Friday, September 28, 2012

Reason #87 Why I Love Mike

He does shit like this. Do you know what this is? Erin and Jeff, I'm looking at you. This is a picture of home-canned tomatoes. That's right, he stewed them, peeled them and canned them and now there are four of these sitting on our counter at home. Even though the pressure gauge wasn't working and has been twice replaced, these babies sealed and another one of Mike's random hobbies sits in another corner of our tiny apartment. But don't you live in New York City? I hear you asking. Why, yes. Not just New York City, but Brooklyn where from my bedroom window I can look out at the local Italian Mozzarella & Pasta store. Even if we found ourselves snowed in by 6 feet, we could still drop the fire escape and run across to pick up a jar of sauce. We may not be able to get emergency help or purchase a shovel, but there would be no shortage of pasta and wine.

Yesterday, while Mike was at work AGAIN because he now works about 60 hours a week and I was home elbow deep in embossing and doing wedding stuff since we have T-minus 29 days to go, I went to a get a glass of water in the kitchen and I caught myself laughing as I looked at these jars of potential Botchalism. He did this about two weeks ago, but there they sit, his creative energies thrown into canning, ensuring that in the event that we are starving, stranded, and very hungry in New York City, we will have jars of tomatoes to make a wicked sauce.

In other corners of our apartment sit longboards cause for a while he made and sold those. In another corner is a borrowed steam cleaner because he is going to deep clean our couch. Other corners include a busted stool he intends on fixing, three or four wireless keyboards and lots of old laptops, because he also built his computer and can do things like that. Our apartment is rigged with home-made surround sound through speakers and split wires he ties together, computers that play shows off the internet onto our television so we don't have to pay for cable and a recycled blu-ray player, dvd player and stereo receiver to play anything we want at whatever volume we want. Would you like to hear the show How I Met Your Mother while you chop onions in the kitchen? You got it. Blast Adele through the entire apartment building? Good morning, neighbors! Watch Jon Stewart's Daily Show at anytime of the day? Goodbye, Saturday night!  The man is a tinkerer. He tinkers and toys and needs a two story workshop just to house his goddamn hobbies. And even though I often get frustrated when I find things like a life-size real-as-shit Darth Vader mask/helmet nestled against my streamlined matching white Ikea mesh folders, I can't help but love the bizarro that is Mike. He is a man of a thousand interests and a million talents. And while we may never have an organized house and it may always look like the both of us just got out of college, (I, too, have a milk crate on the floor of the office filled with old plays and essays I've written) I'm excited to build a home with him that no matter where you look, no matter which corner you stand, you will find at the very least, an interesting conversation starter.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Knock, Knock...Stress is here.

And then I woke up...
After a summer filled with nightmares, now I can't sleep at all because holy shit, I'M GETTING MARRIED! Yeah, it's like all of the sudden the list of shit to do came and I can't sleep without thinking that I'm wasting perfectly good DIY time. The good news, I am channeling this new anxiety into creative energy that is coming out in placeholders and homemade embossed thank you cards. (Very nice, if I say so myself!) And being creative actually helps the anxiety. I really do enjoy some of the stuff I have to do. But, wow, the list feels long.

In my mind the list looks like what I thought Santa's list of naughty and nice kids might look like - One long scroll that once unwound rolls outside the workshop. Only this list does not read: "Bobby Johnson, Naughty, Coal....Janey Lou, Nice, Soccer Ball." This list reads more like, "How the fuck do you get a marriage license?!" or "Flower buckets! Do we need flower buckets?!" Everyone, keeps telling me not to stress out. And I wish that it was that easy. When I feel that hungry beast knocking at the door, I try not to let it it in, but somehow it sneaks into my mind. I literally don't feel sleepy. My mind and my hands keep moving. Two nights ago I finally forced myself to go to bed when it was clear that while I would like to jump into action, I actually am getting ahead of myself despite the overwhelming feeling of being behind. And in truth, I don't think I'm behind. It's just the nature of the beast. There are things I have to remind myself that I can't force. Things like RSVPs. At a certain point if a person does not respond, that is a response. But when do I accept that? While I am pumped and actually excited to make place cards, I have to know final numbers. And so I stopped myself. I could feel the crazy coming and I paused. I made myself food. I wrote a blog post. I broke the isolation I was starting to withdraw to and went outside. But I digress...

If I really strip away at my nerves, I think I am starting to fantasize about the day and thinking about walking down an "aisle" makes me a little nauseous. I actually feel very private about the ceremony and it's a little daunting to think about how many people will be watching us. I don't think I've ever kissed a guy in front of my Dad or anyone in my family for that matter. To me, I do care about the ceremony and I do take the commitment seriously and it feels like something so intimate should be private. Both Mike and I are not fans of being in the spotlight. And at a moment when we will both be so vulnerable, it makes my stomach turn to think of it being so public. But isn't that what it's all about? Declaring your love to the village? Making promises with a room full of witnesses? In the meantime, I will continue to not think about that moment and instead dirty my fingers with embossing powder and paper cuts and gel pens, because hey, we got a wedding in a few weeks!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living With Tigers

Since I was fifteen years old, I have had a reoccurring dream where I'm trapped in an empty house and I'm being stalked by something. Once it was a creepy man who was trying to kill a boy who lived in the walls of the house, and it was my job to kill the man before he got to the boy. Once it was something invisible. Something that would slam doors and lure me to an open window with a cool breeze and a dancing curtain only to be slammed shut just before I'd put my fingers down. It was something I never saw only felt.  Other times I have been stalked by a panther. A grizzly bear. A lion. A panther, again. But last week it was a tiger. A big beautiful Siberian tiger. And this time I thought I might win.

I found the tiger in a back room of the house. I had an axe in my hands and before the tiger realized what I was there for, I had chopped it in half. Two bloody halves of a tiger lay on the ground. I feel the first signs of victory that I finally killed the son of a bitch that has been threatening to eat me alive. But just as I put the axe down, the tiger lifts its head and looks at me. As I stand there, feeling my knees begin to shake, the tiger's tail whips up and smacks back down on the floor. As I'm backing out of the room, both halves of the tiger get back up. The headless half and the hindless half both turn in opposite directions as if they are peeling out and it dawns on me that now I will be stalked by two tigers who will come at me from two different angles. I quickly close the door and run further into the house looking for some sort of hide-out trying to save myself from the two tigers I created from one.

There are days when I wake up in the middle of this dream or some other dream, like the one where I'm on the beach and an 80 foot tidal wave is slowly approaching. I have nowhere to run, nothing I can do to save myself. I am resigned to my fate and so I just stand there feeling my heart beating in my chest for what I realize, in my dream, is the last time. There are the dreams when someone dies or the dreams when the dead are trying to talk to me and are taken away by a man that won't allow them to speak to me-the living. I wake up from these dreams soaked, the fear so paralyzing that it takes me a second before I can move, like when we were kids and we'd get so scared we'd just pull the sheets over us and hope whatever was out there would go away, think that we were sleeping or hopefully not see us at all. I feel my chest tight, my stomach full of moths, because these are not the good kind of butterflies. I will slowly get up and look at the clock. I will tell myself it was a dream, but sometimes it takes the fear too long to pass and I find myself second-guessing which world I am in. If it really was just a dream, why do I still feel so scared?

My dream life has been vivid and violent for as long as I can remember. I never remember the good dreams though I'm sure there have been many. It is the nightmares that I remember and that come back for more. I've tried keeping a dream journal and sometimes they get incorporated into my writing, but mostly I don't record them because I think I'd like to forget them. But the house dream never goes away. So I figured I would write about living with tigers and stomachs full of moths and tidal waves to see if maybe the nightmares will ease up a little once they have been laid down in text. Maybe they are kicked in high gear as my wedding day approaches; all my fears and excitement getting worked out in that damn house with the slamming doors and predatory animals that won't stay dead. Or like the other recurring dream I've had two or three times this year where I'm hiking up a hill in the forest and suddenly realize it is the end f hibernation season and if I'm not quiet like a mouse I will wake up a field full of grizzly bears, sometimes polar bears, who will be very hungry.  I dream of sleeping beasts I must not wake and stalking beasts I must try to hide from. Maybe it is the writing voice in me that wants to get out, angry at me for not finishing anything more than a blog post here and there and even that has been inconsistent lately. Maybe it is another part of me in there. Me as tiger. Me as me. Me as the boy in the walls and the invisible force. Or maybe it's just a damn dream.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ode to My Single Self: A Birthday Reflection

Another year, another marker. Last year, I actually did not blog on my birthday. I blogged the day before about Things I Learned In My Twenties and the day after about The First Day of My Decade. The year before, I mused about turning 29 and on my actual birthday just wished Mike a Happy Birthday, since, yes, we share the same birthday, but he was turning 30, so it seemed like a bigger deal. This year, I made it to 31! H-O-L-Y  S-H-I-T. Why does this feel so much older than 30? And yet, I have to admit, I feel pretty good to be gliding into my 30s, despite the many surprising "gifts" along the way which include one black chin hair (there I said it- what the fuck is that about?!!), skin biopsies and stretch marks, but you can read about those gems here. But last weekend, was my bachelorette weekend which also was a bit of a soulful women's retreat. There was good food and drink, there was a sing-along to Salt-n-Pepa's Shoop, and there were cartwheels on the beach.  There was soul-searching discussions on what's in a name and talks about parents and patterns, relationships and sex, finding ourselves at 30 and into our 30s and being grateful none of us got married in our twenties. We talked careers and passions and confusions, faith and ambition, children and the option of not becoming a mother, too. There were gut-busting laughs and tears from those laughs. There were tacos and tequila. 31 seems like a birthday not worth celebrating. I mean, once you hit 30, the next big one is 40. But for me, 31 is my last birthday as a "single" woman. My last birthday before I "take the plunge." So in the spirit of reflection, I have created an Ode to My Single Self...

Once you were free from promise or ring
A tough bitch in boots
With nothing but a pierced tongue for bling

You liked many a boy
And even loved a few
But never knew Cupid's ploy
For how you'd get together with your boo

It took not once, but twice
to make your relationship stick
But let's be honest here
You always knew he was your pick

Not state nor travels, ex-es nor time
Could keep you from a love
Nothing short of sublime
You might sometimes miss the days of being young and free
But you will never tire of hearing, "The redhead; She's with me."

There once was a time you never thought you'd be a wife
You dreamed of travels and love affairs
"A Different Kind of Life"
And yet, here you stand,31 with a wedding on the way
and yet still, "a different kind of life," I'd say
One more beautiful and brilliant than you ever could have dreamed
Even though marrying Eddie Vedder was possible, it seemed

Your friendships are abundant
On survival and recovery, you're a damn pundit
Your experiences have been rich
And you made it through everything without cast or stitch

Career, you have not
Nor mortgage nor child
But you found the right one
How Cupid beguiles!

So now here you are
Still wishing on stars
But at least there's one up in that sky
That now you can simply wish, "goodbye"

Mike, Happy Birthday to us! It's going to be an awesome year!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"H" is for Winners

So, while I have not been shy about my love for Instagram and am not afraid to post my shots on twitter, facebook, my blog, you name it, Mike is very much the opposite. He takes amazing shots and has lately decided to be a purist, not using filters and  capturing the most raw images he can. When I read about the818's helpful post on what to do with all of those instagram shots and introducing me to's awesome website which is how I put together my facebook timeline cover photo (as seen above) as well as my twiter background, I found this instagram photo contest hosted by phoozl where each week they go through the letter of the alphabet. (If the letter is "C" maybe you submit an awesome shot of a car.) I suggested to Mike he should try submitting. On his second submission, he won 3rd place for an amazing shot that has a really sweet significance. He called it "Star-Crossed Lovers" and the letter is "H." Check it out here and follow him on Instagram @danksdiggity or if you sign up for ink361 (which is awesome) you can check out his gallery here. You won't be disappointed. He's brilliant!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Letter to September 11th

I want you to no longer be a day where I get chills when the morning is too beautiful.
I want you to be a date that I can schedule a school fire drill and not have to cancel when we all realize the eerie or irreverent significance.
I want you to be a day where candidates don't use you to pander, a campaign talking point, an exploited version of remembrance.
I want you to be a day where I can forget where I was and how I felt watching a city burn.
I want you to no longer be a day when we splay the iconic images of your horror all over the media.
I want you to be a day that has enough space and enough peace and enough love that it really feels like healing.
I want you to be a day that has no memory, no history, no sadness.
I want you to be a day that is not the anniversary for anything.
I want you to be a day that never existed, a blank space in the cycle of life that never happened.
I want you to no longer be a day when we feel like assholes if we don't pay respect.
I want you to be a day that is just a day...

But you are not just a day.
You are not just an iconic image, or a campaign talking point, or an anniversary for nothing. You are not a blank space, but rather a huge space, too much of a space in our history, not just of this country, but of us, we the people...the wife, the son, the fiance, the daughter, the grandmother, the delivery man, the construction worker, the fireman, the mayor, the college student.

We have no choice but to pay our respects because in doing so we get that much closer to the day when maybe it can be one filled with peace and love and healing.
We have no choice but to acknowledge this day as more than just a day, but an anniversary, a day to reflect, a day to grieve, a day to be grateful for the loved ones we have in our lives.

I no longer talk about the memories of that day. It's enough to remember them when I realize the date. Instead I try to remember to thank the universe for the life that I have and the people I have the pleasure to enjoy it with. I try to remember the good over the bad. I try to remember. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

What A Difference A Menu Tasting Can Make...

Last night Mike and I were invited to a group menu tasting  hosted by our venue/caterer for couples getting married in the fall. Because the venue's menu changes with what is in season, though we are less than 50 days away from the big day, we still had no idea what we would be serving. Much to our delight, the food was phenomenal and we stuffed ourselves right! We put on our best snobby foodie hats and laughed our way through judging whether we should serve the Chicken Marbella or the cider glazed salmon with dill remoulade? The Hawaiin beef skewers with pineapple glaze or the mini chorizo arepas with cilantro crema? Can we pair the Spanish white with the California red? And of course we both loved what seemed like the most unpopular selection there - the chicken liver mousse tea sandwiches!

Seeing the venue all dressed up in strung lights and tables draped in heavy linens and tea light candles, I was beside myself. It really is beautiful. And despite my stress dreams, (including the one last night where I spill oil all down my wedding dress the day before the wedding), I FINALLY  felt excitement where there has been anxiety. I felt relief at what a perfect place it is for the both of us instead of worrying how it would fit all of our guests. But most importantly, I saw that handsome man across the room collecting a plate full of mini cupcakes and tres leches cake and guava tartlets beaming as he headed my way, and I was overcome with gratitude that I 'm going to marry that man and that appetite.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Roses & Gratitude

I don't have much to say right now. But I wanted to post a picture of flowers and send silent thoughts of gratitude into the universe for giving me the life that I have and placing all of the beautiful people I hold so dear within it. A familiar sentence keeps playing in my head: "Enjoy the beauty and drama of life."  It never ceases to amaze me the beauty that can present itself during the drama of life.