Thursday, December 29, 2011

Name Game Changer

2011, where have you gone?

You know, it was a big year. The Dude and I spent it being engaged, planning a wedding (Well, I planned the wedding) and we had showers thrown for us. We moved downstairs to a bigger and better apartment, planted our first garden, and finally got some more grownup furniture. We adopted Sprinkles and Bea and they've really brightened up our lives. We had our wedding, which was obviously the highlight of the year, and over all I'd say the year was pretty damn good.

We also got more Christmas cards than ever before. I think probably we were fresh in people's minds due to the invitations and thank you cards, all containing our current address. Funny thing, I got many adressed to Mrs. Dude, and Mrs. Dude Duderson. My own name completely obliterated by his. Ah, such is life. I haven't changed my name, nor will I, but I have to accept that this information will be slow in making its way to people and many won't retain it in their memories. I get that even in the modern age, it's still less common to keep your name.

Facebook, though, is handy. My name appears correctly there and that will help, I'm sure. My email will also show up with my correct name, so as I email people, it will reinforce the knowledge. My family also seem quietly pleased I've kept my name. Probably they had already figured I would, as they all posed their question, "Are you keeping your name?" as opposed to, "Are you changing it?"

My own mother hyphenated her name back in the early '80s, when it was definitely rarer to do so. After my parents split up, she went back to her maiden name and still had to endure people calling her Mrs. Berri from people who knew her through my brother or I. I could see it bugged her, but she never made a federal case out of it. When you choose what's right for you and that happens to go against social convention, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches with some grace.

I sometimes wonder about children. Again, I think we're going to be planning for parenthood, but until we're 100% onboard with it, I'm not thinking so concretely. But everyone will expect them to be Dudes, not Berris. I'd love to pass on my name. I love the idea of daughters being Berris and sons being Dudes. Why not?

Well, I know why not. Everyone we know will give us grief. Well, no, not everyone. All our friends would understand if we made this choice. But I think our families would be perplexed. And people on the outside would assume a child with my last name would not biologically belong to the Dude. And if we had one of each, we'd appear as a blended family and have to field questions and assumptions all the time. So what would be right for me as a mother would be so socially unconventional it might not even be worth my while for all the hassle it would cause.

The Dude sometimes likes to joke with people that he's taken my last name instead, and it actually shocks people. Rather than chuckling or asking, "Oh, really?" he gets a, "What?!" So deeply ingrained is it that a man's identity belongs to him and a woman's is tied to her family, and the family she belongs to is her husband's.

I wish we lived in a world that respected choice a little more. We can legally make any family name changes we wish. But that doesn't mean the greater world out there will be supportive or understanding. So as it is, keeping my own name may be as far as I go.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmastime

Christmas, she has come and gone, as has my whirlwind tour to my hometown. Unlike being a child and experiencing the pull of two separate families due to a family breakup, being an adult married to another child of divorce means more families to see.

My mother's family dissipated after the back-to-back deaths of my Grammy and mother. My aunt Debby kept things up as best as possible, however my Poppie moved to another town and she had to throw in the towel. Now she's in Vancouver with her husband, my cousins followed suit and Poppie passed away.

This depressing series of events has thus lessened my holiday visiting obligations, but I miss them all. I'd gladly make the time to see them and share in the festivities again, if I could. They were never an obligation in the true sense of the word. They were always a joy.

My father's family is in full swing. People are marrying, procreating. Christmas dinner swelled to 24 people, even with my aunt Mary & co. absent. I really cherish these holiday get-togethers. I love my family. They're the sort of people that even if you're not a blood relative, you belong. Warm, basically.

My aunt, the one who hosts it each year with my uncle, worries about it expanding beyond their means. And it's a reasonable concern. New in-laws, new children, all needing seats and a spot at the table. Everyone's always welcome, but sadly as people move or make their own families and stop coming, it's likely to be the only way the dinner will be sustainable.

And even more sadly, if the Dude and I become parents, I see us being two more who drop out of the dinner, as travelling hours on the highway in the winter in a rental car to zoom about every family we need to see with an infant or toddler is not my idea of a happy Christmas.

So we must make the most of the years we have left. Though although I want to have children, I don't think we're 100% decided on it.

As for the Dude's family, his father and stepmom will likely be spending future Christmases up here, where more of the grandchildren are. But who knows for certain. They're snowbirds and go to Arizona for the winter to bask in the dry heat. I think of them in February when I trudge through the slush.

The Dude's mom stays put in her small village home outside of the city we grew up in. It's charming. She'll likely always be available for a Christmas visit. We've spent the last two Christmas eve's at her place.

People have asked us about making holiday traditions as a couple. Truth be told, it's too early. Our lives, well, we haven't picked a solid direction for the two of us to go in yet. I don't know what will be best for us. I just know that the current status quo is probably on borrowed time. Sometimes growing up is a bummer.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fire

The other day I went to The Clay Room in the Danforth on my day off and I spent hours there painting ceramics. One is a teapot that'll go to my mother-in-law, who we'll be spending Christmas eve with, and the others were a set of coffee mugs for the Dude and I, which I envision us sipping out of together on lazy Sundays.

Not this Sunday, though. That be Christmas. And holy gods in the trees, how is this possible? I feel like more and more my life is speeding up and time is moving faster than I'm actually aging. But no. I'm 29. In less than a year I'll be 30 and to be honest, I'm not where I thought I'd be.

Not that I'm in a bad place. But when you choose to live in Toronto and will not move, this almost necessarily means entering into real estate is a scarier and more difficult venture than in other towns and cities. I mean, you can buy a real dive with two bedrooms in a crummy neighbourhood in this city for $300,000. Awesome. So yeah, we're not going to be in the market for home ownership for a couple years.

Then there's parenthood. I don't really have the luxury of surplus time anymore. I don't want to wait till I'm 35 only to discover I have fertility issues that can no longer be easily resolved due to advanced age. Being cheated out of motherhood would break my heart. Now is the time I have to start planning the real deal. I have to save monies (On top of home down payment monies) for a year's worth of mat leave.

I also want to do some creative projects. I've been getting my feet wet, but I can't be passive about this. I don't want to get older and older with no finished works.

Sometimes when I see 21-year-olds I get envious. Just seeing all the potential and little responsibility and all the years of easygoing times ahead makes me wistful. Not that I'd go back, but I did have fun and my mid 20s were in particular very enjoyable. I remember my boss at my internship when I was 21 telling me, "The world is your oyster." Little cliche statements like that start ringing a lot more true when you look back and analyze the choices you made. I think I did okay. But I could do a lot more.

Something about turning 29 has putting something of a fire under my ass. I really feel like I need to be... more.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Artist

I've started work on my aunt's book. I've gotten three pages done, and I'm aiming for 12. My drawing style has always been cute and childlike, cartoony really. So this is something that is working out nicely for me. It feels good to draw again. It's like riding a bike, I guess.

Though I'm shaky. I used to have a much more fluid hand. I'd sometimes draw a person without having any idea what they were going to look like and make the decision on the spot as my pen moved across the page. Now I'm more unsure and less confident.

So strange what being young can do for your ability to learn. I mean, it's not strange. It's science. Your brain isn't fully developed yet. The things you learn as a kid have the benefit of neurons going crazy and making new connections to help you along the way. When I draw now it's like I can still feel the connections my hands and brain made together as a child, but it's weaker.

Learning to draw as an adult, or even as a teenager I think leaves you somewhat disadvantaged. Not that you're out of luck, but that you have to work harder. But that's the same in many things, like music or dance. Certain things you learn as a kid you sort of hardwire into your brain and body and you can draw on it later without strain. Though I'm a little rusty, and despite not having been at the drawing board for years, I can still watch my hands do, more or less, what they know how to do. It's very encouraging.

I have these lovely new markers at my disposal. I'm unpracticed in them, but one thing I learned as a kid and as a teenager as I dove into new mediums: confidence is half the battle. If you have an artistic ability, you can figure it out as you go. The lessons learned from one medium will translate in some way to another, if you have the courage to try. Having faith it'll work out goes far.

I want 2012 to be a year of artistic revival for me. I want to reopen that part of myself I let go dormant. Art school sort of quieted me. I actually learned a significant amount of things and it was valuable, but it shut me down. Eight years later, I'm feeling ready to try again. Less about making a living, more about personal fulfillment. I can be an artist as a person; I don't have to be an artist as a profession. What I do to pay the bills need not be what defines who I am.

Lovely thought.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quel Dommage

One day I'll develop the sleep a normal person enjoys.

Who am I kidding? No, I won't.

Last night I had a lovely time at a joint birthday for friends, who are a married couple the Dude and I know and love. It was meat, cheese, wine and an amazing dance game on the X-Box that the Dude did surprisingly well in. Me, not so much, but I burned some calories, which alleviated my guilt in eating a quarter wheel of brie. Plus it was amazing fun. I love my friends.

We got home late and were in bed by 2:00 and I never was able to fall asleep, despite being tired. My moon time started and woke me up around 5:00 with aching cramps. I had to make several unrelated-to-moontime trips to the bathroom. Sprinkles caught me up around 6:00 and by 8:00, I had no choice but to go upstairs and feed her and Bea. I went back to bed and sweat under the covers and that woke me up, too. Now it's noon, I've been officially up since... I'm not sure, and I feel mentally disconnected.

I have a manicure/pedicure appointment soon, which will be nice. But then the Dude and I are going to the Eaton Centre because we both need shoes/boots. And that won't be nice. It's a Sunday a couple weeks before Christmas at the largest mall downtown Toronto. We're talking zoo central. But I have no winter boots. My only pair, which were three or four years old, developed holes in them by the end of their second winter. I kept wearing them and avoided puddles.

Some women love new shoes. I... don't. I look at every new pair as something new and pinchy that will hurt my feet and scrape skin off my toes or heels. My feet are also 1/2 a size different from each other, so finding a comfy and attractive pair I can afford, which fits both feet properly is a pain the ass. So I hang onto footwear as much as humanly possibly, mostly until they disintegrate off of my feet. And that's what happened to the boots. The soles broke off the front and were catching on escalators. And I looked like a hobo in them.

So before the snow comes, I must get a new pair. And I have to venture out there into the hell that is Christmas shopping season. Quel dommage.

Maybe a movie would be good after all this. My aunt called me to leave me a message telling me that the child in Hugo reminded her of me very much. Call me narcissistic, but now I'm intrigued.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Non-Finisher

I don't finish things. I'm a creative type of person who just doesn't, for whatever reason, finish my projects. I drive myself crazy, and it's a short drive.

My graphic novel sits untouched. But frankly, I just can't. Not till I'm older and certain parties are, well, not around to read it. I also feel a little unresolved in my youth. I mean, it's not over and perhaps I need more aged perspective to really tell the story properly. In any case, I feel paralyzed over it and so it remained untouched for a long time.

I've started many novels I've not completed. I get these flashes of productive artistry that fade quickly and leave me with chapters of a tale that goes nowhere.

I did complete a series of abstract drawings several years ago. And that was a pleasurable thing. It's not as though they were displayed anywhere, but they were a collection of feelings and emotions expressed simply during a period of change in my life.

I've catalogued the materials I need to get started on my aunt's project. I'll either order them direct or buy them in the store this week. This will be something I finish, if only because I've got someone I love depending on me to do it.

I need to channel my energy better this year. There are many sides to life and my personal life is rather under control. My creative life needs attention. I want to make 2012 count for something. It's my last year in my 20s and I would like to use it wisely.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

29

Well, I'm 29. The countdown is now on for the big 'ol age of 30. I'm honestly almost 30 years old now and it's kind of crazy.

I think most people kind of feel a little odd about it. I thought I was a grownup when I turned 18, and then really thought I was a grownup when I turned 20. But I knew, really deep down, that it was 30 that was going to signal a sort of adulthood that would be concrete and finite. If you don't have your shit together by then, it starts to suggest something about you just ain't right.

And by "having your shit together", it could mean a variety of things. For example, if you haven't completed a college program or university degree or apprenticeship and are still taking various programs and classes that you ultimately drop out because you can't figure out what you want to be when you grow up, even though you are a grownup, and you're not holding any sort of a job and you're 30, people might start to think you're a fuck up. If you're 23, not so much.

If you have no savings of any kind and are in debt from unnecessary commercial nonsense with nothing to show for it and you have no vehicle or real estate to call your own and likely won't for some time due only to wild irresponsibility and you can't afford to live even in a crummy location without a roommate and you're 30, people might think you're a fuck up. If you're 25, not so much.

Of course, if you have completed your education, you're probably in debt from that if nothing else. And buying a house is ridiculously difficult in big cities where the costs are nauseating and not in proportion to the average couple's income. Hence why being considered a real grownup in the 20s isn't so realistic. My generation wasn't really set up to succeed in the early 20s, what with the obscene tuition hikes, lack of good available jobs, and such.

For the baby boomers, and those born thereabouts, being in your 20s was a time of being a real adult. You graduated high school and you could find a good job with your diploma and stay there. Or you could go to university, paid for from your summer job, graduate without debt into a booming economy, find a good job and stay there. You could afford to get married, buy a house (and banks only looked at the husband's income, and houses were so affordable that this was not a hindrance in the long run, though grossly unfair, but that's another story) and start a family all well before you turned 30.

Now? Forget it. The economy is lousy, education puts you in debt, houses are no being sold for two years worth of one person's yearly income. They're going for five years worth of two people's yearly incomes, or at least here in Toronto they are. So being a proper adult at 25 is pretty much not happening. Maybe in 1975 that was possible, but not now.

Which makes coming of age at 30 all the more insane feeling. It's a delayed adulthood from the early 20s to 30 on the nose, but economy or no economy, 30 is grownup town, whether you like it or not. And your brain knows it. Bodily, you are an adult, both physically and mentally. Your brain has fully developed by the time you're 25 (the frontal lobe is the last step in completion), and unsurprisingly, that's when the average person really starts to think about the future.

So, hello, 29. And a more distant wave to 30, which I'll be seeing soon. I feel moderately ready.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Painting Teapots

This evening I painted a ceramic teapot with my friends for my birthday (A couple days early). I have this thing for cows for some reason. I'm not sure why, but I think cartoon cows are just the cutest. So I painted cows on my teapot.

It was nice to be creative and actually make something. Growing up, art was something that provided me countless hours of entertainment, and eventually came to define me. I was the class artist, I did an animation program and I took art every year. I went to an arts program in college and that's where it all fell apart for me. I realized I couldn't become a commercial artist and I backed down. Looking back, I shouldn't have given up. I could have become a decent graphic designer, I think.

But being the lesser artist in a room full of talents, in a program with many such rooms, I got discouraged and quit. There's creating art for pleasure, and there's honing your skill for monetary gain. That's something language is for me. I create transcripts every day, accurate and grammatically sound. But art? Somehow it was too personal for me to get too technical about it on the terms of an institution. And I wasn't good enough, flat out. Compared to the general population, I have talent. Compared to artists at large, I'm nothing special, and thus not going to make money off art.

My aunt wants me to illustrate her children's book, and I intend to do it. But first I need to get new supplies. I've let things go so much that I haven't even got the materials I need anymore. Maybe this coming year will be a artful one for me. Perhaps I'll get back in touch with my artistic side. It's in there somewhere.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dresses and Tea

Tomorrow is a very ladylike day for me. I'm going out with my friends to our regular tea jaunt, and just to sweeten the day with even more gentleness, we're catching the ballet beforehand. It's going to be an afternoon of loveliness.

I've had a cough that's persisted since my wedding. I've gone to a couple movies and I've done my best to suppress it or time its release to convenient moments in the film. At the ballet, I can only hope I don't bother too many people.

I'm currently in love with a number of dresses that I can't have. I can't have them because I can't afford them currently. Why? Well, this laptop I'm typing on was plenty expensive and Christmas is coming.

But here they are anyway:

I love this little dress, but at $100,
it's a wee bit too expensive for me.


This has recently gone on sale.
Once le computer is paid off, it shall be mine.


This happy little number is so retro chic.
It's also on my must-have list.


I think this one was made for me.
Perfect colour and a high waist. Love!


Now this would be an indulgence.
It's a great party dress, but how much wear would I get out of it?
Plus, it's no longer on sale come tomorrow.

I have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 dresses. It's taken about three years to build my collection and I can now get away without wearing pants. But considering there's no mix and matching, and they've got to be seasonal, and party dresses are not entirely useable for daily wear, 40 dresses doesn't go as far as you might think.

Hence... I need more dresses. Heee!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Budget Power

I am typing this from my brand new MacBook Pro. Man, this thing is sweeeet.

And I'm a fucking consumer. I actually feel guilt whenever I purchase something new. I think of landfills and limited resources, and how this item in particular is a byproduct of the oil industry and I've contributed to it... and yes, I certainly know how to ruin my enjoyment of things. When I was in Mexico and had unlimited food, all I could think about were famine victims, and the poor in Mexico who didn't have access to their own country's loveliness.

But putting aside my guilt, which will pass, and focusing on my shiny new thing, I'm pleased as punch. My old laptop was not failing on me, even after three years of service. Macs are dependable like that. I bought an outdated eMac in 2004 and it gave me zero problems for three years before it finally had enough. The Dude revived it and kept it going while I got a new MacBook, and he eventually sold it for $300.

So I guess a Mac's lifespan is at least three years, probably more. My old one, which is still perfectly serviceable but cannot do a variety of things I've been dreaming of, is being sold for $200 to the Dude's brother. His spouse has been wanting a Mac for iPod reasons, and so my MacBook will be more than enough to handle her needs without blowing over $1,000. And that makes me feel better, because even wiping a computer clean, you feel safe with family, plus it'll be reused and not tossed.

Perhaps you're wondering how I could afford a new expensive laptop after having paid for a wedding. Well, my friends, I'm a good budgeter.

The final tally of the wedding was $18,000. I started out with $10,000, a lump sum from my inheritance after my mother died that I squirrelled away for years for a future need I hadn't decided on yet. I'd kept it in the bank for all this time, not spending it, not thinking about it. I have another larger lump sum for a house downpayment (Not enough), and another smaller one to kick start retirement savings.

So with this amount in the bank and knowing we could purchase things for the wedding throughout the year and allow our monthly incomes to absorb the costs, I set about planning in a fashion that I predicted would not incur any debt. Months I didn't buy any wedding supplies, I plunked a large amount into our savings. The Dude's overtime help and got channelled into the wedding. I put down our venue deposit on the line of credit and aggressively paid it down quickly while also saving money on the side. Merging our finances really was the key to success in all these things.

So, here we are, wedding debt free and with money in the bank to plan a honeymoon. Cryptically speaking, this mat not be necessary. I'll know in a few weeks. But! It's there and waiting for us.

This laptop was a major splurge. But though it wasn't easily affordable, it was still doable without incurring debt. Ah, budgets. They make everything possible while enabling a person to sleep at night.

The next big purchase will be a house. That'll take a lot more effort, discipline and time. We're years away from that. Years and years. And since we're in Toronto, it'll be a lot harder. Finding deals for a wedding is a lot easier than finding deals in real estate.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Almost 29

I'm 29 years old in about two weeks. I've been blogging about my impending 30 years of age since I was 26. 26 is when it hit me that it was actually going to happen. I was so excited to turn 20 because I felt that was real adulthood. But 30 is different because that's actual real adulthood.

20 is nothing. 20 is time to make mistakes and be silly and figure out how to pay rent and buy your own groceries, which is adult, yes, but it's more of a starter challenge, something to master before you really take on some responsibility. Eventually, you get a job with some level of permanence, or take on a career that builds on past jobs. Maybe you get a pet, or even a child, or barring those two you at least take on some houseplants or a garden.

You get an apartment you plan on staying in, or if you're financially sound you get a condo or a *gasp* house. Maybe you buy a car, if you're not an urbanite, and keep up with all the maintenance that entails. You have to sort out your own vision, prescription and dental plans, and generally manage your own health concerns.

You plan vacations that don't revolve around a school schedule. Your evenings are free because homework and assignments are no longer a part of your life, and so you have to really figure out what it is you like to do with yourself. Meeting people is now much harder because you're out of school and so you actually have to put yourself out there or nurture your existing relationships in order to have friends. Socializing doesn't just happen on its own anymore, you must make it happen yourself.

I spent my 20s in a few relationships and making new and re-energizing old friendships. I took up belly dance, did some travelling, got my job, some pets, an apartment I finally plan on staying at awhile, and I've begun gardening and baking. I'm going to enter my 30s married, childless, kitties in tow in a homey apartment with a decent job.

When I was a teenager, I envisioned an artsy existence for myself. I thought I'd be working and living in a studio space, managing motherhood with my art in the city. Or something. Then I thought I'd be a journalist in the city. Then I toyed with living in the country and actually learning to drive. That didn't last long.

Like I said in my last post, I've always looked to the past. Looking ahead and planning my future was never something I did. I had vague ideas, but generally I just tried to focus on things that happened and otherwise meandered through my life, making choices as needed without too much direction. I sort of let my inclinations and heart lead the way.

Turns out I hated going to bars and concerts. I don't like high-powered work or too much stress. I need alone time and I enjoy opportunities to be creative. I like a small circle of friends that are tight-knit and welcoming. Big parties are not my thing, most of the time. I like having cats and I enjoy trips. I don't care much about having a great body, only a reasonably decent one.

These are the things I've figured out about myself and the way I like to live. I'm not living a dream life, per se. It's not exciting or dynamic. It's not the sort of life people dream of. But what I am living is an authentic life, authentic to myself. My life makes sense. I don't worry. Freedom from worry is something I haven't always had.

I'm turning 29, I'm almost 30. Three years I've been writing this blog and who I am has changed a little, in ways I'm okay with. More self acceptance, I think that's the key.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Free

I have not stopped coughing for days, roughly 8 days. It wakes me up from a dead sleep at 5:00 a.m. I am losing my mind. I've been taking Buckley's before bed, and yes it tastes awful and it works. Until it stops working and I jolt awake to a hacking cough that sounds as though it belongs to a 70-year-old smoker.

I'm supposed to see a movie tonight, but I'm afraid my cough will strike and I'll annoy people and have to leave. I've been dousing myself with remedies to bring on the cough so I can get it over with already, but it drags on and on.

The week has also been spent feeling very introspective. I'm almost always a reflective person. The Dude catches me staring into space, deep in thought, and usually has poor enough judgement to snap me out of it to ask what I'm thinking about, to which I never give him a good answer. But with my alone time I've been really digging into some old memories that pop up. But not really memories, more like old feelings associated with the past.

I've thought a lot about my childhood. And while I think I had a reasonably good one, suddenly and abrasively I'm grateful it's over. I've thought about my teen years, which had its moments, but was mostly a painful and anxious time for me, and I remember the sense of dread I walked around with almost all the time. And it's weird because I'd forgotten about it, I'd forgotten the real way it felt. I intellectually know I hated high school and felt trapped there, but the actual feelings were long gone and I couldn't feel them again.

And then suddenly there they were. A sense of isolation, feeling misunderstood, mild despair and frequent self-loathing. And childhood was confusing and lonely. I always felt trapped. I needed so much alone time, which I was rarely given, and yet when I needed companionship I often didn't have any, courtesy of being someone who liked being by myself.

So here I am, at my desk during work hours, and I'm suddenly hit by a wave of feelings I'd forgotten about, and then all sorts of gratitude it was no longer something I was feeling. And this all happened the week after I got married. I think I experienced the emotional residue of a major life milestone. Like an aftertaste of past experiences that are officially over.

It's weird. My day to day life is the same. I'm the same person and my relationship is unchanged. But there's something in the air, a sense that the future is now more important than the past. I've always looked to the past. That's what being a reflective person is like. You always look backwards to try and understand where you've been. Now I'm looking forward and now that those random waves of past emotions have stopped coming over me, I feel really done with them.

Nothing in my life has changed, except the way I think, which actually might be an incredibly large change, and a good one. I'm excited to think about the future, I mean, to really think about it. And I feel free.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Party with Super Grover

My first week of married life has been... just like all the past weeks of my unmarried life. Ha! But seriously, it's been nice. The Dude's been working normal hours, so we haven't been holing up and enjoying each other's company and letting our lives sink in a bit. But that is what a honeymoon is for. We're going to be evaluating our options very, very soon. I'm being vague on purpose. How cryptic of me.

Tonight we're going to the McPal house for a belated Halloween/birthday/housewarming party. I haven't seen their place since they took possession of it, and there's plenty of hard work to feast our eyes on. Their last coach house was so lovely and their new house has all kinds of endearing potential. And the stories surrounding its renovations and McPal's dad are the stuff of literary gold.

The Dude is attending this party as Super Grover. It really is one of the better costumes pretty much ever. I'm a pin-up sailor, which in other words could be called nothing special. It's a costume I had bought for Fake Prom Goes To War, but had settled on a '40s inspired nautically themed dress instead. So as not to be wasteful, I'm wearing it now. But I'm already fantasizing about next year when I can be a Ninja Turtle, or Hello Kitty.

Before I go, I'll leave you with a couple teasers from the wedding. We haven't gotten our pictures back yet (That'd be remarkably quick!) but we have gotten some lovely shots to tide us over while we wait.


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Wedding

I'm married. I've had a day and a half to let it sink in, and in small ways it's beginning to. I totally understand the importance of a honeymoon, though. If we were away somewhere, just the two of us, I think it would really give us a chance to absorb our new relationship status. People have called me Mrs. Dude, though I am keeping my name. The Dude's finger has a ring on it, which doesn't look natural yet. Thinking about the future has a slightly different sensation, in a pleasant way.

The day of the wedding, things were calm. I was in a great mood, I was excited and had some adrenaline going, but we all still managed to have a rather calm and charming day.

Lyn and I had breakfast, my maid of honour showed up around 10:00 and hair and makeup began around 11:30ish when my cousin arrived. McPal got there before 1:00 and we watched Bridesmaids. The photographer got there by 2:00 and we had a fun time, still relaxed and yet peppy. My planner got there around the same time, with flowers, and she helped us get ready, keeping us on schedule.

I was feeling really great. I knew I was marrying the right man, I was going to be surrounded by people I loved, my bridal party was supportive and happy for me, and I looked exactly the way I had wanted to.

We did our party shots prior to the wedding, because I didn't want to expose the ladies in their chiffon dresses to the November chill. We did a handful of good shots and the photographer left to shoot the groomsmen at the venue. The limo came not long after, and I don't remember how long the limo ride was. I had to text about our arrival, so people would be ready. It was so weird. I was en route to get married. I was in a wedding dress. Everyone was waiting for us to get there. It was a very surreal moment in time.

We were a little frazzled getting ourselves in order. We were about 10 minute late for the ceremony start, and the Dude's brothers zoomed past us to find their seats. Matt and the groomsmen had already taken their places. Music was starting. My high school friends were strolling down the hall. I was waving wildly at them and they waved back and smiled. I hissed, "Run! Run!" and run they did, clomp, clomp, clomp into the ceremony room, making a ruckus. It was pretty funny. Somehow all the confusion sort of suited me. This was not a perfect moment, it was a real situation that could not be controlled. There was a momentum and people were falling into it.

When it was my turn, my nerves instantly faded. It was a sense of being exactly where I was supposed to be. My fears of all that attention were gone and I felt like I was surrounded by positive energy. It was really warm in there, not in a temperature sense for me, but just very comfortable and natural. Walking myself down the aisle was a very gratifying experience. I felt like a grown woman making an important decision on my own. Which I am, which I was.

I cried, the Dude smiled and his mouth was twitching. He was so nervous and I could tell he couldn't bear to look at all the people. We held eye contact the entire time. My tears and his smile, and our officiant speaking so well and so beautifully. We had two poems, one at the start about the art of marriage, and another at the end about love.

We exchanged the rings we made, we said our vows, which were traditional, and said our "I dos", not in that order. After our kiss and signing the registry, we looked out to the crowd as we were announced as a married couple. The wedding wands were waving in the air, the ribbons flying, the bells jingling softly, and everyone was smiling. We went down the aisle, hand in hand, and I felt so happy, and just so contented.

A makeshift receiving line formed, one we hadn't planned on, but happened naturally as people wanted to congratulate us. It was very sweet and took a short time, as we had only 85 people to greet. Within 10 minutes, we had seen everyone and were ready for pictures.

Of course, my dad wanted his own pictures before the photographer could get in there. Actually, he took me away from other people and other cameras about a dozen times that night. He made something of a bad impression a few times, but otherwise behaved himself. My brother was full of smiles. I was so glad to see him so happy for me.

Outside our photographer, a friend of Matt's, got some lovely shots. I had a cute cardigan to brave the chill and we spent maybe 20 minutes out there. All of our other shots with our party were done, so we spent the rest of the cocktail hour socializing with our guests. It was great.

At 7:00, it was time for dinner, we didn't bother with any sort of special entrance, and things got going shortly. There were some nice speeches, from the Dude's dad, my dad, the Dude's stepbrother and his mom. His mom's speech was epic. I knew it was going to be good. It seriously rocked the room. The Dude capped off the speeches and he did really well. It was short, sweet and charming.

Then our first dance. Oh, I love the song we used, No One's Gonna Love You. It sounds terrible, but the second part of that sentence is, "more than I do." We had wanted people to join us, but my buddy didn't mention that when he announced us, so no one did. I can't recall if I told him about our wishes or not. Whoops. But either way, it happened the way it happened, it was sweet and we enjoyed ourselves.

Then it was dance time. But first my dear little aunt wanted a picture. She had wanted one in the receiving line and I had asked her to wait. So now the whole room waited while she took the moment to get her picture. It was actually kind of funny just how bad her timing was. Once the dance floor opened, it was open and people were on the floor.

The cake was a funny situation. My planner said it was time, and the Dude ran off to find the photographer. They disappeared for five minutes after the cake cutting was announced. It was so awkward and absurd. No one could find them and we were all standing around to background music waiting and waiting. When the Dude ran back in there was some applause and we got down to business. It was a damn fine cake. The fridge is currently housing a ridiculous amount of it.

The wedding went on till 1:00. Two thirds of the guests stayed till the end. The alcohol was flowing and people made good use of it, the dance floor had people up and on their feet, everyone had good things to say about the food, the party in general, my dress. I called a cab company and asked for pretty much every cab. People got going, I wrangled things I needed to get home, tried to make sure people had what they needed and, you know, I'm pretty thankful for daylight saving's time. Instead of getting in bed by 3:00, it was really 2:00.

I didn't drink any alcohol that night. I didn't want to make numerous trips to the bathroom, I didn't want to forget anything, and honestly, I just didn't need it. I couldn't eat much either. I think I was too full of energy, and with the corset on my dress, I just didn't have room. It was too bad, but I'd done the tasting with the Dude so at least I'd had the meal before.

When the Dude woke up the next day, he said, "Good morning, wife." And it was so lovely.

I had exactly the wedding I wanted. I never set out for a perfect day, but somehow that translated into me having a perfect day. I feel so satisfied.

Friday, November 4, 2011

One

I'm getting married tomorrow. Some time ago I wrote myself a letter via futureme.org. Here's what I read in my email this morning:

Dear Jenn,
Tomorrow is your wedding day. Lyn should be with you for the past week, and (MOH), Christina, and (McPal) should be around. These are really amazing people in your life: family, old friends, new friends and even internet friends. You're a lucky person. Even with Mom not being here, you're surrounded by people who love you and who are happy for you.

Everyone says the day flies by, so try and remember it, don't take the party too seriously and focus on the fact you're getting married. This is the biggest decision you've ever made, because it involves someone else: the person you love most.

Tomorrow be calm and remember what a good man you're marrying. Think about the joy of having a partner to go through life with, someone you can trust, someone you know will be a good father, someone who treats you with kindness and respect.

Give your friends a hug, give the kitties a kiss, and smile, because love is awesome. I can't wait to be you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Two

My spa day was exactly what I needed. My nails are pretty, my pores are unclogged and my muscles are relaxed. I also have faith that the giant zit that recently appeared on my upper back will disperse itself before the wedding.

I kind of don't believe any of this is actually happening. Sometimes I feel cloudy in my life. Like I'm watching myself have experiences. I'm always somehow more in the moment when I'm remembering the moment instead of having it.

My spa day was four and a half hours. I've been looking forward to it for weeks and now in a flash it's over and I'm writing about it. I've been planning this wedding for a year. It's going to be a memory in less than 72 hours.

I never gave much thought to how I'd feel having this hoopla surround me. I just knew I'd want the memory, the photo album to show my kids, the chance to have my loved ones all together and an opportunity to wear an impractical but beautiful dress. It's a life experience I can relive in my mind afterwards, where it will stay vivid and joyful.

I think that's pretty much what this is about. The marriage could have been performed privately to the same end for little money and no time. Despite my anxieties over all that concentrated attention, I want the images and sounds to be recorded inside my head, to be able to relive the moments as many times as I want for the rest of my life.

Maybe this line of thinking will make the stress hives that have appeared on my lower back go away.

And now I'm off to a lovely evening with Lyn and another dear friend, to make even more memories.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Three

Three days till I get married. Three. Three days. Cue The Count from Sesame Street. Bwahahahaha!

Dude, seriously.

Am I worried about spending the rest of my life with the Dude? No. Am I concerned about whether he's the right man? No. Do I feel doubts about whether I want to get married? No.

I am rather nervous, though. And about what, if not the above? I'm getting anxiety about that many people looking at me.

I enjoy commanding a certain amount of attention in specific situations.

For example, at a smallish party filled with enough people I know, I like the times when I'm telling a story and I'm being listened to by lots of people. When I've put effort into a cute outfit and I see people pass me on the street and notice me, I feel good. At Halloween when I'm wearing a great costume, I enjoy it being seen. And of course people reading this blog gives me satisfaction.

But generally speaking, I'm not much of an attention getter. I'm unaccustomed to it. We're talking walk into a room in a fancy dress to some music and everyone stands up and stares at me. Blargh. However, only 85 guests will be there (We invited 117. Yay small weddings!). Only 85, and I have met nearly all of them. So this one issue might not be worth stressing over. But still... I'm pretty sure I'm going to tremble down the aisle.

Lyn is here and ready to help. Thing is I don't need any help with planning or anything, as everything is done. My last week is work-free, pretty much. What I do need help with is getting my mind off my anxiety, and to that tune I've really liked showing her around the city. We hit Roncesvalles and went through Queen West, till Yonge and went north to Dundas Square. Downtown was alight and bustling, Queen West was it's usual smorgasbord of districts, shops and people, and Roncy was bright and charming. Ah, Toronto.

Today it's the Distillery District. I've never actually been. Well, no. I think I was there maybe eight years ago when I came in from out of town, but I'm not sure. So I may as well have never been there. I've been wanting to go for quite some time and it's a great thing to show to someone visiting.

Tomorrow is my spa day, and in the evening it's more time with friends. Joy and fun! And it'll totally be relaxing to get my mind off of being in the centre of this whirlwind.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Day of Work

In a matter of days, my friend/bridesmaid Lyn from California will be here in Toronto, in Canada for the first time, and man will it be chilly times. I'm looking forward to showing her around the city: Roncesvalles, the Annex, Queen West, maybe the Distillery District or Little Italy. There's something awesome about introducing someone to the city you love. I haven't seen her since May of last year, so this is going to be great.

I'm also looking forward to having her meeting my other friends in my party. My maid of honour has met McPal, but my cousin from Vancouver and Lyn have met nobody. I foresee a good group. It's hard not to imagine harmony and fun times when all people concerned are so great.

I've just finished my last day of work for 10 days. I don't totally need the time for wedding planning. Everything is actually done now. But I had the time, and Lyn's in town, so why the hell not? I never take as much vacay as I really should. It tends to pile up while I get frazzled about life and still not take time off.

Things I have left to do:

1. Change my life insurance over to the Dude instead of my brother.
2. Make a final payment to the florist.
3. Make a final payment to DJ.
4. Pick up my dress.
5. Go to the bank and withdraw all the monies I'll need to pay certain people in cash day-of.
6. Get final cost from the venue and write them a cheque.
7. Spend some more time breaking in my shoes.
8. Go to my colonic and spa appointments.

And then it's just the day before, where I'll have my colonic early in the day, check into my hotel with my dress and Lyn, go to the rehearsal, set up some centrepieces, and then go out for dinner back at the hotel. Easy peasy. I'm so glad I got a planner for the nitty gritty vendor stuff for the last week. Otherwise, I'd probably be more stressed out.

I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone, and I'm highly anticipating a time after the wedding where I can channel my emotional investment into other things in my life.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Maid Service

Two posts in two days! The madness!

I'm hunkering down in my bedroom. The Dude and I decided to get maid service today. There's going to be some filming in our home and we don't keep this place that up to snuff. It's "lived in" around these parts.

Truth be told, it's messier, generally, than I would like. The Dude is a sloppy guy. He leaves too many spills, his dirty laundry coats the bedroom and he doesn't rinse his hairs down the sink after he shaves. So I have a few options: 1. Clean after him myself, 2. Nag him until he does it, 3. Learn to live with it, or 4. Hire a maid.

My method is a selection of all of the above, mostly 3, a touch of 2 when I think a dirty habit is worth forcing some change upon him, occasionally 1 when he's not around and I need things cleaner, and infrequently 4 if the situation justifies it. Today would be such a situation.

I feel odd having someone clean while I goof around, but I was a chamber maid in a hotel once. There were two things I hated while I was working: people hanging around in front of me while I was trying to clean, and worse, people trying to help me, which was no help at all because they slowed me down and messed with my mojo.

So I'm downstairs, away from the maid's efforts, and leaving her well enough alone to go about her business without intruding. It feels off for me, but based on experience, I'm pretty sure that's what she'd prefer. I can hear her bustling away up there, things sound like they're happening quickly. It's the pleasant hum of someone who knows what they're doing.

The Dude is with his brother this afternoon. He's working on a wedding project that had been his idea. No doubt he regrets it now. It's a display for the seating cards.

I bought these wooden tags, pink twine, some blackboard paint and rollers, and a chalkboard marker. I got the idea when I was trying to figure out a way to do a seating chart that, while being nice to look at, allowed me to make last-minute changes and yet work on it in advance, without having to print or frame anything, without selecting everyone's specific seat for them.

This was my answer to those concerns. It was alterable, something I could start any time, and I would not need to frame a thing or involve a calligrapher (Blackboards lend themselves aesthetically well to personal penmanship).

I would paint two tags per person, one rectangle, the other a circle, write their name on one and the table on the other, and then string the tags together with the twine. The Dude suggested we make a valet-key/hotel key-like display to hang them on, and I'm not one to turn down creative ideas I don't have to execute, myself. So that's where he is, getting wood and framing cut to size.

We stained the wood last night and it looks like a kitchen cupboard from 1987. So we'll be doing a white wash on it to keep the pronounced grain but lose the yellowing in the wood, making it more contemporary. Just one more step the Dude hadn't counted on. Such is wedding planning in general.

I really should post photos of this project, but the wood is gone right now, and even if it wasn't, I wouldn't feel natural disturbing the maid so that I could take photos of some apparently random planks of oak strewn about the apartment.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Time

Two weeks. Yeah, I'm doing countdowns now. But seriously, how many times will I ever count down to my wedding again? Right? Right.

I had a meeting with the planner and we sorted out the logistics of the day. And it's shaping up to be really low key. And that pleases me. The less you have going on, the less likely things will screw up. The KISS method is my favourite way to get through life: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Things I'm nixing:

Being Walked Down the Aisle
Why: I'm nearly 29 and I feel totally weirded out being given away by a man to another man, one whom I've been living with for years. What's the symbolism there? My box renders me incapable of giving myself? Plus, my father and I don't have much of a relationship. I find the tradition archaic.

Grand Entrance
Seriously, I hate them. I find them tacky. I think they're unnecessary and foolish. Applauding the wedding party as they prance to music? Really? As if they were performers in a show? I think I'll have more than enough attention that day without milking and squeezing it out of my guests.

Parent Dances
I think dancing with parents is charming... so long as everyone ele is allowed to dance as well. Hogging the floor and insisting upon an audience for the first dance, then the father-daughter dance, and then the mother-son dance is narcissistic. 15 minutes of not letting your guests enjoy themselves while you do? People by now are used to egomania at weddings so they don't think about it too much. They just get bored and converse with their table mates until it's over. So we'll not be doing that. We'll also invite people to join our first dance.

Slideshow
A slideshow can be done well, if it's short, if it's funny, perhaps has various family and friends in it so everyone can enjoy. Better still if it's out of the way and ongoing so people can watch or not at their leisure. But we're not bothering. Anyone interested in our childhood can come over and view our family photo albums in our home. I'll brew some tea.

Garter Toss/Bouquet Throw
When you're nearly 30, gathering all your single friends on the floor to make them catch something that'll predict which one will get married can be a gong show. If they're into it, cool. But generally, I've seen only a couple instances where it's been enjoyed. As for the garter, I'm not having the Dude reef up my dress in front of everyone I know and love.

30 minutes for a ceremony, 1.5 hours for photos/cocktail hour, 2 hours for dinner, the rest of the evening is dancing. Ah, easy peasy. Too bad I had a nightmare last night where the entire timeline fell apart. Ha!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Soul Mates

I'm getting married in 19 days. What the hell.

So I had my bachelorette party the other night, and the Dude had his bachelor party the same evening. My maid of honour set it up, which considering she lives out of town, was a feat. Most of my friends came and we had a really nice meal and drinks.

My MOH also set up a psychic reading for me at the restaurant. I love that shit. I've only been to a psychic once before, coincidentally a few months ago, and both psychics said the same thing. Either I'm super easy to read/gauge for these type of entertainers, or perhaps both are the real deal in some way. I'm open to the concept of mediums, the second sight and other spiritual matters. I'm also cognizant of not taking a reading at literal value.

Both ladies have told me the following:

1. I'm having a baby next year.
2. I'll have three babies total.
3. I'm going on a big trip and that it's going to be lucky/important.

So who knows.

The psychic at my party drew cards from her deck that said "Reflection", "Abundance" and "Love." So that was nice.

She also said the Dude and I were soul mates. Now, I don't believe in soul mates. I think two souls made for each other out in the universe and then finding each other and completing a perfect union is rubbish. Anyone who is holding out for such a magical love is kidding themselves and probably throwing away perfectly good relationships.

But I think two people can become soul mates in a way. Not that it becomes magic and cosmic, but that your love is mature and your communication works, respect goes both ways, your attraction sustains and your compatibility becomes an organic part of who you are as a person.

I feel like I know the Dude better than I know anybody, better than I've ever known anyone in my life. Are we soul mates? I don't worry about that question. I'm too certain of my choice to really consider it. But that doesn't mean it's not sweet to hear.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Godfather

When I was growing up, I went to my dad's most weekends. He wasn't a stable home sort of guy. He moved around a lot. I never really thought it was weird, though it was occasionally inconvenient. He lived with friends, with his sister, his parents, sometimes on his own, and with my godfather, who was also separated from his wife.

My godfather had two kids, the same ages roughly as my brother and I. The weekends we spent with them was the best. If we weren't with them, we'd usually be on the couch watching TV shows my dad wanted to watch, sometimes playing Monopoly, we went to the beach a few times, or over to my aunt's in the summer for a swim. But mostly it was with my godfather's family and I loved it.

The four of us had sleepovers, we went bike riding, we swam and tried our hand at skateboarding. We went to each other's birthdays and listened to music. It was wonderfully normal, actually, because so few times did I get to spent weekends with friends from school because my dad had dibs. He'd pick me up early from birthday parties because it was his Saturday. He actually took me to his friends' kids' parties without providing me with a present to bring, and I wouldn't know anybody.

Hanging out with this family was wonderful. They were my friends, and they felt like family. I saw my cousins all the time with my mom and with my dad, I had my godfather's kids.

When I was about 18, my brother, father and I were living together in a duplex around my old neighbourhood. Before I moved away to college, my dad and my godfather had a massive falling out. I never learned about the details. I was inclined to think my dad was blowing things out of proportion, as that is what he often does, but the whys of the matter didn't make a difference. The result was the same. My godfather was excommunicated, as it were, from our lives.

Crossing my father in this matter was a highly charged and volatile situation. There was no changing his mind and I couldn't broach the subject with him without regretting it. So I learned to live without this man in my life. And that had always struck me as unfair, but I hadn't known at the time how to stand up to my father.

Over the years I moved on, sometimes remembering the good times, but didn't know what to do about getting back in touch. Some time ago I found his daughter on Facebook and contacted her. It was nice, though the old intimacy was gone. But that's to be expected. I looked through her wedding photos and was pleased to see her so happy, but sad that I'd missed so much of her life when we had been good friends as kids. Always opposites, but we had called each other "godsisters".

So when I was writing out invitations (an incredibly large and complicated undertaking, even for a small wedding) I decided I was going to mail my godfather an invite and let him know I was getting married and would like him to be there. I found his address and number, the same lovely rural place it was back when I was a teenager, and mailed his invite.

I haven't heard from him. I haven't heard from a handful of people, actually. Some are taking their time, or figure I should just know the answer psychically, or were working out the logistics of travel, and one I let slip through the cracks and didn't even send (I am SO sorry!), and I've begun getting a hold of these people personally.

I called the number associated with the address and in that moment realized why I just mailed the invitation without calling first to reconnect. I wasn't sure if they still cared about me and I was nervous about it. So when I called today I left the most rambling insane voicemail message of my life. I asked if they were who I thought they were, was this the right number? Hi, I'm Jendra, your god daughter and I'm getting married, did you get my invitation? Was wondering if you could come. I hope this is the right number. Here's my number. So, anyway... And it went on like that for much longer than it should have.

Maybe I got the wrong address. Maybe they want to avoid my father. Maybe they don't care about me anymore. Maybe it's too far to travel. I don't know. But if they don't get back to me, I'll have to try again and stumble through another nonsensical round of my foolishness.

Another reason I'm looking forward to the wedding is everything will be done and I can put some of this social awkwardness behind me.

I really hope my godfather and his wife can come. I regret not calling first. I think I was just feeling a little insecure. Sometimes I worry the people I care about don't feel the same way about me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanksgiving

Sometimes I get the amusing sensation that The Sims is a little truer to life than one might think.

I have a lovely bouquet of anniversary flowers sitting on my kitchen table and the room is lovely and clean and newly organized. My mood rises briefly and noticeably as I pass through it en route to the bathroom, just like a Sim character's Environment meter soars when it walks through a room that has some nice art in it. My mood then drops back to normal as I walk through the Dude's makeshift studio.

Flowers are charming and pleasant, aren't they? Some people hate them "because they'll just die anyway," but getting flowers is one of my favourite things. They make the apartment smell and look wonderful and they make me smile for days.

We decided that other than spending our non-family-filled Thanksgiving weekend being useful, we would also spend it eating good food, as life intended. For our five-year-anniversary, we went to the Keg Mansion and gorged on steak. We dressed up (though we were seemingly surrounded by yahoos who looked like they should have gone to Pizza Hut instead, in their ball caps, jerseys, hoodies, ripped jeans and bar tops that split open in the back to reveal a turquoise bra) and had a cozy and romantic evening.

The next night, on actual Thanksgiving, the Dude made a delicious beef stew and I made my first ever pumpkin pie. Both turned out quite nicely and we had McPal and his fiance over to join us. Sharing home-cooked meals with friends has become one of our favourite ways to spend an evening.

It wasn't the first time we've spent a family holiday in an less conventional way, that is away from family. We miss them, but it really brings home the fact that he's my family now. I'm home where the Dude is.

There is a point in a relationship where being together is the priority, and that's a beautiful place to be. It's a feeling of being on a team, of being connected, of being a unit. It's the understanding that on important days we're not going our separate ways to do our own thing. It's the sort of unity I've always wanted. In three and a half weeks, it'll be permanent unity.

Wow. That kind of blows my mind a little.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thanksgiving Bummer

The Dude and I are missing Thanksgiving this year. Cue the stereotypical bride who was too busy with planning to sort out the rest of her life. Bah. That sort of is what happened.

And before my American readers get upset for me, understand Thanksgiving is not as big of a deal here (and it's also obviously in October). Christmas is the big ticket holiday. Our Boxing Day is your Black Friday.

Anyhoo, it's not so much that I've been up to my eyeballs in shit to do, but I've been mentally preoccupied and so when it came time to get our tickets to go to our hometown to visit our families, we realized we had missed the boat. No turkey for us. No cozy familial warmth. No harassing my extended family to send in their RSVPs.

This Sunday does happen to be our five-year anniversary, and the last one we'll have before we have a new one on a new date. So we'll go out somewhere fancy, be merry, eat steak and otherwise get things done around the house. How adult. We started by finally hanging some art in the living room.

In a way, I suppose this is good. A quiet anniversary, a weekend to ourselves to get caught up around here, general R&R time. But still. What a bummer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Decor/The Shot

My arm hurts. Tetanus effing shots are not for me. Unless I'm in danger of contracting something, forget it. I'm not doing this again.

I went to the doctors last week for my yearly physical. I mostly complained about my IBS and got a note for my work about it. And then they talked to me about my shots. Was I current? When was my last booster? Well, I don't recall getting one as a teen. My mom was sick around that time, and when she died my father hadn't kept up with my doctors appointments.

So they said I needed my tetanus booster shot. So I had it. I regret everything.

The first couple days were not a big deal. I went out, I had a little to drink, I lived my life. Then yesterday the pain really started to sort of kick in. While at the decorators (I'll get to that), I noticed my arm was a little wonky. I couldn't really raise it up. This was five days after the shot. I hadn't attributed the pain to the shot because it'd been almost a week, but the Dude made the connection for me.

And well, yeah, the exact area of the injection is what hurts. And it's radiating out and causing muscle aches through my shoulder blade. Bloody hell. I mean, seriously, you think you're in the clear and then suddenly you're not. Massage helps. I have drugs for my strain injury that seem to work. I can only take them once a day and they exacerbate my IBS, so I quit taking them. But I've taken one tonight and gotten some peace.

I feel riddled by bullshit health issues. I want to be dismantled and reassembled properly.

So, back to this decorator. I have been vigilant about the wedding budget. I have been squirrelling away more money than I thought we'd need. The end result is something of a surplus, which I have decided to channel into something I thought was out of our reach: professional decor rentals.

Now, if this was the on season for weddings-- well, scratch that, we could never afford a nice wedding during the on season. But if we were to try, we'd be spending around $5,000 more than what we are for the same or similar stuff.

I was able to bypass packages that started at $1,750 for reception decor and $1,500 for ceremonies and get a la carte for the whole thing to the tune of $1,000 total, after tax and set -up fees. They book usually four weddings a Saturday and with five weeks to go, had only booked one. Therefore I could negotiate.

It didn't start off too well. I mean, I'm not good on the phone. I'm really not. I left an email for a well-reviewed decorator and she called me in the morning and woke me. I was getting up any minute, but I was still disoriented. I talked in circles around this poor woman until I finally figured the moment had come to tell her I wasn't a loon, I was just sleepy.

I made an appointment and the Dude rented a Zipcar. Our Zipcar was missing when we got to the parking lot and so we had to trek to another location after calling the company, leaving over 20 minutes later than planned. I called the decorator and left quite possibly the most ridiculous message known to human kind. I rambled about Zipcar, the traffic, apologized and then realized my phone was beeping. So then I started talking about the beeping. Then I hit some buttons and tried to hang up. Then I realized she was only on hold and I kept putting her voicemail on and off hold while I tried to understand what I was doing, frantically asking the Dude for advice about the technology.

I managed to hang up and then realized that not only did I sound completely out of my mind this morning, I was also late and had just left a message that confirmed I was in fact a ridiculous person.

*Sigh* And I kind of am. Part of me, to be honest, sort of embraces it. I come by it honestly. When I was a kid, my mom pulled into a Tim Horton's drive through and realized at the window that she had no money. So we dug through the cushions and mats in the car until we actually managed to find enough change to pay for our doughnuts. You know, rather than driving away without the doughnuts. That didn't even come up.

So yeah, it was a foolish day for me. But! We got some lovely sandblasted trees with high stands that'll have crystals hanging from them for the ceremony. We'll also be getting these lovely blue textured tablecloths that'll be pinned up all pretty-like. These things will really punch up the day. I was willing to do without, but happily I can afford more of the sort of wedding I want. Actually, now I kind have the wedding I was looking for. I want for nothing.

Except for my arm to stop hurting. I still want that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Le tired

I have only a brief spurt of energy to write about anything.

The wedding is a month away and things are speeding up. My makeup trial went well today, my last dress fitting is tomorrow and soon I'll have to talk to the DJ and planner and do a detail walkthrough with the venue.

The only thing not going as fast is the RSVPs. Ah, replies. Now, about half of the people we invited have responded. The other half... *sigh* I'm quite literally missing 50 people.

Miss Manners, who is my guru to life, says that guests are responsible for providing their own paper, envelopes and stamps to reply with. These days, if you don't send all those things for people, with the response card giving instructions, then you can almost forget hearing from anyone. Well, no. I'm sure some would make sure to get back, but most wouldn't.

We're going to make a display for the escort cards, and until we know what kind of numbers we're dealing with, we're stuck. Blargh.

After this wedding is done, I'm going to need a new project, something to really sink my teeth into. I'll have all kinds of emotional energy for something else once this is over.

I'm so tired. Insomnia shall not claim me this evening. This entry was of no use to anyone. I'll do better next time.

*Yawn*

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Weekend

I had my fourth and final shower in my hometown yesterday. It was really lovely, relaxing and calm, with food, wine and good company. My maid of honour was there, with another friend from high school, plus all of my aunts. I received some really useful and wonderful things, the sort of items the Dude and I have been in great need of, but have worked around doing without.

The second half of that day was to include going to a tea event, where writers would read aloud from their books. My ticket was a gift from my maid of honour and I was very keen on going. I love tea and I love books. Whether or not to experience the two together was something of a no-brainer. The shower began at 11:00 and we were to leave for the tea at 2:15.

There were a couple people who couldn't make it, some mothers of young children, for instance. One child had a fever and there were other child-related issues. Another family member had to work. However, one of the ladies who couldn't make it was my father's girlfriend. She's a nice woman, and let us know was likely going to be late for lack of a ride. This was fine with me and with everyone else. My aunts were going to enjoy each other's company after I left and if she could get there before 2:00, she would catch me.

My dad, though, intruded on the shower with his own ideas.

The phone rang and one of my aunts answered it. The conversation appeared to be strained as I watched her sentences cut short and her words grow more controlled and careful. She explained the shower was happening now, that I was busy, that I had another planned engagement afterwards which everyone had been aware of. She seemed reluctant to call me to the phone, yet unsure how to handle the terse and angry barrage on the other end of it.

I realized I was likely the only person capable of putting an end to this tomfoolery, so I took the phone and listened to my father angrily explain to me that my obligation for some reason was to stay at the shower so his girlfriend could come, regardless of whether I had another place to be. Explaining to him that this would be essentially throwing away my maid of honour's gift to me and abandoning our shared plans, which was obviously an insulting thing to do and an unreasonable demand to be making, fell on deaf ears.

He looks upon his lady as an extension of himself, and my inability to accomodate her late arrival as a refusal to accomodate him, and any such refusal as a gross act of disrespect, a respect he feels is his due no matter the personal costs to me or others.

I kept my voice firm, my words detached and coolly rational, which is the only way not to be drawn into a futile and emotionally fraught battle with someone whose mental state is as shaky as his argument. He changed his tactic, and in the tone of voice he usually reserves for saying "young lady", he began, "Now, I don't want to ruin your shower, but..." to which I cut him off to calmly inform him he already had. Realizing he would get nowhere, he said,"Goodbye!" with the sort of finality an agitated wife might tell her husband, "Fine!"

I accepted his goodbye and hung up first, which was unusual. Usually he is the one to slam down the phone, but I think he had overestimated the effect of his goodbye, thinking I would rush in and try to placate him and please him so he wouldn't hang up on me, and he remained on the phone, I think, to wait for my remorse.

I'd have felt embarrassed, but I have not kept my father's nonsense a secret with those I'm close with. They know what he's like and I offered no apologies for him and no explanations. I stopped owning my dad's behaviour a long time ago.

One might say the tension in the room after that was thick enough to cut with a knife, but we cut the cake instead and all was well. My maid of honour was understandably horrified about the whole thing. It was her gift that my father had taken issue with, but the ladies were quick to point out this was his problem, not hers.

Our tea event went ahead as planned and we had a lovely time. The readings were really good, and the snacks were tasty. I got a book and had it signed. By 5:00 I was in very good spirits. Despite my father's foolishness, I'd had a relaxed, scrumptious, friendly and cultured afternoon. I was invited out to dinner, but being the introvert I am, I was ready to just go home and absorb my day.

I'm home now, feeling a little tired, somewhat out of sorts. This is not a negative thing. Being very social and travelling between cities so quickly, I just need to readjust and have a quiet evening to re-energize. Despite my fatigue, I am feeling deeply satisfied.

I also had a wonderful talk with my aunt while I was there. No matter how well you may know someone, there can often be layers to uncover about a person under the right circumstances. I think I have a better understanding of her, who she is, how she feels. It's the sort of way I'd like to be with my own mother, if she were here.

Overall, I had a great weekend. And I have five weeks till my wedding. It hardly even seems possible.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Family

Tuesday was the 12-year anniversary of my mom's passing. In high school, I took the day off the first year. In college I didn't; each class cost me money. I've never taken the day off work when it's fallen on a work day. It's one of those life moves on sort of things. There have been years I've realized it passed without notice.

But I was aware this year, probably because she's been on my mind more frequently.

My parent situation really, to put it mildly, bums me out. I mean, I've made peace with it and everything. I don't lie awake at night pining for a family I don't have. Well, I do lie awake at night, but that's not why.

There is the situation with my father. Many a person has encouraged reconciliation. And all those people typically are family or the odd friend who isn't aware of the history. I haven't had him in my life since 2006. He had this habit of disowning me for minor infractions, kicking me out of the house during fits of anger, telling me he never wanted to see me again. When I went to live with him after my mother died, he pulled this less than three months after her death, which was shortly after my birthday and around Christmastime.

He started disowning me at about 12/13 when I was in grade eight. It started when I stood up to him one day, after he screamed at my brother till his son collapsed into tears. The issue? My brother had been fooling around with my dollhouse. This sent my father into a rage and in a deluded blast of ignorance he unleashed verbal abuse onto his 10-year-old boy because he didn't want him to be gay.

My brother's not gay, for the record. He just happened to be fiddling around with my dollhouse, the way everyone did, boys and girls alike, when they passed by my room. It was neat. It had furniture and magnets. This was the day I took my first stand. My mother was pro-love and anti-hate and I had absorbed this belief and A. was pissed about the homophobia and B. was horrified at what he was doing to my brother. It's not like he hadn't spent our childhoods bullying us, but this was the final straw.

My father didn't live with us, and therein I took my stance. What right had he to determine if my brother was allowed to play with my dollhouse in my mother's house? And to torment him into the hysterics he had him in, which I could hear clearly through the receiver? Just no. My brother couldn't even hold the phone close to his ear. He held it away from him, still able to hear every furious insult, sobbing inconsolably.

I took the phone and I don't remember the conversation. I know one of us hung up on the other. I know he vowed I was no daughter of his anymore, and I know we didn't speak for half a year. I know this was a pleasant time in my life. I have very fond memories of grade eight.

The final time he did it, after having disowned me about, oh, I'd wager 10 times total, I was 23 if not 24. One of my aunts, who was rather instrumental in my early courtship, such as it was, with the dude back in our hometown, used to pick me up from his place and we'd have breakfast together and visit. My father caught wind of these visits and sought to commandeer them. As though after a weekend lover's romp, the person I'd most want to see would be my father.

He more or less intimidated my aunt out of picking me up and I had to call him and explain that this was not a time I wished to visit, that my aunt and I had plans, that this was a special thing, woman-to-woman. Not having a mother in my life, and being desirous of older female company, this time with my aunt was important to me. There was no getting this across to my father. He has this habit of seeing me as an extension of himself. You can hear it in his voice usually when he says, "My daughter." My daughter, the way he says my toaster or my house.

So that day, again, I was dead to him and never speak to me again and stay out of my life and I'm done with you and so forth. This man, who has begged borrowed and stolen large amounts of my inheritance, who has had me drag him around Toronto hammered at 4:00 after a day at Hooter's, and who gave up buying groceries and stayed out late drinking when my brother I were living with him in high school, felt that my wish to keep my own plans that afternoon was unacceptable behaviour.

That day I called him on it and made it stick. I've been happier ever since. He's long forgotten that day. It didn't really make the impression on him that it did on me.

He was put out that I wished not to be walked down the aisle by him. But really, it would be a facade. By necessity I've been on my own a long time. My aunts have carried me in my times of need as a teen and summers during college. But otherwise, I've been flying solo. And that's how I'm doing this thing.

People ask about my parents. I never know what to say, really. I don't enjoy making people uncomfortable for perfectly reasonable and normal questions. It's never easy to talk about. In my heart, I don't really have any parents. But that's something I'm really looking forward to in getting married: new family members, and new primary people who will be asked about, namely my husband, and eventually my children. Like I was saying, live moves on. And thank God for that.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vacay

I think I need a vacation. I've taken some time off here and there, and I have three- and four-day weekends coming up in October and I have the week before my wedding off. But none of this is a vacation. Time spent not working is beneficial, but I need to actively relax.

I think about my work day in the evening. I feel out of sorts in the afternoon, thinking about work. Considering I don't have a high-powered job, I think this is a bad sign as I'm neither a perfectionist nor a workaholic. I believe in working to live, rather than the reverse, and that the personal life I have trumps my professional one in overall importance. So my focus on work is making me anxious and I think I'm getting burnt out.

I was just able to crack my wrist in a totally weird way. It's so rough. My right hand no long makes an easy fist and I've lost some power in my grip. Combined with the aches and stress, I think I could easily spend a week at a spa, letting them mould and rejig me back into proper working condition. If only.

I've often thought that if I had been born in an earlier time, I'd be dead by now. I had tonsillitis, pneumonia and appendicitis and I deal with a host of nonsense and a foolish sleep schedule that has never made sense. If the infection, the fluid-filled lungs or burst organ wouldn't have got me despite a lack of modern medicine, the tribe would have given the likes of me the boot by now.

Really, what I could use the vacation from is my body. Ha!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Lady

Today the Dude and I went to our tasting. It was a lovely meal that really pleased my palate. It's one thing I was looking forward to that has come and gone. In seven and a half weeks, the final one will come to pass. And then I'll need a new pet project. Actually, it'll be nice to get back to regular life. I'm pretty low-energy and don't keep really busy. Not having the wedding to plan will open up more of my time to do other things.

But back to this tasting, which had some moments of humour courtesy of this one woman who was also doing her tasting for her wedding. She was there solo and was hungrier for attention than she was for her meal. Cue the quintessential overly obsessed, self-absorbed bride who talks too loud and takes too long to hyperactively say nothing of importance.

The Dude and I were a table away and attempted to enjoy our own conversation, but we couldn't amidst the eager zeal of these gems:

"We don't want dancing. We have this theme about a nice night out, you know? Like at a nice restaurant? I love dancing at weddings, don't get me wrong, it's fun, but it's not what we want, you know? It's just our decision, we really just wanted a theme of a nice night out, so we're not having music. Well, we're having a harp, but at the reception, we don't want music. I mean we're doing a first dance, but we're not having dancing for everyone, you know? Because our theme is about having a nice dinner out at a restaurant."

"I liked the meal. I just have to check with him to see how we likes it. He will complain that it's not hot like I had it, but oh well! Too bad for him, right? The string beans and carrots were good, but I need to check if they're okay. I'll have to see. He couldn't make it, so I can't say for sure right now about that."

"I have to get going. I can't see the room right now. I have some things I need to do now. (Sighs) There is so much to do! So I can't see it now because I have to be going. But I can come back. I'll come back later and see it, is that okay? I really got to go, but it's going well, the planning, you know? You know, we just want to plan our theme around the nice night out. We won't be dancing..."

Sweet Jesus, if there was anything louder than her monotonous babbling, it was the bordom pulsing out of the temples of the coordinators. They stood to leave and she kept them there listening to her repetitive musing for 5 more minutes. All they needed to know is if she wanted to make changes to her menu.

I guess she's just excited. I mean, I am too, I just don't expect people everywhere to get jazzed about whether I'm having carrots or zucchini, or, you know, be so thrilled about my evening wedding that they'd happily spend all night there without being able to dance. Heh.

What a hoot.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Walk Of Hope

Today I participated in the Walk Of Hope. It was my second time out and I raised $300. It was emotional for me. September in general can be a melancholy time. September 20th is when my mom died. It'll be 12 years this year. In a few more years after that, she'll have been dead longer than I ever experienced her being alive. That's a sobering thought.

I have a pressure in my chest and a small pulsing knot lodged in my throat. Crying seems appropriate, but for now I'm going to write. I can cry later. And when I do, I won't feel so compelled to type anything. Tears from grief have a tiring effect. They lull you into a sort of complacency after you've fully let go. I suppose that's what tears are for.

I'm going to make myself a little vow. I'm going to try never to qualify the pain of someone's loss by how long ago it was. What is gone is gone, but love is love, and time means nothing. When someone experiences a loss they pretty much have no choice but to manage their pain. But ask anyone who's lost a loved one, or hell, lost their family from a divorce, or lost a relationship that really mattered. Years later you can still tell they feel it, you can see the cracks from where they've glued themselves together.

What I hate in contemporary society is this loathsome concept of moving on. Those who know nothing insist it means you should no longer care. That is impossible. Hearts remember everything, cliche though it may be to reference the heart, which is merely an organ. But it's what skips a beat, misses a beat, pounds and aches over loss. It's where the pain hurts.

I'm still mourning. I'm aching over losing someone I've not had in my life for 12 years. It causes me pain all the time, more often than I ever let on. I have my life, my home, my fiance, my cats, a real decent set-up all things considered. I work, I see friends, I enjoy food, I am happy. And behind it all, shelved within easy reach of my memory, is the grief.

This wedding has been bringing it out more often. Sometimes I'll sit here, like now, and I'll become overwhelmed with sadness I can't place. And when I really think about it, I always know where it comes back to. Unaccountable waves of sorrow arrive from one destination.

So I'll let myself think about my mother not being there to lace up my wedding dress, see me walk down the aisle, hear me exchange vows. Doing the walk today was a good feeling, but it was very sad for me. So now, at 2:30 a.m., I'll feel it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

T-minus Two Months

And the beat goes on. Less than two months to go till I'm wed. To be perfectly frank, it's kind of blowing my mind. I mean, yeah, we already live together. We combined our finances months ago and it's been a success. We got cats together. We've moved together many times. In many ways we're already an established couple, so what's going to change?

The fact that it's permanent. Being common law means that when you part ways, you each take what you brought in and go. Some people think it's the same as marriage, but legally it's not. The law doesn't force you to take on the obligations of a commitment you haven't formally made. You also don't have all the same protections. It's different in that way.

It's also different in the way others view your relationship. Before it wouldn't be unheard of for our respective family members to assume it'd be natural for us to travel separately or consider we'd be fine with being apart on the holidays. Now since our engagement it's understood we stick together.

A breakup wouldn't be a breakup. It'd be a divorce. We're not just thinking about the next couple years, we're thinking about the rest of our lives. There's no potential dating or romance prospects on the horizon. It's all about nurturing this relationship until we die. This is the one person in the whole world that I'll rely on above all others. This is my lifetime go-to person for companionship, comfort and planning my future. And I'll be his.

It's a definitive end to an era of my life and I'm increasingly floored by it. I'm not getting cold feet or the like, but I'm really taking it in. It's the most serious commitment I've ever made. Picking a college and a program was something, but it just required a few years of my time. Choosing apartments has always been temporary. Getting kitties is about a 15-year commitment, give or take. The only thing that would be a bigger life choice than marriage is having children. Even if you change your mind on that one or it's not working out, tough beans.

When I was a girl, I thought I would marry around 25 and be a mother at 28. Now I'll be nearly 29 when I marry and who knows when I'll have kids. I'd like it give it at least a little time after marriage to get on that.

Seems to me a lot of people don't take having kids as seriously as they do getting married. I get when people can't afford a great wedding, they want a great wedding and they figure they'll wait and save up and have children in the meantime. Not my personal choice, but I don't have a problem with it. It's one road to Rome. But there are others who will have a child with someone and then want to live together and will fret over whether to risk marriage with this person when marriage is the lesser commitment next to parenthood.

Marriage used to be the first step in a life together. Now it's nearly the last. People want to be financially secure first, buy their home, rather than start with nothing together and then begin to build wealth, like our grandparents did. Of course our grandparents were expected to remain chaste till marriage, so waiting till later wasn't very palatable. Without that requirement in society anymore, people are more concerned with having the wedding they want. I guess it's the sign of a more affluent society.

For the Dude and I, it's sort of middle ground between the two. We're not financially secure yet, but by getting married, we'll save and build together rather than separately. But it hasn't been the first step. We've already been living together.

The Dude had this idea about being more stable prior to marriage, but it's really hard to live with someone and juggle bills while keeping finances separate and doing it in the name of a boyfriend instead of a husband, where your investment of time and effort is not necessarily going into a permanent shared household, but essentially just another person as there is no formal link between the two of you.

I really am happily anticipating the stability of marriage. Things feel secure now, but really that feeling only really came into being around the time we got engaged. I'm a planner and now we can really get planning: vacations, a house, children, the Dude's business, life in general. It's a final decision about our relationship: we're keeping it. Done looking.

I suppose I'm just musing. It's not just the wedding I've been planning. Lots of talk and discussion has been going into the planning of the marriage.