On the Eve of my 29th Birthday

I've decided to give myself an early birthday present: permission to end this blog.

Obviously my posts have been few and far between, and let's be honest, pretty boring as of late. Yes, it was lots of fun to share about our engagement and our wedding planning, which I frankly thought I'd be a lot more into. The truth of the matter is, I am happy. Boringly happy. And blogging about that just isn't...necessary. Or that fun for me. I'd rather hunker down with my journal and capture all of those little moments for myself and not an audience.

This blog has served me well. It's gotten me through the highs and the lows, and boy, there were some very low lows. The comments of support and encouragement from all of you helped pull me out of the abyss of depression and discouragement. And, it was a lot of fun to capture my short, but entertaining dating career. But, I'm no world-class blogger and my writing is just as good as the next person's. It's been mostly an outlet for venting and processing for a time when I needed it desperately.

But now? I need a break. This blog began when I was in a much different place, and there are days when I think the connection back to that past isn't particularly helpful. So, maybe I will start a new blog. Maybe I'll use my real name and post real pictures. But for now, I'm going back to pen-to-paper journaling, something I've done since I was a kid and something I've not done much of lately.

Tomorrow night as I blow out my birthday candles (on the cake that Carolina Man is making me) I won't even need to make a wish. What a beautiful realization.


On Accepting Help

On the rare occasion that I wish to tweet something anonymously, I do so from my dancingthruDC handle. It's not a venue where I expect much dialogue (I have only a few hundred followers), but sometimes it feels good just to put the words out into the world--and quickly.

I tweeted, "Martyrdom is just another form of narcissism."

I was hoarse from yelling. I'd just gotten off the phone with my mother who was angry with me that I'd sent her a check for several hundred dollars, money I owed her for various things but that she hadn't asked for. Just last week my mom's boss told her that he couldn't afford to keep her there full-time and that she would need to find a new job.

This was an incredibly unexpected blow to her, not just financially but to her self-esteem. My mom began working with her boss right when he opened his company and in many ways was his partner in building it. A few years ago, she felt that he didn't appreciate her, and she actually left to take another job. But only a few months later, he begged her to come back because his business was suffering. She was the glue that held it together, mostly because she keeps his clients happy and calm. (They do tax work, so this is particularly important.)

Now here she is, nearly sixty years old and without many prospects for what to do next. I know she's scared as hell, and embarrassed to be facing this situation. But she's rejecting any sort of help that our family is offering her.

My brothers and I actually got on a conference call to discuss that we 1) want her to be happy and 2) want her to be taken care of financially, no matter what happens with her ability to find a new job. Thankfully all of us are in good financial shape, and are in a position to step up and help her out for as long as she needs it. But, she's pushing away all our attempts to be helpful and supportive. When I call her, she says, "I'm ok, don't worry, I'll be fine."

This kind of martyr talk really irritates the shit out of me. No, she is not ok. No she is not fine. And yes, I will worry about her.

I'm not sure what to do next. Part of me wants to throw my hands up and say, "not my problem." Her continual rejections of our help are hurtful, and frankly I'm tired of her pretending to be fine. I guess we just have to keep pushing her to accept that her pride is getting in the way of her own happiness. But I can't force her to learn that.

A Pain in the Neck

Sorry for the light posting this week, but I've got some serious neck pain and have been trying to avoid the computer as much as possible. I'm shutting down for the long weekend. Hope you all have a great Memorial Day! We'll be getting our drink on, swimming at the lake, and hosting friends. Have fun!

WeddOMG: The Shoes

Maybe my mom felt a little deprived because we only went to one bridal salon to try on dresses, but within thirty seconds of driving away from that appointment, she was already talking about what shoes I was going to wear. The next day she dragged me around from store to store, looking for something that would work. I really had to indulge her on this one. The reality of the gown purchase hadn't even sunk in yet. Couldn't we just enjoy it and celebrate our success? We were being so efficient up until that point, and now here we were, on a Saturday at the mall, attempting to find bridal shoes.

I don't know about where you live, but here in the Triangle area, department stores just don't carry many bridal-appropriate shoes. I get that lots of brides are opting to do the bright pop of color on their feet, but I am trying to avoid the obvious trends like that. Plus, our color palette doesn't really lend itself to footwear. I just want a white--or maybe silver--shoe that isn't too high or uncomfortable.

My shoes are hardly going to be visible, so they just need to be the right height and not clash with my gown for the occasional peek at my feet when I'm out twirling on the dance floor. Oh yeah, and they have to feel good. Like, better than any of the formal shoes I have ever worn in my entire life. Let's be real: most formal shoes hurt like a bitch. How many proms did you spend barefoot?*

So, I've been consulting the online bride forums, and over and over again, I've seen women recommend Jimmy Choos for their comfort. The price tag for a pair of pumps is more than shocking, but for something that is going to feel and look fabulous? I think it might be worth it.

While perusing the Jimmy Choo website, I saw that there's a whole bridal boutique! My current obsession is this sparkly pair.


What do you think? And a larger question: bridal shoes--splurge or save?

*My answer: four.

A True Partner

(Some of you have asked to see my wedding dress. I'd love to share it, but I'm keeping it a secret from Carolina Man! Feel free to email me at thenonstudent@gmail.com if you want a picture.) 

In the past, the term "partner" was one I used only because I hated referring to a significant other as "boyfriend." Saying "partner" sounded less sophomoric, more serious and committed. And sometimes it kind of confused people who were used to hearing the word only to describe gay and lesbian couples. I sort of liked that. It felt like I was being ultra-politically correct by using it.

But in reality, I had no freaking idea what I was talking about. I threw around the term "partner" mostly because I wanted to be treated like an adult and I liked the way it sounded, not because it was a true reflection of that relationship.

Partnership is teamwork. It's unity and commonality. It is a locked-arm-in-arm way of moving forward into the unknown of the future. And it's also wrapped up in the mundane tasks of daily life, like unloading the dishwasher even if it isn't your turn. Or picking up the dog's poop again. It's learning to love someone's family as your own.

Carolina Man is my partner in the truest sense of the word. Yesterday after my mom left to go visit my uncle, he held me as I cried, feeling overwhelmed not only by her departure, but by how my life has changed over the past year. Change for the good is still change, and it can sting in the most unexpected ways. As difficult as it is to feel those things, I know I can do so safely in his arms. No matter how I'm feeling, or what triggered my emotions, he is reassuring and affirming. Those moments are what deepen and solidify the trust we are continually building.

The best compliments Carolina Man and I have received as a couple are the ones that reflect our striving to act as a team in all that we do, whether that's in how we have conversations with each other or how we train our dog Lucy. My mom said the other day that she knew we would be great parents because we will raise our children with intentionality. I believe she is absolutely right about that.

Carolina Man and I still have so much to learn about each other. But with each hurdle we encounter, we do so with honesty, respect, and love for one another.


I Said Yes to the Dress!

No one was more excited about shopping for a wedding dress than my mom. She works for an accountant, so for the first few months of wedding planning leading up to Tax Day, I was spared from the daily deluge of emails with links to gowns my mom just had to see me try. Once she was done with tax returns, she was in full dress shopping mode and made plans to come to Carolina asap.

Wanting to make the most of our weekend together, I booked five appointments for us between Friday and Tuesday. My friends told me I was beyond nuts, but part of me knew we wouldn't end up going to all five appointments, especially when we started at the creme de la creme of bridal shops in the Triangle--Alexia's Bridal.

Mom and I showed up a few minutes before our appointment. I was a bundle of nerves and excited energy. With all of the craziness of work, I seriously had not given much thought to wedding gowns, and despite my addictions to wedding shows, I wasn't prepared for the emotional element of the appointment. Once we met our consultant, I felt much more at ease. She was attentive, sweet, and seemed to get the feel of the dress I wanted. A few minutes of questions later, and off she went in her platform heels to pull some gowns for me.

I stripped down, got into the bustier she got for me, and stepped carefully into the first gown--a beautiful A-line lace number with cap sleeves and an open back. It was beautiful, and I loved how I looked in it. There's something to be said of that first gown you try on, especially when you add the veil. But, the most I felt about it was that it was a gorgeous gown.

And I felt that way about the next six dresses I tried. I absolutely loved each one; they were beautiful and flattering, except for a very couture Vera Wang gown that resembled a Q-tip. Mom and I were out on the floor to look at one of them in the light when we spotted a lace Monique Lhuillier gown with a sweetheart neckline. I had to try it.

As I slipped into the gown and the consultant zipped up the back, I felt this surge of emotion building up. As I walked out to the mirror where my mom was sitting, my voice got shaky and I got teary. "This is how I want to look on my wedding day," I said through the tears. It was elegant and intricate, yet simple and classic. I couldn't have told you what it was about the gown that made me feel that way, but it all just came together and made me feel like a bride. Like I was actually going to wear this gown to marry the love of my life.

I don't know. It sounds silly, but just like meeting the right partner, you know when you know. And I knew. But I didn't know if my mom knew. She said it was beautiful, but she wasn't reacting any more than she had to any other dress. This kind of made my heart sink. I decided to try on some totally different gowns, just to make sure I knew what I wanted. They were pretty, but they paled in comparison.

Finally, I slipped back into my favorite gown, and that was it. I never wanted to take it off. And once my mom knew that it was the one for me, she let her guard down and the waterworks started. She later told me that she didn't want to influence my decision  and tried to be as neutral as possible. I appreciated that, but deep down I wanted my mom to love it, too. Once I knew she did, I was sold.

Buying that gown has made the wedding so much more tangible. I can picture myself getting married now. And as sad as I am to wait nearly a year before I get to wear it, I am so excited. This whole process has been so easy thus far. It's meant to be.

A Point of Personal Privilege

It has been a heartbreaking week to be a North Carolinian. As I've been making bridal gown appointments and chatting with perky wedding gown consultants, I've been thinking about how my state has not only added another layer of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples who want to marry or otherwise have their relationship recognized by the state, but also it's added a new discriminatory precedent for those couples who, for whatever reason, have decided not to marry.

A few weeks ago I watched the denomination that baptized me uphold its stance that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching." In the debates, I heard over and over that "we love everyone." But if someone were to say to me that they loved me, that they loved Carolina Man, but yet they believed in all seriousness that God condemned our relationship, our love, our being together? That is not love, at least not the kind I want. The kind that judges what only my partner and I can know--the way that we honor, respect, and love one another when nobody else is around.

I feel torn. Ought we to marry at all, knowing that in so doing we are buying into a political and in our case, religious reality that says no to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters? I used to question if I'd ever marry, but only because I thought I'd never find someone, not because I legally couldn't. I've taken my freedom to marry for granted.

Perhaps it all is too easy for us straight folks to get married. Because honestly, if there really is a threat to the institution of marriage as we know it (and honestly, I have no idea if it's truly worth saving in its current state), the threat is how lightly it's portrayed publicly and how nonchalantly it's entered into privately by us straight folks. And no, I'm not saying divorce is evil or anything like that. God knows, it was best for my parents to get the hell away from each other.

But, in my eyes, nothing could be better for the "institution of marriage" than for more committed couples--in whatever form they take--to be part of it.

Bridal Gown Bonanza

My life was overtaken by The United Methodist Church General Conference, which was essentially a giant clusterf@$#. I don't think anyone left there feeling good about much of anything. Yay, bureaucracy.

But, now that that's over I can concentrate on other things. Like bridal gowns. Mom is heading here on Friday, and I've scheduled four appointments, all evenly spaced, to get my gown shoppin' on. I think this will really make the reality of getting married a bit more real in my mind. I remember going with my friend L to to get her dress, and how it all suddenly clicked. She was a bride! I'm looking forward to having a moment like that.

I can't say I'm overly nervous about it. Finding formal gowns has always been a treat, maybe because I'm 5'9" and the formal wear industry is biased to favor us gigantors. I'm going into it with an open mind about what I'll end up with. Strapless, with straps. Lace, silk, satin. I'm open to them all. The only thing I don't think I could go for is SUPER POOFY DRESS. One of the salons scared me a bit by advertising that they have an entire line inspired by Disney princesses. This could go poorly.

So, a question to my fellow brides-to-be/past brides/people who have gone wedding dress shopping: how many stores did you go to? How many dresses did you try on? And did you have an "OMG this is it" moment where you knew you didn't need to try on anymore?

Being the Easter Bunny

As the youngest of my family, I got spoiled with many post-childhood years of things like Santa Claus gifts and visits from the Easter Bunny. In fact, these rituals continued well into college as my mom struggled with her empty nest. Then my nephew was born, and it all went out the window. Damn kid.

I get it. These holiday rituals go from getting as a kid to giving as an adult, but what about in the in between when you're a childless adult?

Behold the return of the Easter bunny, at least in our house. Carolina Man and I decided to give each other Easter baskets, which ranks up there as one of the best ideas of all time. It's a gift to have a partner who gets excited about silly things like this, and is just as excited to put together a basket for me as he was to get his.

Highlights of my basket: a 4-lb bag of Starburst jellybeans; Real Simple wedding planning book; Toy Story 3 in 3D! Highlights of his basket: a new workout shirt; Cadbury chocolate eggs; and more peanut butter chocolate eggs than you've ever seen. 

The only trouble is that we're both on a health kick (down 10 lbs and 7 lbs respectively!), so the abundance of candy options presented a problem. We took different approaches (I bought a little, he bought a lot), but I've been amazed by the restraint we've both shown. Granted it's required stuffing it all into a shoebox that is under a number of other things in our pantry, but despite working from home with the knowledge that there is candy galore available at all times, I haven't touched a single piece before 8 pm. You have no idea how amazing this is.

But, I just loved that we reclaimed the fun of the holiday for ourselves. We sipped on mimosas, made brunch, and watched TV. It was the perfect day. Isn't it fun to have your own family and do whatever the hell you want?

WeddOMG: The Unnecessary Criticism

"I think you're putting on an ostentatious display," my uncle said, as I poured him another glass of wine. We had invited him and my sort-of-aunt over for a Saturday dinner. He was asking about wedding planning (i.e.  interrogating me unfairly about how much our wedding was costing), and that was his response. I wanted to slap him. He--the man who drove a Porsche for years (and eventually traded it in for a BMW to be more practical), who flies first-class to Barbados with his live-in ex-wife for weeks at a time several times a year, who lives in a house more than triple the space and bedrooms he needs--was calling something that hasn't even materialized ostentatious, a word dripping in judgement and condescension.

I felt scarily defensive. First of all, our wedding will be far from ostentatious. How could a wedding with 50 people, locally-grown flowers, and, very possibly, a pizza bar (albeit probably gourmet) be over the top and showy? All along we've said we want fun, intimate, classy. But never showy.

But, here's the thing: even if it were, it's none of his goddamn business. Or anyone else's for that matter. Carolina Man and I are footing the bill ourselves, so we get to decide if we want to spend under $1K on local flowers instead of tropical ones (we are) or $10K for a kick-ass venue (we are) or host our rehearsal dinner at home for practically nothing (we are) or whatever we want with the budget we set. These are our decisions to make.

For people pleasers like the both of us, though, that's easier said than done. It's tough to stand in the face of criticism concerning important life decisions and not want to strike back, not defend the decision as if doing so would change the other person's view.

When it comes to weddings, I think we've all been socialized to think that everyone will magically be a better version of their selves for the benefit of the bride and groom. Oh, wouldn't it be nice if this were the case? But so far I can already tell you that it isn't true. My mom will still be opinionated (but helpful!). My uncle is still judgmental. And I still care what everyone thinks.

That last thing is the only part I have any control over: choosing to let what others say determine how I feel about a situation. Moving forward, my goal is to take such comments with a grain of salt and consider the source. My uncle? Lives with his ex-wife. Who refuses to marry him again. Not exactly an ideal go-to source for how to do things in the romantic arena. But in the end, he's family. And you'll bet he'll be enjoying his gourmet slice of pizza as much as the rest of 'em (even though he'll probably never admit it.)


WeddingOMG: Living in a Bride-Centric World

When I was single, I gave up watching wedding shows in order to maintain my sanity. But, since getting engaged, I've gradually taken more interest DVRed every wedding show on TLC and WE and consumed most of them. Last week I was home with a cold and watched about eight episodes in a row of David's Tutera's My Fair Wedding.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show (and I applaud you), David Tutera is the wedding planning knight in shining armor who comes in to rescue a wedding that's inevitably going to be a train wreck. At least that's how it's  staged. Then he works his magic and creates a kick-ass day for the bride...but the groom? Not as much. Other than an initial handshake and the rote line of "whatever makes her happy," the groom isn't involved at all with the wedding planning. He isn't even asked if he's interested in giving input. It's just assumed the bride is the one calling the shots, because she's the only really invested in the day.

This is really problematic for me. And I'm finding it's much more ubiquitous than just on tv wedding shows.

Why is it assumed that the bride is only one who cares about the details of the day?

I'll give you an example of how I've encountered this. Carolina Man and I have been splitting up wedding planning tasks haphazardly--I'll call a DJ; he'll contact a photographer, etc. So far, the florist and the photographer we've chosen are ones I contacted. On every exchange we have, I include CM on the email chain, but each and every time, they only respond to me. And on one contract, only my name is listed.

This may be customary, but that doesn't make it good. Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking, and so far I've found it to be helpful in working through conflict, differences of opinion, and varying priorities. Sure, it'd be easier if on any given decision, one person backed out and let the other decide. But, what kind of precedent does that set for the future?

Carolina Man and I are in this together, and that means in all of the little things of life. Leaving each other out of our thinking and decisions is no way to build trust and partnership. So, wedding people, I ask you, please include the grooms. It's their day, too.

April flowers bring me happiness

Happy April, everyone! Have you gotten fooled by anyone? Let me just say how annoying I find the whole April Fools' Day thing, probably because it's too reminiscent of growing up in a house with two older brothers--where everyday was an opportunity to trick me.

But, wedding planning is no joke! Carolina Man and I are moving right along. Believe it or not, we managed to book both our photographer and our florist in the same weekend. Sometimes things just work out that smoothly and easily.

Flowers are not a number one--or even a top five--priority for us. We see them as a way to accent the celebration, but not as the focal point. So, when we found a florist who grows all of her own flowers in her backyard garden and specializes in more understated, yet beautiful arrangements, we knew we had found the one.

Here are some samples she sent us this week.


We are going to use pin-lighting in our reception room, so we wanted something with a lot of glass to reflect the light back. I love the simplicity and sleekness of these, and how no one will have their view blocked at the table. I'm thinking of asking her to maybe put some other blooms on the mirror, so it doesn't look as stark.


And I just love this bouquet! It's beautiful, and the colors go together so well.

What do you think?

Attitude of Gratitude

Between the loss of one hour's sleep, not getting to the gym this morning, and it being Monday, I'm in serious need of an attitude check. So, here are some things I'm very grateful for this day.

A healthy puppy. We got Lucy fixed on Friday, and she was so horribly pitiful that night! She was moaning and crying, and I felt so badly for her. But now she's totally back to her normal sense, and I feel relieved that she's healing up so quickly.

Having lunch with a good friend I hadn't seen in nearly two years. One of the best things about being back in NC is seeing people who live in the general area. My friend L lives in Charlotte, but was up in the Raleigh area visiting her mom. We had a great time catching up, and now CM and I are planning a visit down there this spring.

Setting a wedding date. Only 403 days to go!

Skipping the gym this morning for some extra snuggle time with Carolina Man. It was completely worth it. Remind me of that when I do Jillian Michaels' Shred this afternoon to make up for it.

Having the best employee in the world. I absolutely love my associate, and she has taken so much off my plate. I can actually get stuff done now!

What's keeping you moving today?




April 20, 2013

That's right--we've set a wedding date! April 20, 2013. That's a mere 406 days from now. :-) Shew, it feels good to have that figured out.

And the best part is we'll be getting married on the same spot where Carolina Man proposed. I can't imagine anything more romantic.



Hangry

Hangry. I love this world. Hungry + Angry = Exactly how I feel.

After our lovely all-inclusive vacation, not to mention weeks of post-engagement celebratory snacks of buffalo chicken dip and brownies,  Carolina Man and I were ready to get our eating and exercise back on track. Since moving to NC, I'd put on a little bit of love chub, and I'm ready for it to come off.

And that means carrot sticks. And chicken breasts with salt and pepper. And 6 am ass-kicking workouts. And Jillian Michaels. It's a recipe for crankiness. Throw a little wedding planning on top of it, and you've got a serious crankypants in the house.

On the plus side, I've lost four pounds. On the negative side, I am dreaming about french fries and ice cream sundaes. Isn't it incredibly unfair how easy it is to put on a weight but seriously difficult to take it off? It sucks to log every little thing you eat, and use food scales to measure every thing you put on your plate. Part of it is that I haven't settled into a routine and plan that works best for me.

And that means I'm hangry. What about you? Got hanger?

A good luck sign?

I've had a savings account entitled "Our Special Day" since Carolina Man and I first became a couple. Presumption much? Or just excellent foresight? In either case, it's a great feeling that I already have a chunk of change stashed away before we even have a date set (although that's probably going to happen next week. Eeeee!)

At the end of the month, if I have any leftover cash, I throw it into the wedding fund. I went to deposit my balance from February, and realized that I now have $7777 in our wedding fund. Four sevens must be good luck, right?

Happy weekend, y'all!

The Ghosts of a Job Past

When I first started this blog in the summer of 2009, I was preparing to move to DC and begin a new life. What I never really bothered to mention was what I was leaving, in particular a job that I absolutely despised.

Like most just-out-of-school jobs, mine was crappy for normal reasons: a long-commute, low pay, little creative freedom, and post-academia life confusion. But, on top of that I had the meanest, most manipulative, self-absorbed, deluded psycho of a boss, who seemed to really enjoy making my life miserable. About a month before my departure (and no other job lined up at the time), we had a major blow-up after she mocked something I'd worked hard on. I told her that I absolutely hated coming to work everyday.

Now, a few years later, I realize that it was in part my immaturity that made my job so miserable. But, since leaving that organization, I've seen how my former boss continues to alienate and manipulate her way through her professional life. She and I are on mostly pleasant terms, and she even invites me to participate in some events together. As it turns out, I'm becoming an important player in the field, and I work for a powerful organization. She keeps me in the loop because she needs to. I keep her at a safe, but friendly arm's length if you know what I mean. I feel I'm too early in my career to be burning bridges, even if they're with people I'd rather not cross over to see.

But now, I'm not so sure. I got a truly hysterical email from my old boss, claiming financial ruin and begging for money--and that it was, of course, someone else's fault. As it turns out, the someone else is a dear colleague, and I couldn't believe that this was the whole story. More details have come out since then, and I am finding myself more and more upset that she's throwing this person under the bus. I don't know what is true and what is a lie, but she has stooped to an all-time low to benefit herself.

It's tough to be looped into all of this, and be in the midst of the noise of it all. She's blowing up Twitter, Facebook, the Internet with this stuff, and I just want nothing to do with it. Eventually, I decided to write her a short "I'm sorry" email and let it go. But her requests for money kept coming in, and I started to feel badly for her staff whose jobs are on the line. Finally, I sent her a small donation this morning just to have some peace of mind. It's tax-deductible, and it's money I could afford to give.

I feel a little better now. But most of all, I'm saddened by this implosion in our community. There aren't many people doing what we're doing, and to feel it crumbling apart from the inside is truly a sad thing. I'm just thankful I got out of there, and that for now, I have peace in my job.

Weddomg: First Thoughts on a Budget

I just discovered while trying to type wedding that if you misplace your right hand on the keyboard by one row of keys to the right that you instead type "weddomg," which I find totally appropriate on many levels. "Weddomg" is a perfect description about how everyone, including myself, goes somewhat, if not entirely, batshit crazy at the mention of a wedding. So, I'm thinking that at least some of my wedding-related posts will be labeled "Weddomg," particularly those that relate to my own craziness or the craziness of others. Today I'll talk about wedding budget craziness, even before we have spent a single penny.

Carolina Man and I are now in the very preliminary stages of wedding planning, i.e. we're going to look at a venue, we're putting together a draft guest list, and we're generally thinking of what time of year we're going to plan for. Oh yeah, and we're piecing together a wedding budget. If you want to make yourself insane in a matter of minutes, start looking at how much weddings cost on average. You'll probably shit yourself and/or start crying.

Even as a newbie, I can say that there's a whole lot to putting together a wedding budget, and there's a helluva lot of unknowns when you haven't begun looking into all of the vendors you'll need. But, we do know approximately how much our venue will be per person, how much the ceremony will be, and for the rest of it, I just googled average costs of wedding shit and put the numbers into a spreadsheet. The amount I saw before my eyes was somewhat shocking. A preliminary estimation of our wedding was about $25K. *gulp*

And then I wasn't so shocked. Weddings are expensive, yo. We knew that going into this. It's about what we'd said we wanted to spend from the beginning, and it's an amount that we can afford to pay out of pocket, if we are able to save as we anticipate (and as he and I both have been saving since we first began our relationship).  Yes, it's an awful lot to spend on "one day," but let's be clear here. Celebrations of life and love are important. And I feel as long as we aren't going into debt, nor are we using all of our savings, then we can feel guilt-free in our spending on a day where we'll gather with loved ones to celebrate the new stage of our relationship.

But you got to prioritize. Here are some of the things we care about:
  • Beautiful, convenient location
  • Meaningful, personal ceremony
  • Looking good
  • Delicious food
  • Ease of use (i.e. having an all-inclusive package)
  • Awesome pictures 
  • Unique honeymoon
The things we care less about:
  • Having everyone we've ever known there (we're thinking 50-60 people)
  • Favors (probably won't have them)
  • Tradition
  • Having a huge bridal party (probably will have a Best Man and a Best Woman because I hate the phrase"Maid of Honor")
  • DJ
  • Flowers 
  • Having a theme
  • Invitations
  • Putting on a show for our guests 
So, if these priorities stay the same, we know we want to spend most of our energy and probably finances on the location, the clothing and rings, the food, the photographer, and the honeymoon. 

Yesterday I was still feeling nervous that our designated monthly savings wouldn't be enough to cover things. So, Carolina Man suggested we both commit to saving an extra $200 over what we said we would save each month. In a year, that gives us an extra $5K. And I don't think either of us will miss this as we both got raises this year.

I'm thankful for his calm attitude about all of this, and how on the same page we are about planning this event. And I feel good knowing that we're going to be able to afford the kind of wedding we both want.




Venue on the Menu

Carolina Man and I have taken a solid month to celebrate our engagement, including a lovely, pre-honeymoon getaway to Playa del Carmen. We've taken all the "OMG, engagement! What's the date?" inquiries in stride, and have mastered the vague "We're not sure yet!" response.

And now we're ready to move on to actually taking the first steps to planning our wedding. Exciting!

At the advice of many friends, both online and offline, I've been perusing the amazing blog, A Practical Wedding, and earlier this week I bought the book for my kindle. One of the first exercises it suggests that you and your partner do together is figure out how you want the wedding to feel. It may sound kind of silly to go through a whole list of adjectives together, but for us, it helped solidify that we're on the same page. Some adjectives we picked were elegant, intimate, meaningful, full of love, and fun. Some we didn't pick were glamorous, boozy, kid-friendly, traditional, and formal.

And, in my practical news, we have booked our first wedding venue site tour for next week! We'll be looking at the place where we got engaged, The Umstead in Cary. The appeals of the place? It's close, it's beautiful, and it's inclusive of a lot of things that we don't want to figure out in a piecemeal fashion.

What are some of the important questions we should ask when we visit?

Will you oblige me while I stand on my soapbox?

Are you someone who enjoys non-procreative, heterosexual sex? Are you someone who would like to one day partake in non-procreative, heterosexual sex? Do you think all people who enjoy non-procreative, heterosexual sex should have information about and access to contraception, regardless of where they are employed, so that they too may enjoy non-procreative, heterosexual sex and plan their families (if they want kids) for the time when works best for them?

Or, are you one of the 15% of women who use contraceptives for non-contraceptive reasons, like endometriosis? Do you think that women should be able to access contraceptives for these reasons, no matter where they are employed?

Then you should be fucking pissed off at the "religiously"-charged, political conversations going on right now about contraception. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION.

And go read Sandra Fluke's testimony from today.


I went out a limb on Facebook and wrote how much I have to pay out of pocket for my birth control pills ($300 a year for a generic), and I'm insured! I'm fortunate that this is nothing more than a nuisance and not a financial burden. More of us need to speak out.

Oh yeah, and I'd really like to hear more from men, too. Last time I checked women didn't have to worry about preventing unintended pregnancy if they weren't having sex with men. 

Tapping into Creativity

As Carolina Man and I were falling asleep last night, I said to him, "I feel like I need to do more with creativity." It's something I've been thinking about for awhile now. Ever since I graduated and became a "Non-Student,"* I've really been lacking in the creativity department. Most of the creative things I've been part of have been performative and/or community-oriented. But, given the crazy travel schedule I have, I'd really like to find something I can do on my own, on my own time and terms.

But, I really suck at the following:
  • Drawing straight lines
  • Painting (even the walls)
  • Cutting straight lines
  • Sketching anything
  • Basically anything artistic that has to do with hand-eye coordination 
I have to start thinking outside of the box. I used to have a knack for scrap-booking back in the day, which makes me think I might like doing some kind of collage work with found objects. I have no idea what that would look like, but I like the idea of layering things and piecing things together in interesting ways.

But, I kind of have a fear of the things I make sucking really badly. Then again, as Carolina Man reminded me last night, being creative doesn't have to be for anyone else but me. I can just do it for the sake of doing it, for having the outlet.

Hmm, an interesting concept for me. Not being judged on something I do? That would be a first.

How do you tap into your creativity? I'd especially love to hear from those of you who aren't "artists" in the traditional sense!

*I'm kind of getting tired of referring to myself this way.

Hola, Amigos!

Carolina Man and I are back, and what better way to be thrust back into reality than a little snow shower on a Sunday evening? I've never been surprised by snow before. Usually if there's even a hint of a possible snowstorm, it seems like the whole world knows about it. Maybe we were still out of touch because of post-vacation brains. But, we opened the door to take Lucy out, and the whole ground was covered!

Hasta luego, sunshine.

In short, we had a fantastic time in Mexico. It was sun, sand, and all-you-can-drink mojitos. Of course, we hit some bumps in the road that now seem really, really petty (i.e. getting bumped from first class on our way there and not being able to find towels by the pool). Even as I type them, I feel like a moron. Seriously, who gets upset about towels? I think it's hard to resist that sense of entitlement when you're paying a lot for a vacation. But, life is life, no matter where you are.

I'll give you a quick review of the Valentin Imperial Maya. Huge resort. Incredibly wonderful staff. Awful food. There you go. I could go on and on about why we didn't like the food, but I won't bore you. I think our lesson learned is that all-inclusives cut corners when it comes to what they're putting in front of you, and that we ended up going for quantity over quality most of the time. And we ate way more meat than we do at home. And drank about eight million times more cocktails.

For our honeymoon, I think we'll look for something smaller and with top-notch cuisine. 

All in all, though, we had a fantastic time. I loved that it only took us half a day to get there and back, which really maximized our time relaxing in the sun. And, we got to practice our espanol a good bit. Speaking of which, I'm thinking about taking some classes again. Anyone else feel like a complete dumbass because they can only speak English?

The best part about vacation? Coming home! Seriously, we were so excited to be back at our house and snuggle with our puppy. What a wonderful feeling to want to come home.

Oooooh, Mexico

Tomorrow Carolina Man and I are taking off for five nights to Playa del Carmen, Mexico! We're considering it a pre-honeymoon.

See you next week, hopefully slightly more tan than now!

A note to the fellow newly engaged and to-be-engaged folks

I had no idea how crazy people get over weddings. Wells, that's not quite true. I have been known to watch a marathon of Bridezillas, so I did get a sense of how some people get crazy over weddings.
What I did not know was how crazy the people in my own life would get over our wedding. One that Carolina Man and I haven't even begun planning because, oh yeah, we haven't even been engaged for two weeks yet. I'm still completely distracted by my ring. No one in that state of mind could be making decisions about a wedding. 

I guess I thought when I told people I got engaged that they'd A) want to see the ring and B) want to hear the proposal story. WRONG. Instead they want A and then skip a few steps to ask when I'm getting married. Literally hours after we were engaged, people wanted to know the date we were going to tie the knot.

I suppose it's a logical question to ask, but it's one that started to get old really, really fast. I've adjusted my responses over time. At first I'd smile and say, "I don't know!" And then after I got asked it about a hundred times, I tried to play the guilt card, "Everyone keeps asking me that, and we just got engaged." Kind of snippy, kind of downer way to respond. Plus, it didn't do any good. The next person would just ask me the same question. And now I just accept their curiosity and say, "Probably sometime next year." Vague, noncommittal, but satisfactory enough that they move on.

Did I mention that my boss is already asking if she can wear a silver dress to the wedding?

What I'm learning is that a lot of people want to live vicariously through my experience, and that means they've got a lot of opinions they want to share with me. What I have to remember is they mean well, but I don't have to take it all to heart.

I just hope that their curiosity doesn't wane too much because when we do actually begin planning, I'm sure I'll be looking for some eager ears to entertain my ideas.

Anyone else experience this kind of interrogation about wedding dates? How did you deal with it?




Worth the Risk

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a friend of mine in DC. She's not someone I know that well, but she reached out to me about her current situation: she's thinking about moving across the country to a place she's always wanted to move with a guy she met a few months ago. They wouldn't live together, just continue dating. And unsurprisingly, her friends are concerned and therefore not as supportive as she was hoping. She asked what I went through when I moved to NC and any advice I could give her.

This is what I wrote back:

I totally hear what you're saying about your friends not getting it. I think that's because we are all pretty rational about everyone else's lives, but not as much as our own. We consider our emotions and gut feelings when we make decisions about what we're going to do. And it sucks that other people can't feel or relate to those feelings--or even affirm that we have them at all.

I think it's good that friends are looking out for you, but ultimately they can't know what's best for you. Only you know that. The people who care about you in DC want you to stay put, I'm sure. No one is going to say, "Please move across the country!" They love you; they want you around. It's a good thing.

When I met Carolina Man, I knew almost immediately that I would marry him. Everyone thought I was crazy, except for my mom who backed me 100%. That ended up being enough confirmation for me to move forward with the move. I wanted other people to feel excited for me, but after many failed attempts to get that reaction,  I finally came to the conclusion that they just weren't going to get it, at least not as quickly as I wanted them to. Everyone thought I was crazy to move for a guy after two months. But, it's turned out to be the best decision I've made in a long time.

I say, go with your gut, and choose carefully whom you bring into your decision-making.  You are a beautiful, smart, talented woman, and what's the worst thing that could happen? You move there, hate it, and decide to move somewhere else. So, I'd say if you can handle that and it feels right, then go for it. I think love/adventure/excitement is always worth chasing after. Otherwise we're just living in fear of what we might lose.

I'm not sure what my friend will ultimately decide, but I hope that she makes a decision out of a place of both head and heart, and not out of fear alone.

Engagement Portraits by My Favorite Five-Year-Old

The day after our engagement, my mom returned home to Georgia. On her way she stopped by my brother's house because apparently my nephew does not understand that Nana sometimes is too tired to play. He overheard my brother and mom talking about our engagement, and he was inspired to draw the following portraits. 

This is me.
Please note the ring in the upper right corner.


This is Carolina Man.
He just learned to draw glasses, so he kind of forgot about the body.   


Why go to a professional when you have an artist like this in the family?

The Proposal: Part Six...The End

Did you all think the last post was the end of the engagement story? I can understand why. It did end with the actual proposal, but there's more to the story!

Carolina Man walked me back to our room--a gorgeous suite with a balcony overlooking the place where we'd just gotten engaged. To celebrate he'd scattered rose petals on the floor and had a bottle of Dom Perignon chilling in the fridge. (He later told me that the bottle wouldn't fit in the fridge that was in the room, so management had sent up a larger one. Now that's serious customer service!) As he popped the bottle, I said, "I've never had Dom Perignon before!" And he said, "Me either!"

In between delicious sips of champagne, we stopped to admire the ring. He'd actually had it since before Christmas, but decided not to really look at it until he'd given it to me. Now that is some serious restraint.

With a pleasant buzz, we made our way to the hotel's five-star restaurant. The service was impeccable. The food, however, was a little too fancy for our liking. You know food that's just completely overdressed? Like what they make on Top Chef? That's what it was like. So, we didn't eat much except for the delicious scones in the bread basket. There was a waiter walking around with more of them the whole night, and I think we ate about half a dozen each. And, of course we had more wine, which we ended up having to cork because we couldn't finish all of it.

Tipsy and happy, we made our way back to the room, and happily passed out from such a wonderful day. But, before we fell asleep, I had one more envelope to open.

I know you're wondering what else there might be on this PPD. Well, believe me, the apex of the day was about three hours ago. But assuming you said, "Yes," I have booked us a couple's massage at The Umstead Spa for 9 am tomorrow.

What better way to start off our lives as fiancée and fiancé?

I love you so much!
Carolina Man

The next morning we woke up with no hangover (an engagement miracle) and made our way down to the spa for a relaxing massage before heading home to show my mom the ring.

We had such a wonderful experience at The Umstead that we're thinking about having our wedding there! But for now, we're just enjoying the engagement.

Remembering the Girl

I don't often talk about my work on this blog, but in all the excitment about my engagement, I've been thinking about how this new stage of my life informs my work advocating for improved maternal health globally. At first glance, they don't seem all that related, but I'm beginning to see the connections more clealy.

I'm 28-years-old. I finished college, graduate school, and have been gainfully employed since graduation. I've been able to travel the country and parts of the world for work and pleasure. I've moved several times. I've been in several long-term relationships that haven't ended in marriage. In general, I've had freedom and opportunity to grow personally and professionally, and to decide when I was ready that I wanted to find a long-term partner to marry. And together we'll decide if and when we want children.

Nearly all of this has been possible because of where I was born.

When I talk about improving maternal health globally, I'm talking about women my age--and girls much younger. I'm talking about girls who aren'table to go to school after eighth grade because their families can't afford it. I'm talking about girls who get married before they're eighteen because their families need dowries to survive. They go on to have several children before they turn twenty because they aren't able to negotiate sex, and they don't have access to contraceptives. And 356,000 die every year giving birth.

I remember dancing with the women in Malawi after they'd graduated from tailoring school. Their husbands were so very proud, and their little ones were excitedly running around, proud to don the beautiful dresses and suits their mothers had made. When I asked them if they were excited to find work selling their creations, they told me with sadness that they couldn't afford their own sewing machines. So, they'd worked hard to learn these skills, but had no way to practice them.

All of this because of where they were born.

It's overwhelming, and easy to get caught up in the guilt of privilege and opportunity. But I won't stay there. This afternoon I'll be speaking to a group of fifty eager activitsts who want to learn how they can help. We'll be making maternal health kits and writing letters to Congress. And I'll be making a microloan on Kiva to support small local projects that can make a huge difference in people's lives. I encourage you to do the same. There are more than fifty opportunities to support sewing projects around the world.

The Proposal: Part Five

As I sat in the car, I felt tingly and nervous. Where were we going? What was going to happen next?

And then I remembered that I had another envelope!

Are you relaxed? Do you feel gorgeous? Well I'm sure you are whether you feel it or not.

Your next stop is the Umstead Hotel and Spa where we will be having dinner and staying the night. You can read more about the hotel, spa, and restaurant on the enclosed printout.

Make a quick stop at home to drop your Mom off (she's going to watch Lucy) and grab your bags. We have full access to the spa, so be sure you packed a swimsuit.

You should arrive at the hotel around 5 pm. Dinner is at 6:30.

See you soon, baby!

Love,
Carolina Man
  I'd heard of the Umstead before. It's one of maybe two five-star hotels in NC, and it's only about 20 minutes away from our house. Of course, as we were driving, 20 minutes seemed to go on forever and ever.
Finally, when we arrived, I said good-bye to our driver ("You look beautiful," he said) and walked into the hotel lobby.

Carolina Man walked in looking awesome in his sport coat. He said, "Why don't I show you the grounds?" We started walking toward the elevator when he said, "Oh, wait" and walked me back to the lobby. "This is the front desk," he said. To which I responded, "Seriously? I have on four inch heels!"

We took the elevator down one level and walked outside to this gorgeous green space with a fountain and trees all behind it. And that was when I noticed how weird CM was acting. I kind of knew this was going to be the moment I'd been waiting for.

He took my hands and told me how much he loves me and why--he loved how smart, articulate, and caring I am. He even said he loves how I am with Lucy! And then he said, "It is without hesitation" (*got down on one knee*) "that I ask if you'll marry me." (Or something like that. It's one of those moments that's so overwhelming it's hard to remember it perfectly.) Of course, I said yes, with tears in my eyes. And then my next comment was "That ring is beautiful!"

And it was. It is. I couldn't have picked out anything more beautiful.

After some tears and some kisses, we turned around and I saw that he'd had someone snapping photos the whole time! That's how we have this one.



Then it was time to celebrate!

The Proposal: Part Four

After a lovely lunch together, it was time for more pampering. I opened the next card.
Now that your belly is full, it's time to sit back, relax, and be pampered.
Your next stop is Beverly Nails. I'm not sure if it's owend by someone named Beverly or if they're trying to play off "Beverly Hills." You could ask when you get there.
Please used the enclosed gift certificate to get you and your mom deluxe manicures.
Love,
Carolina Man
My mom was really lucking out in this deal! Off we went to get our nails done. I got mine painted a fire engine red to match the dress (and I thought it would look good with a diamond ring, too. Not that I was being presumptuous or anything.)

We had a Legally Blonde-type bonding moment with the other women in the salon. We told them all about the day and how CM had planned surprise after surprise for me. There were lots of "oohs" and "ahhs" in the place.

After our nails were mostly set, we headed back to the house where CM gave me the next envelope.
Your last stop before dinner is the Hair and Face Lounge. But before that, your driver will take you to the house to get ready for tonight. Your mom will come along for the ride.
Your hair appointment (blowout and make-up) is at 3:30, so you should have about an hour to get ready.
Love,
Carolina Man
I was totally getting the royal treatment from head to toe! My stylist Ashley, whom I'd just seem the week before for a cut, was thrilled for me. She actually knew about the appointment that day when I'd come in last week. I'm so impressed she kept the secret! She put me in long, loose curls, and a smoky eye with a red lip. I felt gorgeous.

Mom and I headed back to the house where I slipped into my dress and heels as fast as I could, and headed out the door to meet Carolina Man at our next destination.

The Proposal: Part Three

Mom and I chatted and giggled the whole way to the mall. She and I hadn't been shopping for a fancy dress since my senior prom, and it's our absolute favorite thing to do. (Eee, I can't wait to go wedding dress shopping!)

Our driver Henderson could not have been more delightful. He insisted on opening our doors, which neither of us ever got used to, and dropped us off with a smile and a promise to return in two hours time.

Two hours to find the perfect dress? If anyone could do it, my mom and I could. We headed straight for our favorite department store. Usually when I shop, I find it nearly impossible to pick up anything that's not on sale. It just feels wrong to buy something full-price when I know everything goes on sale. But, I told myself that I was going to pick the dress I loved the most, no matter the cost. And that I wasn't going to get upset if my normal size didn't fit. (These are two major stressers for me when I shop.)

Mom and I split up to peruse the racks and came back with our favorite contenders: a sexy black dress with a plunging neckline, a high-neck metallic number, and this one.



There was no question that this was the one. I felt gorgeous in it. After a quick trip to the shoe department and Sephora, I had the shoes and lipstick to complete the look. And believe it or not, we still had 45 minutes to spare! That has to be some kind of record.

Time to open PPD Two!
Did we have a nice shopping spree? Did we find a nice evening dress? Well good for us!

All that shopping has undoubtedly made you hungry.

Come across the street and have lunch with me.

Love,
Carolina Man
And a few minutes later, Henderson was there with the car and Carolina Man, and off we were to lunch!

The Proposal: Part Two

First of all, thank you all for your wonderfully sweet messages of congratulations! It has been overwhelming to receive so much love from you. I couldn't be happier!

After eating one too many chocolate croissants, I opened up the card marked "PPD: One."

It read:
Your first activity of the day is shopping! Your driver will be picking you up at 9am and taking you to Southpointe Mall.
 As the day will be ending at a 5-star restaurant, please put on your shopping list a nice evening dress that you can wear tonight.
 Please arrange for your driver to pick you up at 11:45 am at which time you can open your next envelope.
 Oh, and here's some shopping cash!
Love,
Carolina Man 

Shopping? Five-star restaurant? Driver? I was completely overwhelmed! I started tearing up. I couldn't believe by how much thought he'd put into the whole day. He knew I'd want something new and gorgeous to wear for our very special dinner planned.

Through the tears I asked, "Are you coming with me?" I was a little sad when he said that he probably wasn't.  I realized that he probably had other things to do, and I knew that no matter what, I was going to enjoy shopping for a dress.

A few minutes later, I heard CM go to the front door. And in walks...MY MOM! I was so overwhelmed and shocked and happy that I burst into tears. (Mom told me later that Carolina Man had tears in his eyes, too.) She gave me a big hug and said, "We're going shopping!"

Once I pulled myself together and cleaned up the streaks of mascara running down my face, we walked outside to find a Lincoln Town Car (my mom kept calling it a "limo" which cracked me up) waiting for us. Carolina Man had booked a driver to take us everywhere we would need to go that day. How spoiled am I?

And off we went to the mall to find the perfect dress for that evening.

The Proposal: Part One

I gave you all a snippet of the first part of the day, but here's a more detailed account for your reading pleasure. Oh, it's going to be so much fun reliving that day.

If you had a hunch that you were going to be proposed to, would you be able to sleep the night before? I sure couldn't! If you were the one planning to propose, would you be able to sleep the night before? Carolina Man sure couldn't! That means we were both wide awake by 5 am on Saturday morning, and I had over two hours before I could open up my first PPD card of the day.

It read:
My love, 
Although this may appear to be a scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt, it is neither. This is what I like to call a P.P.D. or Progressive Pampering Day. I like to call it that because I just made it up and find it to be quite clever. 
Today is all about you. I want to show you how special you are to me by giving you a much-deserved "you" day. You will have fun, relax, eat well, and be generally pampered. 
The progressive part is that your destinations will be revealed throughout the day vis a vis these envelopes. No peeking! 
Get ready, destination one will be revealed right now. 
Love,
Carolina Man 
I came downstairs to find three plates of chocolate croissants (homemade by Carolina Man, and in milk, semi-sweet, and dark varieties), a pot of hot coffee made just the way I like it, and two beautiful red roses in a vase.

And of course, the next card, which I'll reveal next time!


PPD: Card One

Good morning! I woke up to a cup of hot coffee and the first envelope with PPD ready to be opened.

It means "Progressive Pampering Day" and it's a day that Carolina Man has planned to take good care of me. I have no idea what I'll be doing, but it'll be a day of relaxation, I'm sure.

More later!

The Mysteries of PPD

You guys, what do you think PPD means? Here's what I've come up with so far.

  • Pretty Princess Day
  • Prissy Pamper Day
  • Puppy Power Dog
  • Physical Punishment Doom 
  • Pre-Processing Disaster
Ok, these are all ridiculous. Let me give you the context. 

For months, Carolina Man has been playing a weekend getaway for us, and has told me nothing about it other than a few very vague details about what time we'll begin tomorrow (7:30 am) and that our destination is less than two hours away from our house. Then yesterday, he hands me 6-7 sealed envelopes that have the letters "PPD" on them, numbered and with specific times written on them that I will open tomorrow. 

I can't believe he's done so much to plan for this special day together! I have no idea what we'll be doing, but I can't wait to find out. And of course, I'll make a full report once I know what's going on! 



The #1 Reason (Right Now) I Can't Wait to Get Married

Because hopefully then all of the sweet church ladies I meet across the country will quit asking me if I want to meet their very handsome grandsons.

*headdesk*

Any takers? I'd be happy to pass your name along next time.

California Girls

Greetings, loved ones! From...Leisure World. I kid you not. I am staying in a place called Leisure World. Never heard of it? Neitther had I, mainly because my grandparents didn't live long enough to settle down in a place like this. But basically it's a massive complex for retirees that looks a little bit like army barracks.

Why am I staying here? Because I have an 84-year-young friend named Mary who A) insisted I come to California to speak at approximately 542 engagements over the course of five days and B) insisted I stay with her while I'm here. She also insisted that she drive me everywhere, which let me tell you has been an *experience.* I may have thought I was going to die at multiple times while driving on I-610 to Claremont.
When we stopped at a gas station on the way (not to get gas but because she ate cheese on her burger and well, it wasn't agreeing with her), I said to our other travel companion that I was terrified, especially when were driving 40 miles per hour when the speed limit was 70. But somehow we have gotten from point A to point B in one piece. So far.

Despite the excitement of highway driving with an elderly person, I am just tickled at how I've gotten to be friends with someone who is in her 80s. My grandparents died relatively young, so it's been awhile since I've gotten to talk to someone who remembers the Depression. And this woman is still kicking ass. She's involved in about every social justice movement you can imagine, and she's completely independent, albeit a scary driver. But, hey, there are scary drivers at every age, right? I'll forgive that one.  I can only hope to be as agile and spunky as she is in another 50 years.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite things about my job. I've gotten to know people from so many different places, from so many different backgrounds, and really, they've become more than colleagues--they're actual friends that I get to visit and laugh with. So while I may still be struggling to find a network of folks in NC, I've got a helluva lot of friends all over the country. And that's a pretty awesome thing. It makes being away from Carolina Man just a smidge easier.

I would become domesticated for this.


A Wonder Woman KitchenAid mixer? Holla! Apparently this is being sold in Brazil, but I sure hope they wise up and bring it to the States. If not, it might be time for a little jaunt down to Rio.

Future wedding gift anyone? Anyone?

My 2012 "To Stop"s

So, maybe I'm a little late to the game on posting this, but hey, I'll bet some people have already broken, if not forgotten their resolutions altogether. Frankly, I'm hoping some of the January, New-Year-Resolution-ers who are early morning gym-goers and use all of the good treadmills will be among them soon. I need that prime location right in front of the TV playing the Today show. How else am I going to stand 30 minutes on a stationary bike?

I actually don't have any real resolutions this year, but I do have a few things I'd like to stop doing, ranging from silly to serious. Here they are.

  1. Stop buying things online just because they come with free samples. I was such a sucker for this during the holiday season. My downfall? Sephora. And Ulta. And Bumble & Bumble. 
  2. Stop obsessively checking Rue La La for Cole Haan shoe sales. I bought four pairs in a month. Three of which I purchased in a single sitting while interviewing someone on the phone. (She rambled so much that she didn't even notice.) 
  3. Stop grilling Carolina Man about the surprise weekend he has planned for us at the end of this month. Otherwise he'll give in and tell me, and it won't be a surprise. I asked him last night who was going to watch Lucy, and he said, "I got it covered." I'll try to trust that he's thought of everything. 
  4. Stop saying that I refuse to go to the gym at 6:30 am as I am putting on my gym clothes. Really, who am I kidding with this one? Shut up and put your spandex on. 
  5. Stop signing up for free magazines that I will never read. I am obsessed with this. Beer Connoisseur? Sure! Finance Daily? Why not? Maxim? I love the articles! Seriously, I am a magazine hoarder, and I need an intervention. 
  6. Similarly, stop downloading free Kindle books that I will never read.  
  7. Stop weighing myself everyday. This is just self-inflicted torture. 
  8. Stop feeling sorry for myself that I have to travel so much. I have an awesome job that I love, and that other people would love to have. And it's awesome to have someone who misses me and can't wait to see me when I get home. (I mean, besides my dog Lucy.)
  9. Stop worrying that things are going to fall apart. Life is good. Enjoy it. I know I can handle the storm. But sometimes I think I have trouble enjoying the calm because it's so unfamiliar. 
  10. Stop listening to the voices of self-doubt and go for it. There are worse things than failing.
May it be so! 

We're Flying First Class

No, I'm not that Fergalicious. But I do fly a crazy amount for work, so much so that I'm now Silver Preferred on US Airways.

It's funny that free checked bags are a perk now. Remember when they were free for everyone? Well, now if I want to check something, I can do it for free. Just like five years ago. Even better, I get to board earlier, which means I won't have to check my bag because I'll get to stow my bag before all of the assholes with their giant-ass bags take up all the room. (I promise, I have a very small carry-on, and if we're on the same flight, I would be happy to assist you in shoving your oversized bag into the bin.)

But best of all? Complimentary upgrades! Just yesterday I got an email saying that I'd gotten upgraded to first class on my flight back from DC. I'm in seat 1A. 1A! The first seat on the plane! Perhaps I'm overly excited by this, but if you fly as much as I do, you'll understand that this is something worth celebrating.

Maybe this will make me hate US Airways a little bit less now for losing my bag every time I fly.