If holidays with future in-laws I already don’t like weren’t bad enough, throwing wedding planning into the mix has made everything worse. And I’ll be dealing with that for the next year, not to mention whatever other bullshit pops up in our married life. We can only avoid his family so much. The really sad thing is it’s not even a matter of me disliking them–in bed Saturday night, Paul commented that he didn’t even want to go himself for Easter. I reminded him that he’s not obligated to, but of course, sucking it up and doing it is easier than saying, “You guys are toxic, if not downright abusive, and I’m not coming over anymore.”

We started Easter with church here at home, made a quick grocery trip, and enjoyed a few hours at home before we went for visits. Normally, we’d start at my parents’, but we decided to do that later in the day this time. So we got at Paul’s grandparents’ house right on time–which we’ve been doing a lot of lately, thank God–and were actually the first ones there. A cousin pulled in right behind us, and other relatives gradually followed.

Overall, it went well. It was the first time his extended family’s seen me since we got engaged, so there was a lot of showing off of the ring happening. But for the most part, we hung out with the siblings and the cousins.

It took a turn, albeit only a minor one, when his mom started asking about wedding plans.

Here’s where wedding planning stands now–we have a venue and a date, and as of today, the contract has been signed by all parties necessary and we owe them half their money, which I’m hoping to mail to them either tonight or tomorrow. It’s August 26, 2017 at the Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens. We’re undecided on whether or not we want a Catholic wedding. I’m leaning towards no, he’s leaning towards yes, but we included it in the contract should we want it but have started going back to church so we’re in good standing and can actually join and get married.

When Paul initially told his mom the location, she made the comment that people were gonna have to travel to get there, and that’s technically true–while it’s a half-hour away from us, most of our families will have about an hour’s drive. But after considering other venues, we liked this one the best, and though Paul originally didn’t want to consider Pittsburgh venues, I asked him to reconsider. I don’t feel like it’s fair to us to plan our wedding around other people, plus we do plan on getting a hotel block nearby so people can stay.

She asked the expected questions over Easter about how the planning was going and where things were. I mentioned that as soon as we got the contract back from the venue, it’d be set. She must’ve missed this, because not long after, she said we’d better not sign anything until we knew we could get the church that day, which does make some sense. The thing is we can’t exactly sit around and wait on this venue. We already lost time to unreliable venues we ultimately dropped from the running, and we grabbed the only August date left. Not that we were set on August, but the rest of the summer was pretty much full at that point, so we took what we could when we could. Not to mention the whole bit about not being sure what we want, but that’s a whole side of it she frankly doesn’t even need to know about unless we decide no church wedding.

I started to say something like, “Well, we already signed it because we know we want it,” but I only got out the “well” before she interrupted it. I honestly don’t even remember what she said, but while she was talking, I thought, “Don’t even tell her. Just don’t even go there.”

Somehow, though, it came around to if the church out here isn’t available, maybe we could have it back in Uniontown, and that’s when I started to get downright annoyed. Part of the point of exploring venue options out here was because the others we’d looked at were an hour away. So I told her I didn’t want to be driving an hour, and she goes, “Oh, no, no, that’s not what I mean,” and Paul was probably screaming inside because he knows my patience with her has worn really, really thin over the last year, and I’d warned him that if she pissed me off, it wasn’t gonna be pretty. But I’m not really sure what she did mean, then. I think maybe she thought I was referring to an hour’s drive between the church and reception, and I kind of was, knowing we’d already signed, but I was also considering the fact that it would mean either an hour’s drive for us to get to our wedding ceremony or that we’d have to stay somewhere in Uniontown the night before. And all of this isn’t even considering the fact that we already decided Uniontown isn’t even what we want. We considered venues like Seven Springs that would’ve been an hour-long commute for us, albeit with overnight accommodations onsite. I mentioned that factor as a downside. Being able to swing by right after work if we need to is really, really appealing, and the venue is us. Part of the reason Paul vetoed Seven Springs was it was a little too fancy for him. The Botanic Gardens is the kind of place I think represents us better.

Somehow, the conversation shifted and did eventually turn to the fact that I don’t want a bridal shower. For one, the women in my family hate them. I don’t know what it is, but we just don’t enjoy them. But more than that, we live in a cramped, cluttered apartment as it is and will presumably be getting wedding gifts in a year. I really don’t want to add more gifts on top of that, and the registry’s sparse enough as it is for that reason. Plus it’s another thing that’ll cost money, and one of the things I’ve discovered about myself as a bride-to-be is I went from having grand ideas pre-engagement to looking at 90% of my wedding Pinterest board and saying, “I’m not paying for that,” which I expect will save me a fuckton of money. But in Paul’s family, especially with his mom, you just have to do certain things, and I knew the shower was gonna be a point of contention–I just didn’t expect it to become one before the ink was dry on the contract that she doesn’t know was even signed. She asked me over and over if I was sure. I said no every time. If it comes up again, I plan to say as calmly as possible, “I’ve told you no before, and I’d appreciate it if you’d respect that and stop pushing the issue.”

As I thought about it all later and I considered her previous comment about having to travel, I started wondering if maybe the conversation about having the wedding in Uniontown was her sly way of trying to talk us into moving the wedding to a location she prefers or is more convenient for her. Yeah, I’m overthinking it a bit, but knowing she’d say that previously, I couldn’t help but wonder. It started to feel like so many things with her do–that her concern was what she wants, not that it’s our wedding, and she’s trying to influence our decisions. I’ve been thinking of ways to politely tell her, should it happen again, that I feel like that’s what she’s doing and that we’d prefer she keep her opinions to herself unless we ask her.

The other side of that is there’s almost no way I come out of this without looking like a bridezilla, and I swear I’m not. As usual, she’s the only person I’m having any issue with–everyone else has commented on how beautiful that venue will be or has offered actual suggestions that don’t sound like they’re selfishly motivated. It’s just bad timing. I’ve been frustrated with her for a long, long time, and it just so happens that now is the time she starts saying things that rub me the wrong way.

Fortunately, though, the visit with my parents was a lot better. Meri’s in from El Paso and I fortunately caught a text from my mom right on time, so we left a little earlier than planned–well, sort of. We had to look through pictures first. But we did get to briefly visit with Meri (and Aunt Gina), then had a nice dinner featuring a healthy dose of my grandma’s recipes and candy my mom gave all of us. We hung out, Brandon and I played some Nintendo, the four of us played Cards Against Humanity and drank a little, and things ended on a positive note. I mean, until Paul and I bitched to each other the whole way home, but hey. I guess that’s part of the reason we’re getting married.

 

Saturday Nine: I Don’t Know How to Love Him

Saturday 9: I Don’t Know How to Love Him (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is from Jesus Christ, Superstar. Though now a beloved classic, the play was controversial when it first premiered. Can you think of something else that originally made people uncomfortable, but went on to be accepted? A lot of things have gone that way, haven’t they? Especially when you look at society. As far as arts and entertainment go, a big one I think of is books that have been banned or challenged but are beloved classics or taught in schools.

2) Jesus Christ, Superstar was originally developed as a “concept album,” a collection of songs written to sequentially tell the story of The Crucifixion and Resurrection. Do you remember the first album you bought? Did you download it, listen to it on a CD player, your cassette deck, or record player? I don’t! And for me being such a music fan, you’d think I would remember this. But I think it’s because I remember the first CDs I ever received instead–as a gift, I was given Hanson and Spice Girls singles.

3) When the album’s songs were performed live in concert at the Pennsylvania Civic Arena, producers decided to stage it as a play and the rest, as they say, is history. Tell us about a really good idea you’ve had recently. Doing face painting at a local comic convention. If I were at all artsy, I’d absolutely do it.

4) Jesus Christ, Superstar is a truly international phenomenon. During a revival tour that began in 2011, it’s been a hit with audiences in the United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Hungary, India, New Zealand, Italy, France, Mexico, Chile, Bulgaria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Australia, The Philippines, South Africa, Panama, Colombia, Croatia, Bolivia, The Netherlands and Portugal. Besides the United States, which of those countries have you visited? For the record, I saw that tour! I live in the United States, and the only other country I’ve visited on the list is Mexico. Which was beautiful, though troubled.
5) Peeps are big sellers every Easter. Would you rather have yellow chicks or pink bunnies? Neither, I think–I don’t eat Peeps. Marshmallow isn’t vegetarian.

6) Jelly beans are also popular this time of year. One theory says they were introduced in Boston during the 19th century. What else comes to mind when you think of Boston? Tea.

7) We’ve been talking a lot about sweets this morning. The only holiday that generates more candy sales is Halloween. When do you eat more candy: Easter or Halloween? It’s probably about even. I probably get more for Easter because my mom still buys us candy, but I eat it slowly. I’m actually pretty good at not, like, binging on candy. It’s an occasional stack.

8) Easter lilies will adorn many churches this Sunday. What’s your favorite flower? I’m really not sure! But I do tend to be drawn to ones that look a little different.

9) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What makes you feel refreshed or rejuvenated? Sleep is the most obvious one, but going for a walk, especially lately. We only do it when the weather’s nice, so since we’re just getting into spring, we’ve only gone a few times. And it feels really good to go!

Friday Five: Saturday Night’s All Right for Writing About

  1. What did a typical Saturday look like when you were a child? Probably sleeping in, some TV, and Barbies. And ridings bikes outside and things. Sleepovers, usually with Nolan and Meri, when we could talk our moms into it.
  2. What did a typical Saturday look like when you were a teen? Sleeping in even more dramatically, dicking around on a computer, spending what little money I had out at movies and things with friends.
  3. What does a typical Saturday look like now? Sleeping in, but the length varies–I’ll normally go until like 9 at the latest, but if I was up late the night before or really, really worn out or didn’t sleep well, I’ll go until like noon. And if I don’t have plans with someone, I spend Saturdays sort of catching up and just enjoying having the day to myself. I’ll still dick around on my computer, and Paul and I usually tackle some of the shows we’re working through on Netflix, and I’ll do some reading and a little cleaning and writing and job hunting. With the weather getting nicer, I’ve also been working in walks. And then I’ll stay up late, but not too late, and sleep in Sunday.
  4. When did you last spend Saturday in a parkA couple weeks ago, although there’s a chance my last park trip was actually on a Sunday and not a Saturday. Paul and I head out there to walk, unless there’s a risk of rain or we have a busy day. Then we just stay to a route through downtown.
  5. Do you prefer to get a holiday on Friday, Monday, or some day in the middle of the week? Middle of the week, because I feel like it breaks up the week nicely. You come off your weekend and work two days, get a day off, work two more, then are back at the weekend again. It makes the week drag a little less, and it’s more refreshing, I think.

I’ve learned why I don’t typically like doing things on Fridays after work–I feel too rushed, especially if I work late. We’re almost an hour away from everyone we hang out with, so unless someone is coming to us, getting out of work and ready to go somewhere else and out the door is tight.

But we did it to go see Geibel’s musical. We made a quick stop by Paul’s parents’ house, which we were both kind of dreading–it was our first time going over since getting the latest from Julianne and Michael on the goings-on in the house, and it left us both pretty frustrated. But his parents were on their way out to run errands, so we only saw them in passing. Even a quick appearance will serve to keep the peace, plus we’ll be over for Easter. Sure, we’re expecting a shit show then, too, but whatever.

We also had a belated birthday present for Jonathan. We got him a model engine, which he opened and started on pretty much immediately. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had it finish by the time we’d all gone home for the night, or at least by the end of the weekend.

We met Julie, Michael, and Katie in town, then headed to the theater. And when it comes to small-town Catholic schools, you know you’ve gotten far removed from your graduation when no one is familiar anymore except for the teachers. I recognize a few of Emily’s friends, but that’s about it.

The musical was Grease, which I’m honestly not a fan of. Paul’s never seen it at all, so when he asked what it was about, I told him it’s about changing to please another person. Because really. It’s not like you can even argue Sandy compromised to make a relationship work, or even revamped herself because it was what she wanted. She did it for a dude, who’s kind of an asshole not worth the effort.

That said, the kids did a good job with it. Of course, the theater’s sound sucks, like it does every year. Back when my brother had a big part in his musical senior year, my mom joked that you have to go to the show all three nights to be able to hear the whole things because of how frequently mics either cut out or just aren’t turned up loud enough over the band. Now, since I’ve seen professional shows there that don’t have these problems, my personal theory is that the theater staff just half-asses it because it’s a high-school show.

Afterwards, we got stuck in a parking garage. Word to the wise–don’t leave your ticket in the machine too long while you look for cash because the thing doesn’t take cards. The machine will eat it. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem in, say, Pittsburgh, and not only because you can use a credit card to pay for parking. But there are attendants on hand. The “help” button on the pay station did nothing. So after a few attempts at solutions, we ended up talking to someone else leaving the garage, who told us to try the “help” button on the actual exit, which we didn’t think to do since the one on the pay station did nothing. We were told there’d be an open gate at the very bottom of the garage, which there wasn’t, but on our second call, they were able to open the gat remotely and let us out. So we made our way to IHOP, where poor Julie, Michael, and Katie were stuck waiting for us.

But it was a nice night out. On our way back, Paul and I dropped off our signed wedding-venue contract at my parents’ house for my mom to scan, since we don’t have a scanner. So our wedding date and venue are almost official.

And because of said wedding, I really, really didn’t want to buy a new computer just yet. Mine’s been showing the signs of a slow death lately, and it is going on five years old–I bought it when I was still living at home and had like two paychecks under my belt and no other expenses. I figured I’d wait as long as I possibly could, and when my screen started acting up, I figured the time was now. The last thing I want to do is wait so long that I don’t have a working computer and can’t easily transfer files over. So I signed up for Apple’s financing, which naturally only lasts a limited time, and bought and picked up a  fancy new computer Saturday morning. The excitement of a new computer is still fun to me. The new one is so much faster–one of the problems I’ve been having with my old on is not just the computer itself starting up slowly, but apps like Spotify sometimes take a really long time to load. I’m still using the old one here and there until I get everything moved over–Mac’s quick and easy method keeps stalling out on me–and then I think it’s gonna go to my dad to use for Internet and movies. He needs something that won’t be a catastrophic loss if and when he manages to get a virus on it. It’s like a skill of his. It should be harder for him to manage with a Mac, but I’m sure he’ll find a way.

Saturday Nine: Kiss from a Rose

Saturday 9: Kiss from a Rose (1996)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here

1) This song is from the movie Batman Forever. The movie Batman v. Superman will be out later this month. In that matchup, who do you support — The Caped Crusader or The Man of Steel? Okay, so, I prefer Batman as far as superheroes go, but logically, the winner has to be Superman. I mean, come on.

2) “Rose” became a popular name in the 19th century, when parents also began naming their daughters “Iris,” “Violet,” “Daisy” and “Lily.” Do you know anyone who has a flower name? Just Terra’s dog, Lily! I’m a big fan of flower names, though. Don’t be surprised if that’s where I turn for future daughter names.

3) This week’s artist, Seal, has something to fall back on. At his parents’ insistence, before he pursued music he got an associate degree in architecture from a small college in Westminster. What’s the last grade you completed? I finished my bachelor’s degree. I’ve been out of college for almost five years now.

4) Seal wrote this song back in the 1980s but didn’t really like it very much. His producer discovered it when they were looking for material to complete Seal’s second album and the result was several Grammys. Tell us about a time when something turned out better than you thought it would. Ha, I have no idea. I mean, I’m a writer. That almost never happens.

5) Ex-wife Heidi Klum is not the only model in Seal’s life. He also dated Tyra Banks. Can you name another famous model? Um…no.

6) Seal is currently involved with yet another model, Australian Erica Packer. Between them they have seven children. How many siblings do you have, and are you the oldest, youngest, or in the middle? I just have one younger brother. My fiancé, Paul, likes to tell me that I’m the elder, not the eldest. He’s the oldest of six. He insists it’s a different dynamic than being the oldest of two and I believe him, but he’s so ridiculous about it.

7) Seal’s birthday was back on February 19. Let’s think about your birthday. If you could have any type of cake you wanted, what would you request? Probably chocolate cake with, like, a buttercream icing and some sort of fruit filling, like raspberry or strawberry. A close second would be angel food cake. Like, it doesn’t even have to have anything else on it. I love angel food cake so much, I’d eat it plain.

8) In 1996, when this song was popular, Lyle and Erik Menendez were found guilty of murdering their parents in a crime and trial that dominated the news in Los Angeles. What are people in your town talking about? The state finally passed a damn budget, eight months late.

9) Random question: There’s an old saying, “Like nails on a blackboard.” Sam can’t recall ever hearing nails on a blackboard, but she knows she hates the sound of a dripping faucet. What sound bothers you the most? So, we all have little absent-minded things we do, right? Like I kick my legs or play with my hair when I’m sitting around. Paul likes to, like, bang his knees together, and the sound it makes of just bone on bone is horrendous. 

Friday 5: Ticket to the Weekend

  1. How many traffic tickets have you received, and what was the first? Two, and both were speeding tickets almost exactly two years apart and technically on the same road, just far apart.
  2. What are some of the ticket stubs you’ve held onto? I’ve kept every single one. I have two albums just for that, although both are buried somewhere in my apartment.
  3. What have you seen because someone had extra tickets? The only one I can think of is an Iron & Wine concert that some of the Craigs were going to right near where I went to college.
  4. What have you won in drawings or raffles? I usually win a raffle at work once or twice a year. I’ve won theater tickets twice, then baseball and hockey tickets once each. Haven’t won anything yet this year, though.
  5. How do you and your friends usually handle a restaurant bill? We normally split it, but we’re getting to be of the age and financial stability that we’re starting to pay for each other.

The only time I left the apartment Saturday, it was to go to the Chinese buffet. I call that a win. The rest of the day was spent lounging, really, while Paul was out with some friends. Until he came back and wanted to go to said buffet.

We decided to start going back to church and just kind of feel it out. Paul’s leaning towards a Catholic wedding. I’d rather not, but at least for the time being, he seems pretty set on it, so I’ll go with it. Really, he wants to go back to church and try to figure out if he likes going or if it’s just the familiarity and tradition he likes. I’m concerned he only wants a Catholic wedding because he’s expected to have a Catholic wedding, and because it’ll probably be a major issue with his parents if we don’t. We expect some backlash from his mother just about every step of the way here, but that’s one I think will be pretty bad if we do something different. But the plan is to give it some time and think about it.

But it figures that the first week we go back, Julie and Michael were in Pittsburgh and decided to come down to hang out. They called as we were getting ready and I told them if they could kill like two hours in the city–less, considering travel time to us–we could meet up with them. They ended up just coming out here and dicking around in town until we got out of church, and then we took them to dinner at Markook. Paul sort of declared that’s where we were going, but they were open to it, and they did end up loving it. Because how can you not? It’s delicious.

We ended up talking for a solid almost four hours. We covered things like wedding planning and general life catching up, but a lot of the conversation focused around what’s going on with Paul and Julie’s mom and siblings. When Paul and I initially were having a lot of issues with his mom, Julie kind of took her side, but now that she’s dating, she’s seen the extent of the problems herself. Michael in particular was glad to have someone to talk to about it who knows what it’s like, and we have a lot of similar feelings about things. Our families are structured sort of similarly, with more independence and stability, so we notice a lot of the same things and have a similar perspective on some of the issues. It was good to talk, and I was surprised by how candid we all were. It was really nice.

Julie and Michael are moving up to Erie this summer for Michael to finish school up there, so they’ve been trying to find ways to go out and do stuff without spending a lot of money. And I think anyone who’s been in a relationship in their early 20s understands that. And that combined with my desire to host people more and reach out to people and build/strengthen relationships gave me a great idea–have Julie, Michael, Emily, and possibly Josh, Jonathan, and my brother and his fiancé over maybe once a month or so for dinner once we get the apartment a little more organized. It would get everyone out and doing stuff, and we could either cook or order takeout on the cheap.

In the meantime, Terra’s dad died suddenly–suddenly enough that it was quite a surprise. So Paul and I spent most of our evening yesterday at the funeral home. Terra’s gonna be home now past Easter, and Scott was in for the funeral, so we did get to see him for a little bit before he shipped back down to Norfolk while Terra stays up here to handle her dad’s affairs, especially since her parents were divorced. Of course, this will mean hanging out with her while we can. Scott was adamant that her other friend Gemma and I spend time with her, as though neither of us intended to in the first place.

We also did our grocery shopping last night, which we forgot to do Sunday in the midst of all our talking.

And the weather’s been beautiful. Temperatures are set to drop for the rest of the week, unfortunately, but we’ve been enjoying sunny days in the 60s and 70s for about a week. The cold weather is rolling back in just in time to spend more time with Paul’s siblings Friday evening for Geibel’s musical, plus some time with his parents. I better start practicing saying, “It’s our wedding, not yours,” now.