say cheese
August 8, 2012

We had a photo booth at the wedding.

Everyone seemed to like it — it kept the children busy, it produced some adorable photos of Dave’s grandfather wearing a king’s crown and a huge grin, it nearly got Amruta a date with the hipster operator, A.J. A lot of good things came of it.

But this, by far, is the best.

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Rach & Dave get married, part 3
August 6, 2012

First on the agenda after all those Mediterranean appetizers: a teeth check.

Once we affirm we don’t have strands of roasted red pepper stuck in our bicuspids, we’re ready to hit cocktail hour.

We’ve rejected the idea of a receiving line and will end up spending the dinner hour downing our beef wellington and then sneaking out to the terrace alone when we probably should be rotating amongst the tables, but for now, we’re really working it. The tartar station and passed slices of filet I was planning on focusing on are now a distant memory; my new cocktail hour goal seems to involve flinging my arms around as many people as possible. I am a hugging machine. (The massive wine glass filled with champagne that a family friend hands me seems to help with this pursuit.)

One of the many modern American wedding expectations I have a problem with is the Grand Entrance Of The Newly Betrothed Mr. And His Missus. First off, I’m not taking Dave’s name in any way, shape or form, so what is there to really announce anyway? I fret about the bridal party not wanting to boogie in to the Black Eyed Peas, about Dave and I being embarrassed of the spotlight too.

And then I come up with a solution.

Only Dave and I will do the entrance. They’ll call us “Dave and Rach” – duh, those are our names. And Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize will be blaring in the background.

It is absolutely the right call.

Then it’s time for the traditional Jewish dance/brush with death: the hora.

I watch in horror as some of Dave’s scrawny, non-Jewish friends are recruited in the heat of the moment to hold the chairs. The result is a bumpy, petrifying ride meant to…brace us for what marriage feels like? I’m not sure, but I know I’m much happier when we’re finally on the ground again.

Of course, as soon as it’s my parents’ turn to test the limits of their mortality, I’m all for it, clapping away.

There are some more dances, but there’s nothing really hilarious about them to share, except for maybe how terrible Dave and I are at dancing. It never even crossed our minds to take a class; we know we’re beyond help.

My dance with my Dad is no better choreographed – the coordination challenges I face span generations – but it is very special to me, if only because both my parents, never the biggest supporters of all this traditional wedding crap, are somehow now beaming.

The toasts range from Poignant (my best friends) to Not At All Focused On Us (my mother, classically trying to prevent her daughter from being the center of attention on her freaking wedding day) to Very Painful To Listen To (An Unidentified Drunk Brother.)

Not because the Unidentified Drunk Brother doesn’t love us of course, but maybe because he put too much faith in his improv skills and his ability to handle an open bar. His final line – wishing us the 3 C’s in our marriage: compassion, communication and sex – gets a big laugh from me, both because it’s funny and because, thank god, it seems like he’s finally going to hand over the mic to someone else.

Dave’s 15-year-old brother – he of bar mitzvah and embarrassing Facebook debacle fame – makes the best speech, in Dave’s and my opinion. He cuts right to the chase, wishes us well, and is done in 15 seconds flat. The whole crowd is so grateful we all ignore the glass of champagne he’s holding.

I know you’re supposed to have some big moving moment at your wedding, probably at your ceremony, as you devote the remainder of your days on earth to your husband, or maybe right before you walk down the aisle, as you contemplate your girlhood  with your parents and begin to see the step you’re taking as a distinct, new chapter in your life. But my moment, if I had one, probably came on the dance floor.

We’re surrounded by a swaying crowd of family and friends, and, this is far from poetic, I know, but everyone just appears to be having a wonderful time at this silly little event. Everyone we love seems to love us right back.

Honestly, Dave and I are kind of shocked that we are capable of throwing this kind of party, capable of somehow convincing people to rally around us like that. We’re moderately sure the constant flow of champagne has something to do with it, but still. It makes me very happy.

The dance floor festivities continue to rage and Dave and I momentarily sneak out for a private cake cutting.

By this point, I’m pretty sure the night has officially reached Your Wedding Isn’t A Failure status (see above dance floor moment), but we’re not taking any chances. Our back-up plan was to buy our guests’ love calorically, with 10 different flavors of cake, and we’re sticking to it.

So that’s my wedding success tip: excessive desserts. Heaping plates of cakes slices, lemon bars, cream puffs and meringues seem to do the trick for us.

After all the cake has been eaten, the champagne drunk, the two encores played by the band, who promises to perform at our anniversary party, it’s time to peace out.

We board the buses. I’m next to Dave near the back, head on his shoulder, soaking everything in, when suddenly I catch a snippet of conversation from the seat ahead of me.

“Get it together, man,” the voice whispers. “We’re almost there.”

And then, there’s a lot of vomit.

I’m so high on bliss, so bossy on bridal status and so fucking intent on throwing a rager that I simply gather up my dress and make a beeline for the exit, no worse for the wear.

Then we all pile into the bar in the lobby of our hotel. My cousins are situated on bar stools, our friends are sprawled out on the lounge furniture, my aunts and uncles are congregating near the entrance. Jon is pouring glasses of champagne for my parents, someone’s ordering wine by the bottle. My college newspaper co-editor is sitting next to my high school biology classmate who’s  laughing at something my office husband is saying as he slowly drains a glass of whiskey. The bar is starting to feel like an episode of “This is Your Life,” and it’s awesome.

Of course, the happy couple can’t outstay their welcome. We leave the partygoers to their revelry and head upstairs to our room, consider the bottle of champagne on ice, the note addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. B.” (never heard of them), the cute little nightgowns I stocked up on for our honeymoon.

“How would you feel about getting a cheeseburger?” I ask.

And my new husband just laughs at me.

Next up: The day after, and a few bonus features.

Previously: the pre-wedded state; Rach & Dave get married, part 1; Rach & Dave get married, part 2

All photographs by Elisabeth Millay.

Rach & Dave get married, part 2
August 3, 2012

Once we leave behind the packed lobby and beseeching relatives, and it’s just me and Dave, I’m a very happy girl.

We wander down the streets of New Haven and soon learn that my cathedral-length veil is serious business.

It has a mind of its own and is kind of hamming it up for the camera. Instead of staying behind my head, where it seems to me veils generally ought to reside, it gets all brash and needy and  starts tangling up in Dave’s legs.

My veil is an attention whore.

It’s awkward for everyone involved.


Once the veil is put back in its place – literally and figuratively – Dave and I get back to our jobs: walking around and looking at each other adoringly.

Eventually we get to a big courtyard — Yale’s Old Campus, where I partied with Meg many a night freshman year.

All those girls I forced to wear mint green show up, along with our families. We fit in some group shots in lightening speed and round out the hour with the proven Three-Prong Approach to Solid Candid Photos in mind: giggle, smile, walk. Repeat.

We head back to the hotel and board a bus that takes us to the totally non-exclusive club where we’re holding the wedding. The veil gets all demanding again (seriously, whose wedding day is it?) and I require assistance to de-board.

We set up camp in the bridal suite and the girls immediately start fretting over the veil and the skirt of my dress. All that tulle has gathered dirt and debris and possibly even some baby animals after the outdoor photo session and the bridesmaids are determined to make it perfect before my walk down the aisle.

They start out handling everything in a pretty PG manner.

But soon they’re all up in my business. They’re under my skirt, attacking every layer. Someone finds a lint roller in the bathroom baskets. The photographer says she’s never seen anything like this.

I’m initially a touch skeptical, but soon feel nothing but pride and gratitude as my best friends swirl around and below me like little cleaning nymphs. I remember all the times they’ve been there for me, through breakups and hangups and all manner of catastrophes — now, including a dirtied bridal gown. My love for them has never been so palpable or infinite.

Next up is the signing of our ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract. We get a few family members arranged in the room, and we sit, and we wait. The rabbi – the only guy required to get this show on the road – is late. I’m a little panicky and implore my mother to perhaps just “reach out” to him. She scorns my PR speak and brings in the wedding coordinator, who tells me clergy of all denominations are inevitably late, too busy answering to a higher power and all that to pay attention to the time.

Lo and behold, he soon arrives, and we sign the small but beautiful papercut document with an intimate group watching.

Two of our old friends act as our witnesses, including my dear friend Meriel, who used to eat dinner at my family’s house every Tuesday night growing up. Afterwards, we would either go to Hebrew School or, if I could convince Meriel to ditch, the mall. It’s hard to believe we’re two grown-up Jewish women now, but somehow, here we are. I’m feeling stunned and grateful for her signature and her embrace and her fierce haircut. The day is turning into a blur of joy.

After signing our lives away, Dave and I have a few moments to decompress.

And just as the severity of what we’re about to do comes to me, it’s off to the races.

Let it be known that my father, through all of this, appears elated. In person, my mother looks ravishing in her navy and black off the shoulder Bergdorf cocktail dress and I can only assume that, deep down inside, she shares my father’s joy. But the photographic evidence points to something…less than happiness. My mother and a handful of other relatives radiate not glee but confusion and disapproval. Their looks range from Extremely Low IQ to Stroke Victim to Utterly Disgusted By The Event That’s About To Take Place.

Some people just have resting angry faces or lack control of their facial muscles, my mother explains as we scroll through the pictures.

Needless to say, there are lots of photos of my dad in our wedding album.

Anyway, like I said, we’re heading into battle.

We’ve opted for a theatre-in-the-round type set up for the ceremony. We pat ourselves on the back for our untraditional approach only to later find out that the chuppah in the middle thing is actually a longstanding Sephardic Jewish tradition. We’re not Sephardic and thus decide we still get points for creativity. Besides, everyone seems to like the cozy, inclusive feel it creates.

The rabbi, who we’ve been working with for over a year, leads a lovely, moving ceremony that apparently makes Bridget’s parents beg her to marry a Jewish guy. We circle each other seven times as part of a mystical, ancient tradition. We drink wine from two silver kiddush cups – one that belonged to my great grandparents and one that Tracey got us as a wedding gift. We’re wrapped in a tallis – Jewish prayer shawl – and feel the hands of our parents on our heads as they give us their blessing.

Then it’s time to do that thing we initially tried to avoid but were coaxed into by our very wise rabbi: open our mouths.

They’re not vows exactly, just little statements of love and devotion. I’ve been working on mine in a Gmail draft stubbornly labeled “ceremony thoughts” (the word “vows” makes me kind of want to “vomit”) for upwards of five months, often with Call Me Maybe blaring on repeat in the background. Dave started and finished his the night before — and I have it on good authority he exceeded our recommended word count.

Mine are short, sugary sweet, and made Megan cry when I let her take a peek at them the Thursday night before the wedding.

I am convinced that mine are going to kick Dave’s ass. I am a writer, for God’s sakes. People pay me to do this.

Instead, Dave, speaking first, busts out a set of perfectly sappy, shockingly well-written sentences, referencing life and death and love. The crescendo comes with a hospital anecdote that revolves around an elderly patient’s UTI.

The crowd (packed full of nephrologists) goes wild.

My own reaction slowly evolves from incredulity that he actually just said that, to slight agitation at the realization that he’s upstaging me, to, finally, just giving in and laughing along with everyone else.

Of course, now that it’s my turn, the spoken promises and memories I’ve woven together seem to fall on deaf ears — they are poignant yes, but they lack references to pee. Not as fun, seems to be the audience’s consensus.

Whatever — before we know it, Dave breaks the glass and everyone’s screaming Mazel Tov and we’re booking it out of there as Eight Days a Week plays in the background.

We head straight to our yichud, a Jewish custom that ensures a married couple’s first moments together will be shielded from their elderly relatives’ piercing New York accents and that they won’t have to camp out in front of the kitchen door with the other old Jewish men in order to ensure access to the passed appetizers. No, instead we are whisked away to a private room with our own hors d’oeuvre tray.

We sit down, I shrug off my shoes, we start to process the fact that we’re going to be together forever…and then the rabbi busts in.

“Oops!” he says, averting his eyes and hurrying off the way he came.

Fortunately, we are not engaged in any inappropriate behavior, unless you count examining our new wedding rings and stuffing our faces with Mediterranean sampler appetizers.

And besides, so what if we were? We’re married now! Three years of living in sin and wearing red dresses at the wrong time have come to a rather official end and while I doubt very much that my penchant for sarcastic statements or fashion risks will be casualties of the transition, it does feel like something really wonderful and new is starting.

Next up: We make our grand entrance to a rap classic, we start to suspect we’re throwing an amazing party and someone throws up on the bus home, thus confirming our suspicions. 

Previously: the pre-wedded state, Rach & Dave Get Married Part 1

All photos by Elisabeth Millay.

 

you’re on a what?
August 2, 2012

Keeping with the little Wedding Or Whining: Choose Your Adventure! thing we have going on here recently, I present to you your matrimonial-themed option for today:

It’s devoid of the foul language and inappropriate insights my Blabbermouth recaps are peppered with but has more pretty pictures and even some concrete advice, if you’re into that sort of thing. Head here to check it out and brace yourself for more of the real story behind all that baby’s breath and tulle tomorrow.

a confession (and a proposition)
July 22, 2012

Here’s my Sunday night confession: I miss wedding planning.

I absolutely understand that this is not a cool position to take. It is supremely lame, utterly embarrassing, borderline harassing to the feminist cause. All of the cool people I know hated planning their weddings. Even some uncool people I know hated planning their weddings. Haughtily dismissing and complaining about planning your wedding definitely seems to be the mainstream, accepted thing to do these days.

Case in point: I was at a party around Christmas time and ended up in a conversation with an acquaintance from high school. I believe she was part of our prom court – perhaps was crowned duchess or something like that – and her blonde hair always falls just so and Facebook tells me that she was a very active member of her sorority at a very Southern university.

Even she was complaining about how much she disliked wedding planning.

What, in god’s name, is wrong with me?

I should probably specify that I didn’t love every second of the many months leading up to our heralded April union. The interpersonal aspects of it drove me mad, and seemingly simple exercises like coming up with a guest list or preparing to attend my own bachelorette party left me feeling conflicted and insecure and very, very worried. For much of that year and a half, I was a tearful mess with a pretty ring on her left hand.

But man, did I love all that other crap. You know, the stuff that doesn’t matter? The peony centerpieces and the peach-colored ribbons and the big tulle skirt on the big white dress? I loved it all. I was so giddy the night before my dress shopping weekend that I couldn’t sleep. I happily spent hours scanning Etsy for the perfect table number holders. (Table number holders!) Appointments with my florist were like a beacon in my Filofax, much anticipated events where we chatted about the exact ratio of baby’s breath to roses I preferred to have on our chuppah. All those wedding blogs – even the ones with the nausea-prompting, grammar mistake-laden copy – are still on my fucking Google reader.

Does it make it better if I keep using expletives while throwing these confessions out there? This is how torn I am on this subject, how embarrassed I am to tell you these things. But they’re the truth.

Wedding planning was my big project. It was a great joy for me.  I knew and know that all those silly little details meant nothing…and yet, I loved them.

And now it’s over. And I totally get that. And I promise I’ll take those blogs off my reader…soon.

But our photographer emailed me yesterday to tell me that she’s putting the disc with all 954 of our wedding pictures in the mail this week. So I’m taking that as my cue to get this out of my system, to share all my stories of the day, of this party we planned and this big, life-changing promise I made to that guy I met in a hostel five years ago.

And then we’ll put this thing to bed and I’ll go back to being my slightly cooler self and we’ll pretend all this never happened.

Deal?

a brief afterword to the midsummer midweek evening
July 19, 2012

When Dave walked in the door from The Pony Bar yesterday evening I said,

“Hi! We made our wedding album!”

And by “we” I meant me and Megan and by “our” I meant Dave and my. It takes a village, people.

this year
January 3, 2012

I’m not usually into this whole new year thing.

I detest January and gyms and diets and even the night itself, which is almost always a letdown cloaked in a ridiculous cover charge.

But I spent this past leap into the new calendar on the 31st floor of a building in the financial district, drinking champagne from a plastic cup, taking in a lite-brite version of the city from the balcony, wearing something sparkly and sleeveless. And at midnight, I teared up a little bit.

It may have been all the bubbly, or the creepily high temperatures (yay global warming) or the fact that we were in the dead middle of a remarkable weekend, spent in every corner of the city living exactly the kind of life I want to have here.

But more likely, it’s because of 2012.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’ve been waiting for those four digits to line up for nearly a year and a half now, when you count it one way, and nearly my whole life, when you count another. A long engagement is wonderful in many ways, and it was, without a doubt, the right choice for us – for me, specifically, the type A planner who has unexpectedly had to work her way through some shit in the past year in order to be in the exact right spot to tie the knot.

But this extended limbo has been difficult. I hate the in-between obnoxiousness of the word ‘fiance,’ I hated layering another period of waiting over the countdown to Match that defined last year. I spent a lot of time feeling embarrassed about being a bride, feeling like the whole engagement thing was a sham because the date was so far off and I’m not changing my name and our relationship isn’t picture-perfect and smart non-sorority girls aren’t supposed to like wedding planning, duh.

Its had its exceedingly lovely moments, this time, but mostly, I’ve just felt a little awkward, a little in-between, and always like it would never, ever end.

Saturday night – with people screaming “happy New Year!” and 2-0-1-2 flashing on the screen and everyone kissing – made something change, shift, click. It felt so much more real, and the severity of what we’re about to do hit me in a way that it hasn’t since that hot August day in the district that Dave asked me to marry him.

In less than four months, I’ll make good on my Yes.

I hope that somehow this long engagement will prove to be totally worth it, that it will become clear that our wedding – and maybe even marriage – wouldn’t be the same if we hadn’t moved toward this day at this exact pace. But I know that even if that little moment of transcendence doesn’t happen, I’ll be just fine. It really won’t matter. Because in April, come hell or high water (even Hurricane Irene: The Sequel) I’ll be married.

April of this year.

Wow, that feels good to say.

satin and sashes and sequins, oh my!
February 22, 2011

My friend Evan made fun of me the other day, wondering if it was going to be all puppies and weddings, all the time around here from now on. This, naturally, made me feel like I should write more about puppies and weddings, just to piss him off. (I’m mature like that.)

Fortunately, I found my wedding dress this past weekend, giving me plenty of opportunity to add some more crinoline and cap sleeves to the mix around here. Phew, right?

We’ll start out with an embarrassing confession: I’m totally one of those girls who has been dreaming of her wedding dress since the third grade. But I always added my own fun Rachel (read: cynical, depressing, pessimistic) twist to it. I would flip through bridal magazines, folding down page corners and dreaming of dresses, all the while convinced that by the time my turn to get married actually arrived, we’d all be wearing spacesuits. (Seriously.) Just my luck that tulle would be out and oxygen-filled helmets would be in by the time I finally nabbed a husband, right?

As a result, I felt especially lucky in August to discover that a- I had found my life partner and b- wearing a dress was still a socially acceptable way to celebrate one’s marriage.

I decided I was going to make the most of the situation and immediately launched a massive wedding dress search, just in case full skirts suddenly went out of style in the 20 months (like, could we wait any longer?) before our wedding. I combed designer’s websites and blogs. I DVR’ed Say Yes to the Dress. And, a few months ago, I made appointments for a wedding dress shopping President’s Day weekend extravaganza, carefully plotting my route across Manhattan with seven stops along the way.

So off we went on Saturday, first to a designer’s showroom, with tall ceiling and fabulous lighting and enough space for a runway show (because, duh, that’s where they have them.) We did Vera. We did Amsale. We did a boutique in a little West Village townhouse filled with vintage-inspired dresses and Anthropologie-esque accessories. (Yes, I know they have their own wedding line now. No, I don’t want to talk about it.)

I sorted through racks of samples in a cramped, over-heated second-floor room until my arms hurt and I was forced to surrender, bested by dozens of gowns with the right price but the wrong style. I inadvertently showed many, many bridal consultants my boobs. I got some dirty looks at Kleinfeld’s, where I screamed out in the middle of the main room, “Randy, I found my dress!” only to have the very gay and very orange fashion director come over to give me a hug. (Guess he didn’t get my half-mocking tone?) And then I went to Saks, where, for the third and final time, I found the same dress – my dress – as well as the place where I wanted to purchase it.

Yes, I love it. Yes, it’s very pretty. Yes, it has tulle – but not too much, I promise.

Finding my dress was pretty cool, of course, but the weekend was magical in a way I hadn’t expected, and it had very little to do with all the organza and lace. It had more to do with the bottle of prosecco we split at the Carlyle and the brunch we giggled over at Sarabeth’s and the company of the girls who helped me shop for my prom dresses and my dresses for my brothers’ bar mitzvahs, and in the case of one companion who dates back to my middle school art class, my very own bat mitzvah dress, thirteen years ago.

I was lucky enough to have my mom and my future mother-in-law there to ooh and aah as well, and to have my mother’s best friend tear up at a little shop in Connecticut back in October and to have my cousin critique mermaid versus sheath at a designer’s store in the East Village over a long weekend and to have all of my college friends give feedback on my favorite Christos gowns in November, with a late lunch at Bloomies right afterwards. Yeah, I probably did more dress shopping than I had to. But with company that lovely, I bet you would too.

(On a more-practical-more-honest-less-rose-colored-glasses note, I should admit that I also wanted to spread the pain of my dress shopping addiction around, so that no one person was forced to watch me try on the same flower-embellished cap-sleeved gown more than a few times. I know your limits, people.)

But now my wedding dress shopping extravagaza- which was really more like six months than one weekend – has come and gone, and I’m here, feeling a little funny. Because while I’m still super excited about that guy I’m about to be betrothed too, I think the best part of wedding planning so far has been seeing all my friends, now spread state to state and coast to coast, all of us always busy and driven and focused, come together for an afternoon here or a weekend there. It makes me think we should do this all the time – with less tulle, maybe; but the same girls.

Fingers crossed for New York.

characteristically convinced
November 9, 2010

I am the proud – and slightly guilt-plagued – new owner of a very large, very gorgeous handbag.

It happened so quickly, I almost didn’t realize what was going on. I mean, I suppose I did consciously agree to go to the outlets, showed up there on a Saturday afternoon out of my own volition. But plunking down several hundred dollars on yet another piece of leather to be slung over my arm was certainly not a pre-meditated act. One minute, I was sifting through the Banana Republic sale racks, stocking up on my favorite camisoles – reduced to $9.99! – and the next, I was in Kate Spade, clutching two massive bags to my chest, mesmerized by the shiny hardware, soft handles, and split inside pocket, lined with polka dots.

As I stood there in front of the mirror, modeling the two bags, I asked myself just one question. It was not, “Can you, Meagerly-Paid Reporter Rachel, afford this?” It was not, “Food for a month or a new receptacle for your Kate Spade wallet?” (Which, in my defense, is obviously very lonely amongst my collection of Coach purses. I remain convinced that even leather accessories feel the pain of being the odd one out.)

But no, it was this, very important, all-consuming quandary: “classic black pebbled leather or a very sparkly gold lamé?”

And there was only one very practical, mature answer.

I went with the sparkly one, obviously.

I fully blame the entire thing on my best friend, Megan, she who drove us to the outlets in the first place. A champion discount shopper with myriad credentials – voted best dressed in high school, is somehow able to employ a AAA discount that involves getting special documentation signed at something called the Outlet Management Office (I didn’t even know such a mythical place existed) – Megan is my most trusted shopping partner.

Which is why when she oohed and aahed, I just couldn’t say no.

This is a recurring theme in my life, the being easily swayed by those around me. The tendency to agree to things that are probably not in my (or my budget’s, or my college transcript’s) best interest  has actually picked up speed as I’ve gotten older. From middle school food fights to pricey purses to that time I was talked into running my school newspaper for a year, I’m just really susceptible to peer pressure.

And, at the moment, outlet shopping actually appears to be the least of my problems where this topic is concerned.

Have I mentioned I’m planning a wedding?

At first, my tendency to absorb the preferences of others actually started working to my parents’ favor. Early on in the wedding planning process (read: before I was engaged) I discovered the world of Indie wedding blogs and budget party planning. And I fell, hard. I was all, I can totally whip up my own three-tier wedding cake! And build our chuppah out of salvaged tree branches! And buy our alcohol from BJ’s!

Did I mention I was initially intent on getting married in the small plot of land across from my parents’ house? Never mind that their actual property isn’t big enough to have a backyard wedding — I was going to make it work!

Until, that is, a friend handed me a copy of Town & Country Weddings. The glossy cover immediately lured me in, and, with that first turn of the page, I was hooked. Suddenly, it was out with the sample dresses and in with the designer gowns…and then in with the $20,000 celebrity photographer and the special-order swiss dot tablecloths and dozens of other details that had never before crossed my mind. Two weeks earlier I hadn’t known a pomander from a charger; now I desperately (and immediately) needed a dozen of the former to line the walk to our venue and a dozen of the latter to create the perfect place settings for our tables (to be set with gold chivary chairs, obv.) I had swiftly and completely crossed over to the dark side.

Fortunately, I have neither a trust fund nor unbridled access to my parents’ credit cards, so this dream luxe wedding of mine (and the dream budget wedding before that) was unable to materialize instantaneously. And, unlike the bag buying splurge last month or the eleventh-hour newspaper election plans of 2005, I have one important factor on my peer-pressure-prone side this time: time. I have time to sit down and talk it through and hopefully ride out my swinging pendulum of wedding desires, ultimately settling on something in the middle – halfway between shabby and chic – that betters suits both our personalities and our budget.

The win, once again, goes to April 2012.

convictions, contradictions & other concerns
August 16, 2010

Dave was assigned to night float last week, which meant that we were transformed into two ships passing in the night, lucky to fit in a kiss goodbye here, a note jotted there, a few minutes of jealousy that his scrub-clad body was collapsing into our bed as I was rushing off to work in Wilmington.

I’m sure it’s harder on him than me, since he’s the one working the 12-hour shifts and inserting catheters into important veins and all, but at 11 p.m. on Thursday, when I was facing down a cockroach the size of my fist in our bedroom, wielding a sparkly sandal (weapon of choice, obviously) and no back-up plan, things seemed pretty tough for this girlfriend of the med student too.

I lost it right around the time the thing that I thought was a cockroach decided to take flight, like actually started flapping wings I didn’t know it had, thus commencing a battle like none our apartment has ever seen, complete with screams and phone calls to my mother.

Making up the futon in the other room in defeat, I was sniffly and hiccupy and just generally miserable, as anyone who’s ever lost a battle with something 1/100th of its size probably is. But the weird part was that even after I finally ousted the sucker – in a final, surprise attack! – and regained control of my previously occupied bedroom, the feelings of ickiness remained.

Who was this girl who couldn’t handle killing a stupid bug?, I thought to myself. Who gets sad and mopey when her boyfriend’s not around? Who double locks the doors and tip-toes around the apartment when she’s the sole occupant? Like, grow a pair.

But the answer, of course, is that that girl is totally me, and, in a way, always has been. I’ve always made my roommates (generally, my dad) dispose of critters that get too close for comfort. I’ve always been happier surrounded by friends than sitting alone, and I never should have been allowed to watch Scream during my baby-sitting days. In so many ways, I’m basically just a huge pussy with a great shoe collection.

And I never really had a problem with that, until I moved up to Philly to be with Dave. Suddenly, being girlie seems loaded with all of these other meanings. Night float and bugs and evenings alone make me feel sad, yes, but also vulnerable and hugely dependent on another person and like the worst feminist in the world. I have a hard time reconciling some of my natural inclinations (like, toward tulle and away from tasks that require physical exertion) with my beliefs (liberal girl power to the max!)

Can you do, and be, both? Can you desperately want a pouffy white wedding dress but still believe that the idea of asking someone’s parents for permission is antiquated and distasteful? Can you spend your weekends baking peach crumbles and daintily lathering your makeup brushes, and still critique mascara ads on TV for damaging adolescent girls’ self-images? Can you desperately support and push for women to ascend the corporate ladder, while still knowing, in your heart of hearts, that you don’t want to have to be the primary breadwinner for your family?

I really don’t know the answer to those questions. I’m still trying to navigate the intersection between all these aspects of my personality, shifting and changing and building different parts of myself to accommodate the often-clashing principles and preferences and other things I hold dear. I’m still trying to grow up, I guess, is what I’m trying to say.

And while I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely comfortable with it all, with all of my different selves, I do hope that there’s a place for me, and other torn and confused girls like me, in the political and social and emotional communities I encounter along my way. Because the bottom line is, I’m really nowhere near ready to vote Republican, or to get rid of all those high heels. So something else has just got to give.