Like I said, wedding stuff has started to dominate our time. I had another dress fitting Saturday and need one more, basically because my boobs are too small. Mom had a fitting at the same time and barely needs anything done.

We followed it up with dinner at Roland’s, because nothing says “my dress is a bit snug and I want to drop my waist measurement a tad” like ordering a plate full of rigatoni. I’m great at health and fitness, guys!

I followed that with brunch Sunday morning with Paul’s parents. We decided on President’s Pub for rehearsal dinner because the cost is similar to other local restaurants for better quality, and since his parents are paying for it and his mom has a tendency to want these things her way, Paul invited them out. I’ve actually never gone to the jazz brunch and have heard very good things, and it’s probably become my go-to brunch spot now. Live jazz music with a pretty typically brunch menu with locally sourced ingredients. I honestly don’t know why there aren’t bigger crowds at this place, like, ever, but they seem to be doing okay. We plan to go Tuesday for a fundraiser to benefit residents of an apartment building that collapsed downtown, and I’m kind of hoping this place sets itself out as a community staple.

Anyway, the point is as usual, I went in preparing to have to defend our choice to have it there and lay down the law about how it’s our wedding and we won’t accept financial help if it means the final say isn’t ours, and she ended up loving the place. I’d say it was a smart move on Paul’s part, but I’m not convinced he knew it would go that way. I think maybe we got lucky.

Meanwhile, at work, I’ve been promoted! I had a very positive review with nothing but praise for the good work I do and how reliable I am, and it comes with an 80-cent-per-hour raise that’ll kick in at the end of the month, just in time to focus on paying down credit-card balances from the wedding–which, fortunately, isn’t a lot. We have a couple expenses we put on cards, in some cases to take advantage of no-interest deals, and I’ve been steadily paying things down after all other bills are paid. Paul got a raise, too, so it’s great timing all around.

Wedding planning has reached that point where we don’t have a lot of major things to do, for the most part, but instead have a bunch of little things that need handled. And that’s kind of how everything else has been–we’re not so busy with life that we’re bogged down and constantly doing something, but we’ve been doing things.

We had a graduation party one Saturday, then spent a little time at the Whiskey Rebellion Festival that weekend, although we missed most of the big fun things. We’re still going with our dance classes, and we’re still regularly going to the gym. We’d started slacking on our weightlifting routine, so we’re getting back into that.

I started watching The Handmaid’s Tale thanks to a Hulu trial we got trying to find a different show, and I figure I might as well use it. I wish I would’ve known sooner what this was actually about, because I would’ve picked up the book much, much sooner than I did otherwise. I didn’t find out until all the buzz about the show–which, by the way, I’m loving, for all of its creepy fucked-up-ness. I’ve read and watched a lot of shit and maybe it’s just because I’m a woman, but I think this is hands down the most extreme, disturbing sort of dystopian fiction I’ve seen. It’s a nightmare. I love it.

I also made some progress toward cooking more. I mean, I make dinner just about every night, but I never really do any baking, and I thought with the wedding coming up, it could be a good idea to try to make some of our cookies. That said, that’s not what I made. We were at Giant Eagle one night grabbing some little things, so I figured I’d get on my Pinterest and find a delicious food we didn’t need to buy a lot to make. I found a banana cake and made it a couple days later, and I have to say, being that this was the first time I’ve baked basically anything from scratch, I did a pretty good job. I also enjoyed actually making it more than I thought I would. I get impatient with cooking because I get bored with the actual act and just want the finished product, but I think actually having something delicious to show for my work makes it feel less annoying. But I don’t see myself doing it often, and definitely not the way Paul will bake cookies to cheer himself up. It’s also not something I want to devote a ton of time to, in the sense that when articles need written and a wedding needs planned, I feel like I don’t have the time to spare. So for now, culinary adventures in general are gonna be limited to days off with nothing else going on. I feel like I’m losing time I need for other things otherwise.

Lack of space doesn’t make it easy, either. We have basically no free counters and the kitchen table depends on whether or not it’s recently been cleared off, so that’s why I mixed a cake while sitting on the floor.

One of the advantages to having your fiancé’s brother get married first is that you can watch how their very difficult mother handles it and plan accordingly for your own wedding.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out one of the things we were gonna have to do was be selective with how much we told her. It’s how I’ve learned to handle her normally–answer her questions and don’t say too much, because it’s way too easy to step over the line into saying something that pisses her off. I remember once when some story about Katie and Jacob’s wedding planning got back to me, I said, “Oh, they’re telling her too much.” As we’ve been going through planning ourselves, my goal has been to get as close to the wedding as possible with her knowing only the basics. We used to joke about doing as much as possible while Katie and Jacob were doing their planning so that we could kind of fly under the radar. People don’t ask too many questions about your wedding when someone else’s is much sooner, so we used that to our advantage.

I knew she’d want to be included, and I get that, but it’s tough to be open to that when she’s spent the bulk of our relationship being rude to me, for one, and when I know wedding planning for her means acting like it’s her day, too, and she gets a major stake in the decisions. That’s why we’ve done almost everything alone–that and it’s our wedding, not our parents’. Shit, even when I was wedding-dress shopping and trying to get honest opinions out of my mother, I heard a lot of, “It’s your decision.” Plus my parents don’t feel the need to be involved every step of the way. They offer up occasional thoughts and I’ve updated them more frequently than we have Paul’s family, but they’ve been very hands-off. It’s an interesting contrast, although one I can’t help but thing exists because they’ve heard the stories before.

Strangely, as we get down to less than two months to go, there’s not a whole hell of a lot to do. Cookies have been delegated to basically whoever is willing and able to make some. The rental company sets up all the tables, dinnerware, etc. The florist is taking care of centerpieces. Leading up to the day won’t require a lot of work, with everyone banding together like they did for Jacob and Katie’s. So we’re kind of limited in ways to include Paul’s mom, but the one place I did see an opportunity was sending invitations. I asked my parents first, then suggested we all go to their place to get invitations ready, even though six people doing wedding invitations seemed like overkill.

It’s the one time in wedding planning where I was grateful something wasn’t super simple. Our invitations included cards for not just RSVPs but hotel info, directions, and reception information, and everything came wrapped separately in plastic. Great! That meant everything had to be taken out, folded, put into the invitations, and then we’d have to put stamps and labels on things, and I wanted to follow the advice I’d seen of numbering them to keep track of guests. That way, it would feel a little less like too many cooks in the kitchen, as they saying goes.

On the whole, it went well. I mean, mission accomplished–she loved our invitations, and she was excited to be included in something. But it wasn’t without some frustration. It took way longer than it needed to to do everything, and it would’ve been faster and easier had it just been my mom and I doing it on our own, with a little help from Paul. Even though more needed done than I thought, it still wasn’t enough to be a six-person job, and it was hard to get everyone to focus on actually getting it done. We ended up not getting home that night until midnight, although part of me must’ve known it wasn’t gonna be quick and easy because I arranged all this specifically on a Friday night.

But still, we made it out unscathed. I expect it’s gonna be all downhill from here, in terms of hearing a whole hell of a lot about what someone else wants out of a wedding that isn’t their own. Rehearsal dinner is shaping up to be an adventure.

Well, it finally happened–after a few attempts, Terra is officially a licensed driver.

She took a break from trying for a little bit, worked on her anxiety some, and came back at it the weekend after my birthday. After getting stuck waiting in PennDOT because we missed her name being called due to being in the wrong place, she took it. I think I’ve said this before, but every time we’ve gone, I’ve felt what parents with teenagers must feel. I’m nervous for her.

Because she’s not a very expressive person, when she walked back in, I had no idea if she’d passed or not. It was only when I asked her how it went and she said she hit two kids that I knew she got it–she wouldn’t be making jokes otherwise.

And then we went to the mall so she could get herself some shirts celebrating the Pens’ second consecutive Stanley Cup win, and I bought a phone charger for my car because I’ve somehow lasted basically the last two years without ever getting one, and as I had plans for the evening, I really needed it.

Paul had gotten word Friday through a coworker that Bernie Sanders would be in Pittsburgh as part of a small series of appearances of the weekend speaking out against the Republican healthcare bill. Initially, I assumed it was a morning rally and we wouldn’t be able to make it, but instead, the evening timing worked about perfectly–I took a little longer with Terra than I expected, but Paul and I met at our usual South Hills T stop, took it downtown, and made the short walk from the station to the convention center and got in line. I used the same method I do for general-admission, standing-room-only concerts, which is to get there an hour before doors open. You almost always get a really great spot, and an hour to kill in line isn’t too bad, and neither is the hour-ish you kill inside waiting.

Of course, when we saw Bill Clinton in college, we got down there first thing in the morning, but you kind of have to when your cousins live a mile down the road and you can make a day of it.

We did end up with a pretty decent spot about three rows back, and it was a great event. Although Bernie was the focus, of course, they had six speakers before him, which seems like a lot but wasn’t considering most of them only spoke for a few minutes–and all of them gave great, memorable speeches about their personal stories of struggles with healthcare, why it’s important for that care to be affordable, and why the proposed legislation isn’t a viable solution. They were the kind of speeches that the opposition should hear, because even though they got a great response from a room full of people who shared their opinion, it’s crucial for people to understand what these people stand to lose if this passes.

Bernie was great, of course, with just the kind of demeanor I’d expect with a little bit of showmanship, repeating the sorts of lines he became known for when he was campaigning. But he was really cool to see, and even though a rally seems like a tiny, tiny thing to do when it comes to political involvement, I’m glad I went and I hope to be able to do more in the future. It’s just that less than two months before my wedding is not ideal.

We ate a late dinner in Washington at Primanti’s, then enjoyed the rest of our weekend.

I’ve fallen behind, but I am officially 28 now. I don’t care that I’m creeping closer to 30, seriously. Age is just a number, and 30 is still young anyway. I’ve got so much time ahead of me that placing some meaning on age 30 is silly.

My birthday fell right in the middle of the week, so Paul and I went to dinner, just the two of us. Back when we were planning where to go with my family for Father’s Day, we were between two restaurants we’d never been to, and we picked one with more variety on the menu. I wanted to try both and we’re still trying to figure out where to have rehearsal dinner for the wedding, so for my birthday, I went for the place we rejected.

Paul and I had the same verdict–the place we went to for Father’s Day, Angelo’s, has a better atmosphere, but the birthday dinner, Roland’s, had better food. Angelo’s wasn’t bad or anything, it just wasn’t much different than Olive Garden quality. Roland’s, though…I’m almost positive everything we had was homemade. The place looks like a total dive and it’s in the middle of nowhere so it’s probably out for rehearsal dinner–plus the fact that it has very little parking–but it’s certainly the best Italian food in Washington. I can’t believe we went this long without knowing it existed, given the quality and rave reviews most other locals give it, but then again, with where it is, there’s  no reason we’d ever be out there for anything. It’s technically the same street we live on, just heading outside of town and into the woods.

I’ve said this before, but living together and doing most of your shopping together makes it hard to buy gifts that are a true surprise, especially for Paul, who’s incredibly unlikely to shop at all unless I want to go somewhere. So most of my gifts were not-so-subtle hints, like books by Al Franken and David Sedaris and Pens tee shirts. He did find some neat things on his own, though, so at least there was some element of surprise.

We came home with a ton of leftovers–I had about half my dinner left, plus gelato we got to go and a piece of cheesecake she threw in because it was my birthday. It was all fucking delicious and a great end to the day.

At some point while dating Paul, I became aware of two things: one, I knew we’d get married some day. Two, we’d be taking dance lessons when the time came. Paul’s 6’5″, thin, and kind of awkward–he compares his dancing to a marionette, and I can’t disagree. I don’t know that anyone who’s seen him dance would, either.

Quick digression: love is knowing your significant other is a godawful dancer and wanting to take dance lessons but never actually discouraging them from their awkward dancing in the meantime.

The lessons aren’t just for him–I hate not knowing what to do during slow dances other than that kind of silly sway, and I always like watching people who actually seem to know what they’re doing. And knowing we’ll have 200 people watching us dance together in two months makes me feel even weirder about it, so dance lessons it is.

I finally got around to it within the last couple weeks and after having to reschedule due to a conflict, we’re now two lessons in. We get eight private lessons, and then we can go to as many of the group lessons throughout the week as we want, plus the Friday night dance parties. We’re aiming for at least Tuesdays and Thursdays, Friday parties if we have the chance. So far, we’re two lessons in, and I already feel like we could hit a dance floor tomorrow and know what we’re doing. Sure, we’d probably stumble and mess up, but other than that…

As for the other days of the week, we did Father’s Day early with my family with dinner and a casino trip Friday night. We tried Angelo’s, an Italian place I’ve been wanting to go to but haven’t because Paul went there with co-workers for lunch and was unimpressed, and thus I’d be going alone. Having tried it, I see his point–I liked it. I’d go there again. But there are better places to eat here, and one of them just might be another Italian place that we’re trying for my birthday. Stay tuned.

The casino trip was okay. We had fun, but they took out a ton of our favorite slots, presumably to make room for more slots. I only lost about 15 bucks over the course of the night, which I’m pretty happy about, and of course my damn brother and Kelly won a couple hundred bucks.

Saturday we had a graduation party on Paul’s side of the family, and Sunday, we headed back to his parents’ place for Father’s Day, which was a pretty chill endeavor. His mom’s doing well–she’s on a new medication and was much more alert and lively than I’ve seen her in months, maybe in the past year or so.

This week brings more dance lessons, another attempt at Terra’s driver’s license, and hopefully mailing wedding invitations. Just waiting for them to ship from where I ordered them…

Friday 5: Questions Created Very Late Friday Morning

  1. What are you reading? The third book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Amber Spyglass; The Devil in the White City; Jane Austen’s collected works, currently on Pride & Prejudice; and Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World.
  2. What are you listening to? Coldplay’s new song, “All I Can Think About Is You.”
  3. Anything amusing or strange happen to you recently? Most recent strange think I can think of is getting that gross message from a former coworker.
  4. What’s cookin’? Nothing, at the moment. I just woke up from a very long morning nap.
  5. What was your contribution to your most recent potluck? I haven’t gone to a proper potluck in a while, but when my fiancé and I went to visit his sisters over Memorial Day, he took over some banana muffins he’d made.

As always, from Friday 5.