1.30.2004

The Visit

I had a (mundane) reason to visit a hospital this morning, and it was like standing at the edge of an ocean after spending years traversing dull brown rocks. Everything was sharp and shiny and clean, sunlight glanced off of hallways and mirrors, and the staff were informed, interested and considerate. Everyone was full of energy. It was the ideal urban environment: doctors were friendly and attractive, nurses were on time, and everyone was happy. Pairs of people walked down shiny hospital corridors, each set pairing people of different ethnicities engaged in compelling conversation punctuated by big smiles. It was amazing. I began to wonder what it would be like to be a doctor there. I honestly had the thought, "God, maybe I could get used to the blood!"

Add to this the book I'm reading, The Kid by Dan Savage, and you have someone unnecessarily fascinated by hospitals. In The Kid, Dan and his boyfriend, Terry, adopt a baby boy infant eight weeks after they began the adoption process. If you're a fan of Dan's sex column, Savage Love, then you'll love The Kid, which is written with the same wry honesty and insightful frankness I've come to expect and admire from Savage. Anyway, the chapter I'm on is called "The Birth," in which a certain hospital in Portland, OR, and its staff, is described in great detail. It sounds good, but not as good as my morning.

I'm just not used to people apparently loving their workplace. It's a very attractive state. When the guy at the registry desk made actual eye contact and acted like I was interesting, when the nurse told me little stories about how much she weighed when she was 27---almost exactly what I weigh, in case you were wondering---I just kept thinking, god, look at the pleasure these people take in their environments! Look at how much hope they have! I don't know if this is, oh, giving away a little too much about my current work environment. I'm not trying to be a complainer; I have a job, of course, which yes, I'm grateful for. And my coworkers are endlessly entertaining and fun. But I'd like to find a workplace that's a little less, oh, I don't know, demoralizing?

P.S. I should note that my fiance vehemently objects to my description of my physical metamorphosis in "Can't Go Back," the last blog entry, and he can't see my new facial wrinkle even in good light, even when he leans in close and squints. Perhaps I should say that it's the feeling that's being described...the feeling of metamorphosis. But, several women wrote me after reading that entry to say that they strongly empathize. It's a feeling that's shared.

1.27.2004

Thanks, Matt

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Can't Go Back

In the last few days, I've aged. Sure, everyone's aged. But I really mean it. In one month, I have gone from being a young woman to a nearly-middle-aged person, and unfortunately, I don't think I like it. And I'm the type who always looked forward to turning 30. It's still two and a half years off, but I'm starting to feel a little nervous about it. There are lines around my eyes that no longer go away with a good night's sleep. A new wrinkle near my nose. Veins that came out of nowhere. Gray hairs. And from what? Was it the caterer that did this to me? The invitations? The monogamy? And there's cellulite. I never knew what that was; I just figured it was another name for the fat on your body. But no, it's something a little different, and the usual winter weight has taken on new form this year. It just makes me not want to put on the usual winter weight next year.

Even makeup doesn't help. I had the occasion to put get gussied up last Friday, foundation and all, and I usually look pretty decent when I do that, if I do say so myself. But on Friday, it didn't work. I just looked kind of washed out. I mean, I am hoping it's the time of year, or something. And it's not exactly that I hate my new look. But it's a bit creepy that I can't go back.

1.21.2004

Look, I Promise, This Won't Just be a Wedding Blog

While flipping through books of sample wedding invitations the other day, I was completely taken aback by how lifeless they were. Totally dead, devoid of any joy at all. These cursive little scripts were in every shade of khaki, tan, and beige you can imagine: the bland announcement. Quite civilized. I was so bored! I've never gotten an invitation like that, but then I have only been directly invited to two weddings, and they were both artistic and cool and interesting, as were the invitations. I'm not trying to say that our invitations are going to be all better than the pricey ones, but good god, at least they'll hold your attention for more than five seconds!

Preparing for marriage has helped to make me more of an adult. I mean, I feel more adult than ever, plus, I'm making more emotionally sophisticated choices than I ever have. But preparing for a wedding has only made me more aware of how blindly so many in this industry operate, and how much pre-packaging goes into a wedding. And there's a lot of pressure to maintain the package; the caterer wants you to pick china and linens, the bridal salon staff can't quite understand why you don't have eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen, all in matching colors. I guess I knew that, going in. But what amazes me is how every package is nearly identical.

1.17.2004

Update

The bread worked out! Dense, on account of the slow rising that was happening, but really good. We're almost onto the second loaf and it's not even been 24 hours. Dense, and chewy, and perfect with or without honey and butter. Mmm, fresh bread. The next project: challah!

1.16.2004

Heat's Broken At Work, Day Two

It's cold and not snowing
Sky's blue and wind's blowing
In my heavy orange apron covered in flour
waiting for the yeast to rise hour by hour.
This is my fifth attempt to make bread in the last two weeks. I am beginning to believe that the one time it worked was a New Year's Day fluke. That one time it worked was actually relaxing, so I keep seeking that happy feeling out again, but this is kind of nerve-wracking. And I need something relaxing, now that flame under wedding planning has been turned up to high. Blue and I finally met with a caterer on Wednesday, and it was lots of fun (not to mention delicious!). But the price ($5500!) seems unbelievable, especially since this is a lower-end outfit, not the gourmet vegetarian joint of my dreams. Right off the bat, though, we're able to chop off more than $1000 of that price tag by coming up with our own "china" and "linens." We can borrow plates and glasses. And, I have been chasing fabric for tablecloths for a couple of days. What if one table were covered in red silk, one was covered in yellow checks, and one was covered in the sheer orange material I somehow envision finding for one dollar a yard and covering my whole house with? Would that be cool? Or would it just look crazy? Actually, I think it could work if I sewed purple and blue and green napkins, but sewing 100 napkins won't be any picnic. I priced sewing machines at Target yesterday: $150, $100, and $30. I think I know which one I'm leaning toward.

The caterer prepared all this stir-fry for us: garlic eggplant, tofu and blackbeans, and hot appetizers like potato pancakes and spinach and filo dough triangles. And here I was, all thinking, dude, it's going to be in JULY! Think potato salad and corn on the cob! Think about watermelon! Too bad I didn't tell him that before the tasting. Anyway, all went well, and he called me the next day with a revised menu, including tri-color wraps, which I am actually considering even though in general I really dislike wraps. Meanwhile I am growing antsy to try on the muslin version of my dress, but it's yet to be made. We're visiting hotels tomorrow, and a paper store for invitations. Do I build the wedding website to model the invitations? I'm holding out for just that reason.

I've become one those women. What do they call them...........? That's it.

A bride!

1.07.2004

Countdown

I'm just waiting to get sick. I know that sounds pessimistic, but after a Sunday dinner with my boyfriend, my godson, and both of my godson's parents, every single one of them worked their way through a bad stomach bug. I'm bracing myself for the inevitable. So far, I feel tired and and achy, but then again I was caring for my poor, sick man last night, so that doesn't mean much. Plus, I'm eating pretty damn light, just in case. Lizzie says I'm "doomed." But she also promises it lasts no more than 12 hours.

Maybe I need 12 hours of forced downtime. I feel so lost about my career. I really have no idea what to do. Or maybe I have too many ideas and not enough motivation. When I said this to my mom recently, she said, "Just be glad the important things are in place," meaning that I am in a stable relationship with someone I love, and have lots of wonderful friendships. I think this is great advice. Maybe it's a cultural trait of mine, like, I happen to be in a social class in which you are never really satisfied. But it's unnerving to not know what might satisfy you. Just making a lot of money, just raising children, just reaching some intellectual or creative achievement; none of these things alone sounds like I'm being active enough about seizing the day, as it were.

I have until Monday to decide whether or not to enroll in a set of three workshops that train women how to run businesses, hosted by the Center for Women & Enterprise. Tax laws, hiring, property, procuring funds. Here's my idea: a very positive, accessible center for sex education, sex workshops, and the sale of props, toys and erotic literature. Basically, a forum for interesting sexual dialogue, set up in a nearby liberal town, with big windows, educated staff, and most important, no room for any kind of shame whatsoever. I live in the perfect location for a store like this, and while I'm no expert on the subject, I'm not embarrassed. And, I know so many people who teach sex ed or who would otherwise be interested in being involved with a store like this.

Ultimately, someone is going to do for sex shops what's already been done by Victoria's Secret for women's lingerie. And they are going to make a lot of money, while doing something really positive for American culture: de-shaming sexuality. So it might as well be me. There is definitely a market for it.

Plus, this is probably better than my miniature-golf-and-bar idea, which was also set in Somerville. I actually used to scout out locations for that one.

So, writer, editor, web designer, business owner; that could be me. But I have possible timeline on my Boston life, too, depending on my fiance's academic trajectory, and it's hard to wrap my brain around it. Especially when I am waiting to get sick.

Hey, awesome photo log, courtesy of Avocadola.

1.04.2004

Dressing Alone

The stranger, a woman in her sixties, stood in the corner of the dressing room, a huge white dress bundled around her wrists. When I put my hands through the crinoline underside, I could see her eyes through the tunnel created by layers of material. I reached through the tunnel. She tugged the skirts down and banded the back tight as I sucked in my breath. There. I was in a wedding dress. She carried the train as we traveled. I stepped onto a pedestal in the middle of the room. It's strapless; the back plummets; it's silk-white, she says, not true white. She pins a veil on my head and it falls around my shoulders. The other bride-to-be in the room, a tall blond woman, stands on her own pedestal, spinning from mirror to mirror. Her dress shimmers; her shoulders look bare under layers of organza. Her mother sits on a wooden bench, smiling and clutching her purse. "It's your day, sweetie," she says. "You should wear whatever you want." The daughter beams.

My mom isn't there; she's 400 miles away, in Rochester, NY. A feeling in the stomach. When my attendant first asked if I needed help putting the dresses on, I said, "I don't know; I've never done this without my mom." She became more resolute and friendly all at once. "Well, I'm a mom," she said, so she stayed. I was grateful. "I have three daughters," she continued, "and they are all married." I imagined her eyeing her own daughter through the tunnel of a wedding dress, pulling it down hard around her hips. I toddle to a mirror in my loaner shoes.

It's taken me some time to realize that I am not having the kind of wedding that certain women expect. At some wedding dress stores, as I turn to admire the back of the dress, they comment that it will take 5-6 months to get the dress, and 2 months after that for alterations, which will tack on another $500 to the $2,000 price tag. Ah ha, I realize; this is not me. This is some other class of people. For one thing, my wedding is less that six months away, and here I am, standing in your store, still lost in a sea of dresses.

It's very odd wearing a wedding dress alone. It's a thing meant for an audience. You don't wear it on an intimate date with your future husband; you wear it in front of a small crowd. But donning a wedding gown is a rite of passage, too, a step signifying adulthood. So wanting to cry out for Mommy hardly seems appropriate. Still, it's hard to see the back, and it's hard to be objective about what looks good. Truth is, appropriate or not, Mommy knows best.