Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Now don't get me wrong - my position on this issue is a nuanced one. I'm all for a little consumerism and I love the idea that I might get surprised with a Birthday / Anniversary / Holiday present that is, say, a lovely new sparkly pink unsolicited iPod, but I have a terrible time demanding that such iPod be purchased.
Of course, the irony is that both my family and Mr F work on this premise (i.e., "It's your Birthday. What do you want?"). Needless to say, I end up not getting presents for many events because I cannot - without oodles of guilt - make such demands.
I'm pretty sure this guilt comes from a variety of sources - (1) my parents not having a ton of extra money when we were growing up, (2) their stress about said lack of money (and as a corollary, their kind reminders that that we didn't have spare money and thus I should appreciate every cent spent on my dolls (first), clothes (later), and college (ultimately)) and (3) finally, the oy vey on the crown of the Chosen people - Jewish guilt. The latter of which can account for pretty much every neuroses I have - from fear of airplanes to malnourishment. That being said, I'm absolutely sure it has a place here as well.
And while we're playing psychologist, if I had to venture a guess, I think that never writing a "list" to Santa (flat out telling the big guy what I want) has clearly had some far-reaching ramifications. I knew I was totally getting screwed with Chanukah, no matter what my parents claimed! Eight days, schmeight days.
Given my giant black sack of gift issues (gissues?), you might be able to imagine what a frickin conundrum "registering" has been.
At first, I thought "Well, put a ring on my finger and call me a wizard! If this isn't the best and most exciting thing in the WORLD! I can go around and pick things I like and they will just 'poof'...appear!"
Even before I got engaged this seemed like a pretty good gig. I actually remember watching the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" (like 900 times) and thinking how fab-u-loso it must be to walk into Tiffany's and just PICK THINGS.
My goodness, my Guinness, I have wanted to walk into Tiffany's and pick out things my whole life. Now I can! The magical ring gives me a power I have never had before. Precious, indeed.
But then, as I started to browse online and ponder what we "needed," I had an enlightenment.
I began to suspect that the items are not magically delivered to my doorstep and it seemed highly plausible that little wedding fairies are not the ones who place them on my kitchen counter while I am asleep. Perhaps...real live people buy these for me. People who work. A lot. They spend their hard earned money on the silver-plated soft boiled egg holder or the trio of pewter hand crafted bowls. It dawned on me that registering was doing exactly what I hated. I was asking people to buy me things.
And expensive things. That I don't normally buy. Ever. As I've mentioned numerous times, I try to buy things at discount stores. So going into Bloomingdales and registering for a $50 towel, when I know that I can buy that same towel at TJ Maxx for $10 is painful. It's like throwing away forty dollars. But it got worse than that. Because of China.
Sorry, I don't mean Beijing, or the home of the 2008 Olympics. (Although I'm still reeling over the fact that they wouldn't let the girl sing who was deemed "not pretty enough" to be the face of the Opening Ceremony.) Anyway, I meant "little c": china.
My family doesn't have heirloom china. And I love to cook. So it only makes sense that I would register for china, right?
Flash forward to Bed, Bath and Beyond (where I agreed to register since everyone can use the plethora of coupons they provide and everything will be 20% less). I am standing with my Mom in front of the china. Crying. I cannot believe that it costs $160 per place setting. Per place setting! And a place setting doesn't even include a SOUP BOWL. The point at which a place setting stopped including a soup bowl is clearly beside the point - but holy soup du jour - that is $220 for 5 pieces of china. Multiplied by 12. And my fiance is a total klutz. That adds up to well, approximately a few thousand dollars worth of heartbreak and broken china.
My mom is speaking to me in calming tones about passing down these bowls to the next generation. But it's just so much money. I can't get over it. (Note that the salesgirl is looking at me as if I am insane. I'm sure many people come in and pick the $300/per place setting without a second thought. I am clearly not that person.)
Despite my inability to pull the trigger (literally, I can't figure out how to work the stupid "scanner gun"), I do have to register for things. People will want to buy gifts for my shower and I don't want to end up with 10 coffee makers. (Or do I? Yum, I love coffee.) To avoid spending all of my days on the return line at Macy's, I need to register for things and so, it might as well be china. Because if I don't choose china, then I will just end up selecting...well, crap. And at full price. A spatula at $19.95? I mean, come on! It's a spatula. It's plastic. It should be no more than $5.
And to top it all off, the silliest part is that registering doesn't even get you what you want (or at least what I want) because you can't register at 20 stores for one thing each. If I push out of the way the troubling feeling in my stomach caused by demanding my friends spend tons of money on me and think about what it is that I really want, I realize that it's unique and beautiful heirloom items that I can't "register" for. I would love a piece of framed art or photography (bought online or from an artist's gallery) that we would have forever hanging on our wall that I would always remember was a wedding gift. Or I would like a menorah (not the ugly ones at Bloomingdale's or Bed Bath and Beyond but something beautiful and handmade) that I will imagine my kids will remember as the one they used for lighting the Chanukah candles each year. Or a totally unique hand crafted platter to serve food on at holidays - not the same one that a million people have in their homes because we all registered at the same place.
My head is spinning. And it's lunchtime. So I will make one demand that I feel wholly comfortable making. I'm going to let Mr. Chiu know that I would very much like him to deliver me some sushi.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Every time I try to start this post, a million different ideas float through my head. So I've erased my first sentence five times so far. In fact, although I haven't erased the previous two sentences (yet), I have no idea where this post is going. The problem right now is that there are SO many wedding-related balls in the air right now that I'm really not sure what to write because I can't focus on a single one.
Instead, all of them have taken up residence in my head swirling around on a constant loop. As I'm walking to work thoughts just sort of dart through my mind - I have to find another Cantor! Should I delegate the gift bags to my mom like my maid of honor suggested? I have to email her back to thank her for that suggestion. I have to call the event coordinator to ask about changing the tasting time! And that's just the ride downstairs in the elevator.
I'm exhausted by the time I arrive at my office.
The thoughts whiz through my head like airplanes on the beach during a three-day weekend advertising dollar drafts at the local dive bar. Flying fast and furious, back and forth. Before I can finish reading one, the next is already encroaching. And as a result, I squeeze my eyes shut and try to fall asleep. Or bury a hole in the sand and crawl inside.
The only thing worse than thinking of all the things that I have to do, is thinking about all the things that I'm waiting on other people for. Sweet malibu rum, I hate waiting on other people to get back to me.
Right now I'm doing a lot of waiting. Which is worse than a bikini bottom full of sand and no shower to be found anywhere. (Clearly, as fall approaches, I'm already missing the lazy days of summer. Granted, I haven't had lazy days on the beach for at least a year, since I moved from San Diego, but that's another story for another day...or a mental breakdown waiting to happen). Where was I?
Oh yes. Waiting.
For what, you might be asking? (A good question.)
I'm waiting for my "day of" event coordinator to call me back. I'm waiting for my parents to confirm that they can attend the tasting if we change the date. I'm waiting for Mr F to get me the addresses of his friends.
I HATE WAITING.
I also despise waiting until after the Jewish holidays to meet with the new Cantor we found. I abhor waiting to hear back from restaurants I contacted about hosting our rehearsal dinner. I loathe waiting to get responses from international resorts I contacted about honeymoon resorts.
How can I get anything done if I'm constantly waiting for other people to complete their tasks? Planning a wedding is like a giant group project for Sophomore year English class. I hate group projects. I hate delegating. Because everyone lets me down and I end up doing twice as much work. (You can imagine that I am the paradigm of efficiency in the workplace.)
And did I mention that I hate waiting to hear back from my event coordinator? (You might know her best as Big Hugs.) And by "did I mention," I mean "I know I mentioned," but I don't think I really got into the meaty goodness of this topic and instead of nibbling on the bun of my boardwalk burger, I'd like to dive right in to the juicy center.
Lunch aside, the larger issue is this: I'm starting to hate my wedding coordinator. Yes, we definitely started off the wrong foot when she sent me an email addressing me by the wrong name. But I vowed not to let that affect me. And thus, it is the fact that she consistently does not return my phone calls or emails or morse code or pony express telegrams that annoys me and has not engendered a great deal of faith in her abilities.
While I understand that my wedding is still five months away and that she must have a boatload of brides to deal with, I hate the radio silence treatment.
This is all I would like when I contact her; a return email as follows:
I got your email. Thanks for contacting me! I am looking into your requests and will be in touch as soon as I can with answer.
I would then like a substantive answer a few days later. Does that seem unreasonable? (No really, does it?)
But instead I get nothing. I have about a million questions to ask her and she won't call me back. And while I'm on the topic of Things I Do Not Like (also known as "Hate"), I also hate that I feel like everything I ask her is a "favor" somehow. And that I need to somehow pick and choose what I ask her to help me with.
Why do I feel this way? Because everytime I ask if the venue can do something for us, it's met with Big Sighs and then my favorite response: "I'll have to check and get back to you." Translation: "I will probably forget about this until you call and email me four more times, adding a ton of stress on to your shoulders and adding, but not subtracting, a single thing from your mile long list."
I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT THEY WILL GET BACK TO ME.
With respect to my most recent questions, I finally did hear back from her. And what did I hear exactly? - That she never got my email. Yes, you read that correctly. I think my coordinator just pulled the "dog ate my homework" excuse of wedding coordination. (Despite the fact that I got an "out of office" auto reply from her after I sent the email, which demonstrates that she did indeed get the email; perhaps I should have explained that not "getting" the email and not "reading" or "responding" to the email are two entirely different things.) Not to mention that I left two voicemail messages.
Now I have to go order the pin I want to wear in my hair for the wedding since I can't do my hair trial until I have it. Which means I can't book someone to do my hair. And until I do my hair I can't schedule a make-up trial. Which is all very frustrating, because the hair pin is backordered so I need to wait a month for it to arrive.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Except that I wasn't actually dreaming. I was recalling the events of Sunday. Traumatic, no?
On Sunday, we were set to meet with Mr F's Cantor. This gentleman is a friend of Mr F's parents and also was there for the Bar Mitzahs of both Mr F and his younger brother. As my family doesn't go to temple and has no relationship with any Jewish officiant, this seemed like a no-brainer. (Note that not belonging to a temple does not apparently preclude my mother from going into hysterics at the mere mention of having a wedding that is not Jewish and/or is not conducted by a Jewish officiant and/or is during the Sabbath - a weekly event that I have never seen anyone in my family observe. Interesting phenomenon.)
As we pulled up to the Cantor's house I began to get inexplicably nervous. Butterflies were kicking around in my stomach and keeping the rhythm as we knocked on the door. The Cantor peered out at us. He was an older gentleman, and looked to be in his sixties, with the thick bifocaled eyeglasses that I associated with, well, Rabbis and other older Jewish people. "Mista EFFFFF. Soooo good ta see yooouuuuu." He spoke with the Yiddish/Hebrew accent that marked a New York Jew more plainly that holding a bagel with lox in the left hand and a Coney Island hot dog in the right one. (If you are having trouble picturing how you should be reading all of this dialogue, might I draw you by way of example to Mel Brook's character Yogurt in "Spaceballs".)
He shook Mr F's hand as we continued to stand out on his porch. Mr F said "This is E&E, my fiance." He shook my hand as well. We all stood on the porch awkwardly for another thirty seconds before it occurred to the Cantor to say "Come in, come in. Take a seat," as he indicated to a few couches in the corner.
We sat down on the couches and the Cantor started to make small talk with Mr F about his parents. And then he moved on to speaking about his own children. "My son, my son - he is a big time lawyer. He graduated from HARVARD. He works for a big firm now. Because he went to HARVARD. He was always such a good student. HARVARD!"
I found myself tuning out and looking around the room. I was used to the "kvelling" of Jewish parents. It was their icebreaker. Instead of "how are you" they say "my kids, they are amazing!" Although this was going on for longer than usual.
I tuned back in. He was now telling a story about how the judge that his son worked for bought him a Chanukah present of two rare Jewish texts - and the judge wasn't even Jewish! "What a mensch! Who can believe it? Me, for one, I could not believe my son to be so lucky."
This was getting a little ridiculous.
Mr F gallantly steps in to say "E&E is a lawyer."
The Cantor looks at me, nods, and goes back to speaking about his son. Two minutes later, he pauses and I think we're going to get down to chatting about me and Mr F, perhaps discuss how we met and what we were looking for in our ceremony. But instead, the Cantor starts speaking about his daughter. She's a doctor. They are so blessed, to have both a doctor and a lawyer. (I swear, you can't make this stuff up.)
And he goes on to talk about how she lives on the Upper East Side of New York, about her apartment - it's a co-op!, her job at the hospital (she had two offers at hospitals in NY - how to choose?) and how beautiful she is. Mr F is waved over the the refrigerator where her pictures are hanging up and duly acknowledges her beauty. And then, just when I think that discussion of the daughter has dried up - he goes on to discuss her son - his grandson ("the light of his life"). And how he loves bunnies and has tons of toys. Fascinating.
At which point, he says "Well, we should get down to it, no?" and I breathe a sigh of relief. I was thinking we would never talk about our ceremony - last I could recall, the actual reason we were here. And before I can open my mouth to ask a question, he says "so, first you come in and I chant the two blessings of betrothal. They are quite melodic and lovely. You will like them. Then I will chant the seven blessings. And I will need a piano. You have a keyboard right? They are wonderful. I say the prayer and then 'la la' the piano goes and it's wonderful." I'm looking around like a mouse caught in a trap (but I definitely got screwed on this one because I never saw even a damned square of swiss cheese). What in Moses' name was going on here? I thought that he knew from my Future Mother in Law that we didn't want any Hebrew in the ceremony? (Or at least "limited" Hebrew.) This sounded like our wedding was a brief visit to the Whaling Wall.
I knit my eyebrows together; I'm trying to use my ESP to get Mr F to look at me. He won't. Because he can feel the hate radiating across the couch over to him.
So I break into the Cantor's diatribe. "Uhm, Cantor - I think we need to take a step back. Perhaps FMIL didn't mention this to you, but we were under the impression that you knew that we didn't want a religious ceremony. We're not religious. So we don't really think that all these blessings are appropriate for us."
Mr F chimes in "Yeah, I don't believe in anything. I'm like the anti-Jew." A little much, but he's trying to help.
But I was proud. Now it was out there. He knew how we felt. We could move on and discuss some alternate English readings or other ways to incorporate the Jewish culture in to the ceremony without the stuffy verse.
"You will love the melodies. We will do the blessings. I will play them for you now. Listen."
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he pulls out a tiny Walkman tape recorder, circa 1988, and instead of playing Prince's "Kiss", he presses play and we start hearing chanting. And more chanting. I look over at the Cantor and he's closing his eyes and lip syncing the words (actually much like I did when I was 12 and dancing around the house to a Prince song). I turn to look at Mr F who's sitting to my left and he is laughing so hard that his face is turning red.
I think I just got a disturbing glimpse into the boy that Mr F was at age 12. I felt like it was B'nai Mitzvah prep class all over again.
And since we were all reverting to age 12, I leaned into the couch and looked out the window and let my mind go blank as it used to when I was stuck in temple or doing anything religious (which is why I don't want to have that very same music at my wedding), concentrating on the fact that it really is quite amazing that the New Kids on the Block are getting back together and remembering that I (ironically) won a giant NKOTB poster at our former temple's annual Purim Fair (and wondering where in the world that darn thing is now...my parents' basement?). A few minutes later it was quiet. Mr F was trying to discreetly wipe away the tears of laughter from the corner of his eye and control his giggles.
"Well?" The Cantor was looking at Mr F. In fact, it seemed that unless I was speaking, the Cantor always looked at Mr F. I brushed the back of my hand across my cheeks. Perhaps I had a stowaway crumb and the Cantor couldn't bear to look at it any longer?
"Well, Cantor, it's a beautiful melody. But it's not really us. As E&E just mentioned, we're really not religious and we had hoped to skip all of the blessings in Hebrew and --"
"You can't hear on the tape properly. I will play for you. Come to the piano."
And like pigs, er - cows to the slaughter, we dragged ourselves over to the piano. My stomach grumbled. It was already seven o clock and I hadn't eaten lunch. I wanted a cheeseburger. Or lobster. Or a bacon cheeseburger lobster sandwich. I really was reverting to a passive aggressive twelve-year old.
"Let me get some hot tea. I need to prepare my throat." And so we waited while the Cantor sipped some tea to prepare his throat. We just stood by. Helpless. Prisoners of the seven blessings. My cheeseburger lobster sandwich would also have mayo on it.
And then he sat down at the piano and began to sing. A whole bunch of Hebrew stuff that I didn't know. And he kept going. And going. I looked around his house. He continued to sing. I began to meditate (if meditating involves violence and hatred). I imagined myself taking a mallet and smashing the piano. And then yelling at the Cantor that he needed to SHUT UP and listen to what we had to say. He continued to sing.
And when he was done, once again he looked at Mr F and he said "See! I told you that you would like it - it is a festive melody! When there is a festive occasion, you play a festive melody!" Finally he turned to me and said, "Right? Isn't this what you would play for a happy occasion?" To which I responded:
Mr F looked at me with concern - his crazy Hebrew music-hating bride. And I looked back at him - squinting my eyes as if to say "I thought we were on the same page - I thought neither of us wanted chanting!!"
To which he responding - without saying a word - "I don't want chanting - but this is my parents' friend. SO BE NICE."
At the same time Mr F's eyes were warning me, the Cantor said, "I don't know what you mean."
I thought for a moment and then said: "Well, I would play something that I actually understand. I don't understand a word you just said. I would play the Beatles, or Jack Johnson, or something that means something to me. This is precisely the reason that we don't want Hebrew in our ceremony. We don't know what you're saying."
"Would you like me to sing it again?"
Mr F and I were a team again; we exchanged bewildered glances and a silent "NO!" but before we have even finished the conversation with our eyes, the Cantor has broken into song. Again.
Do you understand?? HE IS SINGING AGAIN. It's like we're in a Bob Fosse musical. I can feel that we're just two minutes away from jazz hands and excessive wearing of black tights.
I can't believe it, but I am the father in "Footloose." I hate music. It is evil. It kills young girls driving in cars at high speeds.
"Cantor, Cantor - it's beautiful, but I just don't think it's 'us'," Mr F finally interrupts him.
The Cantor pauses for a moment and looks pensive; then he exclaims in glee, "OK, I will read it to you in English! Then we can use that...although of course I have to read the last verse in Hebrew or you're not married."
And before we can say "no thank you", he is off to the races. And this is what he read:
Blessed are You, our God, King of the universe, Who has created everything for His glory.
Blessed are You, our God, King of the universe, Who fashioned the Man in His image, in the image of his likeness and prepared for him from himself a building for eternity. Blessed are You, Who fashioned the Man.
So I decide to lay down the law and tell the Cantor my feelings on Judaism and what we really want and that if he can't provide it, that we fully respect that, but perhaps this isn't the best match. But instead, I start to cry.
Holy burning bush, Batman. I jump up and run out the door.
I walk around our car and take deep breaths before returning back inside. I apologize, having decided that I'll make it through this meeting if it's the last thing I do.
Luckily, a little tears seemed to moisten the gears of the Chosen People's negotiation as the Cantor pronounced: "OK. I think...we do not need to do the Seven Blessings."
"Cantor," Mr F says, "How about we run through the entire ceremony so that E&E and I get a sense of the whole thing?"
"OK. Well, first, before the ceremony you will sign the ketubah. Do you have a ketubah?"
"You must get a ketubah. You can get it in a Jewish bookstore."
"OK, thank you."
"And then, after we sign the ketubah - do you have a ketubah yet?"
"You can get one anywhere - in a Jewish bookstore, online, whatever. But you must get one."
"And you need an easel. To display it during the ceremony."
"Are you going to display your ketubah in the home?"
"We don't know. We don't have one yet."
The Cantor goes on to explain that during the signing of the ketubah portion prior to the ceremony, he will ask Mr F if he agrees to take on the very important responsibility of caring for his new bride. And he starts to move on to the next portion of the ceremony.
"Excuse me - but Cantor - what do I say?"
He looks at me. "You do not say anything. I am asking Mr F if he is ready to take on his responsibility."
"But I think we should share the responsibility."
He looks at me as if I am a slow child. A very slow child. "Well you know E&E, should things not work out - things aren't really equal. You know that he would have more responsibility. So he must agree to this."
"No, I'm sorry, Cantor. But I disagree. I think we both should have the responsibility."
He looks at me kindly, as one might look at an injured mare before shooting it in the head to put it out of its sad misery. "But that's not how it really is, E&E."
"Actually Cantor...I'm a lawyer. And that is how it really is. There is this thing they have now - it's called 'No Fault Divorce.' So that's how it is."
Let's just say that this continued on. And on. And on. The Cantor broke into song no less than two or three more times. He pressed us to include other blessings. And all of it was fine for I had already resolved that we were not using him. That being said, the moment we left I burst into tears again in the car.
I just thought it would be so different.
I thought he would ask us about ourselves and want to know us and hear about the hilarious story about how we met in California (even thought we were both from NJ!) and hear about our first and perhaps our second dates (the second date being the day after the first, and yes, the third being the day after the second). I imagined that after knowing us, we would transition into explaining how we envisioned our ceremony and the Cantor would work with us to reach that goal.
Mr F and I drove in silence for a few moments (except for my sniffling) before he asked if I wanted to talk about it. I tried to explain but wasn't doing a very good job. At which point Mr F said to me, "How about some pizza?"
He looked at me as I dried the tears from my cheeks and under my eyes. I held up two fingers: "I want TWO slices."
We made a quick jughandle and popped into Scotty's pizza on Route 33 in New Jersey. Sweet ten commandments, was it a crappy day - but boy, this was the best frickin pizza ever.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Mr F and I spent the weekend in New Jersey. Yes, again.
The reason for our trip was two-fold. However, I will discuss only one of those folds here. The other fold turned out to be of origami-like proportions and was so truly disastrous and so nuanced in said disaster, that I need to - in the words of Mr F - "take some time before blogging about it, both so I calm down, and second, to make sure I don't post it so rashly that I forget to write about the full extent of the craziness." Amen.
The first reason we went home was because my Mom specifically asked me if she could help me pick out my invitations. Now here's the thing: I've actually been looking at invites online for months now and had found a bunch of great options and thought I would order them that way.
But, clearly this was something my Mom wanted to do together and so I agreed to take a 200 mile trip home to satisfy my mom's desire to, well, "play mom."
This part of the weekend (Saturday) was not crazy. Not a disaster. Just a par for the course New Jersey visit.
We woke up early that morning and drove to a wedding store to go look at some books of invitations.
Our drive to the store was typical for our relationship.
"Have you figured out what type of cards you are going to place on the tables with the numbers? My friend Jen said you could buy individual picture frames to hold the table numbers."
"No, Mom. I'm too busy trying to plan a rehearsal dinner, a honeymoon and meet with our musicians, florist and other vendors to take care of the big picture items. I can't do that other stuff yet since this part is so time consuming for just one person."
"Have you figured out what you're going to put in the out-of-towners' wedding welcome bags yet?"
"No, Mom. You might recall, as I mentioned about ten seconds ago, I have all these big picture things to take care of. [Pause.] Would you like to help me plan the rehearsal dinner? That would actually be really helpful to me."
"Oh honey, you know that I don't know Baltimore! I wouldn't even know where to begin!"
"Actually Mom, I've only lived here like 5 months and I don't really know it well either. But you can do some research on the Internet for me - that would be helpful."
"Sweetie, you know that I don't know how to do research on the Internet. I just wouldn't know what to do!!"
"Well, you could call places I've found and get information for me. That would be great."
"Well, I'm just so busy these days with school and all! The school year just started and I'm working till 4:00 every day! It's just so busy."
"So honey, have you thought about how where you will put the place cards out for everyone?"
I have to say, once we arrived at the shop, it was pretty easy. Given all my previous research, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted. Unlike a dress, where you do tons of research and get there only to realize that everything you like looks terrible on you and you have nothing to tell the saleswoman that can possibly be helpful, with invitations, the Internet research really helped me out since I could give a brief description of what I was looking for and quickly browse through to see if I liked or didn't like something.
It also helped (I guess) that I was exhausted by obsessing over every decision and had mentally decided to just pick something and go with it. So I picked out three invitations that seemed do-able, called Mr F, had him come meet me (and Mom) at the store and asked for his ok on one of the three.
With the swiftness that only a disinterested and apathetic groom can muster up, he immediately picked the horizontal rectangular style invitation and gave a succinct and compelling reason for his decision: "I like this one, it's horizontal which is different from all the other ones. Just like us - we're different." And bam, we were done. I just had to pick out the fonts and and come back the next day with the wording.
And so we went home, I had a glass of wine with my parents (the cork doesn't fall far from the tree), and sat down at the kitchen table looking at the book of invites I brought home with me so I could choose the lettering before I went back tomorrow. And suddenly, I HATED the horizontal style. It didn't look right. And I felt like it looked like a ticket. An entrance ticket to the wedding. People might start handing the valet their wedding ticket. Or tearing off the end to keep the stub. And it was also very formal. Which I liked that morning. But now I HATED. I'm not formal! Mr F isn't formal! We're not stuffy people! This invitation would be a mockery of our personalities. That was when my mom called down to me to say it was time for us to leave for our dinner reservation.
I returned 2 hours later, still thinking continuously about horizontal invites, but filled with more red wine and a double-sized portion of zuppa de pesce. I sat back in front of the invites. Like the clams and scallops I had just consumed, they were swimming in front of my eyes. And all I could think was that Mr F hasn't made one decision about the whole wedding and now that he finally has, I wanted to undermine his invitation selection.
The next morning I resumed my post at the table watching the invites (as if they might suddenly jump off the page and scream "pick me! I am the Right Invitation For You!") five minutes before I needed to leave the house. I still had not committed to which invite I was going to order because I couldn't decide if Mr F would be annoyed if I switched to the one he didn't pick.
But (being the overwhelmingly obsessive person that I am) I decided that I couldn't let sleeping invitations lie, and I approached him in our computer room.
"Hmm?" [Mr F doesn't even look away from the computer. He's helping my Dad set up the new iPod we got him for his birthday.]
"I know that you picked out the rectangular invitation as the one you want to use, but do you like the others? I mean, would it bother you if we used the others?? Because if it bothers you, then that's ok and I won't do anything. But if you don't really care one way or the other, I think I like the other one better. But if you really like the one you picked and don't like the other one, then that's fine and we can stick with that."
Mr F glances up at me and looks at me with a face that simultaneously recognizes that he always knew I was crazy but also seems confused at the new level of obsession and lunacy that I might have reached. "Honestly, they're all fine. I really don't care. You just made me pick one. So I did."
Well that's that, I suppose.
I went and ordered the one I wanted. Order was restored in my wacked-up mind. For now.
And no I did not forget that there's a second half to this story. The second reason for going to NJ over the weekend was to meet with Mr F's childhood cantor (and my in-laws close family friend). All I can say is that I should have seen this one coming, but I didn't. Unlucky for me, but likely funny for you, the experience brought us to new depths of wedding planning hideousness. And so, it shall be a post all unto itself. L'Chaim!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Speaking of numbers, I've got one for ya. (You didn't think the heart palpitations were coming from nowhere, did you?)
One hundred and seventy three.
ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THREE.
ONNNNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEE HUNDREEEED AND SEVEENNNNNTY THRRRRRREEE! (That last "stheventy three" by the way, I sort of envision being spit out by Daffy Duck with his trademark lisp. I guess that's not PC, but I'm not the one who created him; I'm just the gal who watched too many cartoons as a kid.)
Do you know what that is? Do you? Oh, I think you DO.
Last night, I was sealing the last of our Save The Dates. And as I did so, I thought to myself, "Well, isn't that an awful lot of Save The Dates!" (I've been watching a lot of "Mad Men" and now my inner monologue sounds disturbingly similar to a 1959 housewife.) I looked at the pile of those that had not been sent and realized it was only about ten. And then I realized....WAIT. If we ordered 100 invitations, and only ten were left...and most of our friends were couples...then...oh sweet jebus. I pulled up our wedding spreadsheet (a term that should used loosely, lest anyone think I might actually be organized) and started counting (or trying my best to piece together a final number).
And then I realized.
Our current invite list is 173 people.
It's good that I'm swaddled in the warm golden blanket of Chardonnay, because when I wake up tomorrow I suspect that this post will be edited heartily to reflect the fact that I am freaking out. FREAKING OUT. Where did my small wedding go? I could have sworn I saw it here just moments ago. After all, so many other things had come and gone, but Relatively Small Wedding, YOU were here to stay!!
Something else that is no longer in my life: my nest egg. Because the amount of money I budgeted for our wedding has been far exceeded and we are now dipping into the yolk of my savings. Which seriously pains me. So much so that I have more heart palpitations. That pitter patter is the sound of money oozing out of my soft-boiled bank account.
I understand that this might not sound exactly like a crisis to most people, but the thing is that I'm a Saver. Not a Spender. Now the detectives among you might have picked up on this from the fact that I had an entire post about discount shopping. And while I think a wedding is nice and all, it's not what I would spend my hard-earned savings on. I understand those who do, but it's just not me. I prefer more tangible things. What I want is a house. With a yard. And an open kitchen. And a pony. (OK, not a pony.) But what I don't want to spend my hard-saved money (which is a whole other story) on is the all-too-intangible wedding event where for the small price of $45k, I get to feel like a princess for a grand total of eight hours, until of course the moment the clock strikes midnight, the DJ packs up and leaves, I remove my fabulous satin slippers (only to find terrible blisters), and while still standing in my ludicrously expensive wedding gown, my tiara is traded in for a big fat bill. (And no, holding a bill for said event does not make the event itself "tangible.")
(As a postscript, I feel in the interest of truth I should disclose that I'm sitting in front of the television watching a PBS special on Billy Joel and as I write I hear the ballads that were the soundtrack of my youth, such as "Just The Way You Are" and "She's Always A Woman". This is not only making me feel melancholy and causing me to write unnecessarily depressed and manic postings but I'm also feeling oddly compelled to drink more, get a public nasty divorce and to marry a woman who is a third my age and looks disturbingly similar to my daughter.)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
So I dashed off an email to Mr F, telling him he had to lay down the law with his mom about our "No Guests" policy and while I was at it, I told him to tell her that no kids (excepting our nephew) were invited either. Might as well throw in the kitchen sink.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Anyway, this is only a brief post (I know, famous last words), to mention a story that I had completely forgotten to post until I was talking to a friend and listing reasons my parents are driving me crazy. And then I remembered this story.
First, you need to know that Mr F has some seriously wackadoodle allergies. He is allergic to fish, but not to shellfish and he is allergic to nuts and seeds, but not to peanuts. I know, it's the opposite of your typical allergies. Which I like since (a) I prefer lobster to halibut and (b) Mr F is pretty much opposite of a typical person. But Mr F hates when I blog about him, so I'll stop. Well, actually this whole story is pretty much peripherally about him, but I'll stop discussing his allergies. Not that they're not fun to talk about.
(But I do have one last thing to say while I'm on the topic. I have to admit that I almost thought our relationship wouldn't work when I learned about the allergies because of one word: sushi. Sushi is by far the most magical food in the world. In fact, if fish didn't have gills, I think they would have wings. Little flying angels that hop into my mouth in a savory disembodied way. (Note that nothing about my vision involves actually fish parts or eyes or anything icky like that.) By the way, I have thought about this long and hard and I have come to the following conclusion: the fish used in sushi is treated with some sort of addictive crack dust that is not visible to the naked eye. This is not a hypothetical. It must be true.
Anyway, what happens when a sushi lover meets a boy who is allergic to sushi? Well, she immediately plans to dump him. For those of you who judge me, a stomach flu on your house! You don't know what it's like to truly love...food. Luckily, Mr F first suggested that we go out for sushi, at which point I realized that Mr F was perfectly willing to eat the lamest kind of sushi - cooked seafood. Mr F basically likes the Ryan Seacrest of sushi - bland and adored by the masses - shrimp tempura rolls. (And uh, free of fish.) But while I hate American Idol, a little pre-Golden Globes red carpet never hurt no one, and Mr F and I found a beautiful happy medium for his allergies and my true love of sushi.) <---Note that is not a wayward parentheses, I just decided that my parenthetical was long, so I broke it up nicely in to paragraphs. You're welcome.
That being said, Mr F has allergies.
So about a month ago, I told my mom that we scheduled the tasting for the wedding food. If I can be honest (and I can, because my mom hasn't gotten this blog's link yet), I didn't really want my parents to go. My dad causes me a lot of anxiety in restaurants because nothing seems to meet his expectations (which is essentially getting a fillet mignon off the Wendy's dollar menu). In addition, I really think that the food should be our (Mr F and my) decision. I know we're not paying for it, but this is our gig. Let us choose the food. After all, do we not all agree that I pretty much obsess about food 24-7? But the parents are coming to the food tasting and I didn't fight it because I saw this fight happen when my brother got married and I don't have the energy to fight it.
So my parents asked to get a copy of the menu options, which I provided them, and after reviewing it thoroughly (dutifully expressing dissatisfaction at how few options there were) they started telling me what they liked. (Mr F is going to lay an egg when he reads this by the way - luckily, Mr F is not allergic to eggs. Unless they're fish eggs.)
And so my mom tells me that they are interested in the following appetizers to be passed during the cocktail hour: pesto chicken and the sesame skewers, among a few other things.
Let's break this down, shall we? Pesto is made with...you got it - pine nuts - to which Mr F is allergic. And sesame skewers - even less of a mystery - sesame seeds! Pure allergy joy.
So I suggested to my mom that perhaps we choose other, less nutful options to be served at the cocktail hour. To which my mom (who is fully aware of the allergen situation), says:
"Why on earth would you want to do that? Mr F doesn't need to eat every single hors d'oeuvres!"
Uhm...really? He doesn't? Don't you think, as someone who suffers from allergies and spends their whole life asking waitresses "what's in that?", there should be one day in your life that you can just pick up hors d'oeuvres off a platter with reckless abandon? And by gosh, shouldn't that day be your frickin wedding day?
Not to mention the fact that having my new husband go into anaphylaxis before we have even entered our reception might be a teensy bit inconvenient. (OK, he actually doesn't have a full anaphylactic response, but his throat does swell up and medical attention might be warranted.) Either way - not exactly how I envisioned my wedding day. But now that I think about it, I might want to get a medical kit wrapped in a ribbon with our wedding colors - the pictures will be adorable!
As my face turned redder with anger than a fresh piece of ahi tuna sushi, I tried to contain myself. But screw it, this one wasn't negotiable. I wish the following was said in the calm and authoritative tone that I imagined in my head before I said it, but instead I screamed at my mother like I did when I thirteen: "We are NOT having a single food with nuts or fish during the cocktail hour. That's it. I'm not going to worry about my husband having an allergic reaction at our wedding and I really don't care what you think." All that was missing was ending my tirade with "I HATE YOU" and running up to my room and slamming my door. (I would have slammed down the phone, but cellphones just don't give you the same satisfaction.)
In hindsight, I wish Mr F's allergies came up sooner and more often in this wedding, since I seem to have no problem standing up to my parents on this point to defend his honor. Perhaps the allergies could have been a catalyst to keeping the wedding on the water in May. Or having an intimate rehearsal dinner. Or having brunch in the hotel where the wedding is.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Anyway, having a friend in town may not sound like a particularly interesting or significant feat to most of you, but having a friend visit is a wonderful thing for someone who moved across the country for their significant other and has spent their days toiling away planning a wedding instead of making friends. (Because despite my insistence, Mr. F assures me that the girls on "The Hills" are not actually my friends. I'm not sure if this is because they're idiots or because they don't know me - but either way - not my friends.) Anyway, having Miss SD in town has led me to some nuptial conclusions.
Conclusion #1: Planning a wedding is not as shiteous if you have friends in the same zip code.
I just realized that planning my wedding would probably be a whole heck of a lot better if I had a good friend who lived nearby. Certainly, it wouldn't stop my parents from being driver and navigator on the crazy train, but I think that it would nicely balance out the highs and lows of wedding planning (to clarify, this would mean actually creating "highs" and not just experiencing "lows") so that looking for invitations or auditioning DJ's would be fun (or at least fun(ny)), even if in the interim I had to argue with my parents about the guest list or my in-laws about whether I should wear my wedding dress to both of my wedding receptions (more on that later).
How did I come to this conclusion?
Saturday morning there is a torrential downpour (we shall call her "Hanna") and Miss San Diego and I decide to go try on my wedding dress for her. The bridal salon is also where I'm ordering the bridesmaid dresses from, so Miss SD decides we will also try on a bunch of dresses to try to figure out which she likes best (I gave my girls a bunch of styles and they get to pick whatever they like best to wear).
And then Miss SD says to the sales assistant "Do you have any dresses in the color that we're ordering them in so we can see what it looks like next to the wedding dress?" Great idea, Miss SD!! To this the sales assistant looks distraught. "Mmmm, I can look through the racks, but I don't think so." While Miss SD is modeling her dresses for me and we analyze the pros and cons of the top two, the salesgirl returns and says that we're out of luck. No burgundy color dresses to be found. She comes back with a swatch of color the size of a postage stamp and offers up the chance for me to hold it up to my wedding dress. A nice effort, but not what we had in mind. At which point she says slowly, "You know, I might have a dress in with some of the stock in the basement. Let me check."
She returns ten minutes later - victorious! She is holding a lovely satin burgundy dress. Although as I look closer at the dress, I realize it looks...small. Miss SD and I decide we love the color (which is good since I've already told everyone to order in this color), and Miss SD, ever game, takes the dress into the dressing room. She emerges a few minutes later wearing a dress that is clearly not intended for anyone with boobs. Or hips. Or a butt. Or a high school diploma.
A group of salesgirls and the salon's owner are all peering around the corner at her and seem to be having a discussion amongst themselves as Miss SD stands in the middle of the salon, open to all types of public humiliation. At which point, the owner of the salon says quite carefully, "Uhmm, I think that dress may actually be a junior bridesmaids dress." As in, a dress intended for a girl aged 8 to 9 years old. Excellent.
But what does Miss SD do? Does she flee to the relative safety of the dressing room to take the frock off upon realizing (actually, confirming) that the dress is something that has no place on the body of a 30-something year old?
No. She marches through the center of the salon and looks back at me, slightly lagging behind, mouth agape, while she shimmys through one of the top bridal salons in Maryland in a junior bridesmaid dress meant for an adolescent. "Well, what are you waiting for? Are you going to put on your wedding dress so we can see how this color looks next to it or what?"
Junior bridesmaid dress on a (sassy) thirty-something-year-old woman. All that's missing is a basket full of rose petals and a garland. I could not even contain my giddiness at the sight before me. A level of hilarity clearly not achieved when one shops alone.
Conclusion #2: No matter how bad your wedding drama is (for example, if you think it's so bad that you have to say....start your own blog about it), someone (*cough* Miss SD *cough*) likely is dealing with worse crapulosity.
It just so happens that Miss SD is getting married as well. Yay! But Miss SD's drama faaaaaaaar out-weighs mine. Boo!
This is not my story to tell, but what I will divulge is that Mr. SD's father seems not to approve of his son getting married at this juncture. (I know! Do people even do that anymore? It's so 19th century Jane Eyre! - Which ok, I didn't read, but strikes me as involving a lot of paternal "I disapprove of your romantic choices as we have a reputation to uphold in the community." And to clarify, Miss SD is not any of the following, which might elicit such disapproval: (1) crack smoker, (2) baby seal poacher, (3) unemployed gold digger or (4) circus clown. (Apologies to any crack smoking circus clowns who I have offended. xoxox.)
But this isn't just a fatherly "I need attention and I'm making a point" type of a situation (see, e.g., pretty much all of my blog posts about my parents). To the contrary, this was full-on borne-out just a week ago when Mr. SD's dad (or Captain Angry, as I will call him) was a no-show at the engagement party and made it abundantly clear that there is a strong possibility that he won't come to the wedding either. Over and out.
You want perspective - there it is. Which brings me to my third point.
Conclusion #3: You are more than likely not the only person keeping Beringer stock way up, because there are many many other women out there who are pushed to the brink by the wedding planning process (and by "brink" I mean "liquor store", where they buy a nice bottle of Prosecco because it's tasty and dry but cheaper than champagne). Translation: like Michael Jackson would say - You Are Not Alone. (Or at least as he would have said it before he stopped really singing and just playing with llamas and whatnot.)
(The earlier point of which by the way, brings me to something I've been thinking for a long time. Do you remember like 4 seasons ago on "The Bachelor" they had Andrew Firestone, who helped run the family vineyard? Do you think the major deciding factor in the selection process involved the fact that many women's modern day Prince Charming is not simply smart and/or rich - but rather, comes with a lifetime supply of free wine as well? Because that's my dream. It truly is.)
Having just spent three days with Miss SD and having waded our way through an unconscionable amout of Nobilo Sauvingon Blanc and evenings before (Jesus help us), vodka tonics (and damn it, their ugly stepsisters - chicken wings and pizza), I realized that I wasn't the only one finding that wedding planning was less utopian fantasy land and more giant black hole, slowly sucking the life (and romance) out of me. Every sentence started with a sip of wine and ended with something like this: "ME TOO!!!"
I hate the fact that what was supposed to be a happy event has caused me so much stress!
I hate asking my in-laws for money and am thinking about just paying for this myself even though I don't really have the money to do so and much prefer a down payment on a house!
I hate the pressure of deciding if letter press invitations are actually important or not!
Thus, realizing that wedding planning is not just the sweet smell of flowers and joyous pre-nuptial perfection for all of us (but rather seems to be brie squares and Bordeaux for a rising number of women), it is my great hope that Miss SD will agree to guest blog about her experience here because I can't do her story justice. (I've asked her numerous times in person, but I'm hoping maybe a more formal invite in writing and with a red carpet and trumpets (it's called imagination, use it) will be more encouraging.)
OH! And I forgot to tell you that Miss SD is a wedding/event planner. So I thought I had anxiety about whether I would be able to live up to expectations? Screw that. Not even close. Try planning a wedding when every person says to you "You're so creative! You always do the greatest events. I can't wait for your wedding - it's going to be soooo amazing."
No pressure there. Unless you count the gravitational pull from the black hole.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I've begun to realize that wedding planning is a lot like heartburn (both of which I am experiencing right now, which makes me an expert). When you're in the thick of each, all you can think about is how truly horrible it is. But then, as soon as it has subsided (and you are lazily paging through the new issue of "Modern Bride" while eating some spicy Thai food out of the container), your mind (or your stomach) conveniently forgets just how painful it was and you become convinced that you were overreacting and that everything is juuuuuust fine.
Until, like clockwork, the very same exact thing happens again.
Last thing I remember
I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before...
And so indeed, "hotel issues" have returned, mighty and strong, reminding me that they never truly go away. Welcome to the Hotel Crapifornia, such a lovely place.
My Dad called me last night, which I thought was extremely thoughtful of him since he isn't usually the one to pick up the phone. Unfortunately, the first words out of his mouth were something along the lines of: "I told Mom I would talk with you about something." Words such as these strike fear into even the most hardened of brides.
This could be heaven or this could be hell...
Like a dog hearing the rustle of the travel cage opening, my skin crawled, my ears perked up; I went on high alert. What was coming was not good. Stall him! Create a distraction!
"Soooooo Dad, I've been thinking that we should discuss the song we'll use for our father/daughter dance...have you thought about it at all?" [This won't work...he's too smart for that. I'm done. Shipped off to the kennel.]
"Oh yeah? I'd love to discuss that, hon!"
"Right after I talk to you about what Mom and I wanted to discuss with you."
CRISIS RETURNED. My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim...I had to stop for the night.
So I mumbled back to him, "Uh, yeah, ok."
"Well you know how Mom and I found another hotel that people could stay in, right?" Note to readers: this might be the ultimate example of addressing the obvious. Although I peripherally addressed this before, I didn't discuss this to the extent it was an issue in my family (which I could, but take it on faith - I was annoyed about the fact that my parents wanted to provide a second hotel and told my parents so). So YEAH, I know they found another hotel.
More mumbling. "Yeah."
"Well, because the Marriott is such a nice hotel, of course many of our friends have chosen to stay there instead of the hotel attached to the wedding venue." My parents are truly obsessed with the Marriott. "And since that's the case, what we really wanted to know from you is whether you think you're going to want to hang out with us the night before your wedding...or whether you're ok with mom and I hanging out with all of our friends who have come from all around the country to see us and who will all be at the other hotel."
"I mean, of course, if you want us to stay at your hotel, we can certainly stay there while alllll our friends are at the other hotel. It's what you want of course."
I'm calling "time out" for a moment here. Now while my Dad is giving his soliloquy, there is actually a lot going through my head (and believe it or not, despite what I'm saying, I'm not actually thinking "uhm").
I'm thinking: my parents TOTALLY SUCK.
Yeah yeah, I love them and all, and they're throwing me a wedding - I get it. But really, doesn't it SUCK just a little that they've put me in the position that I need to CHOOSE between saying that I want them to stay at the hotel with me and saying that they can go hang out with their friends at the other hotel a few miles away, when they have made it very evident that they strongly prefer the latter option? So yeah, of course I'm going to say they should go stay with their friends, but it makes me sad, since it seems to me that it shouldn't be much of a discussion. If all of this hullabaloo (a word I have clearly spelled wrong and which is certainly not in the Blogger dictionary) is over their daughter's wedding (which they are allegedly soooo happy about) - wouldn't they (no questions asked) want to stay with their daughter?
We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.
Guess Mom and Dad won't be tucking me into bed the night before my wedding.
And yes, I'm not going to lie to you (because our relationship is based on trust), there's another force at work here. There's definitely a little piece of me that feels something else. Which is why our conversation ended as follows:
"Sure, Dad, do whatever you want. If you and Mom want to stay with your friends, you should. But just so you know - this is exactly why I didn't want to have two hotels where people stayed, especially when the first hotel is lovely and affordable and attached to the venue. Because if everyone stayed in one hotel, decisions like this would not have to be made."
Translation: [Singsong] I was right! I was riiiiiigggghhhht!