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 I bought an outdated eMac in 2004 and it gave me zero problems for three years before it finally had enough.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


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


I'm getting married tomorrow. Some time ago I wrote myself a letter via 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


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 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.