Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Lovely Day for the Ballet

I danced for about 13 years and while I've hung up my ballet slippers for now I still have a soft spot for the very lovely costumes. If I was having a 1920s Swan-Lake-themed wedding, this would be pretty much perfect: a gauzy, romantic, glittery cloud (not to mention the gorgeous feather headdress).

Image of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova as The Dying Swan

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dreams vs Love vs Responsibility

I love the Office. And I am a full-fledged PB&J fan, followed their relationship through the ups and downs, reveled in their very boringness as a safe haven amongst the will-they-won't-they Rosses and Rachels of the TV world. I loved their story, because they were sweet and funny and seemed very normal and very real. Except, for one thing.

I was watching the episode where Pam is in New York for the summer studying art and she gets pulled aside by a friend who tells her that she has a gift and a passion and she should stay in New York and pursue her dreams.

"But...Jim is in Scranton," she says, as Jim listens on via the world's smallest bluetooth.

Despite her gifts, Pam actually ends up failing school, and when she has to choose between repeating her semester or going back to Scranton, and Jim, dreams unrealized, she chooses...Jim.

I am all for love and romance, but her choice always disappointed me. As I write this I'm in year two of my long distance relationship with Dave as we pursue our dreams/careers 700 miles away from each other.

When we were in college and starting to decide our post-graduation plans, we talked about finding jobs close to one another. I was very lucky in getting my current job, in New York--it was in the field I always wanted and now, a year later, I'm being given opportunities I thought I would have to wait a decade for. Dave applied to grad school a few months later and ended up in one of the best programs on the planet, in Chicago. So, the quandary: do we give up these amazing opportunities, the breaks that could make our careers, and get married? Or do we go through long distance, the hours-long flights and phone calls and mile-high texting bills, until our romantic lives and our practical lives align?

For now, we're sticking with the latter, for better or worse (see what I did there?).

But it wasn't an easy decision to make, and it's not really an easy decision to live with. Sunday afternoons flying home from seeing Dave for a weekend, it hits me every time that I've found the guy I want to be with forever--hooray!--so why am I constantly saying goodbye to him? We used to dream about all the amazing things we would do with our degrees and career experience, traveling around the world together, using our talents for bigger purposes, and now we dream about having a home together, somewhere, where we can bake cookies and watch 30 Rock and spend our Sunday nights snug in each other's arms.

Dave's lovely, awesome, fantastic sister-in-law, Jenna, and I were talking one time about this. She is married (to Dave's brother) with a baby (Adam--best baby EVER) and lives in an adorable little house a few miles away from her entire family. I was telling her about how often Dave and I think about her and Steve and Adam (although he was just a bump when we talked) and wish we had their lives. She laughed and said how often she and Steve envy us, traveling around the world, having amazing experiences, working cool (albeit stressful) jobs. Greener grass?

I know--truly and beyond a doubt--that I have talents and a personality and a point of view that can be used for a purpose that I very much believe in, and I have to give myself the best opportunity I can, and that means staying in my job for now, and that also means Dave needs to stay in Chicago, for now.

Anyway, so Pam gives up her dreams, moves in with Jim, gets married, gets preggars, and lives happily ever after. I don't think I would have made the same decision. But can't you have it all? Career and purpose and love and happiness? Maybe?

Monday, January 18, 2010

First Day of My Life

We're still on the Great Wedding Song Search, seeing as Dave and I share about three songs that we like and they're all by Simon and Garfunkle and none of them are wedding appropriate ("when I go back to bed, someone's taken my place" not quite the feel we want), but this one, by Bright Eyes, is a pretty strong contender.

This is the first day of my life
I swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain suddenly everything changed
They're spreading blankets on the beach

Yours is the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
Now I don’t know where I am
I don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I want to go

And so I thought I’d let you know
That these things take forever
I especially am slow
But I realize that I need you
And I wondered if I could come home

Remember the time you drove all night
Just to meet me in the morning
And I thought it was strange you said everything changed
You felt as if you'd just woke up
And you said “this is the first day of my life
I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you
But now I don’t care I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy”

So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery
Besides maybe this time is different
I mean I really think you like me

PS I had no idea this was what the video was about, ten minutes ago, when Dave and I listened together on my headphones, holdin' hands and starin' into each other's eyes

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Drinking Jars

A few days ago I went out to lunch at one of my favorite cafes, where they plopped down some tooth-achingly cool water in these lovely drinking jars.

I want about a million.

Too casual for an evening formal reception?

these jars $12 for 4 at Sur la Table

Talented Friends: Andrew the Photographer

This is Andrew:

And these are some of Andrew's photos*:

Is he not brilliant? Evocative? Absurdly talented?

Andrew is one of my good friends and a former intern of mine when we were both poor, starving, and air conditionless in New York (some of us have yet to move beyond those things...). He was/is a photographer whose boundless enthusiasm for interesting moments and tableaus would have been annoying if he wasn't so charmingly excited all the time. I don't think he's ever taken two steps out his house without at least three or four cameras slung on himself, and when he gets into photo-taking mode he can be so intensely focused that I used to keep watch over him like an anxious parent, lest he completely forget about me and wander away to go take some photos of a cool fisherman or something.

Andrew may also be part of the reason Dave and I got engaged, since looking at his photos would make both of us say we needed to have a shotgun wedding asap so we could hire Andrew before he got too expensive for us (still true).

*they are scrunched up and poorly-rendered here, and a million times more beautiful at his website: http://www.andrewburtonphoto.com/

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dress

Ah wedding dress shopping.

Mostly, I like wedding dresses. I like looking at them and imagining how I would look in them (I am a ferocious online shopper). I like looking at pictures of happy women wearing their dresses, and I like watching wedding-dress-shopping shows that show the moment where a woman puts on a dress, smiles, and says "This is the one."

And then I had to go shopping for my own, and all that went out the window.

To be fair, like most of the planning so far, I don't really "have" to do anything. Dave and I still are months, maybe years from setting a date, so there's nothing that needs to get done right at this moment. Dresses especially could wait, since I should know what time of year we're getting married first, and my tastes might change, or styles might change, or my dream dress could be discontinued by the time I wanted it.

And yet, after flipping through a magazine and seeing a dress I liked, my mom offered to set up an appointment at a bridal salon near our house. It would be just to look at the dress, she said, no pressure. It sounded like fun, so I said sure.

Not long after we made the appointment, Dave and I got into a fight/serious conversation about just how long this engagement was going to last. With him studying in Chicago and me working a great journalism job (practically an oxymoron) in New York, neither one of us are able to move. Once it got out that 4 years was a very serious possibility, I lost it a little. Some other post will be devoted to navigating the travails of a long-distance relationship and long-term engagement, but needless to say "Plan Wedding/Life with Dave" was not at the top of my To Do list the next day. I was just bummed. I couldn't read my favorite wedding blogs or walk down the street past a bridal store without getting a pang of jealousy and longing: When would that be us?

So, all things told, not the best mental state to go dress shopping in. Aside from feeling less like a busy bride than ever, I didn't want an obsequious saleswoman hovering over me telling me I looked like a princess (noooo ma'am) or laughing in my face when I said we wanted to spend less than $1500, dress and alterations included. I considered canceling the appointment, but after some long talks with friends I realized despite all the misgivings, I still was excited to go wedding dress shopping with my mom. I mean, wedding dress shopping with my mom! It's kind of one of those wonderful mother-daughter things that I've always looked forward to.

I told my mom my worries and about my talk with Dave, "I don't know how I'll take this, so if I tug my ear, you are to get me out of there a.s.a.p.," and off we went. The salon was this tiny little store with two saleswomen and two racks of dresses. As soon as we got in the owner marched right up and said "We have been waiting ALL WEEK for you to come and try on this dress! We've all been talking about it!" I don't mean to be a cynic, but really? I can't even imagine in what universe a shopful of women would circle a dress for DAYS wondering about little old me. Bad omen...

They slipped it on--one of those "strip down and we'll help you" places that I've always found awkward--and marched me out. And...nothing. It was lovely and pretty, but, no. The neckline wasn't right, it was poofy and heavy and scratchy and enCRUSTed with jewels. No, no, and no. The owner asked me why I didn't look happier, and I just said, honestly, "I'm sorry, but I don't think this is me." She looked like she was getting ready to try and convince me, and I looked like I was ready to tug my ear off, when my mom stepped out with another gown, and suggested I try it on.

I was more than ready to get out of this thing, so I hopped down and the saleswoman (who really was more chill than the owner) helped me into my mom's choice. I walked out to the mirror, took a look, and was ready to dismiss it as well, when I stopped. This was comfy. Like, I could lounge around the house and take a nap in it comfy. Smooth, soft, silk-satin; a curve-hugging, flattering silhouette; a classic design but with a beautiful geometric construction.

"What do you think?" my mom asked.

"I think, I love it," I said. And, against all odds, I did. Everyone in the room was surprised. I guess I wasn't quite the picture of the blushing bride when I walked in (not helped my the torn jeans, sneakers, and hoodie I was wearing), and I don't think anyone expected me to go doe-eyed over a dress that day, least of all me. But it was comfortable--I could picture myself dancing in it, leaning down to hug friends and family, sitting easily--but it was also just me, fun and sweet and classic yet original. I didn't want to take it off!

We left that day without the dress, after the saleswoman told us the manufacturer was known to never discontinue dresses, but as I got into the car, I felt deeply satisfied. I'd been so worried about that moment where I look at myself in the mirror, dressed as a bride, and thought, "It will possibly be years before I wear this again." Instead, all I could think about was that this marriage thing was really real, it was going to happen, I was going to walk down the aisle in dress like this, see Dave waiting for me, and start my life with him. There's something about having the dress on that makes it all suddenly more present, and I think the "this is the one" moment for me came less because I had found this amazing dress that I absolutely loved and more because I realized despite all the potential wait and impatience and frustration about wedding planning, the pieces were still, slowly, falling into place.

It's half silly and half wonderful that it took a wedding dress to realize all this, but I'm grateful nonetheless.

Image of Kleinfeld from TV News and Reviews

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blogging for Love and Profit

searching for le elusive blog post

Five-ish months into our engagement, and four-ish into my wedding blahg, I'm starting to hit a wall. On my other blog, which covers my shaky forays into cooking for myself, it's easy for me to spin out a post, but here, I'm struggling to say what I want to say. I've been wondering why that is, and why I keep writing posts only to delete them with a frustrated sigh, and while I'm still not convinced that that won't happen again, I think (hope) that I've figured out how to make things easier.

Far from writing about my kitchen fire(s) and futile attempts to eat vegetables, this blog has a slightly different feel to it. I can be offhand and invisible behind my battered, second-hand cookware, but writing about my wedding, with a guy I'm nuts about, makes things pretty personal, and it's tricky to balance between the sacred and the silly. My favorite blogs are the ones written by smart, serious, funny women who are navigating the Wedding Industrial Complex with grace and humor and occasional breakdowns. They're personal without being oversharey, funny without being depricating, smart without being overly panicky.

It's a high bar. My hope is this little blog can add some fun and lightness to wedding planning (sparkly hairclips!) while at the same time giving me a place to talk about the tougher, knottier, more enragingly stressful things. Because truthfully, it's hard going through this craziness. Being the first of my friends to get engaged, picking out wedding details and wondering when we'll actually set a date, wondering when I can stop thinking of Sundays as time-to-say-goodbye-to-Dave-days--it's tough.

So here's to hoping that this moment of self reflection can help me pull things together a little more in 2010 (resolution! noooo....). Because getting married is a wonderful thing. And blogging is a wonderful thing. And being honest and funny and thoughtful are all wonderful things. And it would be nice to bring those all together.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Another Reason to Love Etsy

Etsy is my favorite place to drool over whimsical, beautiful, vintagey arts and crafts, and the cheerful descriptions and bargain-basement prices mean I will likely be one-stop-shopping there for bridesmaids' gifts and jewelry (see lovely hair pieces below). Although I've only done online window-shopping (Christmas spending hit me hard and my faceless corporation is pushing back bonuses until February), it was the first place I suggested Dave look when he told me that for Christmas he planned on getting me a typewriter, to encourage me to get back into writing (btdubs, best gift on the planet, amiright?).

While most places offered vintage typewriters (I am a fan of non-electric, non-boxy machines that come in a variety of lovely pastels), they were upwards of $500, shipping not included. We turned to Etsy and hallelujah--dozens of perfectly-working, beautifully restored vintage machines, ranging between $80 and $300.

We finally settled on a minty green Hermes 3000 from the 1940s (I am already in love), did the PayPal thing, and sent an email to the seller letting her know it would be going to New York (where I live) not Chicago (where Dave--and his credit card--lives). Ten minutes ago Dave forwarded me the email he got back from the seller, a four-paragraph message of sweet hipster enthusiasm for the typewriter, approval for Dave's stellar gift-giving skills, and best wishes for our long-distance relationship.

Etsy = awesome

My new toy.
PS: the seller, Joanne has many other beautiful things at her Etsy store, Shaving Kit Supplies
Check it out!