Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Could Care Less about the Dress

You guys, I think I want to wear sweats to my wedding. Bedazzled sweats, you know, to be fancy.

Amidst all the pre-planning research I did, never did I peruse dresses. Actually, that's not true. I may have flipped through a magazine or two at Barnes & Noble and all I could think was, wow these all look the same.

For a lot of women, the dress is THE THING. It makes the wedding. It's the piece of the puzzle they want to snap into place most. I know this because I watch TLC's Say Yes to the Dress just about every week. Tears are shed. Budgets are blown. Diets are declared. It's like the wedding is their one and only chance to be PERFECT.

Well, I hate to break it to Mr. Wonderful but I don't want to be perfect. I don't want to be a princess. I don't want to try on 231 dresses before finding "the one" that makes me spontaneously burst into tears. Only to get packed up in a box and shoved in a closet for 30 years or eternity.

I tried on about 8 dresses last week and none of them really stirred me. They were all lovely. Several of them fit well. And a couple made my friend and family members gasp, "That looks stunning."

Mostly, they just made me shrug and raise my eyebrows.

I'm not sure if I just don't know what I'm looking for, or if I really don't care. But this whole dress-finding task feels like So Much Work. I just want to check it off my list. Get it over with.

I already found the perfect groom. Do I really have to find the ideal dress?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting What I Deserve

I couldn't help myself last week. There I was, checking my email, when the Cheating Ex's name popped up in my IM active contacts list. I hadn't seen his name in over a year...when he contacted me and I went out of my way to tell him I was going to Paris with Mr. Wonderful.

As soon as I saw him online, the smugness set in.

I was going to tell him I was engaged. Take THAT, Cheating Ex!

I typed, "hey stranger" into an IM window. He didn't write back. But he called. Yikes. And said he had deleted my email address but somehow still had my phone number committed to memory. He asked me to email him and wished me well with my writing.

I could have stopped right there. But I wanted so badly to blow the soot from my happy fire right in his face.

So I wrote him a note and tucked a bunch of small talk around my real reason for contact. I was proud. I intended to make him feel bad. Never a good approach to life...even when a bad guy is involved in the exchange.

The next morning, my ego swelled as I saw a response from him in my email inbox. He congratulated me and said some nice things. And then he told me that he had recently moved in with a girl he was dating. And they too were engaged.

Smug, meet Humbled. Served me right.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rude Awakenings

In the middle of my parents' backyard is a 10-foot pole with a cute little birdhouse attached to the top of it. My dad is extremely diligent about keeping the open-air house filled with food, so that the local doves, jays and finches all have full bellies. But watch out when a fluffy-tailed rodent gets in the birdhouse. Then Mr. Hetherington becomes Squirrel Super-Soaker, a close cousin of Bill Murray's character in Caddyshack.

When my dad retired, his boss made jokes about how he would now have more time to sit in the backyard and shoot the squirrels with his squirt gun. Everyone knows about his methods.

At 4 a.m. Monday morning, Mr. Wonderful further confirmed that he and my father are cut from the same cloth.

We were sound asleep, when suddenly a series of noises erupted on the roof above our heads. Thud. Brrrrrr. Thud. Brrrrr. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Mr. W sprang out of bed and put on shorts and a t-shirt. I followed him out the back door into the moonlit yard. As I scaled the short wall of the lowest terrace and stood to face the rooftop, a raccoon slowly appeared, standing on his hind legs to face me. We were like two meerkats popping up to look at one another.

In the peach tree over Mr. W's room, another raccoon peeked out from the branches. The two buddies had a system going: one would knock fruit off the tree and the other would run around the roof to catch them.

I watched, slightly scared that one might come racing toward me and wrap itself around my head, when to my left an arc of water shot out and hit the one in the tree. Mr. W had turned into Raccoon Rainmaster. He sprayed for awhile as the furry little guys yelled raccoon obscenities at him. They were stubborn and didn't want to leave, so finally I went back inside.

Mr. W returned about 10 minutes later, sighing and tired from his early-morning workout. I wanted to laugh at him, but he had gotten the job done so we could go back to sleep—and that was actually pretty commendable.

I have to wonder, though, if maybe next time he and my father are together, they'll be trading sharpshooting tactics...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You Must Be My Lucky Star

No folks, that's not a Parisian brothel. That's our room from Engagement Weekend at The Madonna Inn. This fantastically gaudy hotel offers a couple hundred theme rooms—ranging from caveman-inspired digs to Barbie dreamhouse suites. It's sort of an amalgamation of Disneyland, Vegas and a time warp somewhere between 1948 and 1972. I loved it.

Velvet wallpaper. Shag carpet. Gold tile in the shower. Seriously, it doesn't get better than that. Or maybe it does... The hotel is known for having a "world-famous men's urinal." Yes, Mr. Wonderful discovered this fact on the website and apparently the bathroom is so popular, it's considered a landmark in San Luis Obispo. What's so great about it? It's an all-rock waterfall sort of setting with sensors that start the downpour as soon as a guy walks up to it. Of course, us girls all went into the men's room to check it out. Pretty funny.

The blue room above was where Mr. W's sister and brother-in-law were staying. Apparently it's the only round king-sized bed in the whole hotel. Lucky them, right? Another feature that all of us couples couldn't resist checking out were the front and back bidets that came standard on every toilet. Oh, and there was a dryer, too. I laughed hysterically the entire time I tested the features...and felt strangely refreshed...

The view from the hotel is quite beautiful. It's nestled right in the middle of rolling golden hills, so everywhere you look there is rugged, rural beauty. Throw in the heart-carved hotel embellishments, and you have all the makings of a romantic getaway destination. We were checking out the view when Mr. W surprised me, spinning on his heel to face me as we walked back toward our room, and saying, "I don't know where to do this." My heart stopped as he produced a box from his jeans pocket.

Of course, I immediately began to cry. He told me that he loved me so much and wanted to be with me forever (and there may have been a couple tears with that declaration, too). I think we said some other things. And then he asked, "Can I marry you?" I loved that he didn't say, "Will you marry me?" I said yes. We talked some more. He asked me, "Wait, did you say yes?" And I said yes again. Then I told him how incredibly thankful I was that I had waited 34 years for him. He was so worth the wait. When he opened the ring box, there was a rubber worm ring inside.

If you read frequently, you might remember that I told him I'd wear a dead worm on my hand if he gave me one. Well, he ran with that. So amidst my sobbing, I cracked up. I loved that he did this. He also had kleenex in his pocket—ever the planner. I loved that he did that, too. Thankfully, he had my beautiful ring in his other pocket and he quickly retrieved that after I put on my worm ring.

After all was said and done, I had no idea what to do. So I took a bunch of pictures. And we grinned at each other and laughed. When we walked back through the hotel and came down the stairs, there was a group of strangers on their way to visit someone. I couldn't help myself. "We just got engaged!" I blurted to them and stuck out my hand. They all cheered and said, "Mazel tov!" I laughed. And then started to cry again. Lots of happy tears that day...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prep Your Gag Reflex

I was planning to write a post all about the fabulously kitschy hotel we stayed at last weekend...and of course what happened while we were on the premises of said hotel, but it's late and I really just need to ramble about this strange, new place I've entered.


I feel sort of like this ring is a protective shield that guards me from any possible type of negativity that may come my way. Bad vibes bounce off of it and go elsewhere. I can only feel goodness right now.

It's strange because every glass of wine I've had since the big day—whether with friends or my sister or Mr. Wonderful—feels like a celebratory glass. Like there's a big reason to drink and internally toast to these good times.

I cannot stop looking at my hand. I'm sitting at work and OOOHH SPARKLE! It catches my eye and I have to stop what I'm doing to admire it.

Amidst the excitement and utter exhaustion, there's this strange sort of serenity. Like I know everything is going to be okay now. I'm safe. I'm grounded. I'm chosen.

When U2 was on my car stereo this morning, I felt the need to sing extra loud.

My Facebook page has exploded in a storm of well-wishes. It's astounding.

It's all rather bizarre and I want to document and remember it. No one ever told me it would feel like this. No one described what it would be like to check out a potential venue—the surreal quality of surveying a room, picturing yourself taking one of the biggest steps of your life. No one warned me that I'd get "Going to the Chapel" stuck in my head and find myself getting teary on a daily basis. No one ever told me it would be this good.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All at Once

I remember thinking in 2003 that my world might collapse. I had moved into a new (more expensive) apartment, and the next thing I knew, the rug came out from under me. My cat got sick and accrued a rash of astronomical vet bills. The guy I had been dating broke up with me. And a week later, I found out I was getting laid off from my job.

I was in debt, broken-hearted, and completely uncertain of where I was headed.

I can vividly recall lying on my back, on the living room floor, sobbing. It wasn't the first time I'd done it. My last apartment's ceiling had witnessed break-up breakdowns, too. More than once.

I wanted that soft, off-white plaster to just suck me up into it and spit me out somewhere else where I didn't feel so lost and sad.

I wonder if caterpillars cry when they outgrow their cocoons and have to move on to being totally different little insect beings.

Obviously, despite what felt like a very heavy load, I came through that hard time. Having all that tough stuff thrust my way at once only made me stronger and more prepared to deal with difficult times in my future.

In the last couple weeks, I've been feeling my mental and emotional cocoon begin to crack again—but this time it's because of more exciting things. This time, the butterfly doesn't really have too many tears of sorrow...maybe just some tears of joy.

As I've confessed on this blog, I've been researching and starting to pre-plan some wedding stuff. Mr. Wonderful made the mistake of giving me an inch and I grabbed hold and ran a half marathon with it. Then we started talking about the living situation. And the next thing I knew, I was filling out loan paperwork and boarding the real estate roller coaster.

I'm at that tipping point of change and it's so very exciting to me this time around.

Feeling so confident in my load-bearing abilities, I must have put a vibe out into the world that said, "Go ahead! Lay it on even thicker! I'm READY!"

And the Universe responded.

Saturday afternoon, in the lovely golden hills of San Luis Obispo, Mr. Wonderful asked me to marry him. Oh, how I'm relishing this all at once.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Match vs. Mate

One of my favorite bloggers wrote a great post recently wherein she quoted Eat, Pray, Love on the topic of soul mates. It got me thinking about my own experience within the soul mate realm...

When I was young, I thought that every girl was supposed to marry her soul mate. Actually, that every person on the planet was supposed to marry theirs. That was the ultimate goal: Find that one person who made you complete.

But then I got a few more crow's feet around my eyes and knowledge in my noggin and I completely re-framed what I thought a soul mate even was. I used to think it was a missing half. Now I believe soul mates are sort of like our crutches and catalysts. And I don't think I'd ever want to marry one.

I find soul mates in my friends. I can see them in my exes. To me, they are the people who don't fill your missing half, but miss it right along with you or show you what you need to do to become complete yourself. These are the friends who walk alongside us and seem to end up going through the same peaks and valleys we do. "Parallel lives," I've often laughed knowingly with these people.

They are the mentors or short-lived boyfriends who you want to be with so badly that you sort of want to just be them. And they point out things you didn't know about yourself. And you learn from them. And you love them. Until you realize that their only purpose in your life was to hold up that pointer.

The other thing about soul mates is that I don't think they're meant to be consistent in our lives. Maybe they're there for a year or ten. But I don't think they're forever. Because you always need different soul mates at different places.

What does this all mean for poor Mr. Wonderful?

Well, he falls into a different category. One that maybe others could have fallen into, had I scoured the ends of the earth. Thank goodness I only had to look as far as Hollywood. I think Mr. W is my Perfect Match.

He's not there to be my missing twin, he's there to be my balance. His personality is the ebb to my flow. He's the kind of guy I would want as a business partner. The kind who gets things done and is endlessly reliable. He's the rational voice to my crazy. The calm to my upset. The laughing audience to my jesting. He fits me. And in the end, that's the kind of mate I want most around my soul.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Warning: To Prevent Injury, Proceed with Caution and without Expectations

I may have mentioned on here before that when I got laid off from my advertising job in 2003, I wrote a book. Two hundred and thirteen pages of chick lit. It was more of a catharsis woven into a story, but the people who read it still told me it was quite entertaining.

Over the next 4 years, I edited it, wrote a query letter and decided to send it to a few literary agents. Yes, I'm slow moving...I think most people do that sort of stuff right away when they finish a manuscript. I was too busy trying to conquer the online dating world.

Anyway, I queried four agents and two of them wrote me back—one asking for an extended synopsis and the other my entire manuscript. This is SO easy, I thought. I couldn't figure out why more people weren't getting books published if I was going to end up with an agent so quickly.

I packaged up my giant manuscript with a little note and a piece of turquoise twine. And then I waited. I don't remember how long it took. But I received a letter back thanking me for my submission and explaining that the novel was too slow, too drawn out and too long.

I packed it away in a cupboard and have looked at it again only once.

Some would say that's a defeatist attitude, but the truth is, I sort of lost steam on my book's content. I'd rather work on my next idea now...

I learned yesterday that getting your hopes up about real estate is much like getting your hopes up about book publishing. Not A Good Idea.

Just as I had been when I sent off my manuscript, I was certain that the offer I put on a house would go through. It seemed like it was totally in the bag.

It was not.

I suppose I should be happy to have garnered some experience and learned this valuable lesson so that next time I find a house I like, I don't have the expectation I'm actually going to get it. But really, I'm just annoyed and a little bummed out. Back to the drawing board...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It Fell Through

That thing I got shushed about...well it was a house...but the bank accepted another offer. Back to square one...

I've Been Shushed

I deleted my last post because apparently there are certain people who shouldn't be reading certain things about certain goings on. If you know what I mean... Thus, I shall be writing cryptically or on other topics altogether, henceforth. If you want to know any details about the stuff I said before, contact me via email. Or look for subtext. Well, maybe I'm not so good with subtext...

I guess I'm going to have to start flexing creative brain muscles instead of just regurgitating what's going on in my life. Nuts!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Different Dwellings

I LOVE home design and decor. It may not show when you enter my apartment...I still own a lot of leftover pieces from IKEA and I never painted my walls a different color because I never really thought I'd be in the same place for 8 years...but I drool over catalogs and get butterflies in my stomach at furniture stores. I daydream about picking pillow patterns and arranging knick knacks on shelves. This is part of why the thought of living with Mr. Wonderful is so alluring: because I'll get to start fresh!

Anyway, when Mr. W told me about the DWELL on Design Home Tour and Convention a few months ago, I was giddy at the thought of going. Saturday morning the tour day finally arrived, and we set out to explore 6 houses in the Venice Beach/Santa Monica area. What a treat it turned out to be! The gorgeous modern house above was my favorite on the tour.

But I think my other favorite may have been this little number below. We totally cracked up when we were walking toward one of the DWELL show houses and noticed this across the street. The picture does not do the gnome-age justice. The garden bric a brac was off the charts. And I found it funny and endearing that the owners were perched out front, watching all the hoity-toity yuppies walk to the fancy, minimalist home across the way.

Not all the homes were totally minimalist, as you can see below... When we came around the corner and found this room in one of the show houses, my eyes lit up and Mr. W said, "Oh my God you are NEVER having a room like this!" Everything was perfectly organized but I have never seen so much craftery in one space. It was seriously like someone took an entire Michael's Craft Superstore and condensed it into an 8' x 8' space.

I had sort of forgotten about both of these little hoarder's delights. But then Mr. W sent me an email with the subject line "Our house, inside and out" with the two pictures attached. Funny one, that Mr. W...