Thursday, October 30, 2008

Say My Name, Say My Name

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (And no, that is not some sort of pirate greeting. It's the sound of all the energy leaving my's Charlie Brown when he tries to kick the football and Lucy pulls it's Homer Simpson when he thinks he sees a giant donut in the car, but realizes (likely after taking a bite) that it's actually just a spare tire (i.e., D'oh).

I just want to jump into bed, pull my giant down comforter over my head and hibernate for four months, emerging two days before my wedding, refreshed and awake (if slightly plumper and even more sun-deprived than usual). I strongly believe that if I could hook up my coffee maker, have a phone to dial-out for sushi, a small fridge for splits of (twist off cap) wine, and a TV (with DVR), I could truly survive like this. And if truth be told, I think it sounds heavenly.

The cause of this delusional fantasy? Mom.

Two weeks ago, Mom finally offered to assist with something wedding-related. Halellujah. (Angels two-stepping, clouds a-swaying, rays of light fluttering!)

After we ordered the wedding invitations, Mom promised that she would take care of getting the them addressed and sent out.

(Now I don't want to seem jaded and bratty, but there is this little angry green child-bride-monster inside me somewhere that heard this and immediately wondered if this was really a selfless act or was this because my parents really wanted to make sure their name was on the back of the envelope just to make sure to remind everyone that they are paying for the wedding. I am a bad person. This cannot be true. Thus, in an effort not to go to hell, I am hereby choosing to believe Mom made said offer only to help her deranged bride daughter.)

So Mom offered to take care of getting the guests' names and addresses to the printer and to then stuff and send out the invites (we are doing "printed calligraphy" since it's easier and quicker, but it means that we need to get all of the addresses to the company sooner than usual and in a certain type of spreadsheet). My job was to get her the addresses, which I did, with the exception of two (Mr F's friends, of course. Sorry, Mr F, but you suck at this whole wedding thing.).

The addresses needed to be turned in by the time we got the proof for the invite. We were told we would get the proof in a day or at most, two.

Mom and I arranged to speak last night so I could give her the last two addresses and then she could send off the email with the last two addresses prior to getting the proof. Perfecto.
However, as soon as I answer the phone and ask how she's doing, I get the following response:

[LARGE SIGH] "Oh, I'm fine...I guess. It's just craziness here; it's going to be a very late night because I couldn't do any of the spreadsheet since you didn't have the addresses. And you know, we need to pack for France tonight."

Uhm what? Counting to ten. Crap, still pissed off. Counting to twenty. Thirty?

Speaking very slowly so as to avoid raising of voice: "Mom. You know that you could have done everything beforehand and then just put in the two addresses tonight and hit 'send', right? You did not need to leave everything until TONIGHT."

Last I checked, doing someone a favor or giving assistance is sort of undermined by reminding that person that you now have more work because of them or that they should feel especially thankful for said assistance. (Next time I volunteer at a food bank I will remind myself to say to the hungry people "Enjoy your meal. Because my feet hurt really bad standing here and I've got to do like three loads of laundry that are just sitting because I'm here feeding you food." And yes, I realize I am a lucky person who has food and I'm selfish for being pissed at Mom for this when I could be a homeless person, but it's my life and if you're judging me then you should definitely be reading another fucking blog.)

And and yeah, did I mention that they're going to France? So everything has to be done tonight because obviously when the proof comes tomorrow, and we need to hand the names and addresses over to the printer, they will be otherwise occupied munching on baguettes and fromage while sipping a local Bordeux at a street cafe. D'accord.

(OK, I also feel like I need to disclose that they're going to France....on Marriott points. I don't even know how to convey this with a sense of veracity, because I know it sounds like I'm spinning a tall tale. Clearly, I must be lying. But I'm not. My parents are staying in a hotel in Paris for eight nights using Marriott points. Points that they accumulated from having the brunch for my brother's wedding at a Marriott. And countless other events. I'm fairly confident a year from now they'll be preparing to board a plane to Tahiti to stay in a luxury Marriott hut on the water using the points gathered from the brunch and hotel reservations for my wedding.)

So it's close to midnight, Mom is telling me how exhausted she is and said she'll send me a draft of the list in a few hours so I can proofread it for her. I stay up waiting until she sends me it as my eyes are tearing up with exhaustion. I finally get the darned thing and open it up on my computer.

It's a bigger mess than the federal election system.

This document cannot be submitted as-is.

So much for getting "help." I need to re-do the whole thing in the next twenty-four hours. While she jets off to France. And stays at the Marriott. Tres croissant.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing...

The search for our ceremony officiant continued last weekend. After the Cantor Debacle, I immediately scoured the Internet to see if I could find the name of someone who might work for us (i.e., not sing sporadically throughout our conversation and/or take the time to learn how we met, our profession, and other things one might presume the person marrying you would be interested in).

One name popped up a few times, which seemed to me to be a good sign. I mentally filed it away in the cerebral wedding Filofax and began asking around for a couple names at work (the upside to working at a law firm, no shortage of Jews to be found). Lo and behold - the same name comes up again. Well obviously this is a sign from God. Sending me an officiant through the Internet. How tech-savvy of the savior.

So I took the plunge and sent an email out to this stranger requesting that she participate in The Big Show. Which is exactly what it feels like when I take a step back (or 10,000 steps back). I have realized that planning a wedding is a bit like casting a high school production of "A Chorus Line." (Perhaps more like "Fiddler on the Roof" in my case, but you get the gist.)

I audition tons of hopefuls for my ensemble, with of course a few starring roles (The Florist! The DJ! And in the lead...The Catering Hall!!) and then the equally important, supporting actors - Calligrapher, Linen Company, and Many More!

And like a high school theater production, at first you try to make every last detail perfect - from the complexity of a practiced dance routine to the addition of perfect lighting for each scene - until finally it occurs to you that you are a complete and total amateur and that all of the parents sitting and beaming in the audience will give you a standing ovation no matter how the damn production goes off, and you just rush to get the whole thing done (except for the costuming because that is always hands-down the best part and it is always fun to dress up even when the sets are falling down around you). And then presumably, the curtain comes down, you take your final bow, and you're married. And wearing tons of pancake makeup so you look a little like a TV star and/or drag queen.

Gosh I miss high school theater. (And no, I have NOT seen "High School Musical." Though yes, I guess I am morbidly curious.)

Anyway, I dashed off the email to Cantor Version 2.0. Incidentally, I have become increasingly adept at emailing complete strangers over the past eight months. (In fact, I actually have a form letter that I cut and paste at this point.)

She responded to me that she would be happy to meet with us and see if we were a good "fit." But there was a zinger: she wouldn't be able to meet with us for a month, i.e., until the "High Holidays" were over. (For the non-Jews among you, the High Holidays are not multiple days spent under the influence of pot (though I know a few people who go with that interpretation). They are the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement - the latter is actually not an Ian McEwan novel and/or movie starring Kiera Knightly and the former does not involve champagne and all-night partying, but instead a large meal featuring apples and honey. I guess you can see why some people prefer the bongier version (though I suspect the large meal and apples and honey has a place there too).)

Technically, I could wait the month to meet with her, so I agreed to do so.

That being said, I spent the last month mentally fast forwarding to the moment when the holidays would be over. But unfortunately, the more I attempt to not think about something, the more I think about it. So I found myself thinking about it every day (wash hair, think about whether Cantor will be evil, cook dinner, ponder whether officiant will make me cry, pour glass of wine, think about how much I love wine, wonder if Cantor loves wine too).

Finally, the holidays were over, and she agreed to meet with us. As we drove through the suburbs I began to have flashbacks of the previous meeting.

We pulled up in front of a quaint townhouse and I knocked on the door. The door opened and the Cantor ushered us inside, gesturing for us to take a seat on the sofa in the next room. And as I looked around, I knew at least one of us was immediately sold on the Cantor. She had set up an enormous tray of mandelbrot (basically homemade Jewish biscotti) and had set up tea, coffee, and Snapple.

Mr F had eaten three cookies before we even started talking. He was sold.

The Cantor gave us a big smile and began by giving us an overview of what she generally does for couples she marries. And then she said "Now why don't you tell me a little bit about how you two met?"

YES! This is what I was looking for.

And then she asked about our second date, and third date. And about what we thought about children, and finances, our occupations, and about our respective childhoods. She wanted to know us. And I was happy as a clam.

Although I had to interrupt before this got too far to ask one thing.

"Cantor, I think you're just wonderful and this is exactly what Mr F and I want - someone who is getting to know us, but I just have to ask - what do you think we must have in our ceremony to have it be a Jewish ceremony? Do I have to say things that Mr F doesn't and do we have to mention Abraham, Moses, and/or Issac? And do we have to have Hebrew...or, uh, chanting?"

And she smiled, and said, "You can have anything you want in your ceremony."

Sweet. I dug in to the mandelbrot with the relish of a rescued castaway.

With that squared away, I began to relax and as I nibbled on a second piece, she went on to talk about not "judging anyone's path" and believing God is in everyone and isn't necessarily a "he" or "she."

OK, so it's a little hippy dippy, and there's definitely a part of me that believes she may secretly be pulling for our recessional to be to "Uncle John's Band" and I am absolutely placing a $50 bet here and now that she shows up in a tie-dyed tallis (the big shawl that Jews wear to temple), but who frickin cares? She could do a reading by Joan Baez if it means that we don't have Hebrew or chanting. I like classic rock and I'm all for peace, love, and a cute pair of fringed boots, so I'm all for her.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have found ourselves an officiant. And she serves cookies.

The role of plucky and open-minded officiant will be played by Cantor Freebird. And thankfully, the only thing singing that day was my heart.

As a postscript, a few days after our meeting Mr F was tasked with calling Family Friend Cantor (Cantor 1.0) to tell him that we would not be having him marry us. I felt terribly for him since this was not an enviable job. Afterwards, Mr F told me that the conversation went very smoothly which I thought was fabulous and unexpected. Then I thought about it for a moment and asked what it was that he said to make the conversation go so well. His response:

"I told him that you were crazy, that you insisted on having a female officiant, and that no one can argue with what a woman wants for her wedding."

Fair point.

Monday, October 20, 2008

At Last...

I finally figured out how to upload a picture of the ring. For those who were asking, I posted it back with the original post about the ring so it makes sense (for future readers? I don't know). And yes, the picture is somewhat blurry; I lost the instruction booklet for my camera and can't for the life of me figure out how to take a close-up picture. But I did figure out how to make a movie of the ring. And how to take a picture of the ring in black and white. And without a flash. And with no red eye. *sigh*

And while we're discussing my issues, I would like to cordially request that you refrain from mocking my giant man hands. Truth be told, although I hate my hands I had learned to live with the injustice of not being born with beautiful long slender fingers by reasoning that my hands were more result-driven (i.e., I am pretty darn strong and I've always been a good that's nice and all). Or I thought I had accepted my chunky hoofs - until I realized I would have to post a picture of my giant lobster claws on the Internet. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie, That's Amore

During the great Parental Migration of 2008, I suddenly realized I had to make what could best be termed A Migration Evaluation: I was face-to-face with a bona fide Dilemma.

To clarify, over the course of the weekend while my Future-in-Laws stayed with us I was actually faced with many dilemmas, including, but not limited to - will they realize the impetus behind my overly- casual suggestion to have Mimosas with breakfast (or Bloody Mary's...or Bellini's...or a giant glass of future-in-law erasing vodka)?, is it rude to tell them to stop using my laptop computer so I can take five minutes to erase the unsavory sites I have bookmarked?, and do I pretend I didn't just see my Future-Father-in-Law in his underwear or instead do I acknowledge I saw him, but act as though it's no big deal since we will soon be family?

However, this Dilemma was by far the most egregious: I had a wedding-related meeting scheduled for Saturday morning; should I invite my Future-Mother-in-Law? In the underbrush of tulle, manzanita branches, and splayed rose petals that is the jungle of wedding planning, involving my FMIL in the process was by far the most treacherous of decisions. Under each Out of Town Welcome Bag lay an undetonated mine. Involve her too much and my Mother was insulted, involve her too little and I was leaving her out. And one more teensy weensy pitfall: her taste in just about everything is vastly different than mine. (And by "vastly different" I mean to say that she has already offered to create for me a wedding cake made of towels ("you can keep it forever!") and a lockbox of Al Gore-like proportions to put on the sweetheart table for presents (cause nothing says "gifts are not necessary" like a giant slotted mailbox with a padlock on the bride and groom's table).)

All these things aside, I knew that FMIL was dying to be involved. And despite my acute awareness that I was six words away from a speedy zipline to a nuptial swamp of toothy alligators, I found myself saying to her on Friday night (moments after chugging a glass of Chardonnay), "Sure, why don't you join me?" (Count em, there's six.)

And so the next day I found myself sitting at an Italian restaurant in Little Italy to hammer out the final details of the contract for our rehearsal dinner. To a layperson (not versed in my wedding ridiculousness) this might seem like an ordinary meeting. However, this meeting was actually the most extraordinary of meetings. This was the Sylvia Weinstock of meetings, the Mindy Weiss of discussions, the Carolina Herrera of sit-downs. Why was this meeting so special? Because I spent the last four months begging restaurants to host my rehearsal dinner. Since my wedding was on Sunday, the rehearsal fell on a Saturday night. A busy night for restaurants indeed. But this was a special Saturday night. A Saturday night more special than a "7th Heaven" episode.

A Saturday night. In February. Called Valentine's Day.

Thus, I was in a precarious place indeed.

Therefore, this meeting was solely intended to get the restaurant to give us a contract to assure that we would finally have a rehearsal dinner venue. In all honesty I was also personally hopeful that an ancillary result might be my return to a two-Tums-a-day habit (down from the current four to five a day habit - providing me with oodles of calcium, but also a pervasive chalky mouth and a striking resemblance to Marcel Marseau). In essence, we just needed to get the frickin contract.

As we're waiting for the Owner to come to our table to figure out the details, Future Mother in Law starts asking questions. "What will everyone eat?"

"That's what we're here to figure out. I'm sure it will be great." (Simultaneously I found myself thinking that it could be ground pony on Wonder Bread and I still would book this place.)

"What's the owner's name?"

"Uhhh...Joey I think. Joey Goldenberg."

"Joey GOLDENBERG? What kind of name is that? He must be Jewish."

"I don't know if he's Jewish. I think he's Italian. He owns an Italian restaurant. Don't ask him."

"Where's he from? Maybe we know him."

"Don't ask him."

"But maybe we...."

I cut her off in my most patient-Mother-Teresa-slash-axe-murderer-voice: "Honestly, as I told you earlier, we are really lucky that they agreed to let us have the dinner here. I don't want to ask him about his name or anything else. I think our best course of action is to just talk about the food and sign the contract and have this done."

"Okay darling, whatever you want." (If you think Future-Mother-in-Law sounds suspiciously like Mom, that would be because they are cut from the same Jewish mother mold (you can get one yourself if you like - they are available on Avenue J in Brooklyn). And yes, if you are a math wizard, you have just discovered that I will now have not one, but two Jewish moms. Double the tsuris, double the fun.)

So we sit in silence and I think that FMIL has understood the mission. Get the contract.

Joey "I own an Italian restaurant but my last name is" Goldenberg comes over finally and we talk about the details. I don't even care. I just want the contract.

Finally, he pulls out an example of a contract. I give it a cursory glance (caring little whether it asks for payment in Faberge Eggs or gold bullion). He tells us he will go and print out one with our names on it when we're done chatting. Future Mother in Law is trying to peer across the table at it. "Can I see it?"

"NO, NO, NO, NOOOO!" Unfortunately, saying NO in my head did not have the intended effect of stopping her. I slid the paper across the table, giving it good bye kisses with my eyes.

I continued the conversation in my head. "Please do not say anything about the contract. Please." I was sure she could see the words kicking their way through my temples.

The air was heavy with overpriced cappuccino. It was silent. I took deep potentially-caffeinating breaths. Perhaps we would be ok after all. As I opened my mouth to tell Joey that he should go print out our version of the contract, FMIL opened hers first:

"Do we have some wiggle room here? Can you work with us on the price?"

Oy vey. I look wistfully at the bottle of Grappa sitting on the bar.

Joey looked at FMIL like she was crazy. "Nah, we can't do that. You know, it's Valentine's Day. In fact, we really weren't sure we could host this at all cause we're gonna lose so much money..."

As I listened to our rehearsal plans fall apart more quickly than a beginner's hand-rolled tortellini, I jumped in: "Joey, don't worry, about it. We're fine as is. Can we get that contract?"

He looked at me for a second. "How about I send it to you next week, ok? I gotta run now - we have a private event tonight I need to set up for. I'll email it to you - I have your address."

We walked out of the restaurant into the Indian summer sunlight which felt wonderful. Except that we were empty-handed. Which felt less-than-wonderful. Apparently FMIL did not understand the mission after all. I should have explained that when you're in the wedding foxhole, one should not stand up, shout and wave their hands vigorously or one is likely to lose their rehearsal dinner restaurant. Or get shot.

Monday, October 13, 2008

He Just Smiled And Gave Me A Vegemite Sandwich

By way of review, my parents and Mr F's parents were both, together, simultaneously (meaning, at the Same Time) in town this weekend. It was Parent-Palooza. Parent-Gate. Moms-and-Dads-a-Ding-Dong. The Parent Trap. Parents Galore. Dueling Parents. You couldn't walk across my apartment without tripping over a parent. I actually opened up my wallet to pay for a bottle of water and pulled out a parent.

The reason for the great New Jersey to Baltimore pilgrimage: the wedding tasting, the Mecca of wedding planning. It only takes the promise of a bite per person of six types of hors d'oeuvres, three salads, eight entrees and a plentitude of crispy crunchy sweet and munchy desserts to drive four Jews from central NJ to the greatness of B'more.

I would love to say I thoroughly enjoyed the tasting. Mr F did. But he can relax and enjoy life. I cannot. All I can say is that this experience certainly reinforced the notion that I am simultaneously exactly like, and also thoroughly appalled by, my parents. Le sigh. How can one escape such a chicken-egg conundrum? (Not to mention avoid the ancillary craving for a chicken salad or cheese omlette?)

We arrived at the venue with Mr F's Parents (who were staying with us) and met Big Hugs the wedding coordinator (who hugged each of us by way of hello) and sat waiting for my parents. Tick tick tick tick. It's funny how even though I know we're slapping down more than twenty grand on just catering alone, I still feel beholden to the chef, the coordinator and every one else who is there. Tick tick tick.

Finally, my Parents show and we proceed to the tasting room, which was really lovely. I had no expectations as to what the "tasting" would be like, since I've never thrown a party for 150 people before. Actually, I take that back. I've never thrown a party for 150 people before that did not involve kegstands. In the private room, they had set a single table just for the seven of us. I was feeling very fabulous.

We discuss napkin choices (who knew I had a choice?) and then the first course comes out. We taste lots of little bite size yum yums. I look over at my father who looks unhappy. This isn't unusual, but I was hoping for best behavior.

His brow wrinkles and he looks around the room, apparently perplexed.

After a few more moments (during which I don't taste anything but instead focus my laser-sharp peripheral vision on my father's knit brow), he turns to Big Hugs, who is sitting to his right.

He asks her, "Aren't we going to taste the wines?"

I'm mortified.

And yet, happy to have wine.

But also so nervous about getting drunk and looking like a lush in front of Big Hugs and the Chef that I barely drink. (Why do I care about this? I don't know.)

This is not so for Mr F. He drinks all 6 glasses of wine that were poured as "tasting" glasses. Mr F is three sheets to the wind.

Similarly, Future-Mother-in-Law is giggling across the table. She too, does not appear to be concerned that her pallet remain sober and cleansed to try and select the right foods. She is drunk.

Future Father-in-Law has turned the wine glass on its side like a rolling pin and is pushing it back and forth on the table. Although silent (as always), he too is pretty certainly drunk (or possibly baking an imaginary cake).

Me, my Mom and my Dad each have almost our entire glasses of wine full in front of us. For we only "tasted." (My Parents have done so because they are wine connoisseurs and don't drink the whole glass of wine; me, because I have a tendency to think all food tastes equally yummy after two glasses of wine, hence the ability to clean out my fridge in a single bound after a happy hour.)

Each progressive course comes and we taste, discuss and select. And then the desserts arrive and a discussion of wedding cake ensues (to have or not to have is apparently the question).

And then finally, we're done. And I pick up the buttery Chardonnay (which apparently we will be serving at the wedding) and chug the whole thing like Gatorade. Touchdown.

Yes, there is more (come on, a weekend with both my Parents and Mr F's Parents? - of course there's more) but no, I will not write about it now. I'm spent and dwelling on the fact that I left 5 perfectly good glasses of Merlot, Cabernet, and Pinot Grigio to be poured down the drain. Or more likely, consumed by the kitchen staff. Good for them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Put On Your Red Shoes And Dance The Blues

Who'd have thunk it? For once, I am being decisive and Mr F is not.

My decision: a few weeks ago I decided I want to cross "choose first dance song" off my "To Do" list. After all, it's just blandly sitting there, taking up excess space between the jaunty "create table numbers" and demanding "select rehearsal dinner location." (Clearly, my list is not in any particular order, just massive amounts of things that need to be completed at some point prior to February 15th and/or before I lose my mind.) And given the fact that The List is more than one page long, I resolved to cross something else off. Come hell or high water. And that something to be crossed off is our first dance song. Because after a thorough review of said list, I decided that it required the least amount of leg work.

I can't help but think of the "First Dance" song as sort of like the "Prom Song." It seems to hold the same sort of overly-inflated importance prior to the event, making you believe that it must characterize your entire relationship (or all four years of high school). There's hemming and hawing (and in my high school - voting!) about the lyrics and about the mood and tons of other idiosyncratic details about the song. However, in reality, when the event itself arrives and the song begins to play, it's just not that big of a deal - the song could be just about anything slow and sweet and it would all be fine (which I'm slowly starting to feel might hold true for the whole damn wedding, but if I allow myself to continue to think that way, this whole house of cards will crumble and I'm pretty sure people will find themselves eating leftover tuna casserole and PB&J sandwiches for the rehearsal dinner and getting a mass email wedding invite).

Not to mention that I don't even remember my Prom Song and in fact, only remember that I voted for Madonna's "Crazy for You" which did not win.

Where was I?

Yes. Crossing off the first dance. I will remove it from my list - oh yes, I shall remove it.

So I did my research one night (said "research" involved reviewing my CD's, iTunes list, two glasses of white wine mixed with a dash of melancholy, and a whole lot of searches on You Tube (a great resource to hear just about any song by the way)) and found a couple of songs that I thought would work just fine. They were not songs I had heard at any other wedding, and they all seemed mildly reflective of our relationship (I say mildly, because there were some tenuous connections there, i.e., a song played in the first movie we saw together), but heck, I figured I would play the songs for Mr F and hear his typical wedding refrain of "whatever you like is fine," and we would be done.

So I put on the computer and played one of the songs for him. I yelled at him: "Listen to this! This is our wedding song!" And I tried to grab him and dance around the room with him.

He grumbled. "No, I don't like it. It's fast. First dance songs aren't fast."

Hmmm. Well that seems...judgmental.

"OK, that's fine. How about this one?! This one is slower!" And I played the second song.

"I don't like that one either. It's mushy. And weird."

Well, now - no need to be mean to the songs. And so it seemed that the guy who said he wanted a 3-minute telecast of NPR to be our first song suddenly had as many opinions about music production value as David Geffen.

It seemed that "choose first dance song" was clinging onto its place on the "To Do" list for dear life.

So for the next few weeks I would sit at my laptop in the kitchen and when Mr F would come into the room, I would launch a full-scale musical attack on his senses. I would jump out of my chair and try to waltz around the room with him, which generally led to his dismissing me by grumbling that he was tired and wanted to go to bed.

This was not going at all as I had planned. Here's the thing: like many other grooms before him, Mr F is not looking forward to the first dance. He does not enjoy dancing, let alone dancing in front of approximately 150 people (a number clearly growing by the minute) for approximately three to four minutes. And while we have already agreed that we will take dance lessons to alleviate some of his stress (although he is actually a great dancer and doesn't need lessons), he seems to be filibustering my mission to remove "choose first dance song" from The List (either consciously, or giving him the benefit of the doubt - unconsciously). Will the genteel Groom from the great State of Maryland please yield the dance floor to his Bride-to-Be?

Unfortunately, despite my decisiveness, this issue continues to be unresolved. Which is annoying me. I don't want to unilaterally select a song, so I was forced (yes, forced!) to do what every woman finds herself doing at some point: giving an ultimatum. I composed a list of ten songs and told Mr F he must pick by the end of this weekend. And if he doesn't? Well, nothing. There's nothing I can do. This is a hollow threat. Except that I will be a big pain in the ass to him and bug him incessantly about it, which as it turns out, usually ends up being enough.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

You Say, You Want, Diamonds on a Ring of Gold (or Possibly Platinum)

I have boldly gone where few women have gone before. I conquered a new frontier: I modified my engagement ring.

The ring that Mr F proposed to me with was absolutely gorgeous - I loved it the moment I saw it. Well, ok, actually I loved that I was finally getting a proposal (after three years and a move across the country...woo hoo!). But once I took at look at the super sparkly ring before me (and it was realllllly sparkly - Mr F apparently got a little OCD prior to the proposal and had it professionally cleaned no less than three times before handing it over) - I loved it. The center diamond was pear-shaped, which I adored because it's so unique. And when I found out that it was his grandmother's ring I was head over heels. I loved that I was being entrusted with a (gorgeous) family heirloom. (And if my sweetheart didn't have to shuck out two-, three-, five-month's salary - or whatever DeBeers dictates one should spend on a ring nowadays - even better!)


There was one thing I did not love. The color of the setting (which, by the way, is not an heirloom - just the diamond is). And thus, I'm sorry, but in this instance, I cannot be color blind. I have a dream and it does not involve yellow gold - the color of the setting of my brand new engagement ring. Now while I own a good deal of yellow gold and like it a lot, most of my jewelry is white gold or silver. More importantly, just looking at the ring I knew that it would look so much prettier if it were set in white gold or platinum. I found the yellow gold color distracting from the beauty of the stones. So this was not good.

Understandably, I was a little apprehensive about bringing this up to Mr F since I didn't want him to think I was anything less than thrilled about being engaged and about the ring. So I waited.

For a whole day.

Before I decided I had to tell him.

It's very interesting, the whole engagement ring phenomenon. Although the ring - this very expensive investment which is intended to be worn [calculating...sum reached] = until you die, it is something that the proposee (often) has no say in. Moreover, it is also something that becomes a reflection of you (the proposee and wearer of said ring), rather than a reflection of your fiance (proposer and later (hopefully) husband). No one sees a woman wearing an ugly ring and thinks "oh, her fiance has terrible taste." They think "That woman does not have good taste." Which is why I needed to tell him.

(Note: without this change, my ring was not ugly - it was still fabulous; I just obsess because I wanted this to be PERFECT if I was going to wear it consistently for 50 years, give or take.)

And so I casually (and by casually, I mean I planned what I was going to say for hours) mentioned this to him when we were out having celebratory drinks the next day. (On a totally unrelated note I have to admit that day was so much fun and something I had not anticipated about getting engaged...the 24-hour long celebration following the proposal, when it seemed overwhelmingly appropriate to scream at everyone we passed on the street - "we just got engaged!" and a champagne toast seemed to be the just the right complement to our shared glee for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Anyway, during that celebration, I casually mentioned to him 'how much I LOVED the ring, but I was slightly concerned that it was yellow gold since I didn't wear a lot of yellow gold...soooooooo, would it be a problem to change it...?'

dum dum dum dum dum dumdumdudududududud...[sound of my heart beating faster as I waited for Mr F to get mad or upset about the fact that the woman that he was marrying was so...well, superficial.]

"Of course - change it. I just want you to love it since you will be wearing it every day for the rest of our lives."

YES! He actually understood! The man who thought it was a-ok to sport jeans with holes in inappropriate places and who continued to wear, with disturbing regularity, a J Crew rollneck sweater dating back to 1993, actually understood why I wanted the ring to be perfect. Honestly, forget the grilled cheese with the face of Jesus, this was a goddamn miracle. [Dancing the happy dance around the streets of Del Ray beach, much to Mr F's amusement.] Mr F was two-for-two on our Florida trip. (Lest we forget, number one being that he proposed.)

Fast forward six months. Er, actually eight months. I know that the following makes me sound like I'm about 68 years old...but holy metamucil, where does the time go?

I still haven't changed the ring.

Why, pray tell? Because I am petrified that I will drop the ring off at some jewelry store to get it switched to white gold and they will lose it, misplace it, maim it, the store will burn down, giant flying monkeys will swoop in and eat get the picture. And while these scenarios may seem a little, let's face it - excessive - because the ring is insured, that does not allay my fears. Because my favorite part of the ring is now also my biggest burden: I have been entrusted with Mr F's family heirloom and I am completely freaked out that I will be the one to lose it.

But it's only been passed down through like three generations, so it's no biggie, right? If it's just lost, we can always buy another one, right? Or not.

So I began a multi-state hunt for a place that would change the ring on the day that I dropped it off (so no ring sleepovers at the jewelry store) and, just as importantly, allow me to watch the jeweler do the work. You can imagine that this perhaps might not be the easiest task? It involved a lot of calls that went like this:

"Hi, I would like to have my ring changed from yellow gold to white gold."

"OK, we can do that."

"Great! I was wondering if you could get that done the same day that I drop it off."

"Uhm...well that would be very hard."

"AND...I would like to make sure the ring NEVER LEAVES MY SIGHT. Ever."

"Yeah, we're not going to be able to do that. Toodles, crazy pants."

I had that conversation, oh about, twenty times. OK, except for the last sentence. But you get the gist.

Until finally, my moment of great glory: like Galileo, Christopher Columbus, Neil Armstrong and so many others before me, I made a great discovery. I found...The Best Jewelry Store Ever. Even if it was an hour ride away. But lo and behold, they were good for their word (even if I had to sit and wait for a few hours until they got to my piece of jewelry). When it was my turn, I sat and watched through a glass wall (much like the "observing room" for doctors during surgery (or what I assume it would be like, since I've only seen it on "Grey's Anatomy") or the "one-sided glass" in police stations - ditto with respect to "Law & Order"), as they performed a minor operation on my ring.

And then they came around from behind the glass and handed it over to me.

It is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Perfect. And in fact, it's like getting engaged all over again, because as I walked to my car that day I stared at my hand (much like I first did eight months ago). And then as I drove the car, I looked down far too frequently (mercifully avoiding any traffic accidents) to see how my ring looked while driving. It looked perfect! And then I looked in the mirror at my reflection to see how the ring looked as I was washing up for bed.

And it looked perfect.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Doctor Doctor, Can't You See I'm Burning, Burning?

I saw a therapist for the first time on Monday.

Now I won't say that there is a direct correlation between planning my wedding and the decision to see a therapist. It's more like the veil that broke the camel's back.

Mr F has been encouraging me to see a therapist for some time now given my proclivity to being overly stressed and anxious about just about everything. I have resisted mostly because while I think therapy is a wonderful thing, I tend to feel that it is something that makes much more sense for people who are dealing with "real" issues - like addiction, grief, or depression. Not so much for anxiety. It just seems so self-indulgent to see a therapist to deal with "stress" when people all over the world are sick, starving, and victims of violence and abuse.

That being said, the fear of blossoming into a fully formed version of my parents (who, the learned doctor informed me, are probably both dealing with severe forms of generalized anxiety disorder themselves) combined with quickly worsening and painful TMJ (from grinding my teeth at night from stress) finally was enough for me to agree that if speaking with a professional about my "issues" could ultimately make me a better person (better person = person not as crazy as my parents and with less physical symptoms of stress), then it was worth a try.

What is most fascinating is that I can write five pages on picking out china, but I don't have a lot to say on this. Mostly I'm writing in the interest of full disclosure and because I'm a little giddy at the recollection of our first conversation.

The Doctor begins by asking: "So, why are you here?"

"I knew you were going to ask me that! And I've been thinking about what I was going to say for the past few days. I think this has been a long time in coming. But the truth is that I've been really stressed lately and I have a lot of anxiety...about...uhm...hmm."

"About what?"

"I know this is going to sound funny, and I think it's really just a catalyst to get me here - and not the cause of my anxiety per se...but...I decided to come here because I'm really stressed about...Planning My Wedding."

"Hmmmmmmm." The Doctor looks down writes something (presumably "patient is crazy" or a picture of a bird going "cuckoo! cuckoo!") and leans back in her chair.

And then she said "OK, so tell me if you have any phobias."

"Wha???" Phobias? Did I hear right? Perhaps she said "tell me if you've picked out your phlowers?" No, no I think she did not.
Apparently what she did do was change the subject. Flat out just moved on. It was like I'd suggested we order a pizza and she responded with "Do you like my new sweater?" Not even a tacit acknowledgment of my statement.

I started to do my nervous giggle thing (which probably freaked her out more since I'm sure she suspected there were voices in my head telling me jokes) because at that moment I realized that even my PhD-holding-mental-health-professional couldn't provide any answers about the massive stress caused by wedding planning. Either that or I have a therapist with a severe hearing deficiency.

Well that's just about it. Except that it cost me $140 to learn that my therapist can't plan my wedding for me (and/or needs the Miracle Ear) and I got suckered into going back again in two weeks. I'm not really sure where this whole thing will get me (except for some potentially funny but unnecessarily expensive blog posts), but for those of you who are also stressed (but don't want to drop a Benjamin and a half on a shrink of your own), I'm happy to pass along her advice.

Unfortunately, most of this session focused on my crazy parents and my non-wedding-related issues so I have no advice to share, but I firmly believe that you should all stay tuned as I am certain that within $420 (also known in layman's terms as "three more sessions") we shall once again straddle the issue of the White Horse of the Apocalypse, the impending nuptials trotting toward me with advancing speed. Giddyup!