We’re hitting the end of my long string of events I bought tickets for, unfortunately.

The beginning of the month brought Eddie Izzard, who was in town more for a small book tour than comedy. But Eddie being Eddie, he was still funny and charismatic, talking a bit about his life and reading from his book and showing pictures of himself of people and places he was talking about. I’ve always enjoyed seeing him, so even in a smaller setting not necessarily dedicated to comedy was fun.

Paul’s sister Emily’s birthday was a few days later, and at some point, I suggested that if we didn’t get invited out for it last minute, we ought to celebrate with her our damn selves. She had the following Monday off from school, so she was home for the weekend. So we picked her up and took her out to lunch, which ended up being hibachi since she wanted sushi and it’s the only place we could get it in the area on a Sunday. We followed it up with a visit to their grandfather in the hospital, who was in for some internal bleeding. He was better than he had been a few days prior, Emily said, but of course he wasn’t thrilled about being in the hospital. And since Sarah’s working there now, we managed to just miss her–she had just gotten there right after we left.

In the meantime, I’ve been plugging away at articles for AXS, plus wedding thank-you notes. I got a few out at a pretty good pace, impressing some relatives in the beginning, but the pace has slowed. I’m still doing okay–modern etiquette is three months, meaning I still have time, but I do wish I’d made more progress than I have, especially as I’m keeping organized by depositing money after the thank-you is done.

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Post-Wedding Thoughts, In No Particular Order

  • Weddings and wedding planning both are entirely what you make of them. Things don’t need to be perfect. Do what you want.
  • If you hate a tradition, don’t get pressured into doing it. Just because the universe has been doing bouquet tosses forever doesn’t mean it’s a good reason to have one, and I’m glad I scrapped everything but the bridal dance. But…
  • Compromise a little. I didn’t want a guest book. His mom did, and by extension, to appease her, so did he, and since we knew she was gonna hate just about everything else, getting a guest book for 50% off the day before the wedding at Hobby Lobby wasn’t the worst idea ever. I mean, I still think it was a waste of money and I’m never gonna look at it, but that’s one thing I won’t have to hear about later, I guess. That said…
  • The logic of, “You have to have a guest book because everyone will be looking for one” is stupid. You can’t ask a couple to plan a wedding around what everyone else wants or expects–it’s unfair. It’s their day and their celebration, and yes, they’re asking other people to celebrate with them who might think they’re gonna see certain traditions played out, but don’t keep doing them just for that.
  • Going back to wasting money, be practical. All those super cute things on Pinterest were great ideas until I realized I’d be spending time and/or money doing it, and unless it’s something you really love and you think it’ll make the day memorable, don’t do it.
  • No one on the planet needs me or anyone else to tell them how things can change in a year or so, but bear with me–if you had told me the day we got engaged, New Year’s Day of 2016, that I would invite friends and cousins I was not on good terms with at the time and that I would do so willingly and that all but two would come and that those two only didn’t come because one’s living in Arizona and the other was on the outskirts of Hurricane Harvey, I would’ve said there was no fucking way.  Yet here we are.
  • I should probably feel like a bitch for deliberately including my mother-in-law in as little as possible. I don’t. I did what I had to do for us to have the wedding we wanted without having to fight for it.
  • Married life so far is exactly the same as it was before. Nothing has changed between being unwed Friday to wed Saturday. We went back to our normal lives. I think we feel closer to each other, but in terms of relationship dynamics, exactly the same. I will admit this probably has a lot to do with the fact that we’ve now been together for seven years, two of which were spent living together–I mean, we’ve been together longer than some couples who got married before we did.
  • We waited until we could afford it. Some couples have the attitude of why wait when you know it’s right, but I was a little more, “Why rush if you’re together regardless?”
  • My mother-in-law has been insisting to her daughters that I will regret not having a bridal shower. The sense of relief I have that she didn’t plan one behind my back and the apartment full of presents and unopened mixers that are getting returned beg to differ.
  • Not everything turned out the way I expected, but I’m happy.
  • I don’t know what I did for the four hours we were there, because I don’t feel like I danced much and I don’t feel like I socialized much.
  • My favorite part of Jacob’s best-man speech was the end where he said, “May your children be 5’9″.” I’m 5’4″, my new groom is 6’5″. We’ve been joking about how when we have kids, they’re all gonna be tall like him and then there’s gonna be like one runt that curses getting their mother’s genes.
  • The shoe game was fun, and I’m glad we did it. For those who don’t know, it’s when the couple sits back to back and holds one of their own shoes and one of their spouse’s shoes and answers questions by holding up a shoe–stuff like who has the bigger family, who has the crazier friends, who said, “I love you,” first. I enjoyed watching the video later and seeing where we disagreed, but we were almost entirely on the same page.
  • It’s weird being the bride in the bridal dance. And people said a lot of nice things to me, and I remember approximately three of them. One was that it was like an episode of “Four Weddings,” another was one of my cousins yelling that her boob was falling out of her dress.
  • One of my all-time favorite moments was my Uncle Vince, almost definitely drunk, getting in the middle of our dance circle during “Shoop” and actually dancing. My mother says she’s never seen him do that and I don’t think anyone filmed it, so I’ll have to sear the image into my brain forever.
  • The choir in church was so worth their price.
  •  I’m glad we didn’t come home with a ton of gifts, and the ones we did get are generally pretty cool. Some people got pretty sentimental and creative, which I love. And we have some really nice things to put in a house, but for now, a lot of it’s probably going in my parents’ basement.
  • I’m working on preserving my bouquet, which I never really thought I’d do, but it seems a shame to just let them wither and throw them out. So I’ve gone to Michael’s twice for silica gel, then to Target for something to put the silica and flowers in, and tomorrow I’ll probably go back out for a shadow box when the whole thing’s done. The flowers held up beautifully before I started–it’s now Thursday and they’re only just starting to look wilted. One white rose did completely fall apart when I touched it, but that’s it. The ones I dried out before I realized I needed a second box of silica turned out pretty nice, too. It’s a simple process, yet I’m proud of myself for not fucking it up, at least not yet.
  • Food was one of my priorities. Our caterer came recommended by the venue staff, and I liked his menu options–as Julie’s boyfriend said later, it was something different from the fried chicken and rigatoni you see at almost all the weddings around here. When we saw he does bigos, a Polish hunter stew, we knew we had to serve it because both families would love it. We also went with shrimp pasta, mashed potatoes, salad, grilled vegetables. I wish I’d had more of an appetite, because I ate small servings of the pasta, potatoes, and salad but that was it. Still, it was really good. The photographer said it was the best wedding food she’s ever had, and people from both families asked the caterer about his recipe. He got it from a little old Polish lady.
  • It’s weird to go from talking to all these vendors and people regularly to just, like, nothing, and even though they were doing their jobs, I feel like we need to reach out and thank everyone. And we will.
  • We returned $500 worth of liquor, plus some mixers. I feel a little bad because apparently, even though it’s unopened pop, the store just throws it away, but…I really don’t need like 10 bottles of diet Coke, three bottles of ginger ale, and five bottles each of tonic water and club soda sitting in the apartment.
  • I can’t wait to dump these empty boxes at my parents’ house.
  • We spent about $24,000. Jacob and Katie, who spent a good bit less last year, got what they spent back in gifts, and although we didn’t make up that large a number–it would probably be impossible to–we are on track to have our bank accounts back up to where they were before we paid the caterer Saturday night.
  • It’s a lot of money, but we’re not really in debt–the only things on credit cards are wedding rings, which we got no-interest financing on, and the rental company, which is on a no-interest cash-back card. All in all, it’s a small fraction of what we spent total.
  • And we were actually under budget. I thought $20,000 on a wedding was unrealistic–it can be done, but for what we wanted in terms of venue, it wasn’t doable, mostly because even though the cost of renting the place wasn’t huge, we had to rent all the tables, chairs, dishes, linens, etc. So things added up. So I set the budget at $30,000, which means we came in about $6,000 under budget. It’s easier than you might think. Which leads me to…
  • Weddings are expensive, and people will jack up prices just because they know couples will pay. So if you have friends, family, or acquaintances who can help with things, definitely take advantage of that. We turned to family for cookies and made a few dozen ourselves, and I only bought another few dozen to round out the table and because I saw some really cute decorated cookies online I wanted. My maid of honor’s sister-in-law who’s starting up a catering business made the cake. My aunt knew someone who did real flowers, centerpieces and all, for a fraction of what you’d pay a full-time professional florist to do, and they looked great. My sister-in-law did favors. There are talented people out there willing to pitch in without charging a ton, so don’t think it has to be expensive to be good.
  • The day really was a blur. Going back to normal life afterwards was weird. Like, you throw this big party and publicly make a commitment, and then, what, you come home the next day, nap because you’re tired, and watch some Netflix? Pretty much.
  • Wedding planning is work, and we joked plenty about how we didn’t want to ever do it again, har har. That said, having this whole day where everyone’s there to celebrate with you is pretty damn cool, and while I still have some non-traditional ideas about the nature of marriage, it is something people ought to get to experience. I mean, everyone’s there for the two of you, and that does feel really good.
  • We’re excited to not have to spend any more money, beyond paying those debts, and to not have anyone to meet with or to-do lists to tackle now that it’s over. We have thank-yous to send, sure, but our free time is back!
  • We’re happy. Still probably working with sleep debt, but happy.

I found myself desperate for a haircut a few days before Christmas. I’d been intending to call my usual place in town and go but was busy with overtime and writing such, then just missed them at what was my last chance to squeeze in without looking like a complete dick. So in my desperation, I decided that risking a bad haircut was better than no haircut–it was looking like quite the mane–so I said fuck it and went to Supercuts. And ya know, they did a pretty good job, especially in a pinch. My only complaint was they could’ve taken more off, which I didn’t really realize until I left. I was just so happy to have less hair that I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that she didn’t go quite as short as I prefer it.

And so I was ready for Christmas.

This year, it was at Aunt Gina and Uncle Richard’s. As usual, it brought delicious food and a great game of Cards Against Humanity, which seems to be the new family tradition. We’ve been playing on Christmas for a good couple years running now, and it’s always wonderful and hilarious. I still wish my mom would get in on a game, but she insists on keeping up appearances in front of the cousins, I think. Even though I’m sure they all know better.

It was a really nice Christmas.

For convenience, Brandon, Kelly, Paul, and I all just spent the night at my parents’ place. We kept joking we were gonna all sleep in the middle of the living room and wait for Santa. In reality, I’m not sure where everyone ended up, except I slept in my mom’s bed with her and the dog because I’m an adult.

My mom wisely decided we have enough stuff, so she’s limited gifts to small–or useful–items and money. We got a portable scanner, which we’ve been needing, and a few other little things like DVDs, plus $150 cash each. Paul and I got a gift card to go buy ourselves a new kitchen table, a project we have yet to undertake, since Brandon got a MuchPak subscription and I couldn’t find anything similar I want. I got the monetary equivalent instead.

Our next stop was Paul’s parents’ place, which was again a lot nicer and calmer than anticipated. Well, except for the part where Paul’s grandmother started talking about how she doesn’t talk to “coloreds” with a tone that bordered on pride.

All things considered, though, it was a really good Christmas. Calm, simple, and nice.

I’m not dead!

So, AXS needed someone to handle their preview coverage of New Year’s concerts, so I signed up to do it. Thing is it ended up being something like 40+ articles due in batches starting about two weeks after I signed up and spaced two days apart, which wasn’t so bad until stuff kept coming up that preventing me from devoting time to writing over the weekend. In the end, when I was home, I did nothing but write those damn articles from last Monday until I finished them up last night–and they were due last Friday. This is where Neil Gaiman’s ideas on writing are true. Paraphrased, he says that out of being good, on time, and nice to work with, as long as you hit two out of the three, people are happy. I was good and nice, but other than asking me if I’d have them done by yesterday, they didn’t seem displeased.

And since that was all I did for about a week and a half, not counting fun-filled weekends, I decided not to write a damn thing (besides this) for a week. Which then changed to a day. I’ve since changed my mind a second time and decided no writing until after Christmas. I deserve the break, but whether or not I can handle myself without doing work is a whole other issue.

But to recap what I did with my life in the meantime, the day after our museum trip, I took a trip to the mall to pick up boots I’d seen at the King of Prussia Mall when we stopped by after the Stevie Nicks concert. I’d had to order them online and was anxious to pick them up, of course, plus I squeezed in a brief trip to the mall.

The next day, we headed out to Bedford for a surprise birthday Brett threw for Nolan, in which he rented out a small movie theater and we watched the classic Parent Trap. We all commented on things like Lindsay Lohan’s career and how sad it is that Natasha Richardson died. I hadn’t seen the movie in several years easily, and it was a fun one to go back and watch.

We rode out with my mom, who told me initially that she absolutely had to leave on time because she had things to do for work, I believe, and in fact was wondering if maybe we’d be able to duck out before the set end time, but who was the first to accept the invitation to go out for drinks after? Her. So we had some food, drank, hung out a little, then hit the road back home. Paul and I hung around my parents’ house briefly before heading home ourselves.

I’m not a football person. I never have been, which is kind of strange for someone who was born and raised in Steeler country. I just always found it boring. I found most sports boring, actually, and hockey is the one exception, but that’s a story for another day.

I went to the occasional football game at my high school, and that was about it. When we took a group State College trip last spring, I think it was, a game was on the itinerary, but Paul and I opted out and just hung out and did our own thing instead until the game was over and we met up with everyone for dinner and drinks.

I didn’t feel right skipping it this time–the whole trip was for Katie’s bachelorette weekend, and she wanted a tailgate and football game, so that was what we were gonna do, whether I liked it or not. The fact that it was the only real football game I’d ever been to became kind of a running joke, as did Nelson using hockey terms to explain the game to me. I mean, I understand the basics, of course, but not the details. Funnily enough, Nelson’s explanations actually made a ton of sense to me, although I didn’t retain a single one of them. I was also wearing a Penguins shirt.

I also had a fun time yelling generic things like, “Yay, sports!” and “Football!” I was basically this:

 

Now, Paul at least enjoys football when it’s right in front of him. I was actually kind of enjoying it at first, but I got bored pretty quickly. If anyone had any hope this would turn me into a football fan, no dice. The reason I love hockey is because it’s generally fast-paced, whereas the stop-and-go nature of football bores me. I will say, though, that Penn State’s stadium is pretty impressive in size. I’ve been in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field for the Winter Classic when we hosted it, and I could immediately tell Beaver Stadium was bigger. The atmosphere was pretty cool, too. I may not be into football at all, but I do love being in a crowd of people that’s just having a great time.

On top of that, Penn State chose this game to honor Joe Paterno. Now, when the Sandusky abuse scandal first broke, Paul was in his senior year–I remember Meri texting me the night of the riots, worried in case he was out, but of course I’m with an introvert who had long been home. Since he was there, I spent a good bit of time up there, too, usually going up for a weekend once a month or so throughout that summer, when he graduated. And atmosphere was strange, to be honest. I remember State College as a whole showing overwhelming support for Paterno, which I thought was odd at best and careless at worst. Storefronts were plastered with Paterno shirts and signs. It was like there was a total unwillingness to acknowledge that he had known about the abuse long before it was made public, which I felt was a slap in the face to all of the victims, especially if any happened to be in the area still. I can’t imagine how it must feel to learn that a man knew what someone was doing to you and that he was being defended by the community because of a sport. The presentations at the game felt like I continuation of that. I’ll grant that it’s a grey area. I may know very little about football, but I know what he did for the school, as well as the community. But that doesn’t change the role he played in the Sandusky scandal, and I don’t thinks it’s right to gloss over it. There are ways to acknowledge these things and still acknowledge professional accomplishments.

So for my part, when people stood to applaud him, I didn’t. Neither did Brandon or Paul, as well as some other people here or there, though it’s hard to say if everyone was doing it as a sort of protest or if it’s just one of those things where some people stand and some people don’t. The opposing team, Temple, apparently got some attention for turning their backs, which I somehow missed, despite their section being pretty close to ours. I did notice their big sign, however, that said, “He turned his back, so we’ll turn ours.”

I did like the tailgate, though, even if traffic and Paul’s tendency to not know where he’s going despite being sure of where he’s going got us there two hours behind schedule. Also, we have a new joke that I can’t get drunk anymore–in the sense that large amounts of alcohol aren’t doing anything to me lately. It happened at Brandon’s wedding, which I dismissed as being spread out over the course of the night, but at the tailgate and in the evening later, multiple drinks and multiple Jell-O shots in a short timespan didn’t hit me at all.

By the end of it all, we’d done a tone of walking, from walking from where we were parked to the tailgate and back, including Paul taking us the wrong way. Paul and I walk pretty regularly–on weekends, we’ve gotten up to four miles at a time–and I could tell by the way my body felt that we’d definitely surpassed that. According to my phone, we were pushing six miles for the day by the time we got back to the car.

Brandon and Kelly headed out of town to meet up with my dad in Gettysburg for the annual World War II weekend we usually go to, but Paul and I opted to skip it–while going was totally doable and it wouldn’t have been a far drive to go and spend Saturday night into Sunday, and I didn’t want to feel rushed in the evening or miss out on other festivities. So after they went there way, I took a nap, and although I could’ve sworn I never fell asleep, next thing I know Paul’s waking me up so I can shower to go to dinner.

The nap and hot shower did me good. The walk had me aching all over, and I felt immensely better afterward. Much of our group was meeting at The Greek next to our motel for dinner, so I had Katie shoot me a text when they got there and we enjoyed a delicious meal of Greek food. Katie’s friends were fun to talk to, as well. I knew a couple already, but we all had a good time hanging out.

The original plan was to do a bar crawl, and I was kind of relieved when Katie said the’d changed it to staying in. Initially, it was going to be at her friend’s apartment, but that got shifted to our hotel room. This also meant her brother, who’s still underage, could be included. I just wanted to hit Zeno’s for one drink, even if it was at the end of the night, but Katie wanted to, too, so we headed there after dinner, and then broke up into a smaller group for drinking and Cards Against Humanity in our room.

It was probably one of the most low-key bachelorette parties in history, but it was a lot of fun and really suited the group, which is always important. Katie’s not the type to want penis paraphernalia everywhere, and some of her friends aren’t the bar-hopping type, so an evening in seemed to work best. Everyone got to see her and spend some time with her,  and she got to do what she wanted to do before the wedding in just over two weeks. And that’s ridiculous that it’s come so soon.

The work weeks are all blurring together lately, as they tend to do, but the fall TV season is back. And that means that it’s a fun time to watch TV for a living, and I can typically count on seeing some good stuff a couple times a week. And trust me, I’ve seen some good shit.

Paul and I took last Friday off, intending to set out early for State College to get there in the afternoon and have the evening to hang out. We started the day with a walk in the park, then came back, packed up, and hit the road, ultimately later than we wanted, but it’s not like it was a big deal. We had nowhere to be, really, it was just that we wanted to maximize time, especially knowing Saturday was gonna be packed with events for Katie’s bachelorette party.

We grabbed some food on the way and checked into our motel, which was this little motel on the outskirts of downtown State College–I’d seen it plenty of times, since it’s next to The Waffle Shop and The Greek, two of my favorite restaurants. Penn State had a rivalry football game that weekend, so everything filled up pretty fast. I’d actually underestimated how fast it would happen and kind of took it for granted that we’d have no problem getting a room, and it turned out that everything was sold out a solid month or so in advance. The bridesmaid in charge of things had called around and put herself on waiting lists, though, and we got lucky and snagged a room with two double beds, meaning Brandon and Kelly would stay with us.

Of course, the football game meant lodging prices were jacked up horribly, and although it was cute motel that I’d stay in again–and I even think I preferred it to the historic hotel we stayed in downtown a few months ago–it was so not worth how expensive it was.

While Brandon and Kelly were still making their drive, Paul and I hit the town with his childhood friend Nelson, who came in for the event. I did my usual little shopping trip–I knew Friday evening was about my only chance for it, and I didn’t want to be pestering anyone (okay, except Paul) about wanting to go shopping in the midst of tailgates, football games, and bar crawls. So Nelson and Paul hit a bar while I bought some clothes. I think I finished up a lot faster than they expected–they barely had a beer down by the time I met back up with them in this neat but very crowded bar downtown that seemed to be a hit with older alumni. From there, we went to our beloved Zeno’s, where I drank Space Herpes and snacked on mozzarella sticks. Brandon and Kelly met us there for a few drinks and the hotel key, as I had the only one.

And when we got in, we pretty much went to bed. Saturday was going to start really early–our presence was requested for the tailgate by 8, and we wanted to go to breakfast first, so we had a wakeup of just before 6 or something ridiculous like that.

Saturday, we had a one-year-old’s birthday party to attend, so we arrived fashionably late due to Paul’s morning tai chi class, hung out for a bit, then headed out to go transfer titles on both mine and Brandon’s cars–my mom finally booted us off onto our own insurance. We’ve been talking about it for a while, but we finally actually did it, so the cars have been put in our names. Just in time for mine to get inspected and for me to be told that it might not pass inspection next year, leading me to look at buying a new car. I really, really was hoping to put that off another year or so with the wedding, but of course, the universe wants these things to coincide. But I’d rather buy one now when it’s not crucial than to wait it out and end up with a car that won’t pass inspection without a lot of work or a car that starts giving me lots of trouble. So this weekend, my mom and I are probably going to at least take a look.

And from there, we ran off into the wilderness with Terra for the rest of the weekend.

She’s moved back home. See, the thing is, her husband decided he wants a divorce. It’s not my story to tell, so I won’t hash out the details, but I’ll say I’ve been aware of it since he first brought it up to her at the end of May and that I’m really angry at him for his reasons why and the way he’s handled it. He’s been nothing–and I can’t stress this enough–but selfish, and he clearly doesn’t view marriage as any sort of commitment and has really unhealthy attitudes about what it is to the point that he never should’ve married her, and if I had any inkling he would say and do some of the things he has, I would’ve expressed my concerns to her. I’m disappointed in him, and I feel bad for her.

She moved back last Monday, although most of her stuff is still in Virginia, and on Thursday, since she can’t drive for medical reasons, Paul and I drove out, grabbed some dinner, and took her to run errands so she has food for herself and the pets. On Saturday, we picked her up and headed off to camp–her idea. Just the three of us plus dog, too, since she said she didn’t want to hear her mom and her boyfriend spend the weekend talking about how horrible Scott is. I promised to keep my shit-talking at a minimum, in that case, which I mostly honored. I only commented when she brought him up first.

We got up there Saturday evening and had enough daylight to go to Paul’s favorite rock-climbing spot, then pretty much stayed in the rest of the night. We slept in one room with Paul and I on a fold-out and Terra on a couch with beagle Lilly, although we were up late talking about Scott, of course, plus Paul’s mom, which essentially summarizes the whole weekend’s conversation, for the most part. I actually fell asleep and was fading in and out, popping in with the occasional comment and waking myself up with my snoring, even though it was light. I’m self-conscious of it when other people are awake, so I somehow wake myself up with it when I know I don’t want people to hear me snore. Doesn’t happen when I’m actually snoring loud.

Terra and I slept in pretty epically on Sunday–poor Paul wakes up earlier than we do and is stuck trying to entertain himself. It’s kind of the opposite of how we are at home. I’m always up first on weekends and he follows a couple hours later, but something about camp makes me sleep so much more than I normally would. I can’t even blame it on, say, physical activity, especially because I honestly don’t do a hell of a lot more than I do on a typical night. The best I can think of is I’m just really relaxed. Camp is quiet, and I’m always hyperaware of just how quiet it is when we get home and I hear tires screeching or sirens wailing outside, as we live right off of a main road. At camp, it’s just crickets and the wind, and for two days in a row, I slept for nearly 12 hours. Maybe I needed it, but I probably didn’t.

When Terra and I did get up, we set off–including Lilly–to all the little shops scattered across state-park property that we like. I say this every year and it always stays true, but leave it to Terra and I to go into the woods and come back with jewelry. It’s not my fault that one of the shops has really pretty stuff.

When we were done with that, we went down to the river and just kind of hung out and sunbathed for a while and were entertained by people about our age drunkenly hanging out, too. When we headed back to camp, we built a fire, cooked over it, and wrote Scott’s name on firewood and burned it.

Monday, we cleaned and packed up so we weren’t rushed, then worked in a short walk on some park trails before hitting the road back home. And then it was really back to real life, with grocery shopping, laundry, and showering for the first time in two days on the agenda.

Terra didn’t seem happy to be home, and I can’t blame her. But other than that, it was a nice weekend that I think did us all good. We all got away for a few days and bitched and vented to each other and just spent some quality time together. For me, it was a reminder of how grateful I am for the two of them and how happy and at peace I am with life right now, but that comes in stark contrast to where Terra is right now. And that sucks to be watching it happen. Her whole year has been shit, but here’s to hoping she’ll get a fresh start now that she’s back.

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.

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.