Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blubbering Fool

I did not used to be a crier. For more than half of my life, I was a pretty tear-free individual who only let loose the waterworks when I was really mad or in physical pain. Some people are born criers. My 11-year-old niece is one of these. For as long as I can remember, she’s been a sensitive soul, likely to burst at the slightest little thing. My gorgeous friend in Texas is also like this.

I never was, until I fell in love.

I remember noticing the transition right near age 21. I didn’t know whether it was because I had moved away from home finally, or because I had started birth control pills. But suddenly something was uncorked inside me and if I tilted the wrong direction, it would spill out all over. Looking back, I can absolutely see that it was love that set it all off.

I was living in Orange County and my boyfriend still lived in my hometown. Every time I would drive back to my apartment after a visit, I would cry. The love had turned me into a weepmonster.

And it never stopped.

Anytime Mr. Wonderful gives me a sweet card, I get teary. I cry watching stories on The Today Show. I weep after great vacations. I’ve gotten choked up during Entourage. Even this morning, I heard Stevie Wonder’s “I’ll be loving you always” and pictured my dad and I possibly dancing to it…at some event in the future…and on came the sprinkler system.

I can’t think about how lucky I am to have Mr. Wonderful without tearing up. I can’t watch an episode of The Biggest Loser or Sex and the City without dabbing my eyes. I can’t believe I’ve turned into such a sap.

Is this something that just happens with age? Or did love curse me with watering eyes for the rest of my life? And if I’m this much of a blubbering fool, how am I ever going to make it through a wedding some day?

I’m toast.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On the Subject of Nuptials

This weekend, I attended Charlotte’s wedding. It was lovely and romantic and perfect for her and her groom. It was also her second marriage. She is one of several friends I know who has gotten divorced and remarried in the last few years.

The night before her wedding, I spoke to another dear friend from high school who told me she is getting a divorce. Four of my closest friends from teenagehood are currently separated from their husbands. It’s strange.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the disillusions of marriage. About how people—women in particular—go into it expecting a fairy tale. But the reality of the situation is far from that. I find myself trying to become a scholar on the subject, examining failed relationships, looking for patterns and warning signs, trying to create some sort of formula that will ensure I get it right when my time comes.

It’s hard not to get a little swept up by the romantic notions of tying the knot. I can see how it’s easy to ignore red flags when you’re blinded by the white dress idea. I wonder if this was what happened to my friends. I know it almost happened to me.

Thank goodness the relationship fell apart before I fell down that aisle. Thank goodness the pain caused me to be super vigilant when I moved on, watching Mr. Wonderful’s actions like a hawk—seeking red flags, but finding only goodness.

I am hopeful that the foundation we’re on is strong. Strong enough to last for decades.

We’ve been dangling our toes in the topic quite a bit lately. At Charlotte’s wedding, we caught ourselves discussing vow writing, the idea of my dad giving a speech (which neither of us could picture because he’s NOT at all a public speaker), whether or not we would have bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Last week, we even exchanged IMs about ring designs. He told me he’d have to take my sister shopping with him when he was ready—and I told him he could propose without a ring and that we could shop together; that I’d wear a dead worm around my finger if he gave it to me.

I’m trying to curb my expectations and not allow myself to start arranging flowers and brainstorming favor ideas in my head. I know I need to just focus on how lucky I am to have him in my life, and leave it at that. But there’s something so damn alluring about planning that special day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We Heard Them AGAIN Last Night

The scenario was the same: Mr. W and I were perched on the couch, watching TV (Oprah interviewing Russell Crowe for the upcoming Robin Hood movie. Go see it—it's why Mr. W left me for London for 6 months).

Suddenly we heard a moan from the other side of the wall...and then the banging ensued. This time the waves of noise went on even longer. I don't know if they're filming a porno over there or what. Mr. W thinks there may be Viagra involved...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beyond the Great Wall

Last Thursday, Mr. Wonderful and I were reclining on the couch, watching Giada at Home when we heard an odd tapping noise. It was coming from the apartment next door. I think I turned down the TV to listen. I thought maybe my neighbor was patting a piece of furniture, trying to get the attention of her elderly, blind pet poodle.

Then we heard the moaning.

It wasn’t a piece of furniture being patted, it was a headboard being slammed against the wall while somebody got a good dose of lovin’. Mr. W started to laugh loudly and I clapped my hand over his mouth. “Groooooossss,” I whispered to him, hoping we were catching the final act of the performance—and that it would end soon.

“Well I guess Wanda has a boyfriend. Or girlfriend.” I’ve only spoken to my new-ish neighbor a couple of times in passing. Key details of her love life hadn’t been discussed.

We went back to watching our show…and sure enough, about five minutes later the knocking and groaning resumed.

“Good God I thought they were done.” I turned the TV up louder.

The symphony went on for about 15 or 20 more minutes. Longer than Mr. W and I ever wanted to hear. We joked about banging on the wall and saying, “Keep it down over there, we’re trying to watch a cooking show!” But poor Wanda would probably never be able to leave her house again after that.

I think I’m going to feel shy next time I see her. And also grateful that I’m in the end unit, with a bedroom wall that only borders the parking area. Not that I’m ever doing anything naughty in there, Mom…

Monday, April 19, 2010

So Good, I Don't Want to Swallow

Oh Napa, Napa, Napa. Shangri-La to my palate. Geographic love of my life. There's just no place like you.

Mr. Wonderful and I drove to the promised land on Friday to celebrate his 36th birthday. Rolling in to town, we headed straight to V. Sattui, where we ate orichette and gnocchi under a beautiful oak tree, then wandered into their cellar for a members-only tasting.

That night, we went to the Culinary Institute for dinner. Though we'd been before, we had an almost completely novel experience—eating inside instead of out on the patio. It was great to watch the chefs working away in the kitchen while we savored our hanger steak and halibut. Mr. W couldn't resist the dessert sampler as his celebratory sweet.

The next day, after hitting Clos du Val and Stag's Leap, we went to Michael Chiarello's restaurant, Bottega. I cannot even begin to describe how incredible the food was. I looked at Mr. W as I took my first bite of breaded, pan-friend pork loin and pecorino—which was served over a bed of black truffle risotto with browned butter sauce—and said, "This is so good, I don't want to swallow. I want to hold it on my tongue for the rest of the day or chew it like gum."

We also had burrata over crispy and soft artichokes. And Mr. W had short ribs that were to die for. All paired with a couple lovely glasses of Frank Valley chardonnay... I was ready to cash in all my savings and commit to eating every meal there until my death.

From the restaurant, we headed to Chateau Montelena. Fun to see it after watching Bottle Shock.

Although we felt a little pickled when we got back to our hotel room, we still managed to squeeze in a bit more wine with our divine dinner at Tra Vigne Pizzeria, were I had the best fresh-pasta Bolognese I've ever had. I really don't think I've had so much good food in such a short period of time. Ever. In my life.

When we got home, we counted up all the bottles of wine we purchased. 18. That should be enough to last us a couple months. Then I might insist that we take another trip up north.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sharing Some More Spring

Today I drove to ULTA to buy some conditioner at lunch. Not sure what made me notice, but it's definitely Spring in Burbank. There were trees flaunting their pink blooms all along my drive. After being in St. Louis, I had forgotten there were any trees here in California. That city seemed to have the stronghold on bright, beautiful Springyness.

I think this one below might be a pink dogwood. Which is the Missouri state tree. Their state "handle" is the "Show Me" state. I tried to research that, but I still don't get it...

I think this one might be redbud...

This one made me need to sing "Popcorn Poppin' on the Apricot Tree." Did you guys know that song when you were little? For some reason I have it in my head that that was a big song with the Mormons...

Mr. Wonderful took the super artistic one below. Need I point out that he was a photography major in college? This picture made me think of wedding flowers...soon enough, friends, soon enough...

We don't get clouds like this in Southern California. They're a nice backdrop to the gorgeous trees. I'd like to lay on a blanket and point out the clouds that look like rabbits and sailboats and engagement rings.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The St. Louis and Chicago Highlight Reel

Hi Internet friends. I haven't seen you guys in years. No writing. No reading. I'm a blog sloth these days...I'm sorry...I'll blame it on my impending old age. Yup, I turn 34 this week. What a substantial number that feels like.

Anyway, I didn't log on to whine about being a year older. I'm here to show off some pics from my great whirlwind trip to St. Louis and Chicago this past week. We went to visit Mr. Wonderful's fantastic family and decided to take an extra jaunt to Chi-town to see the sights and meet up with one of my favorite fellow bloggers. How gorgeous is that shot above? The entire city of St. Louis was bursting with Spring flowers. My eyes were in heaven.

Our first night in town, Mr. W's oldest friend took us out to a great Irish pub to listen to some live music. You know me and the Irish...again, I was in heaven. I found out on our trip that I have a few St. Louis family blog readers—so I should explain to them, and the rest of you, that the reason I didn't include any pictures of people we visited is that I don't want the paparazzi to start chasing them all over town. Anonymity is important. Except when it comes to me trying my first toasted ravioli...

It was SO good!

Our hotel was right in the heart of town by this theater. I loved walking all over the city. It was so beautiful—great architecture, nice people, surprisingly mild weather. And of course a sweet boy who might have said, "Pumpkin, we can register at Bloomingdale's if you want" when we wandered into the store. Oh how my heart pitter patters when he dangles carrots like that.

Like ALL the sights we saw, Millennium Park was amazing. Chicago is seriously one of the most well-thought-out cities I think I've ever visited.

Enjoying the view from the top of the John Hancock Building.

Mr. W and I were so lucky because the lovely, hilarious, eternally thoughtful Nilsa of SoMi Speaks agreed to meet us for brunch with her super cute hubby, Sweets. We had SO much fun with them—it was like we were old friends. Too bad that I drank too much wine the night before and looked all puffy and pasty for our morning date...

Not sure why these trees were painted, but they looked really cool tucked into the middle of the city.

We completely lucked out with the weather. Most of Saturday was spent walking around town under these beautiful, sunny skies. I can't wait to go back and see more!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Family Traditions: Porn and Lingerie

My Mom turned the conversation to porn on Easter. Yup, she’s classy like that.

It started out relatively innocently; she mentioned watching Jenna Jameson on Oprah recently. But, in grand Hetherington tradition, the conversation exploded from there—launching into a full-blown who-knows-what showdown. My mom made a comment about wondering how people “try out” for porn movies and prove that they can “perform,” and then next thing I knew, I was teaching her, and several other family members, the definition of the word “fluffer.”

I thought Jesus might rise again just to tell us to shut up the trash-talking on such a lovely holiday.

In more benign news, my cousin told me a hilarious story about her son last week. This is the cousin who was training for the half marathon with me (sadly, she broke her toe) and is married to Big T.

Anyway, she was telling me that lately her 2-year-old son has developed a fascination with her bras. Whenever he sees one in the laundry basket, he pulls it out and says, “Mommy, I want boobies!”

Like any good working Mom, she gives him what he wants in the morning—just to keep him off her back while she’s getting ready. So last week when he wandered in with her strapless bra and requested boobies, she was happy to oblige.

She tied her bra nice and tight around his tiny back and sent him on his way. As she said it, “He walked into the front yard in his bra,” to go see his daddy who was loading some stuff into the car.

When Big T turned and saw his son wearing a bra in the front yard, he nearly died.

“Little L!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing?!”

And Little L answered with, “Hi Jim” and a wave.

Yup, the next door neighbor was outside, too. Just in time to catch the toddler lingerie show. I'm sure he found it as funny as I did...

Just another normal week in the life of our family…