Friday, January 31, 2014

Dear Wedding Industry

Dear Wedding Industry,

Stop it. Just - just stop.
Today's mail delivery. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
You're just killing trees at this point.

I know you're going to tell me that "you can't help it." That you, being the favorite begotten child of the Fashion Industry, Consumerism Culture, Body Image Issues, and All Things Fleeting But Expensive, cannot be anything other than what you are.

But stop blaming your origins and just go ahead and admit that You. Are. OVERKILL. Because damn.

For starters, YOU REALLY NEED TO STOP WITH THE STALKING. I mean, for real. Did you have spies outside our window the night D and I got engaged? Despite the fact that we kept the news far from Facebook for a full week, the magazine deliveries, emails from wedding websites, and advertorials for honeymoon destination packages and discount tux offers started pouring in immediately.


I just want you to know that I'm over you. I tried ignoring you, unsubscribing from you, blocking you, but you are so persistent that now I'm going to willfully get in your face and refuse/refute all of your suggestions. For example, here is a partial (representative but non-comprehensive) list of words that YOU keep insisting are absolutely OMG-vital, and which NO ONE will use to describe my wedding:

  • Decadent
  • Fairy Tale
  • Princess
  • Expensive
  • Dream-like
  • Rustic-vintage
  • Shabby-chic
  • Fancy-simplicity
  • Any-already-cliched-hyphenate

We're not a good fit, you and me. We have different hopes. Different expectations. And clearly, we work with different budgets. Yours appears to be just this side of Donald Trump's, while mine is hovering somewhere closer to Lean Heady's.

So let me go, okay? Quit me. Please. I'm over you. I just want to move on---

Oh, wait. Oh, hold up. Now that my wedding is about a month away, soon you will drop me like a hot potato and - OH. Oh, crap.

You're going to turn me right on over to The Maternity Industry, aren't you?


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Those Sparkling Lone Stars!

I'll be sharing with y'all some updates of my own very soon - but in the meantime, this may well be the best wedding-related news story I've seen all week. Possibly the best post you'll see about Texas all month!

Grab the Kleenex.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

45 Days To Go: My Hot Single Life

I know you've been wondering: just how unbelievably, mind-boggling-ly exciting is Beth's off-season bachelorette life? Have I been loving it, and as Jenna Maroney would encourage, loving myself?

After all, the fiancé moved several states away recently due to getting a new job. You might think that is a case of poor timing (who wants a two month separation and a cross-country move thrown in the path of an already-overwhelming wedding?) but heyyyyyyyyyyy!

It also means being spun back out onto the dance floor SOLO for the last several weeks before I'm always in a partnered dance! Yes, darlings! I've been Living Single for the past three weeks, and tonight, I decided to share some insights into my hot, hot single life.

Read on, if you dare.

Craigslist Hookups. Oh, yeah, baby. I took some pictures. Made some posts, choosing words designed to entice. And started setting up rendezvous with random strangers from Craigslist... who are interested in purchasing used furniture and kitchen gear.

Flashin' Cold Hard Cash. Ooooh, it always feels exciting when you're walking around with wads of cash, doesn't it? Like you're about to go do something you really shouldn't. Orrrrrr like maybe you're trying to pay for most things in cash to be all budget-savvy during an expensive-event time of life. But imagine what you will!

Gettin' Sweaty. (I've been good about going to the gym.)

I think this hep cat is drunk. Better take his keys!
(I sit on the couch  run with a risque crowd.)
Gettin' Dirty. Shhhhh. I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I've been feeling a lot dirtier lately. That is because I'm now the single solitary human in charge of taking out the garbage, cleaning up all messes, and cleaning the stinking kitty litter...

Animal House Partying. Okay, the jig is up: by this I literally mean I spend a lot time at the house, with animals.

Sensational Social Scene. Sincerely, I've been pretty good about alternating my nights between two separate yet equally important activities (man, that sounded awfully Law & Order): 1) Staying home and either getting things done as far as writing, wedding planning, and packing OR freaking out about what I'm not getting done as far as writing, wedding planning, and packing - AND 2) Spending quality time with the wonderful friends who are keeping me sane and smiling. Who needs dates when you have framily?*

I appreciate independence. I'll always value some solo time, especially quiet writing time. And I do plan to enjoy some more friend bonding, pet-snuggling, and so on... but overall? I think I'm officially over the single thing. It comes with a far colder home and way, way more dirty kitty litter than I remember.

*"Framily" = friends who are family - credit for the word-mash-up on that one goes to my mother. Hi, Mom! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Remnants of Old Expectations

I used to have a quote printed out and taped to my giant old computer monitor, in some scrawling, popular-in-the-90's font:

Be sure your dreams are still your dreams, and not just remnants of old expectations.

The tape lost its stickiness and the quote fell off my ancient computer monitor more than a decade ago, but the sticking power of the quote is evident this morning. The words keep winding through my mind, scrawling in that same pretentious font:

Be sure your dreams are still your dreams, and not just remnants of old expectations.

Funny how our minds work, surfacing old sayings and platitudes that actually (much as you hate to admit it) really do resonate. The truth is that life rarely looks anything like we pictured it might. That's part of why I started this particular blog, after all. Because I never pictured myself being a thirtysomething before getting engaged. Or getting engaged without a proposal, for that matter. TRUST ME when I say that over the years, my vivid imagination dreamed up many a beautiful, elaborate, this-will-go-down-in-the-record-books proposal scenario... none of which looked like my real-life engagement, a question-less agreement made while sitting at home eating pizza on a Monday night.

I also never pictured that the whole wedding thing would take sort of a backseat due to the rest of life taking over - i.e. planning a cross-country move while planning a wedding while working full time WHILE having no idea what my professional life will look like post-move, because I'm moving due to my future-spouse's new job.

All of which is on my mind, of course. But as this quote plays through my mind this morning, I'm also thinking about the fact that I've been so focused on logistics that I haven't even been thinking about dreams much at all.

Be sure your dreams are still your dreams, and not just remnants of old expectations.

For some, dreams are constant. There are those who know from an early age that they want to be a doctor, or a musician, and never lose focus. For others, dreams are evolving. A little girl may go from wanting to be a ballerina to a firefighter to a veterinarian.

But for all of us, dreams must be not only remembered, but also renewed. Chasing old dreams because they are our familiar old goals for ourselves, or worse yet because they are the long-standing goals others have had for us, but which no longer resonate... well, that's no way to catch a dream.

So unwrap yourself. Shake out the old expectations, dust them off, look at them in the sunlight. If they still look like what you want, suit up again in your newly polished dreams. If they no longer look like they fit, cast them off and go seek a new dream to put on and keep with you. Renew, or re-align, but either way, check in on your dreams. They are not static things.

That's what I'm reminding myself to do, anyway, as I get ready for at least three major life changes (moving, marriage, making money - sorry, that was the best 'career shift' alliteration I could come up with on short notice). I'm also learning to appreciate the unexpected realities that don't align with my dreams, but sometimes lead to something even better. After all, on the love-and-marriage front, I'll never have a proposal that will inspire envy - even if it should, because that pizza was DELICIOUS - but I feel more certain than I ever could have dreamed that our marriage will be enviable, and that's way better.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

55 Days To Go: Muffins at Midnight

Why am I making muffins at midnight? Well. A few reasons.

UPDATE: These are the muffins.
(Yes, I registered for new muffin tins.)
1. I have a pregnant friend craving blueberries, so I already brought her blueberry tea and fresh blueberries, and told her I'd make her some sort of blueberry treat. (The muffins are blueberry.)

2. I'm trying to use up all the dry goods in my pantry, and the muffins require things I have a lot of, such as flour and oatmeal. (The muffins are oatmeal blueberry.)

3. Though I'm usually an in-bed-before midnight girl, especially on a work night, lately I'm putting off bedtime as long as possible. For starters, the house at night and especially at bedtime is still when it feels weirdest to be alone. Then there's the fact that I have so much to do right now that unless I go to bed when I'm already halfway asleep, I lie there near-panicking about the as-yet-undone items on the many floating to-do lists currently dominating my life. Weirdly, though making muffins means not taking care of other items on some Super Important List, it's calming to do something that has a clear completion. (The muffins are manageable.)

Tonight, there's the additional x-factor that a rather intimidating guy came and bought my washer. So thanks to Craigslist, this guy knows where I live. I of course mentioned "my fiance who'll be home any minute," and had the dogs locked in an adjacent room so he could hear them bark without seeing their twenty-pound-reality. He also left his old, crappy pliers behind, so I have his fingerprints if I wind up abducted later.

Not that I'm paranoid.

But I am making muffins.

On a happier related note, some transplants and friends in transition have expressed needing-to-crash interest, so could well be that as soon as tomorrow I'll have a live-in bodyguard. YOU HEAR THAT, POTENTIAL ABDUCTORS? I ALSO HAVE DOGS WHO ARE SOMEWHAT SMALL BUT NONETHELESS MIGHTY AND INSANELY PROTECTIVE.

And muffins. I also have muffins.

(And mace on my person.)

Good night.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

59 Days To Go: My Team = Champions

Why, yes. Yes. That is a mug
covered in pictures of my fiance
dressed as a mad scientist.
Tonight I had a wedding logistics planning meeting with our WSMs and two other ensemble members: our decorations genius/designer, MQ, and our chuppah builder/production manager, RL.

I didn't take pictures tonight; I took notes. I took deep breaths. I did not for one moment take for granted how unbelievably fortunate I am to have friends like this in my life. Friends who don't think twice about going the extra mile for you; friends like family who see this event as a day of joy and commitment for them, too. It's nights like this that I feel shaky about leaving here. Leaving the friends that are family here.

But not living here full-time won't mean they aren't family anymore. That's not how family works. Family sticks, distance be damned.

Okay. I'm tired and quite literally about to fall asleep, and I'm babbling with my fingers now. I'm going to finish drinking my mug of Mexican Hot Chocolate out of my one-of-a-kind mug, and put myself to bed... and perhaps fall asleep to fewer stress dreams, thanks to the help of my friends. I'm confident my next update of #TheList will look healthy, and that, y'know, THE W WORD will actually happen and look pretty and it'll be because my team, in wedding planning and in life, is the best team.

His Last Day Here/Separation Anxiety

Rather than back-date this post so it appears on the day it happened... I'm just going to re-live the recent memories as I share these photos and thoughts tonight. They are not from tonight, or today, or yesterday. They are from Friday. Six days ago. Danny's last day as a Jacksonian.

Hard to believe this was already almost a week ago...

This was the starting plan. Almost all of it
happened! (Minus the cinema and the reservoir;
add Best Buy, Post Office, Goodwill, office...

Every Friday D gets a scone and coffee from
"his regular place." So there we went.

Saying farewell to beloved bosses.

... and seeing a coworker's pranked office.

Exploring the art garden...

...and the art museum...

...and classy artwork like this sculpture of a
chamber pot... with sculpted poo poo in it.

Contemplating "the parade of life."
(His phrase. This is why we'll wed.)

(These were amazing.)
The fish man was out of the fish we wanted,
but we DID make it there as part of our ultimate day...

His last day here would have been incomplete
without a pint at The Pub.

We welcomed Shabbat.

And the pet crew got in all the cuddles they could.
I'll share my own love song to Mississippi, in words, in a couple of months. I won't try to write out right now the complex concoction of emotions I feel over his departure. But in looking through these photos again to create this post, I can say - man.

That was a good day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Just Over 2 Months To Go: My Life Is A List

#TheList. It haunts me.

I've always been a list-maker, but now it's gone to the extreme. I said that this blog wouldn't be a "resource site," but I might share a clean version of my master list tomorrow in case it helps out any list-loving-but-logistics-hating folks of my ilk. Maybe it can help others, others like me who love a completed list like Cookie Monster loves a crazy big cookie.*


Here's where I am with #TheList, AKA The List of What Needs To Be Done For This W-Word Thing To Happen (you can understand why I shortened it to #TheList).

Everything with a " ü "  - I've completed. Anything highlighted, I'm behind schedule on. Anything with that other weird symbol that keeps replacing my check-box icon is not yet done, but not yet overdue. I have my work cut out for me. (Also, I should note - I'm saying "I" and not "we" because while D does have a few assignments, since he's now several states away and starting an intense new job, this last couple of months of W-word planning is mostly coming down to me. On behalf of we. Luckily, I/we have an excellent on the ground AND distance cadre of people willing to help us/me get this done.)

Here's where we are:

The (Fun! Fabulous!) Off-Season
5 Month Wedding Planning Checklist

(Okay, yeah, so we've been engaged for more than 5 months - we decided to "just enjoy being engaged" for the first month or two - can't say I regret that... YET) 

5 Months Ahead
ü  Set a date – run it by important must-attend list (parents, besties) before locking it in!
ü  Book a venue for the service
ü  Book a venue for the reception (light two candles with one match and have both in the same place – BOOM – that’s our plan)
ü  Select officiant
ü  Determine a budget and how expenses will be shared
ü  Decide on a color scheme, if you’re having one
ü  Take engagement photos (and make them YOU)
ü  Guest List for Save-The-Date / the big invite

4 Months Ahead
ü  Send Save-The-Date
ü  Buy a dress (or whatever you’re planning to wear for the big day)
ü  Buy appropriate underwear (to go under said dress / whatever)
ü  Put together your ensemble (some people call them bridesmaids, groomsmen, that sort of thing, but we preferred the more-inclusive and theatrical “ensemble”)
ü  Hire a photographer
ü  Create wedding website
ü  Have some fun registering for stuff (and start looking around your place and deciding what you’re ready to donate or lovingly gift elsewhere)
ü  Start premarital counseling

3 Months Ahead
ü  Book reception entertainment
Hire a videographer – OR ASK A FRIEND!
ü  Do some tastings
ü  Hire a caterer
Book tables, chairs, linens, serving-ware, anything you may need (or make sure your venue has all of that covered
Order cake/groomscake
ü  Book rehearsal dinner location
ü  Choose ensemble attire (again, other people might call ‘em bridesmaid dresses and tuxes, but we’re going with “upscale techie”)
ü  Figure out flowers
ü  Order invitations
ü  Get hotel rooms blocked / hopefully with event discount!
ü  Contact venue to confirm timeline for day of rental
ü  Buy wedding bands
Start planning for honeymoon – making sure passports are up to date, that sort of thing…

2 Months Ahead
ü  Select and send invitations
      Draft service and program (including ensemble roles)
       Meet with a financial planner to sort out financial plans/any merging
       Meet with an insurance dude to figure out life insurance, discounts for auto, any policies and/or paperwork you need to plan on updating
       Order wedding favors
       Order Ketubah (if you’re getting married under a chuppah)
       Send shot list / requests to photographers
       Decorations meeting 
       Have a tech meeting to go over set-up, sound system, etc.

1 Month Ahead
       Arrange for time off work (wedding, at least; mini-moon/honeymoon?!)
       Book hotel room for nights surrounding wedding, as needed (consult with family)
       Purchase or procure accessories like guest book, aisle runner, etc.
       Make appointment with stylist; do a test run of hair/makeup
       Buy gifts for ensemble
ü  Get marriage license (30 days out) + any other tests or documents required by the state
       Buy / create Jewish wedding kit (wine, glasses, glass for breaking, easel for Ketubah)
       Harass anyone who hasn’t RSVP’d
     Send evite for rehearsal dinner
       Finalize number of attendees and share info with rental folks, catering, etc.

2 Weeks Ahead
       Check in with all vendors (caterer, photographer, videographer, entertainment, venue)
       Plan seating arrangements, if you’re doing that (FYI, we’re not)
       Test run with chuppah set-up
       Finalize and print programs
       Create cue list (order of how everything will go in the venue – service, cocktails, food…)

1 Week Ahead
       Grocery shopping: put together an awesome snack basket for the ensemble
       Mani and pedi (me)
       Haircut (he)
       Pack car with everything needed (that deserves its own list: dress, snacks, party favors, ketubah, wedding kit, toiletries, rings, license… yeah, seriously, make a separate list)

Day of the Show, Y’All
       Evening before: Rehearsal
       Evening before: Rehearsal dinner
       Morning of: EAT FREAKIN’ BREAKFAST
       Set up at venue with ensemble
       Hair, makeup, costumes
       Make sure stage managers have cue list
       Eat, drink, and be married.

The good news is, two months out, while I am still behind... I'm not nearly as far behind as I was when I was three months out... it was frankly far too embarrassing at that point to share this list. Making progress, y'all.


Brought To You By The Letter W

Sorry for the delay in updates. It's been a big week. I have a few half-started posts that I *will* finish and share in the coming days.

(Mary Poppins said "Well begun is half done," but I think she may have been taking a few extra spoonfuls of sugar or rum punch with that optimistic assessment.)

In the meantime, time has become exceptionally weird: What with the fiance gone and the wedding looming, I simultaneously want time to hurry the bleep up and slow the bleep down. Instead, I am going to trust that time is moving at precisely the speed at which it is meant to travel. I will try to take each day as it comes, and at the end of each day, hopefully have a satisfactory answer for each of the following questions:

Did I write today?
Did I work today?
Did I work out today?
Did I do some wedding prep/planning today?
Did I drink enough water and eat well today (okay, the second "w" is a stretch here, but whaddaya want)?

If I can focus on these five Daily Ws, I think I'll make it.

Of course, I also need to pack and sell household items, and talk/Skype/chat daily with D... so if y'all can think of ways to make those activities start with a W, awesome. Otherwise, oh well. I'm probably not going to stay inside the lines much in the coming weeks...