Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Part Two of "The Three-Day Diet"

Continued from post below. A rough draft of a work of fiction.

Thursday


For the Second Day of the Diet, You Consume Only Natural Fruit and Vegetable Juices.


6:00 a.m.

No way I’m getting up. Where’s the alarm clock? Where’s the fucking alarm? Got…to…find…snooze…button…

Ahh.


6:06 a.m.

Snooze is not long enough.


6:12 a.m.

I hate this alarm clock. I am so exhausted.


6:18 a.m.

I thought I was supposed to be naturally energized by this diet.


6:24 a.m.

Maybe I would be more energized if I hadn’t peed 83 times during the night.


6:31 a.m.

I’m going to be cranky today. But wait! I get to consume calories today! That’s worth getting up for.

Stumble out of bed, drag to kitchen and nearly finish full carton of OJ in one sitting. Feel less cranky but ill. Don’t care, though. Juice is still better than water and tea.


9:18 a.m.

I’m late. I know San Francisco is rife with natural food stores, but I’m not one of those “all-organic all-the-time” types, and can’t find any near work. I’ve traipsed through three nearby corner stores and two cafes and have found no “natural” juice other than orange. I’m sure I’ll be sick if I have to drink more orange juice. What is wrong with other juices that “natural” state isn’t acceptable? Is this some evil plot of the high-fructose corn syrup industry?

I’m definitely not thinking straight.


10:33 a.m.

Minor crisis.

I’m the HR director for retail catalog company, and I scheduled an interview with a potential summer intern—who also happens to be the president’s niece—for 10:30. Completely forgot. I can wing it, sure, but I should probably at least know interviewee’s name.

I begin frantically searching for resume of niece, and can literally hear my morning’s breakfast of orange juice sloshing around in my stomach. Very professional.

Paw through seven-inch stack of “inbox” hoping to find the resume when Gail pokes her head in and gleefully announces Kyra’s arrived and is waiting in lobby and should she bring her in. Instead of discovering drool, this time Gail’s surprise interruption results in my ejecting the stack of papers across my desk and onto the floor. Look at the mess and tell Gail I’ll escort Kyra back myself in a few minutes. Gail smiles and says okay and leaves too cheerily. Gail does not offer to help with the mess.

I don’t manage to find Kyra’s resume during my frenzied paper-cleaning reorganization, so I try to find the original e-mail from Jerry “recommending” his “very creative” niece for the internship. I wade through my e-mail inbox and eventually locate a copy of Kyra’s resume and reprint it. In glancing over the typo-ridden, grammatically challenged resume, I remember why I’d put it out of my head.

Generally, I consider hiring interns who have long-term, post-college potential. Generally, I do not consider spelling-deficient college sophomores majoring in human sexuality and minoring in modern dance with no actual work experience other than a two-month stint at a club called Bananas whose resume is written in a squiggly purple font. Generally. But then, most resumes don’t come from niece of president. Or rather, niece of president’s wife, Mel.

For the record, I do not like doing favors for Mel. Mel is Jerry’s third or fourth or fifth wife, but no one knows for sure which rumors are true. In any case, Mel is 33—which makes her one year older than me, and Jerry’s pushing 60—which makes him one year younger than my dad. Sigh. So of course Mel is sweet and cute, but also not the brightest bulb in the box, and the whole Mel-Jerry relationship is one big gag-inducing, eye-rolling cliché.

Oh, and to round off the cliché, I happen to know that Mel was working as a stripper when Jerry met her. See, I had to interview Mel back when Jerry thought his wife should get to know his business better. I was told to interview her like “a regular person, not the boss’ wife.” Sure. Except that boss’ wife had no office experience, no discernable interest in business, and no resume. This made for an interesting interview. Mel spoke freely about the exotic dancing lifestyle (“just between us girls”) and about how all she really wanted to do now that she’s married was teach kick-boxing classes.

Based on this, Mel and I mutually agreed that a receptionist position might be a good idea to start. Three weeks later, directly following the “What FedEx box?” debacle, we mutually agreed that a non-office position might be a better idea. She now works at a gym three days a week and no longer has plans to get to know Jerry’s business any better.

Unfortunately, Mel thinks it great to keep in touch with me, and she calls me from time to time asking for favors. Like helping her friend Jenni (a fellow exotic dancer whose stage name is “Eureka” for reasons unclear) fix her resume so she could find office work when she got pregnant and wanted to find a less physically demanding job. I also helped Mel’s friend Steve-the-ex-bouncer get a job in our print house after he was fired for losing a fight with a drunk but determined dentist. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I figure at least Mel’s friends are colorful, and keeping the president’s wife happy certainly can’t hurt my career.

However, I fear Kyra might be another story. Unlike Mel and Jenni and Steve, the summer intern reports to me. I am the one responsible for the intern. I provide guidance and support and career advice to serious-minded college kids who don’t use purple squiggle fonts.

Maybe I’m rushing to unfair judgments. I suppose it’s entirely possible for Niece Kyra to be professional and engaging and interesting and moldable. It’s possible that her resume might not give an accurate picture of her true seriousness or potential. And though Jerry referring to Kyra as “very creative” could be a huge red flag, I could also just be having a juice-induced overreaction.


10:41 a.m.

Or my worst fears could be realized.

I enter the waiting area to find Kyra sitting with a look of contempt on her face, staring at nothing. I could be wrong about the look of contempt, but it’s hard to tell given her lip, nose, and eyebrow piercings, not to mention the bold statement she’s made with eyeliner.

Oh, come on. I’m a modern woman, I can get past facial creativity. I can appreciate that professional standards have changed a bit since I started out.

I approach Kyra and introduce myself and ask her to follow me to my office, whereupon I have an opportunity to take in her full interviewing ensemble. Can’t help but think it’s an interesting look for a corporate office: stark dyed blond hair, pink vinyl low-rise pants, spike-heeled boots, and a black tank top.

Between the outfit and body language, I get the distinct feeling that Kyra is not as excited about the idea of working here as her aunt and uncle might be.

I think I’m on Kyra’s side.


10:45 a.m.

The interview is positively painful. Kyra is in no way trying to present herself in a positive light, and her teenaged intonation driving me crazy. Everything she says sounds like a question.

“So, Kyra, tell me a little bit about yourself.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Well, anything you’d like to share. Tell me more about your work experiences, or about why you’re interested in working for us.”

“Seriously? Well, you know Mel and Jerry, right? Yeah, well, they had a big fit when they found out I was dancing at Mel’s old club? They got all, like, ‘it’s so demeaning’ and ‘you should be focusing on a career’ and I’m all, like, ‘Hello? I’m studying human sexuality, people! I am not ashamed of what I do with my body?’ But they don’t get it? They don’t have any kids, and it’s like, they’ve adopted me? Now Mel’s gotten all involved, and talks to me like she’s all high and mighty now that she married Jerry? Like that’s a career?”

“Uh huh, uh huh. I see. Go on.” I watch Kyra’s facial rings jiggle as she talks.

“So okay? So Jerry makes me this deal, to make Mel happy? He’s like, ‘I’ll pay for school if you promise not to work at the club anymore?’ So I quit, because that’s pretty cool? I mean, it’s cool that I don’t have to worry about making money to pay for school? And maybe I’ll just like, try and stay in school for a long time? I could get my Master’s?”

“Um, oh, yes. A Master’s does sound cool,” I say. “But let me ask, if you don’t have to worry about making money, why is it that you’re looking for work here? It’s not exactly in your field of study.”

“I know! Right?”

I smiled and widened my eyes.

“Well, I guess Mel was happy that I quit, but then she must have been thinking about things? I’m telling you, that woman has too much time on her hands? So she and my mom—that’s her sister—started to talk, and Mel said wouldn’t it be great if I came to work with Jerry, like as though this was the best thing in the world? And everyone thought it would be great experience?”

She put her hands in the air to gesture quotations around the word “experience” every time she said it.

“And then Jerry said I should try the internship experience and he would set it up for me and that I had to do it if I still wanted him to pay for school, and, well, here I am? I guess, for the experience?”

“I see.”

“And, no offense? But this sucks.”

I noted that the words “this sucks” were not expressed as a question.


12: 17 p.m.

Instead of walking to nearby haunts, I’ve wandered all over downtown in search of natural juice worthy enough to be considered “lunch.” Eventually I find a funky little juice bar. I order a gargantuan mixture of banana/strawberry/kiwi/pineapple extracts, no sugar/milk/cream/yogurt added. It’s pretty good, almost like food. Almost enough to make up for morning’s interview, even. But not quite.

Meeting with Kyra was definitely not the high point of my week. I thought the “this sucks” statement was a fitting conclusion to the interview, though I can still see the look of “eeew” on her face as my stomach resumed sloshing while escorting her out. “You might want to have that looked at,” she’d said. I didn’t answer her, I just left her at the elevator bank.

Frankly, I do not respond well to unsolicited advice from 19 year olds in pink pants.


2:47 p.m.

I’m meeting with Jerry to go over the Niece Kyra situation in three minutes. Because Jerry speaks only in management-ese, I’ve had to practice my oh-God-please-don’t-make-me-hire-her spiel. Think I’m convincing, even in double-speak.

I enter Jerry’s office with trepidation, as he’s obviously busy with presidential business of fitting a sandwich the size of his head into his mouth, dripping some sort of sauce on catalog proofs.

I’m waved in, so I take a seat. I then decide to launch into my rehearsed speech instead of staring at him eating in silence. I carefully enumerate my concerns about Kyra in diplomatic fashion, without even using the phrases, “I know! Right?” or “This sucks!” once. Jerry eyes me thoughtfully while he chews. I finish, and await a swallow and response.

“So, where do you think we should put her?” he asks, not quite empty-mouthed.

Wonder if I was unclear, or just completely ignored.

I have lots of snide ideas about where we should “put her,” but none are particularly helpful. I try to think of something to say, some way out of having to put up with pink pants all summer. Think…Reed. Ha ha, I’m brilliant.

“Well, Jerry, given my initial meeting with Kyra, I doubt she’ll be interested in the more traditional roles we’ve given interns.” I put air-quotes around the word traditional. “I think maybe she’d be more likely to blossom with Creative. Reed’s got a lot of work coming up now with the Christmas spreads, he might appreciate having an intern to help out.”

Truth is, no one needs extra help less than Reed, who seems to think as a manager it’s his job to delegate all his work to his staff. He rarely works on anything himself, and yet is always too busy to help anyone with anything. Except Jerry, of course, who adores him.

“That’s an excellent idea,” Jerry says, and summons Reed to his office via intercom.

A few seconds later, Reed sticks his head in the office, sees me there, and gets an oh-it’s-just-you expression.

“What’s up?” he asks. Casual, like that.

“We’ve got a new intern starting who we think should work with you. Learn design,” Jerry murmurs though pastrami, no longer making eye contact with anyone but the sandwich. “Ev will give you the details.”

Reed looks at me and smiles, but his face turns a telltale “what-the-hell-is-this?” pink. “Great! I look forward to it!” he says.

Jerry says, “Great” also, and the deal is done. Reed scurries away.

I stay a few minutes longer to work out said details. Look forward to relaying them to Reed, who despises being told anything by me.

When I get up to leave my liquid lunch makes my stomach slosh louder than ever. Jerry asks twice if I’m sure I’m okay, he’s never heard anything like that before. Rather than own up to wacky three-day diet, I blame the sound on “woman problems.” Yeah, like insanity.


4:02 p.m.

I’m intent on meeting with Reed a.s.a.p. to hand off whole intern project and wash my hands of Kyra nonsense. I tried an hour ago, but he said he was too busy and that he’d come talk to me when he had some time. He’s so full of it.

Reed’s a very good-looking, smarmy lothario. Otherwise professional women tend to swoon and giggle around him. I’ve known him too well for too long though, and his powers are useless against me. He knows this. So instead of even pretending to be charming when we’re alone together, he’s simply abhorrent.

“So what am I going to do with an intern?” he says after I barge into his office and threaten not to leave till he talks to me. Like we’re five year olds.

“I dunno, maybe teach her something?”

“Her? It’s a girl?” I could see the mental gears grinding. “She hot?”

See?

“She’s Mel’s niece.”

“She stupid?”

“She’s artsy. I’m sure you’ll love her.”

“And by ‘love’ you mean—” he raised his eyebrows and looked sly. I resisted the urge to make vomit sounds, but couldn’t help making snotty face.

“I mean she’s all yours. Here’s her resume, you can decide when she starts, though Jerry said the sooner the better. I’ll let Jerry know you’re taking care of it,” I said, and walked out before he could answer.


4:43 p.m.

Mom prefers to call me when she knows I’m at work so that I’ll answer the phone and not screen her call like I do when I’m at home. She also prefers to call me when she thinks she won’t be interrupting my work, like at the end of the day. She does not get that interrupting my work is far less annoying than interrupting my leaving it.

“Evie Parker.”

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“It’s your mother.”

“Mom, I know it is.”

“Were you working?”

“I’m at work.”

“I hope I’m not bothering you.”

“I was just getting ready to leave, actually.”

“It’s not even five yet.”

“I know that, I was hoping to leave before then.” Because I don’t know when the juice bar closes and I want another semi-meal. But I cannot mention this because I cannot tell Mom I think juice is more important than talking to her. Even though I’m starving. Which I also can’t mention.

“Isn’t that wedding this weekend?”

Ah ha. The pre-emptive wedding call. Mom will either be reminding me not to get married or want to discuss what I’m planning on wearing and why it’s inappropriate.

“Amy’s wedding? Yes, it’s this weekend.”

“And you’re still going to go, even without whatshisname?”

“Of course I’m still going. Amy’s my friend.”

“Well, I don’t like the idea of you going to a formal event unescorted.”

“Mom, people go to weddings all the time without dates. I go to weddings all the time without dates. I’ll be fine.”

“You might meet someone.”

“Anything’s possible.”

“You know, just because you meet someone at a wedding doesn’t mean you have to marry them.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Someone on Oprah was just talking about the number of married couples who met at weddings. It’s really very high. So I’m just saying that even if you meet someone wonderful you don’t have to marry him just because people on Oprah did it.”

“Why would I do something just because people on Oprah did it?”

“That’s just it, you don’t have to.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“What about the bouquet?”

“What about the bouquet?”

“Are you going to try and catch it?”

“Um, I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about it. I suppose—”

“See, sweetie, this is why I worry about you. I’m not criticizing you, but when single women over the age of thirty go to weddings without dates and then try to catch the bouquet it’s just not very elegant.”

“Not elegant?”

“No, not elegant at all. You know what I’m talking about—the crazy women who scream and claw at the bouquet. Sends the wrong message…like they’re desperate.”

“Sometimes they are desperate, Mom.”

“What on earth for?”

“For husbands, security, children, I don’t know—”

“For husbands? In this day and age? That just seems so outdated. Look at Oprah.”

I have never successfully argued this point with my mother, so I don’t try anymore. Plus no argument is winnable when Oprah is on her side.

“I know, Mom, I know. I will try not to get involved in any crazy bouquet-catching activities.”

“Good. What are you planning on wearing?”

“Oh, Mom. Can’t I even dress without you? Don’t you trust me?”

“Now, Ev, that’s not why I’m asking and you know it. I just want to be involved in your life. And now that I mention it, for a hip young single woman, you’re not that interesting.”

“Well, I’ve been busy. But if you must know, I’m wearing a little black dress with red beading. Scoop neck, capped sleeves. Tailored a-line.”

“Is this the one that’s too tight for you?”

Sigh.

“Actually, I think I’ve dropped a couple pounds,” I say, as my stomach swishes.

“But it’s still tight and somewhat revealing?”

“I suppose tight-ish, yes.”

“I mean no offense, darling, but you and your curves in tight-ish dresses do not give the impression of a woman looking for a husband so much as a woman looking for a cheap hook-up.”

Where does she get this stuff? Do other mothers use the term “hook-up”? Honestly.

“What do you want me to do, Mom? It’s the nicest thing I own. I mean, guess I could borrow—”

“Don’t be silly, honey. It’ll be perfect.”


5:14 p.m.

I’m ecstatic when I discover my new favorite juice bar is open till 7 p.m. I buy two gargantuan fruit blends and look forward to a peaceful evening at home with mango-based fruit juice dinner, my cats, and Sex And The City on DVD.

And I’m willfully ignoring the fact that my pants feel much tighter on the bus ride home from work than they did this morning.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Something To Read

I am well aware of how poorly I've been keeping up with posting. This is neither for lack of interest nor lack of trying, it's just (as per my entry below) not really happening. I'm stunted/stilted and it's frustrating. I have soooooo many drafts started, too!

So in the meantime, I thought I'd post some non-blog writing I've done.

I have no idea how this will go over, but what have I got to lose?

Five years ago, I got an idea for a short story called, "The Three-Day Diet." But when I sat down to write it, it came spilling out and before I knew it, it was much longer than a short story. And then I didn't know what to do with it, so I just abandoned it altogether. Thus, I have 50 pages (or so) of this non-short-story/non-book that's far too Bridget Jones-y in its style and not very polished, just sitting around.

Perhaps you have some suggestions.

Here's the first part, which is Day One of the Three-Day Diet.

*******************************************************
The Three-Day Diet

Wednesday

For the First Day of the Diet, You Fast.

6 a.m.

Must get out of bed. Must start day right. No coffee, no toast. Breakfast of Willpower. Start three-day diet today. Amy’s wedding’s Saturday and I need to be stunning.

Three days is nothing. That grapefruit diet lasted a whole five days in 1992 and I’m much more mature and controlled now. One day of fasting will be piece of cake.

Hmm, shouldn’t maybe think of cake at 6 a.m.

But so long as I am thinking of cake, I wonder what Amy will be serving. Did she go with that fabulous chocolate truffle torte she loved (let’s hope so) or the spongy angel-fluff thing Joe’s mother wanted (blech—so boring)? Actually, I wonder if Amy’s even still alive. It’s possible she’s fallen into a terrifying, bridezilla-like wedding-planning abyss. We had her office farewell party two weeks ago (ugh, very bad cake) right before her mother flew in to help her, and I haven’t heard from her since. Ooh, that can’t be good. I should call Amy today and make sure she’s okay, offer my support. Ha! Yes, I will call Amy over my lunch break. That will give me something to do instead of eat. I’ll go for a walk and call Amy and maybe get a pre-wedding manicure and focus on maximizing my time. I’m a power woman, right?

Loser ex-boyfriend wasn’t wedding-date material anyway.

Yes, yes, I need to keep reminding myself of positives. Just because the last…what has it been?...God, SIX weddings in the last two years…just because they were all dreadful does not mean this one will be. Amy did say there were “plenty” of single men invited. Could be good rebounding opportunities. Besides, doesn’t every singles movie ever made tell us that weddings are the best places to meet future spouses? See? It is good that my loser ex isn’t coming. Amy is sure to put me at table of Attractive Singles. (Note: will have to reconfirm claim of “plenty” single men.) Definitely best to be single at weddings.

Unless you’re ten pounds too heavy for your dress. Is it still holiday weight if it’s May? Hmm. Maybe not such a good thing to be single. I’ll be all by myself and around strange men who will be checking me out. Certainly they’ve seen all the singles movies, too. And there they’ll be, scanning the room for their future brides, and instead see me, standing around looking dreadful, sucking in and trying to hide arm bulge. Maybe I shouldn’t go.

No, no, what am I saying? Of course I’m going to go to the wedding. It’s not about me or how I look (standing alone) in some dress, it’s about being there for my friend’s big day. Really. Besides, I’m sure this diet will work—it’s so simple. The website said it was descended from ancient peoples. And even if it’s not exactly a “centuries old solution,” what can it hurt? It’s only three days.


10:28 a.m.

I’m not the least bit hungry. We had a staff meeting this morning and there were bagels and someone finally remembered to get the honey walnut cream cheese and I didn’t even consider it.


11:28 a.m.

Okay, maybe a little bit hungry. Maybe I’ll leave for my lunchtime errands early to take my mind off not eating. Fasting isn’t really that hard, the trick is staying occupied. I’m practically half-way through my day already. Been drinking lots of water, too. Honestly, I’m actually kind of full.


11:42 a.m.

Stupid cell phones. I’m trying to make the most of my no-lunch lunch break and my cell phone connection is, of course, erratic. Tried to call Amy on the way to get my manicure, but got only static and strange whale-like moaning sounds. I’m sometimes alarmed by the digital age.

Trying to decide between nail salons. Do I save twenty bucks and go to militant Korean nail place? Or do I spend the extra money at the fancy salon a few blocks away? Fancy place is nice, but staff is often slow and overly bubbly. Definitely not in the mood for bubbly.


11:44 a.m.

As usual, Korean place is insanely busy. In this tiny shop off a lesser-known alley, hordes of working women are subjecting themselves to the $10 Express Manicure. The process is simple and fast, and mostly works like a well-oiled machine. It is not about pleasantries, it’s about getting the job done.

When you enter, you do not speak. You stand in line and follow the instructions of the head lady who is shouts orders to points at people to instruct them where to go, usually with annoyance.

So on one hand, it’s not a very pleasant experience. Given all the advances in technology, I can’t help but wonder if it’s really necessary to treat cuticles by jabbing them with a sharp wooden stick. Plus you get yelled at by head lady if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, even if you’re new and don’t know better.

Like one time, when I was on my lunch break and feeling brave, I asked for a pedicure. I was thinking that maybe they’d appreciate more business. Was very wrong. I had thrown a wrench into the Express Manicure production line. All the manicurists/ pedicurists started yelling at each other in Korean while pointing and frowning at me. Then I remembered I hadn’t shaved my legs beforehand. So instead of enjoying soothing lower-leg massage, I spent the whole time feeling guilty and insecure and apologizing for stubble.

But once you get the process down, it’s really not so bad. I mean, despite unfriendly, curt, and sometimes painful service, there’s something to be said for efficiency. And ten dollars is a good deal.

Maybe all women are crazy.


11:52 a.m.

Have undergone jabbing procedure and nails have been properly sanded. Pick luscious berry red color to accent the beading in the Little Black Dress will be wearing on Saturday. Color is called “harlot” and am not taking offense.

Realize I’m quite content to not be allowed to speak. Manicurist probably doesn’t want to hear about the wedding or my dress, probably doesn’t care that I’m fasting, and probably wouldn’t be impressed by my willpower. Whereas the manicurist might have an opinion about “harlot” and I really don’t need to hear it.


11:54 a.m.

I’m absently watching “harlot” being slapped on my fingers when an un-ignorable bleeping noise erupts from my purse. I would have turned my cell phone off (which is, of course, part of the Express Manicure process) but based on whale sounds, I thought I had no connection. Everyone’s beginning to stare. Wishing to God I had not selected “William Tell Overture” as cell phone ring.

Crap. I don’t know what to do. I’m sitting at the nail station with very wet nails and a visibly annoyed manicurist. What do I do? What would Emily Post do? Turn off her cell phone ahead of time, no doubt. Crap. Not helpful. Seriously, do I let the phone ring and ring and ring, to the annoyance of all Express Nail patrons? Or do I ruin the wet “harlot” job by reaching my gooey nails into my purse? I really have to decide before the overture starts again.

Agh! Visibly annoyed manicurist has sprung into action! She has suddenly reached across the station and into my purse, has pulled out my phone, thwacked it open, and jammed it against my ear, all in one fell swoop. Actually kind of impressive, despite being terrifying.

Can only hear static. This is not good.

“H-h-hello?” I ask, trying not to look at the many glowering manicurists. See instead a few women standing in line nonchalantly turning their own cell phones off.

Can only make out more whale lamenting.

“HELLO?” I ask again, realizing I’m the poster child for horribly rude cell phone usage. I’m sure my face is beet red. “Uhhh, sorry,” I struggle, “the connection’s bad! I really can’t talk now!”

Again more whale. I really want to get off the phone but have to be careful. If the caller is my mother, I can’t sound too distressed or rude because she will immediately call right back. Do NOT, under any circumstances, want phone to ring again.

Try to convey breezy politeness but sense of urgency. “Can’t talk! Will have to call you back! Sorreeeee! Byeeee!”

I pull back from the phone and the manicurist throws it back in my purse. Realize that, out of bad cell-phone connection habit, I have been yelling, and that the whole salon is staring in silence.

Leave $20 tip.


12:27 p.m.

Back at the office. Nail job doesn’t look so great. Plus, I meant to kill a lot more time with lunchtime errands, but had nothing to do. Can’t believe it’s not even 1 p.m. Stomach starting to gurgle and…swish? Must be all the water. Think maybe ten glasses of water before noon is healthy but insane. Now I’m hungry and bloated, and also have bladder issues. Must stay distracted. Will try Amy again.

Dial number. Hear someone pick up but no one speaking. I wait for a few seconds, and can just barely make out voices in the background.

Will you get over here!?!?!…well of course it’s not for me…I can’t just let it ring, it’s driving me crazy…I don’t know who…you need to work these things out…it could be the floris… she is not a—Henry! Are you going to let her use language like that?…unbecoming of a bride…I’m not standing here holding this Goddamned phone all day…

There is a crash. It sounds like the phone has been dropped or thrown. For the second time in mere hours, I’m not sure what to do with a phone. I’d hang up but for fear of caller ID. Decide to wait. Occurs to me I have to pee again.

Hear more phone rustling and then a fainter version of the whale song. Realize in horror that phone whale is Amy.

“Hello?” she asks, in the smallest, saddest voice I’ve ever heard her use.

“Amy? It’s Ev—are you okay?”

“Oh Evie! I tried to call you, I tried—” and there is outright sobbing.

“Umm…Did something happen? Can I help?” I ask, clueless as to what to say or do. Amy and I met at work almost a year ago, and she has consistently been the most put-together woman on the planet. We’re pretty good friends, but I only really know the at-work version of Amy. Who does not sound much like the person on the other end of the phone.

“I’m sooooo soorrrrreeeeeeee,” she ekes out.

“No, no, don’t apologize, it’s okay.” There is nose blowing.

“Okay, okay, I’m better, I’m better,” she says, and then starts in a frantic whisper, “It’s my mother, it’s my crazy psycho mother. This wedding is driving everyone crazy, and she’s gone completely mad. I swear, everything was fine. Just fine. Fine because I know what I’m doing. I’m a grown-up! I’m a professional! I can do this! Well, now everything’s—it’s—my mother hates everything. We have to add blue to the flowers and that damn angel…angel…angel cake crap, whatever it’s called has been a complete fiasco, and the dresses! Jesus! My mother and Joe’s mother are wearing the same color and neither will change and of course this is absolutely tragic. Tragic! It is simply not done. Oh, AND it’s my fault because I hate her. Plus Earl—did I tell you about him?—yeah, Earl is actually going to come which means that the seating chart doesn’t even”—
There is a pause for a small sob-like hiccup.

“…The seating chart is a disaster. I’ve totally lost control and Joe’s being no help—his parents got in on Sunday and I HAVEGOTTOGETOUTOFTHISHOUSE!”

“Do you want me to come get you?”

“God yes! But I can’t now. I have my hair and makeup trial run this afternoon and, yes, let’s do something afterwards pleasepleaseplease. But I have to get out alone. I have to think of something…Ooh! I can say I’m going out alone because I don’t want anyone to see what I look like—yes, I can say it has to be a surprise! Mom will be more understanding if it sounds like I’m doing something proper. Yeah, good, I’ll say I want to surprise her. So please, please come get me at Mother Earth Salon at 5, oh can you?”

“Of course.”

“A SURPRISE!” Amy shouts suddenly, I can only assume for others in her household to hear, and then whispers a frantic “okaygottago” and the phone is clicked off.

Abyss indeed.


3:08 p.m.

I am very hungry. Continuously drinking water isn’t really helping, and by now I’ve peed approximately 47 times. People are starting to notice. I try to remind myself that I don’t care what people think because I am a director and also will look stunning in three days. None of their damn business anyway. Miss having Amy around the office, at least I could be sharing my misery with her.


3:12 p.m.

Damn that Ellie with her “afternoon snack” bit. No one asked her. Chocolate is unfit for the workplace. I should bring this up at the next all-company meeting.


3:41 p.m.

I’m actually going to die of starvation. Right here in the office.

Check online at the diet guidelines again and discover that if I get dizzy (dizzy? I might get dizzy? Whose dumb idea was this, anyway?) and if I’m truly starving, I am allowed to drink herbal tea. I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe tea isn’t going to help.

Go to the office kitchen anyway, make a big cup of tea, add sugar and milk out of habit, realize cannot add sugar or milk, start over. Hope at least I’m killing time till wretched day is over.


3: 44 p.m.

Despite best efforts, have returned to desk in under four minutes. Curse.


4:31 p.m.

Startled when loathsomely perky office manager, Gail, bursts into office asking inane question about where someone’s something-or-other is. I jump out of my seat and try not to look as though I’ve been staring blankly at a computer screen for as long as twenty minutes. Starving has interfered with my ability to concentrate.

Realize a bit of drool has formed at the corner of my mouth. I try to be cool anyway, and so ask Gail why she’s bothering me with this question in the first place. I figure if I show some authority, Gail might not notice that I’m trying to fix a drool problem.

Gail’s demeanor shifts from perky to vaguely hurt. She says that she came to me because the guy’s on a different floor, and my office is right here. Sigh. I get her what she’s looking for, but try and look interrupted anyway. Gail returns to perky, and trots off.

I have to wonder why, if I’m cleansing my system and all, I don’t feel half as perky as Gail. And yet Gail’s the kind of woman who would never fast. She would never need to. She eats like a bird and actually kind of reminds me of a parakeet, bright and bopping and wretched. Wonder how fasting can possibly be good for the body or spirit, as it’s obviously not improving mine. Maybe it’s just that ancient peoples did not work with women like Gail.

I think now would be a good time to leave the office. It’s early, but I’m doing no one any good by staying here and Amy might be done early and I need to be there for her.


4:50 p.m.

Arrive at Mother Earth Salon via cab. It costs extra, but I’ve been known to take the wrong bus line even when properly fed, so I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try and take MUNI given my current lack of nutritional stability.

I enter a fashionable waiting area and am promptly greeted by no one. Wait on uncomfortable earthy burlap thing until background music of chimes and trickling water send me to the ladies’ room again.


4:53 p.m.

I return to the lobby and see Amy standing there in full bridal makeup and hair. Amy does not look like a product of Mother Earth. Amy looks like a drag queen who got left at the altar.

Amy’s usual simple-but-elegant look has been transformed into something out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I assume the mohawked woman standing next to Amy is responsible. Heaping globules of black and blue encircle Amy’s eyes. Her eyes, however, are still bloodshot from crying, and make her appear as though she’s having an allergic reaction to her own face. Her eyelids are topped off with glitter. Her already dark eyebrows have been penciled over in such a way as to make her look permanently surprised. Her lip color matches my fingernail polish.

Amy’s hair, once normal and lovely, has possibly been electrocuted. Around her face her hair has been pulled and pinned under her simple wedding tiara, stretching her scalp and emphasizing the perma-surprise of her eyebrows. Behind the tiara lies a nest of shocked-then-sprayed-into-submission curls adorned with more glitter.

“What do you think? Too much?” she asks with an unsteady smile, and before I have to think of a way to answer her honestly but not make her cry again, I realize she’s showing me her fingers. She’s gotten inch-long tips and they’re also done in glitter.

“Sparkly!” I blurt.

“So? What do you think?” asks the mohawk woman as she positions herself behind the lobby desk. “Isn’t she beautiful? She’s so glam.” Yeah, like David Bowie.

“Definitely,” I say, trying to be encouraging. I don’t think that Amy is glam type.

“Do you want to pay for this now or on the big day?” the mohawk lady asks Amy, who is surely expected to pay some ungodly sum for her glam look.

“Oh, we’re letting Mom get the tab for this one Saturday.”

“Well, tell your mother I’m sorry I won’t get to meet her! She sounds like a great lady, and she knows what’s she’s talking about. Now my mother, she’s afraid of a little glamour…”

“Okay, bye!” Amy says, pushing me out the door.

In front of the salon, Amy shouts, “I’m free!” and tells me we’re going to get her drunk at Mac’s. I ask her if she’s sure she doesn’t want to go someplace nicer, since she does, after all, look so glam.

“Like this?” Amy asks. “Are you kidding? I look like a fucking hooker.”


5:26 p.m.

Mac’s Place reeks of stale beer, and is ideal for girls avoiding run-ins with fashion police. I’m wearing decent work clothes, but keep losing my concentration and staring at things. I have also discovered a not-so-small drool spot on my collar. Drag-queen Amy is wearing normal clothes, but also a tiara.

We immediately order drinks. Mac’s has no tea, so I have to settle for hot water with lemon. Amy orders a cosmo with a twist and two cherries. The bartender gives Amy a suspicious look, at which point Amy informs him she’s getting married on Saturday in front of God and 300 people, that this is the first she’s been out of her mother’s sight in four days and that if he has an opinion about her hair that he should probably not say anything. Cosmo is on the house.


5:46 p.m.

Amy’s on her second cosmo in 20 minutes, and her makeup disaster is explained. I learn that Amy had intended to do her own bridal makeup, but that her mother insisted she have it done professionally. Not wanting yet another argument, Amy agreed to have someone from the salon do it. She was still very upset and wary about having a stranger do her makeup, until she got to the salon and met the mohawk lady.

“I took one look at her and told her to go crazy. I told her that my mom had absolutely insisted that I look like a movie star, and that I try something daring. Et voila! I’m telling you, my mom’s gonna take one look at me when I get home, and that’ll be the end of that. She’ll freak out, but then she’ll let me do my own makeup, thank God. Listen to me, I’ve become so manipulative. I’m actually trying to trick my mother into letting me do my own makeup at my own wedding. It’s all so crazy.”

“What about your hair?”

“Oh, I don’t mind having my hair done professionally, I’d actually prefer it. Mohawk lady doesn’t work on Saturday, either, so I can have someone sane come and help me. We’ll use this—” Amy tilts her chin down and waggles her hornet’s nest at me “—as discussion for what not to do.”

Catch a whiff of Amy’s hairspray and it smells of citrus and coconut. My mouth waters. Recognize that salivating over glitter hair cannot be a good sign.

We talk more. I tell Amy of my ancient peoples’ three-day diet plan. She does not laugh at me though I suspect she means to, especially when I excuse myself to the ladies’ room for the second time.

We discuss my loser ex-boyfriend and reaffirm his unsuitability as wedding-date material. Also discuss meaning of “plenty” single men and Amy tells me that Joe has many college buddies coming. I do not trust men in their thirties who still get classified as “college buddies,” but do not let on.

Hear of bridal nightmares.

Apparently Amy’s mother and Joe’s mother are both wearing shades of blue. The blues aren’t the same and don’t clash, but the issue has become a sticking point. Both mothers blame each other, and are pleasant to one another but snide behind each other’s backs. What’s worse is that the blue mothers’ dresses have somehow necessitated blue flowers being worked into all the bouquets, which Amy had originally planned without any blue at all. Silly her.

“And then the florist said no,” Amy said.

“What do you mean, the florist said no?”

“I mean, the florist said no. She said blue can’t just be added, she’s a florist not a magician. If we want to add blue, the whole floral scheme would need to be changed, and it’s too close to the wedding to just suddenly decide to change schemes. Oh, and she said that never in all her years of weddings has anyone ever tried to change an entire scheme two weeks before the big day.”

“How inconsiderate of you.”

“I know, I know, I’m such a bitchy bride. Anyway, it took three days of coaxing, including me and my mom and Joe and his mom all going down to the shop and begging her to help us. She eventually agreed, but only after the mothers brought their gowns to the shop for her review.”

“But everything’s okay now?”

“Well, the flowers should be okay now. Wait till you hear about the menu,” said Amy, downing the rest of her glass.


6:54 p.m.

I no longer wonder why Amy is so relieved to be out of the house. Wedding crises have been many and varied.

Like, whether or not the menu should include a vegetarian entrée. Amy’s mother thinks it seems cheap, whereas Joe’s mother thinks it seems chic. Neither mother seems too concerned with the fact that Amy herself is a vegetarian and would like the opportunity to eat at her own wedding.

Also the bridesmaids are a bit out of control, as is to be expected.

Then there’s Earl. Earl is Amy’s frightening half-uncle who lives in Missouri and runs an adult-film distribution business. Not only is he coming, but he’s staying in town for a week and bringing someone named Ambrosia. Both mothers, who were overly concerned about the seating chart in the first place, are now beside themselves. Among other seating concerns, they are frantically trying to seat Earl and Ambrosia with guests least likely to be offended.

Joe has been absolutely no help.


8:02 p.m.

At home in my apartment. Am weak and irritable and happy to not be getting married. Decide to go to bed rather than stay up and moon over caloric food.

Wonder what happened once Amy got inside her house. Amy was sloshed and giggly, so we shared a cab just to be sure she’d make it home okay. I didn’t walk her inside, though, because I was warned to stay away. “If you come into the house my mother will put you in charge of something,” Amy’d said, slurring. I wouldn’t have minded helping in some way, but Amy insisted I stay out also because her mother was going to have a meltdown over her lovely daughter coming home roaring drunk looking like the bride of Frankenstein.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh, hey! This is post #801.

The last few weeks have been, shall we say, "emotionally tumultuous." When I don't post with any regularity, it's because I feel drained. I love writing more than anything, and blogging is the best outlet I've ever had: if I'm not blogging, it's because I am out of juice.

Work has been difficult, for lots of very understandable reasons, but it's been something of a roller coaster. If you don't know, BlogHer was planning on a two-week long Tour. The Tour was to begin mid-October, and include SIX conferences in six different cities. And sure, that's stressful in itself. But, for lots of reasons (reasons that took much, much research and discussion), BlogHer has decided to only host conferences in the first two cities. You can read the official statement here. So yeah. Roller coaster.

And then there's the health stuff. Thank you so much for all your comments in my previous post. Some days I absolutely think, "Whatever. I'll worry about this when I actually need to." But other parts of me say that I need to worry now, because maybe there's something I can do about it. I just want as much information as I can get.

I do know that going down the what-if path is stupid, and really? It's not like me. I am definitely a forge ahead kinda gal. However. When my mother was sick, my therapist said I was doing a lot of "preperatory grieving." It was as though I was trying to get the grieving over with as soon as possible, even before she passed away. (Because I have one helluva defense mechanism.) (P.S. Didn't work that well, but it did help some.) The point is, if it turns out that I can't have kids, I will grieve. And I can prep myself for that a little bit now.

Of course there's a balance. I don't (and won't) walk around steeped in grief needlessly. But on occasion, I get to say, Shit, what if... Because I'm human and that's just how it's going to be.

Ish and I were in Arizona this past weekend. His grandmother recently passed away, and -- because his grandmother explicitly stated she wanted no formal service of any kind -- his family got together to reminisce and toast and look at photo albums and tell stories and cry and laugh. (Um, and play a surprising amount of Wii. Note: I had my ass handed to me in Wii bowling by a four-year-old who couldn't even keep score. "I got FOUR strikes, and you only got TWO strikes, so I am WINNING!")

It was really special. Also, emotional. I felt privileged to be included in the events, and appreciated getting to visit a different part of Arizona and learn about a whole new part of Ish's family.

All of this is to say, I haven't had much left (time or emotion) to write with. This last month has involved flying to the East Coast for my sister's wedding, flying to Arizona for Ish's grandmother's funeral, a weird health issue/scare, and a huge shift at work.

A long time ago, I asked you to please let me know what (uh, if anything) you'd actually like me to write more about. Sometimes when I feel I've gotten off track and lost my footing -- like now -- I'm not really sure how to get back on. I suspect I've written enough about my uterus for the time being. Probably enough tearful entries, too. So seriously. I don't totally know where to go from here, but I can promise you that if you make a suggestion for a blog entry, I'll take you up on it.

What do you think?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vodka, Infertility, And What-Ifs

Peter and I went to a pool party with friends on Saturday. I packed my bag on the morning of the party, the way I more or less always do for these get-togethers. It included my bathing suit, Pete's bathing suit, my iPod, speakers for my iPod, a change of clothes for later (when the sun goes down and it starts to get chilly), a book, a New Yorker, snacks, and a frozen bottle of Ketel One. All the makings for a great day.

There are no kids at these parties. It's just us, the pseudo-grown-up urban-dwellers, getting out of San Francisco and into sunny San Jose. We sit around and eat and drink and swim and play variations of croquet and yard-volleyball very badly. We listen to music and tell dumb jokes and slather sunblock on each other all day long. In every way, these parties feel like day-long vacations. Great days, indeed.

I have this now. I have adult friends who work and play and who do not have children. I have this because I sought this, after my first attempt at domesticity and wife-ness and motherhood failed spectacularly.

I've said this all before, but perhaps a refresher is in order. I met my ex-husband in college. We got engaged, we graduated, we got careers, we eventually got married. We got a house, we got dogs. We tried to get pregnant. And somewhere in this mix, at the time my mom got sick, I started to look around and go, "Really? I'm 25 and THIS is what my life looks like? This can't be right." I didn't want to get pregnant. I didn't want to have a mortgage. I didn't want to be settled down. I didn't want my mom to be sick.

Of course, I couldn't change that last bit...but I could change everything else. So I did. And I moved to San Francisco almost seven years ago.

Since then, it's been a big ole' guessing game. Lots of trial and error about what I do, actually, want. Lots of trying things on for size. Good and bad relationships, apartments, jobs. Mistakes galore, and heartbreak. Very hard, dark hours. Very bright, shining moments.

I am just a million miles away from where I began.

When I was in Connecticut, my future seemed crystal clear: the map was laid out before my eyes, and it bored me to tears. When I moved to SF, my future was a big question mark. Nothing seemed to fit or make sense, and so I adopted the "Fuck it - who needs a plan? Pour me another cocktail" mentality.

And. But. Well.

It's been a good, fun, vodka-infused run. I have no doubt, in fact, that it will continue to be a good run. It's just that my future has a little bit more shape to it now, and yes -- I can see "settling down" (as it were, and whatever that means in San Francisco) and getting married and having kids. I have taken my time to get to this place, to choose it, to actually want it for personal reasons.

I can see the picture, and it's one I'm pretty certain I want.

Which is why it's so hard to learn that I may be infertile.

* * * * * * *

I never wanted to go down this road. It's scary, and complicated. Google anything having to do with fertility -- say, "FSH" -- and the information overload is immediate. There are a billion stories, people, sites, blogs, discussions about this online and it is nothing short of terrifying to me.

This isn't what I ever wanted to blog about, but how could I not? It's been eating away at me for weeks.

When I first found out that I was a carrier of Fragile-X, my genetic counselor explained that the only real physical side-effect of this was that I am at a higher than average risk for premature ovarian failure. That is not something I wanted to hear at age 32, so I went in for tests.

My bloodwork seemed normal. "You're probably fine," was about the extent of it. And there wasn't much else to be done then, since Pete and I weren't trying to conceive -- I just wanted to know if I'd be able to. The problem with this kind of thing, unfortunately, is that there aren't exactly "warning signs." Your body can just change, your hormones can just shift, and then one day, your ovaries don't work the way they should.

Over the last year, I've taken the occasional ovulation predictor kit and monitored my cycles and from the outset, things continued to seem "probably fine."

Until one day, they didn't.

The month I got my wisdom teeth removed this past spring started it all. My cycle got totally thrown off. This also happened to coincide with my busiest months at work, and since then, my whole body has been out of whack. I got an exam, and everything looked normal. "You're probably just not cycling," the doctor said. So I went back to the fertility people.

My results are questionable. Taken independently, my symptoms could each have a non-awful explanation. (I don't know how much detail is warranted here, or interesting. My estrogen is a little high, but my FSH is good. My cycles being thrown off could be simply related to stress, or could be because my ovaries are starting to, as the doctor said, "peter out." My body could right itself, and return to its regularly scheduled program next month. Or never.)

I will have a totally different set of tests done next cycle, and hopefully they will be more conclusive.

Of course, now I'm scared that I will never have another cycle and that I am done for, for good. Which isn't rational, but is possible, and "possible" is awful. Also, shortened cycles is a sign of pre-menopause, and my cycles have been totally shortened. So on the one hand, I hope my cycle doesn't start for another few days; on the other hand, I repeat: What if I NEVER cycle again?

I am trying not to stress about this too violently, but it's tough. And I have every reason to be worried.

* * * * * *

I don't really know what to do.

It seems totally irresponsible to me to think, "Oh, forget about it. When you and Pete are ready, it'll happen." Because what if it doesn't?

And then there is all the internet noise, loaded with pop-culture beliefs and anecdote. What do you believe? There are thousands of people who will swear to you that your body will become spontaneously fertile if you just...adopt. Cut out alcohol. Cut out sugar. Take up accupuncture. Lose weight. Do yoga. Quit your job and move to Thailand and spend a year meditating. Go on a raw foods diet. Stop eating meat. Eat more meat. Fast for a month.

The list goes on and on.

What about IVF? What about egg donation? What about adoption?

What about I have no idea.

Maybe none of these things will be necessary. But how can I not start thinking about them? What if ths IS my path? What if this IS the road I'm traveling on?

* * * * * *

I have this now. I have adult friends who work and play and who do not have children. I have this because I sought this, after my first attempt at domesticity and wife-ness and motherhood failed spectacularly.

I just always assumed that I'd get another shot at it. That when -- and if -- I wanted to revisit those descriptors (reinterpreted, of course, to suit the new me I've become), I'd be able to.

I don't think I've made a mistake, living this life. I know I'd make a much better mother now than I ever could have been ten years ago. But by waiting, did I lose my opportunity?

By having "this" did I miss my chance at "that"?

Oh, the what-ifs.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ever The Charming And Appropriate Guest



You asked to see photos of me at the wedding. This is what you get.

I do feel I should point out just a few things:

1) This photo was taken of me right after dinner, from a seated position. No one should ever take pictures of people who are sitting. Right after dinner. But this would explain why the top of my dress looks like it doesn't fit so well. It actually did fit well. Except from a sideways sitting position, right after dinner.

2) Oh, chins.

3) And boobs. Toldja about the size of them. Yeah, you try not spilling anything on those. It's like they have their own gravitational force. Crumbs and condiments have no defense.

4) Okay, so I am giving the finger to the man behind the disposable camera (that would be Ish). But there is more to this story than a little birdie. For each of the table numbers, Sam and Mike took pictures of themselves holding up fingers to indicate which table was which. It was adorable. (I'd post a couple of those, but SOMEONE hasn't sent them to me yet.) Then Ish got the very adorable idea of taking a photo of each of the tables, asking the guests to hold up their fingers.

Like this:

Table #5

So right. Guess which table number I had.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Love"

I originally posted this on September 11, 2006.
I am reposting it not because I'm lazy (though, sure, there IS that) but
because I like it. And it still holds true.



There is no way to talk about it yet. Have you noticed that? We don't talk about it, we talk around it. We say where we were, or what we did, or how we felt. We say what was, and what is, and what could be because of it. We don't really understand it, though. And sometimes I think we don't even really know what "it" is. Is it a date? A word? A concept? It's history, it's change, it's fear, it's hope, it's an end, it's a beginning, it's all of us and all of our stories.

We don't really know. I don't really know. But this is the story I think of.



My friends, Emily and Nick, were married in New York on October 6, 2001. They had, along with their families, spent months planning and organizing and working out every last detail to ensure a spectacularly special, spectacularly memorable event.

Both Emily and Nick are very musical people, and their wedding had something of a theme: "Love is friendship set to music." Throughout the entire weekend, love and friendship and music were in evidence everywhere.

For example, following the "down home," Midwestern-style rehearsal dinner banquet (to which all wedding guests were invited), there were live musical performances. Em and Nick had been in a cappella groups in college, and since some of the members of their groups were in attendance, they reunited for a few choice songs. Emily and I also sang together. And of course, the bride and groom performed a couple of duets that couldn't have been more lovely or heartfelt.

The next day, as Emily and her bridesmaids walked from the neighboring meeting house to the picturesque chapel, we all sang a giddy, impromptu rendition of "Going to the Chapel" just before walking down the aisle.

There are dozens of other examples, too. Ways in which love, friendship and music were woven into the festivities -- from how they selected their processional and recessional music, to their band, their first dance, even their wedding favors* -- but it was later, at the reception, where I felt "it" most acutely.



I'm not sure if it had ever even entered their minds, the idea that they could postpone their wedding. Perhaps that's what some of the world did; maybe the events of September 11 were too devastating for some to want to carry out a celebration. But for Em and Nick, it was that much more important.

Rather than be afraid, rather than live in dark, rather than allow the bad to control their (our) lives, they gave us a celebration. Life is precious, and goodness matters. Love, hope, happiness, harmony. Family and friends had come together in peace and with goodwill to applaud and laugh and cry and take pictures and eat and drink and be merry and hold on.

And people flew from all over the country to be there, to say I am not afraid. Or maybe they said, I am damn well terrified, but this matters more. I don't actually know what anyone else thought as they packed their bags and put on their fine clothes and gathered for the nuptials, because we did not discuss it. It was a happy occassion, and what would we have said? Em and Nick simply gave thanks to everyone who came, everyone who found it important to be there.



A finer detail of the event was a little card that Em and Nick had put on every table at the reception. It stated that, contrary to popular tradition, they would not kiss each other simply because guests decided to tink their glasses with silverware. If you wanted to see the couple kiss, you had to work for it. You were to stand up and sing a song that had the word "love" as a lyric, and your entire table would have to join you. In unison.

Now, at first, this might not seem like such a difficult task, but I'll tell you -- finding a song that you and the rest of the people at your table actually know all the lyrics to is really quite challenging.

Our table resorted to "Summer Lovin'" from Grease. Another table of younger folks launched into Barney the Dinosaur's theme song. Throughout the evening, most of the tables tried at least once, usually with amusing results.

I think we may have assumed that the dignified table in the back, the one where the grandparents and older guests were seated, would not be partaking in the singing game. Maybe we assumed they thought it was too silly, or too difficult, or too...something. But the moment they all stood up, the room noticed.

Aww, I wonder what THEY will sing. Maybe we thought that it would be sweet, or funny, or maybe kind of cute, the way people are always saying about older folks (meaning it as a compliment but sounding a little condescending).

But it wasn't cute. It was a gift. They stood up and sang God Bless America.

The moment they started singing, without hesitation or prompting or question, everyone jumped to their feet. Everyone started singing.

Land that I "love"...

The entire room full of people rose at once and joined in, and it was amazing. We were happy (relieved, maybe) to have been given a chance to express what we otherwise couldn't. We cared about our country, our world, and were only barely beginning to understand how one day had changed everything.

It is said that in the weeks and months following 9/11, people in New York looked at each other differently. I know when I meet someone who has lost their parents, we share an immediate bond of unspoken understanding. We nod at each other. We know.

The wedding was, of course, about Emily and Nick. But during the one special song, we all knew. We stood tall and we looked around the room at each other and we all knew.

"It" happened and we were angry and frightened. We still are. But when I am scared most of all, on the days when I believe we have lost our way, and I fear that things are worse now, and I worry that all is lost, I try to think of the simple, joyous good. I think about their wedding day. I think about everyone singing.

"It" is real and scary.

But we have "love."





*They gave every guest a CD filled with songs that held special meaning to them, with an explanation of each selection printed on the homemade CD jackets.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wedding Recap With A Bajillion Pictures!

(Oops, accidentally turned this into a "draft" and unpublished it for a few hours for no reason. It's back!)

When my dad met and fell in love with my mom, he took her to Maine. Specifically, he took her to Cliff Island for his 10 year college reunion. He wanted her to meet his college buddies and get to know his background, what he was really about.

There are some things you cannot know about a man until you meet his best friends.

My mom loved everything about that trip. She told me she'd never met so many smart, funny and fun people who instantly "got" her before in her life.

My mom and dad returned to Cliff many times over the course of their lives, often with their three girls in tow.

There is a group of people who are associated with Cliff Island, who I do not know how to write about because they are a part of my DNA. How would you write about your favorite childhood blanket? You can say it's warm and fuzzy, but that wouldn't come close to describing what it actually felt like to you. And as you grow up, you may only pull out that blanket every few years, just for a few moments...but every time you touch it, it's as familiar to you as your own skin.

Roger was my dad's best friend from college, and the one who introduced us all to Cliff. Roger was married to Maura, and they had two kids, Liz and Christian. Their family still spends countless weeks on the island every year. My dad's sister, Kathy, discovered the charms of the island when she was in college. A few years after she married George, the two of them moved to the island to live year-round, without electricity or running water but with two young boys -- my cousins, Matt and Nate. Eventually Kathy and George divorced and moved back to the mainland, but everyone's summers still involve the time they'll spend on the island. Including Matt and his wife and their two kids. In a funny twist of fate, Nate currently lives in San Francisco with his girlfriend, Liz. Liz, Roger and Maura's daughter. Nate and Liz had their first kiss -- 29 years in the making -- on Cliff Island just last summer.

And it goes on. There are layers and stories and stories. But the point, really, is that Cliff Island has literally and figuratively been a place of and for love and family.

It is where my mother and father are buried. They overlook the part of the Atlantic Ocean that is Casco Bay.

This is why my sister, Sam, and her now-husband, Mike, decided to get married in Maine. On a ferry, on Casco Bay. Not only that, but Roger and Maura performed the ceremony. And Matt and Nate walked Sam down the aisle.

* * * * * * * *

On Thursday, Ish and I flew into Boston to spend the night at Healy and Brian's in Marshfield, Massachusetts. We had dinner with them and my three-year-old nephew, Charlie.


Charlie got a little excited about the menu.


Friday morning, we drove the two-ish hours to Maine, and checked into our hotel.


Wow. Two hours of sitting in a car can really take it out of you.

We met up with Sam and Mike and a bunch of others. We went to the reception site and met with the event planner there.


Please note that the hot pink favors with the black chairs is someone else's wedding aesthetic, not mine or my sisters. We do not endorse hot pink, teal, and black as an acceptable wedding motif.

Side note: I did a very, very good job of keeping my mouth SHUT when the site event planner spoke to me as though I were in kindergarten and couldn't possibly understand all the details involved in putting on a few-hour reception for a hundred people. OH IT'S HARD IS IT? HERE, LET ME FEEL SORRY FOR YOU.


We had dinner with a random assortment of folks, and it was maybe one of the best moments of the weekend. It was still before all the wedding madness kicked in, when you're having dinner with a group of people who would never otherwise be together except for the excuse of a wedding.

We then hung out at a hotel bar, where we met up with even more of the Random Wedding Crowd. My aunt and twin cousins from my mom's side of the family from Minnesota. Sam and Mike's friends from high school. My best friend from childhood, Emily (whose husband, Nick, and two girls were in bed) -- plus her mom, her mom's husband, her brother, and his wife. Hail, hail!

Sam had three bridesmaids: her Maid of Honor was her best friend, Sonia, and then there was me and Healy. After Ish and I got a healthy breakfast on Saturday --

(the last healthy meal I ate all weekend, I should add)

-- the three of us spent Saturday morning at the salon getting our nails done.


The adorable salon.


This is Sonia. She's due in December. :)


Healy and Sam.


Before: Here is Katie. I explain to her that my heels are super tough, and that getting them smooth is no easy feat, and I'm sorry. Look how cute she thinks I'm being. She has no idea what she's in for.


After: Notice the smile is gone from Katie's face and she is working up a visible sweat trying to make my heels not look like the Mojave Desert. I tried to warn her.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon putting favors together and attending to last-minute details. Except for Healy, who spent Saturday afternoon in the ER with Brian and Charlie, because Charlie's face had suddenly started swelling up. Yikes.

While we were waiting for a diagnosis, my friend Emily and Nick and their girls stopped by.


Annie decides to put on Aunt Kiki's shoes.


While wearing one high-heel and one slipper, Annie then began jumping on the bed. Thus making her more adept at wearing heels than I am.

Saturday night was the rehearsal...

My cousins, Nate (left) and Matt.


Sonia and her son, Makai.


Maura and Roger, going over their notes for the ceremony.


The groom.


The groom's father.

...and then the rehearsal dinner. It was a great deal of fun. Mike's family had arrived by then, and gave a fantastic toast by singing a traditional German toast-song. A few speeches later, we were all just drinking and carrying on.


The bride and groom.


A few "toasts" later.

It was wonderful to see everyone. Not just my actual relations, but friends from high school, Jane (my dad's fiancee) and her daughter, our neighbors from growing up, friends who may as well be family...

Everyone except for Charlie was having a great time. He'd been released from the ER with Benadryl, told to come back the next day if it got worse -- but they assumed it was an allergic reaction.

Three-year-olds on Benadryl do not make good party-goers. Poor kid.

Even the life-sized lobster wasn't making Charlie happy. Although the life-size lobster made Ish very happy when Ish happened to spot him out back on a smoke break. He snapped this photo through the window:


Here is a headless Lobby the Lobster, catchin' 10 with a cigarette and a cell phone.


One of my personal favorite moments of the rehearsal dinner was coming out of the bathroom with Emily, and noting that she had all kinds of toilet paper stuck to her flip-flop.


Folks, there is a very good reason we are lifelong friends.

Also, at one point some dude came up to me and was like, "You're Kristy!" And I was clueless. Turns out, he was Sam's friend from middle school, who was 11 the last time I saw him. He remembered me fondly because I hosted the first keg party he'd ever attended. Ahem. He'd ridden his BIKE there.

Ah, weddings. They bring out the memories.

Sunday morning the girls returned to the salon for hair and makeup. Unfortunately, Charlie awoke looking worse than ever, so Brian had to bring him back to the ER. We spent the entire morning on pins and needles. Would Charlie make it to the wedding? Would Healy have to be with him? Or Brian? And what was wrong? We simply had to hope for the best, and carry on like good bridesmaid soldiers.

That's me on top, looking into the mirror, with Healy's legs below.


Sam gets her hair done, and has a very serious conversation with the groom, who has probably forgotten to do something, simply because he is a groom.


Mirror, mirror on the wall: Who's the textiest one of all?


Wedding drama.


Sam's now done and looks on...


...as Healy is worked on.


...and Sonia.

Eventually, Charlie was diagnosed as having a tooth infection and given a special prescription for antibiotics, which involved Brian driving all over Maine and back to try and find a pharmacy that carried them. And then had to get Charlie in his tux and to the boat on time. Healy found this out at about 12:45. We were to board the boat at 2:30.


Healy gets the update from Brian the moment we step out of the salon.


We headed back to the hotel, to gather our makeup and dresses and bring everything to the ferry.


The brushing bride.

First we got dressed at the wharf house next to the ferry.


It is never easy getting into a wedding gown, especially not in close quarters.


Very complex.

We then boarded the boat early, to avoid being seen by everyone, and tried to hide Sam in a makeshift "dressing room."


It's not fancy, but it works.


And it's better than sticking the bride in the galley, where it was a million degrees.

Everyone started boarding right on time.


Ish, looking dapper.


Healy, waiting to see if Brian and Charlie make it on time.


And they do! Charlie's not feeling very well, but at least he's on-board!


By 3 o'clock, the boat pulled out of the harbor, and we were on our way. Sam, Healy, Sonia and I had to stay downstairs until the boat was far enough out that we could anchor and have the ceremony.


Here is a picture of my shoe. The button holding the strap down has popped off. This will mean that I'll be spending the entire wedding ceremony with my shoe strap flapping in the wind. Because I am classy like that.
(Hey, at least there isn't toilet paper attached.)



We discovered that if we stuck our heads out the little window, we could see up...right at the same time that Em's mom and Ella and Annie were looking down.


So cute.


Back inside, we call this, "Dance of the pregnant bridesmaid." Hot!


Phone photos.


More pre-wedding toasts! Hurrah!

About a half-hour later, we anchored and started the ceremony. It was windy, but it was stunning. The skies were clear, the sun was shining, it was breathtaking.

Afterwards, we delighted in cocktails and each other's company. We had a DJ on board, who was playing perfect cocktail-hour music, and all was right with the world. (Except for poor Charlie, whose antibiotics had not yet kicked in.)


Whereas Annie took to climbing on everything.

And THEN.

Well.

All along, the ferry captain had explained that Cliff Island was simply too far for the ferry to go in time. (We had the boat for 3 hours.) And Sam and Mike and Healy and I were okay with that -- the point was to be on the Bay, in Maine. The plan was simply to be on the water.

But Roger wouldn't have it. He absolutely insisted that the captain go out there, and so we did.

Unplanned, unexpectedly, the ferry -- along with all of us in our finery, with the wind and sunshine and the perfect music accompanying us -- glided alongside the coast, along the exact place where my parents lay.

And we waved. :)

It was the kind of perfect moment you cannot plan. Not that the wedding was about my parents, of course, but it was so meaningful to be able to incorporate them in a visceral way. Generations of love and all that.

Breathtaking.

And so we waved and cried and hugged and took a big, collective breath. It was almost meditative to be able to take some quiet moments in the middle of wedding hoopla. I can't wait to see the photos.

And then we partied.

The boat docked at about 6:30 and everyone walked the two blocks to the reception site, stopping traffic. Cars honked and cheered and waved and it felt, for a few minutes, very much like a village wedding.


This photo doesn't do the impromptu procession justice.


I snapped this picture as we arrived at the reception site. I think it's hilarious. Sam and Mike were ALL smiles ALL day, and I managed to take one where both of them look like they hate me and my stupid, stupid camera.

The reception was perfect. After dinner there was dancing --


Oh yeah.

along with maybe the most embarrassing slideshow of all time. (I will be posting it to YouTube eventually. You have not lived until you have seen Samantha lip-synching "I Will Survive." Trust me on this. Healy and I conspired to put it together and show the wedding guests. Totally out of love, of course.)

And THEN AND THEN.

The best moment for me of the wedding--

--wait.

The DUMBEST BOY moment of the wedding came first. I specifically requested the Alison Krauss version of "I Will" to be played, because it was a song from Emily and Nick's wedding and one that has meant a lot to me and Ish. So when it DID come on, I looked over at Ish, who was engrossed in a conversation with other men, probably about football. I gave him a VERY MEANINGFUL smile. And you know what he did?

He said, "Excuse me, I must go dance with the most beautiful woman in the room," and then whisked me onto the dance floor, where he held me close and professed his undying love.

That's right. He smiled back, nodded at me with his chin, and then went back to discussing pre-season stats.

(Of course, me being me, I stomped over to him and grabbed his hand and said, "I'm sorry, but we are supposed to be DANCING to this song."

Okay. NOW for the best part of the reception.

Mike's family is German, and he is actually in a polka band with is father, brother and aunt. And they played a couple traditional German pieces during the reception, which was SO COOL.

I don't know exactly how I used my flash in such a way as to make Mike's family look like zombies, but I did.
Note: Mike's family are not zombies.


We loved it (even if some of us had no idea what we were doing).


That's Mike on the right doing some sort of traditional German dance, like the one Clark Griswold does in National Lampoon's European Vacation. Sam is twirling, as she's supposed to be doing.

But then, Mike specifically sang a song to Samantha. ("Can't Help Falling In Love.") And in lieu of a father-daughter dance, our cousin, Matt accompanied Sam on the dance floor. All of which was darling, and sweet, and touching.


Mike is the sweetest guy ever.

Except just a few minutes into the dance, one of my father's closest friends asked to cut in.

Sam is dancing with Tom, looking at Mike.

And that started it all. One by one, the men in Sam's life -- the ones who love her, who are looking out for her, who will be there for her even if our dad can't be -- took turns dancing with her. Roger, Nate, Brian, her best friend's dad, our beloved neighbor, even Ish.

Nope. You just can't plan these things. (And goodness, there was not a dry eye in the house.)

The reception wound down, and we left to go hang out in a few hotel rooms to finish off the night.

The next day, Sam and Mike made the rounds. Ish and I had lunch with Healy and Brian and a much relieved Charlie, along with my friend Emily's whole gang.


Here is Ella, using the lobster cracker things on her hair, thinking it's like a curling iron.


It was just too cute to stop her, even though her hair probably ended up rather buttery.

And then we spent some time at Maura's house, recapping the events. And then Sam and Mike left for their brief honeymoon on Cliff Island (followed by a few nights in New York City).

We drove back to Massachusetts with Healy, Brian, and a much happier Charlie.

Charlie is ooohing and ahhhing because we are going to go over a very big bridge.

On Tuesday, we spent a little time in Marshfield...




...before returning to San Francisco.

* * * * * * * * *

I cannot stress how important and life-affirming it is, was, to go back to the East Coast. I got to see so many people I love, and so many people I haven't seen in so long. Everyone is growing up and getting older and living their lives, and you know? Things are going pretty well overall. There was more joy and smiling than we've had in too many years.


The End