So as the third (and final) wedding of the year slowly creeps closer, so do wedding-related events, like Katie’s bridal shower on Sunday.

It was nice, the food was great, I had fun, I came back with your typical prizes like bath products and picture frames, and really, there’s not much else to say about the bridal shower. Well, except maybe that Katie was prepared to kick out Jacob and Paul’s mom if need be, but fortunately, she behaved.

See, wedding planning has just about been the shit show we all expected. So far, with Paul and I planning our own wedding, we’ve only gotten a small taste of it–the focus is on Katie and Jacob, so we’ve been able to slide by largely unnoticed. I said my goal is to get as much done before their wedding as possible while she’s not paying attention, but I know this will just cause a separate issue entirely of her being pissed she was left out rather than trying to control the whole thing. And Katie tipped me off that it might not matter anyway and that she might still try to change things. I’m reminded of a phone conversation I overheard on my break at work once where a bride called her caterer and had to tell them not to accept any changes from her mother-in-law, and I thought, “My God, I’m listening to my future.”

The biggest story I’ve heard has been about the wedding cake. Basically, their mom doesn’t like what Katie wants, which I feel like probably sums up the whole wedding in a nutshell. Their mom said she was “putting her foot down” about it, and like I told Paul, there shouldn’t be any of that. You don’t “put your foot down” about someone else’s wedding. And when I heard the whole story, I said, “Katie’s including her too much.” Our method has been to only discuss wedding planning when asked about it and to only answer her questions, because we know we’re gonna hear all about what she doesn’t like about our plans. So I’m dealing with it by doing my best to not even give her the opportunity. Katie liked the sounds of that, but since then, their mom has complained that she’s not being included. So I’m not sure if Katie shut her out or if she’s just pissed that she’s not getting her way–I also made the comment that what she calls “being included” is what just about any bride on the planet would call “overstepping.”

I’m getting a taste of this, too, when it comes to my own bridal shower. Because I don’t want one, and this is unheard of. She came up to me at the end of Katie’s and said, “Your luncheon is next”–because she’s calling it that instead, thinking I’ll agree to it–and I just flatly said, “No, it isn’t.” I know I’m gonna have to eventually go full bitch on this and “put my foot down” and probably soon, but I don’t know how much good it’ll do me. She mentioned to my mom about throwing me a surprise shower, and I already knew she’d probably try. Julie said she’d do what she can, and because I know their dad thinks she’s going too far, too, I asked Paul to let him know I don’t want anything so he can try to put a stop to it, too.

And the thing is, if my reasons for not wanting a shower were different, I’d get it. But I just don’t want one. I don’t mind going to them, for the most part, but it’s not something I want for myself, especially watching two other brides have them this summer. I don’t sit there and think maybe it would be nice, I think, “Yep, I definitely don’t want to do this.” Having lived on my own for four years and since Paul and I have been living together for one, we don’t actually need it, and I don’t want to get a ton of gifts that I don’t need or have space for anyway. Plus it’s time, effort, and money I’d rather put towards the wedding itself. If she were to plan a shower behind my back, I’d be pissed, and then she’d be pissed that I wasn’t grateful for it. To me, it’s directly disrespecting my wishes, and most of all, I don’t even feel like it would be for me–it would be for her. If a bride tells you she doesn’t want a bridal shower, gives you her reasons why, and her friends and family all know she legit doesn’t want it but you think she should have one and you do it anyway, you’re doing it for you, not for her.

So be on the lookout for my inevitable post about losing my shit on my future mother-in-law for…being herself, I guess.

First, a writing update–I have a new essay up on The Good Men Project. When I first found that site, I thought they’d be a good fit for that piece, which is a few years old now. Turns out they agreed. In fact, they accepted it and told me they found it moving within a few hours of my submitting it. Meanwhile, the work I do for CBS Local OnTopic is gonna be coming to an end, which is a bummer because it was the best of my paying writing gigs. So now I’m on the hunt for another.

Speaking of hunts, I’m still on the hunt for a new job, too, although I did get a good annual raise and am being given more responsibilities. My parents have subtly advised me to stay, and I get where they’re coming from–the work is stable, I’ve gotten a raise every year I’ve worked there, and they apparently like me. My solution is the same as it’s been, which is to go ahead and explore other opportunities but just be really picky. Nothing more than a half-hour away, and no pay cuts unless it’s a dream job. And even then, only a small pay cut.

I still have a good bit of vacation time left–another perk–and took two days off to go to Ohio with my parents for the dog’s annual cataract checkup. I spruced the place up a bit, picked us up a quick lunch, and we hit the road early Thursday night. Duke still makes an amusing travel companion, although this time he was kind of restless. He got up a couple times in the middle of the night, and of course he still doesn’t like it when someone leaves the car or hotel room without him. The solution to this is to either take him outside at the same time we want to, say, get food or go to the pool, or to distract him. My mom and I slipped out for breakfast Friday morning and just took our food up to the room, and while he was begging her for sausage, my dad snuck out unnoticed to get his own.

The vet appointment went well. His eyes are about as good as expected three years post-op, and aside from his diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are under control, he’s in good health. When it was done, we hit the road and headed back home, where I spent the rest of the day plus Saturday just kind of hanging out. It was nice to have a day in, especially after a day or so of travel. It allowed me to get some shit done and devote time to some fun stuff I haven’t had much time for lately.

Saturday 9: The Trolley Song

Saturday 9: The Trolley Song (1944)

… Because Stacey suggested Judy Garland. Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) In this movie clip, just about everyone (except Judy) is wearing a hat. Do you wear hats for fashion, for warmth or for both? Usually only for warmth.

2) This song is from Meet Me in St. Louis, which was a huge hit and the second highest grossing movie of 1944. When is the last time you watched a movie in the theater?  Last month, when I went with my parents to see The Secret Life of Pets.

3) The movie follows the Smith family as their hometown, St. Louis, to prepares to host the 1904 World’s Fair. What’s the biggest thing happening in your hometown? We have the Whiskey Rebellion Festival every July, so that’s already come and gone. The county fair, which is held just outside of town, is coming soon, if it hasn’t ended already.

4) This week’s featured artist, Judy Garland, is best known as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. That movie is shown so often that Sam thinks she may have seen it a dozen times. Is there a movie or holiday special you’ve seen over and over? So fun fact, The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorites–I discovered it before I was even two. So I’ve seen that probably more than any other movie.

5) Judy admitted to being perpetually tardy. Are you usually prompt? Or are you always running late? I’m always late, but I’m working on it. This means getting my fiancé on the same page. I joke that he subconsciously sabotages us being on time because his family is late for everything, and whenever we’re actually on time, he finds some way to stall us.

6) Judy’s first professional performance was a rendition of “Jingle Bells” when she was just two. How old were you when you entered your chosen profession? I’ve loved writing six I was a kid, but my first professional experience with it came in college, probably when I was 19 or 20. As for my official day job, I got that a few months after I graduated college, so I would’ve been 22. I’m 27 now.

7) Thinking of “Jingle Bells,” here’s a wintery question for a hot summer day: What’s your favorite carol? I don’t know that I can narrow down one favorite, which is a problem I have with a lot of things. But I’m a big fan of “O Come All Ye Faithful.” I love Christmas music in generally, really. I also love Christmas in general, especially for someone who’s not particularly religious.

8) Judy was a very demonstrative person. She enjoyed hugs and admitted that, when she nervous, she took emotional support from physically reaching out. Are you demonstrative? No, but my fiancé is. We’re mismatched in that way–he’s much bigger on physical affection than I am. In fact, I’d say he’s a lot like Judy.

9) She told Barbara Walters that people would be surprised to learn that she was a good cook and specialized in desserts. Do you have a sweet tooth? Very much so. I think it’s genetic.

Friday 5: French Kissing

  1. What’s your favorite kind of French fry? Man, as long as I have Heinz ketchup to dip it in, I really don’t care.
  2. Where can you get really good French toast? You know, it seems like I should love French toast, but I don’t. I’m kind of indifferent. So I don’t know.
  3. What are your feelings about French salad dressing? I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had it. I’m pretty loyal to balsamic these days.
  4. What’s something you know how to say in French? I took French all through high school, and I have retained some of it, so I know some words and phrases here and there. Yesterday, I wore an old shirt of my mom’s that says, “Embrasse-moi, je parle Francais.”
  5. What French films have you seen? I think I’ve seen at least a couple, but the one that really stands out is Amelie.

As always, from Friday 5.

Booking Through Thursday: Mind-Blowing

What’s the most mind-blowing, world-changing book you’ve ever read? (Or article, poem, whatever.)

Ya know, I think I’m gonna go with Harry Potter for this one. I got into it a little later than most kids–between the third and fourth books–and I was already a bookworm, so it’s not like I’m one of those kids who was introduced to a love of reading. But I think it was the first actual series I read, and it was the first time I can remember get really, really wrapped up in something and having that feeling last me through the rest of the series, which ended up being another several years. I was 10 when I started, and I think I was in college by the time it ended.

It’s also probably the only book to survive the transition from childhood to my teen years to adulthood.

In the days after Brandon’s wedding, Paul wasn’t feeling well. We both were kind of dismissive of it–he had a sore throat and had smoked a cigar at the wedding, so we both just kind of thought that because that’s something he doesn’t normally do, it irritated him. We were wrong. We discovered this when I got sick, too.

I started feeling congested near the end of my shift at work Wednesday and hoped that I could just sleep it off, but nope. I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible sore throat.I still have this thing where I feel guilty for calling off work, but this was one of those times that it was just not happening, so I called, left a voicemail, and went right back to sleep after my alarm went off in the morning.

And then I slept for pretty much two days straight. I mean, sure, I was awake for parts of the day and did some other stuff, but for the most part, I slept. I started to feel back to normal and Saturday and we went out to the Chinese buffet, but aside from church and some errands, that was the extent of my weekend activities.

I’m still congested but did go back to work yesterday, where I finally found out just what I’ll get for my annual merit increase. I’m pretty pleased.

It’s also a short week–it’s already time for Duke’s annual road trip for his cataract checkup, so I took off Thursday and Friday. Kind of makes me feel bad that I ended up only working two days last week, but I did earn the days and they wouldn’t have wanted me there anyway. My lingering mild cough is probably raising enough eyebrows.

After the excitement of Brandon’s wedding, we kind of hung out Sunday morning, then hosted some family–Uncle Clark more or less just showed up, not knowing we were having anyone else over, and we invited aunts and uncles and Kelly’s family. My mom’s uncle brought a disk of pictures he’d taken of the wedding, so we watched a slideshow of those and ate the tons of leftovers we had from the caterer.

Meanwhile, Terra was in town for the weekend, and she’d invited Paul and I out to see Beatlemania in the park, which we usually do go to. I told her it was iffy and figured we’d just kind of see how things went. The guests hung around long enough that I would’ve felt weird leaving with everyone there when we didn’t really have to go anywhere, and on top of that, Paul fell asleep. I left hime alone for a little bit, then we packed up some more leftovers and headed home. I have so many cheese cubes in my fridge even now.

Turns out Paul wasn’t just tired, he was coming down with a cold. He called off work Monday, while I went into the city to Terra’s brother’s place to hang out with her for a bit. We went to lunch and I discovered I’d left all my money in the little bag I took to the wedding and felt terrible asking Terra to pay, but at least I made good on it by paying her back and then some. God bless online banking. The other problem with this was my gas light came on just as I was getting into the city, so I had a fun time hoping my tank would last me until I got home–and on top of that, my phone was dead, so if I would’ve run out of gas, I would’ve been fucked. Fortunately, I made it, stopped back at the apartment, charged my phone for a hot minute, gathered my money, then went back out for gas and light groceries. Because how many groceries does one really need with a fridge full of meals from a rehearsal dinner and wedding and tons of veggies and cheese cubes?

One of the reasons I sent Paul home after rehearsal dinner was to spare him the chaos of being at my parents’ house on my brother’s wedding day. But honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Everyone was pretty much and up and it on time–my mom and I got up and out for our hair and makeup appointment, and I sadly forgot the bottle of Belgian raspberry beer I’d bought specifically for us to drink there, especially since for the bulk of the appointment, we were the only ones there. In the end, I toted that damn bottle around all day thinking maybe the bridesmaids would tear into it when we were done getting ready, but there was no time for that and finally, the bottle ended up at the head table during the reception, which was fine. I made sure I saved a glass for my mom and personally delivered it to her.

The only real hang-up came when Brandon couldn’t find his shoes, which of course led to my dad going on and on about how he should’ve had all of his stuff together, which Brandon argued he did–my dad was the one who moved the shoes to the spot where he ultimately found them. It turned into kind of a blame game, really, with my dad repeating that Brandon should’ve been ready and Brandon saying he was. Most of us sided with Brandon on that one. He had set all of his stuff aside for the day, and my dad messed that up. My mom lightened the wood with a Brady Bunch quip of, “It was all Jan’s fault!”

And then it was off to church, where boys and girls parted ways. We got dressed, did any touch-ups on hair and make-up we needed, and took some pictures. Then Kelly got lipstick on her dress, and that’s when Paul came in handy–he was just minutes away from the chapel, so I sent him to get a Tide pen and we did a swift handoff just minutes before the whole shebang started.

Funny thing is after about 1, I was ready to go and get the whole thing over with, and it felt like time just crawled for a while. And then when it hit 1:30, it sped. Before I knew it, we were being summoned to walk down the aisle and coming up the stairs just as the guys were still there waiting, so I yelled down, “Abort! Abort!” and waited for them to go before we brought Kelly up. And then her dad’s shoe broke and he ran back down to fix it. Fortunately, I had a music cue to walk down to and waiting for that bought us some time, and he made it up just in time for them to come down the aisle.

The ceremony was short but nice–they opted not to do a Catholic wedding and instead had a pastor recommended to them do the ceremony. It was short enough that the wedding party all stayed standing with them at the front of church, which is kind of nice, but it was long enough that standing up there in high heels was pretty terrible and we were ready for it to be over pretty quick.

I’d been telling pretty much everyone that I was sure Brandon would cry, and I knew that if he did, it would start a chain reaction–both mothers would go, then some bridesmaids, probably some relatives, maybe even the best man. But to my surprise, he didn’t. In fact, I almost did, and I was surprised by how moved I was to see Kelly come down the aisle. The whole planning of this has been so surreal, and even morning of it hadn’t really, truly hit me, but there it was, my brother’s bride walking down the aisle. But everyone made it through tear-free, which did take some effort on the part of the moms. It was close, apparently, and the way Kelly’s mom told it the next morning, my mom’s determination not to cry helped her not to cry, too.

We spent a good bit of time taking pictures, then it was pretty much party time. By then, we were starving, and we couldn’t go to cocktail hour because we had to be announced. What we should’ve done was go straight to my parents’ house after we left the chapel–I thought the timing would’ve been too tight, but in retrospect, it probably would’ve been fine. At least there were enough sympathetic significant others of people in the bridal party that we had a pretty decent stream of fruit, cheese, and cookies being brought to us while we hung out outside. Wedding advice: pack snacks, especially for the girls, who are likely to have a bit of a busier day with less time to eat something between breakfast and dinner.

I’d been nervous about going into the ceremony, but by reception time, it was a little more informal and we were all feeling better about it–and really hungry. We passed ’round the raspberry beer and ate, with the exception of the maid of honor, who was too nervous about giving a speech to eat anything.

And then it was just a good party. Brandon and Kelly surprised me by actually having practiced their first dance, and my mom, who had initially wanted to scrap the mother-son dance due to a lack of practice, got talked into doing it by the DJ, who’s an old friend of my dad’s and told her she’d regret not doing it. She ended up winging it and tossing in some Marcia Brady dancing, and the whole thing was cute and sweet and I think she’s glad she did it. And then we pretty much just danced and drank the rest of the night, with a decent group going until the DJ packed it up. Funny thing is, compared to some other weddings, it seemed like there was actually less dancing than usual, but we had a couple people comment that they’d never seen so many people dance at a wedding like that. Interesting. It’s also worth noting that a good chunk of the dancers at these things are the women on the Oshinsky side–the ones who go see bands like Dancing Queen specifically to go out and dance.

I socialized a little, but not as much as I probably should have. But I had a good time, and everyone else seems like they did, too. Paul and I, as well as best man Jacob and Katie, helped clean and pack up, and Katie was such a constant helpful presence throughout the day, actually, that I’m gonna have to make sure I remember that when their wedding rolls around. It’ll be easy, too–Paul’s the best man in that one, so I’ll be around all day anyway, available to go do whatever bidding anyone needs. They wanted Taco Bell afterwards and we did go by, but we ended up only being able to do drive-through. Brandon and Kelly spent the night at a little inn up in the mountains while we crashed at my parents’ and geared up for a Sunday of hosting family and serving wedding leftovers.

Saturday 9: Into You

Saturday 9: Into You (2016)

… Because Cat suggested it. Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) In this video, Ariana Grande and her boyfriend take off on a motorcycle. Are your trips usually carefully planned? Or would you prefer to just spontaneously get up and go? Depends on the destination–if it’s a big, long vacation to a place I’ve never been to before, I like more planning, at least part of the trip. I like to make sure I dedicate some time to sightseeing and things. But for short weekend trips to place I’ve visited already, I like to wing it. My recent weekend trip to State College was a good example, where we had a few things we knew we wanted to do but mostly just did whatever.

2) As they ride through the desert, they pass several cacti. This makes Sam sad, since she had a potted cactus on her desk and managed to kill it in no time. Do you have luck with house plants? I’m okay with them, and I’d actually like to get one for the apartment. I used to have a small Venus fly trap, but it didn’t do so well after I moved here from Pittsburgh.

3) This song mentions the appeal of acting “a little bit scandalous.” Tell us about a time you were the subject of gossip. I’m not really sure, actually. I know there was a time when I was being talked about behind my back by some friends, and I know my fiancé’s mom has done plenty of her share of that, too, but I couldn’t tell you what it was about.

4) Ariana’s mother is an executive at a company that makes, among other things, alarm systems. Is your home protected by a security system? No, but my parents’ is.

5) Ariana has her own fragrance, “Ari,” available at major department stores. When you’re at the mall, do you accept the scent strips you’re handed? Or do you say, “no, thank you.” I avoid them.

6) Ariana has said Mariah Carey is her “favorite human being on the planet” and her biggest musical influence. Who is your favorite female vocalist? I have a couple, mostly Amanda Palmer and Regina Spektor.

7) A big fan of horror movies, she admits Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies was her favorite growing up. Do you like scary movies? Yes! But I so rarely see good ones anymore. Being a horror fan means being regularly disappointed.

8) She had a brief relationship with rapper Big Sean. Do you like rap music? I like a few songs here and there. I used to say I liked everything but rap and country, but I’ve come to find that’s not true and that every genre has something for everyone and that people who tend to make statements like that are more than likely just dismissing music they’ve never actually listened to.

9) Random question: Which kid were you in school — Class Clown, Brain, Jock, Stoner, Cheerleader, Teacher’s Pet? Kind of none of the above. Looking back, although I was probably lumped in with the Goth kids, I didn’t truly fit one stereotype, and neither did most of my friends. We were all kind of all over the place, which is kind of easy to do in a small Catholic school where you get to know each other pretty easily.

Friday 5: Down the Rabbit Hole

  1. What was the subject of one of your memorable YouTube holesI don’t get sucked into those much, really. I’m pretty good at capping it at like two videos. But music videos probably get me going more than anything.
  2. What was your most recent Wikipedia hole like? I don’t really do that, either, but I was in a tiny one last night. I watched this South Korean horror film, A Tale of Two Sisters, and was a little confused by some plot points, so I turned to Wikipedia to help clear them up, which resulted in reading about the folk tale the movie was based on.
  3. What’s a recipe you got from the internet and actually prepared?  How did it turn out? I haven’t done many, but I took the Internet’s advice when it came to making zucchini noodles. It worked.
  4. What apparently little-known website do you enjoy? I’m gonna use this opportunity to throw in a little shameless self-promotion, too–the women’s lifestyle blog Urban Cashmere.
  5. What apparently popular website can you just not get into? Reddit. It’s not that I dislike it or anything, and in fact, I do pop over on occasion when there’s an AMA or something. I even read the click-baity articles that draw from Reddit threads. Just for whatever reason, I can’t really get into the site itself.

As always, from Friday 5.