the ultimate stress-reducer.


I found a recipe for Italian Wedding Cookies. I modified it only slightly, and with the help of my sous chef, or in this case sous baker (AKA The Fiancé - who, incidentally, happens to be 25% Italian and thereby makes creating and devouring these cookies so much more legitimate and possibly a cultural celebration of our love, amiright?), whipped up a batch of cookies. Enough for us to enjoy, and enough to package up to give his parents, since my future in-laws were coming through town and we met them for lunch today.

Here are the cookies.

Cookies. Made with love. And a lot of butter.

Here's the recipe (modified from this recipe over at Mother Thyme):

Pistachio Italian Wedding Cookies
Yield: 2 Dozen

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup heart healthy olive-oil rich butter substitute (or another stick of straight-up butter if you wanna go all Old School Paula Deen with it)
  • 1 cup confectioners/powdered sugar (half will be for cookie-making, half reserved for cookie-coating!)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) of pistachio pudding mix

  • Cream the butter and butter substitute in a mixing bowl; then add 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla
  • Combine dry ingredients in a second mixing bowl
  • Add dry ingredients gradually into the bowl with the sugar-vanilla-butter fluff; beat gently until well mixed and smooth
  • Roll dough into a large ball; put in tupperware or wrap in saran and place in refrigerator for at least an hour
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and line cookie/baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Take chilled ball of dough; form small strawberry-sized balls of dough, and place on parchment paper-topped baking sheets. Press gently; space 1" apart
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove from oven and let sit on hot baking sheets for another 5 minutes outside the oven
  • After 5 minutes, while still warm, dust the cookies with remaining confectioners sugar - a light coating goes a long way
Eat them and think, yes - they really should call them honeymoon cookies instead of wedding cookies, because DAMN.