Cowgirl In Love

On Saturday night, my dearest friends got together and threw me a bridal shower. The invitations didn't call it a shower; instead, they featured a tough-looking cartoon girl wearing a cowgirl hat and a sheriff badge. Out of her gun came a heart that read "I do." It announced a "Pre-Marital Wild West Extravaganza" for me, and when invitees asked the ringleader if this was a bachelorette party or a shower, she responded, "It's a Pre-Marital Wild West Extravaganza!" I have the best friends imaginable.

If you ever have the option of having your shower thrown by a photographer, a novelist, and a studio artist, I highly recommend it. Every detail was thought out, and everything was creative and original and amazing. I'm still wearing one of the temporary tattoos affixed to everyone at the party. It features the by-now familiar cartoon girl and the "I do" heart, and a line of bold text reads "Cowgirl in Love." She's tough, spunky, and confident, and when she agrees (I do), it's on her terms. She's armed, after all.

Whether I was eating handmade Tex-Mex veggie burgers, opening fantastic presents, drinking daiquiris, or catching up with my wide-ranging group of friends, I loved every minute. I was sad to have it all end, but we had to sleep eventually. I fell into sleep thinking about my unbelievable good fortune, this milestone, and the wedding. It's weighty stuff, but as long as I don't dwell too much on the astounding beauty of lifelong friendship, the beginning of true adulthood, and the honesty of mortality, I'm fine. Ha. Actually, I've been too exhausted to write, but just before the shower, I took a walk, and spent the whole time thinking: I've got to record these feelings! So I hurried home to my journal, only to curl up on the couch with the cat and take a nap. Sometimes there's just too much to write about.

This weekend I get to do it all over again---except this time it'll be in New York, and hosted by my mom. I can't wait!


The Many Dimensions of One-Dimensional Online Communities

TheKnot.com is known among women as an elaborate website designed to appeal to brides, and it is a powerhouse of information. Dresses, veils, photographers, cakes, favors, food, tuxes, music, invitations---hey, it's all on the Knot. Which is why, when I first got engaged, I found the Knot boring. I mean, dresses, photographers, blah, blah, blah. But recently, as the emails reading "80 days until your wedding!" have started to flow into my inbox, I've taken a second look at the Knot bulletins. And recently, one link in the email newsletter sucked me right into the website message boards, and now I am an addict.

"My fiance's father wants me to sign a pre-nup, and I'm so offended! What do I do?" read the opening line of her post. It was intriguing enough, and the replies, which ranged from "I'd never sign one---make him choose between you and his father!" to "Why wouldn't you sign one? Are you out for his money?" made for fun reading. But the poster's central theme---that it shouldn't matter anyway because she doesn't believe in divorce---was gently criticized by a few respondents. "Just look at the newlywed boards," one wrote. "They are all talking divorce."

I was hooked. I went to the newlywed boards. The very first post---I mean, the top entry---read, "I left him last night." Naturally, I had to read the story--they'd been married for six months, and she caught him doing cocaine twice. The second time was enough, and she left a comment at 3:00 that day that she had just left the bank and closed their accounts. I mean, the drama! Respondents left scores of posts empathizing heavily. The slightly tricky, twisted, ironic, sad flipside to these stories is the fact that most posters have wedding profiles linked from their usernames. This means that after I read the whole sordid cocaine story, I clicked on her username and looked at every picture of her wedding, their promising engagement photo, and all of her wedding details, posted in prouder, happier days. They seemed so hopeful.

For a story junkie such as myself, there is little else that can compare to such a gripping multi-media narrative. But beyond that, it was surprising to discover an online community that is relentlessly giddy, to the point of being boring, and yet entrenched in a perpetual discussion about the actual consequences of marriage. And it doesn't end, ever; I logged on today to find a long and involved discussion of about a poster who wonders who should get the new puppy now that she's seperating from her husband. He was keeping the house and yard, so she felt he should keep the puppy. But then again, she loved the puppy. And as she wrote, "Admittedly, a small part of me doesnt want to leave her becuase I know he will be enjoying something I love SO MUCH!!" [sic]

I clicked on her username to see how long she had been married. Just under four months. Most respondents urged her to take the dog.


And Now a New, Improved, More Domestic Cedar

Because it was our only engaged Easter, I wanted to get spectacular with the brunch last Sunday. Epicurious sent me a recipe for Lemon Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce, and I made an onion, goat cheese, and smoked salmon omelette to go along with it. My popovers never popped, sadly, but we ate them anyway, with peach preserves.

So, I had to buy an entire vanilla bean. That was exciting! I scraped the seeds out of it, simmered it in whole milk, lemon peel, and whipping cream, and then added some creme fraiche. I didn't even know what creme fraiche was, and I still don't know how to pronounce it, so I just held out the recipe for the people at Whole Foods and pointed at it. It worked: turns out it's French-cultured cream. Not that I know what THAT is, but still. It was very good. I also bought creme de cassis: black currant liquer. Wow! That was some breakfast.

I set the table with our christmas bowls, our 1964 glamour girl glasses for the fresh-squeezed orange juice, sale cloth napkins in orange and red with fringe, the flowers Blue brought me 'just because,' and hand-made place cards with each of our names on them and a butterfly sticker for good measure.

I like to write about small successes because my life, right now, is moving along with some kind of unbridled force. Work is crazy, as return readers know, and the wedding is beginning to pick up speed. Now all the advice I got in September is beginning to make sense: "Take control of it or it will control you," "Write everything down," "Let me know if you need help," and so on. It's still fun. It's not a crisis yet. But a corner's been turned. This morning I found myself scheduling meetings with the caterer and the photographer for the next two months. We're, oddly, booked for weeks. And I suppose the fact that Blue is poised to defend his thesis in a month, and graduate a few weeks later, giving all of his "Dr. and Mrs." jokes a little more credence, does kind of add a certain amount of spice to this spring.

Ultimately, while I trust that the formal rites will go smoothly, all I really want is for my knee is to get better, so I can get back on the bike!


Questions for a Friday

This morning at breakfast, Blue told me that house sparrows are practically an endangered species in England. It was then, for the first time, that I suddenly realized I do not care about the danger of eliminating house sparrows in England. I mean, there's enough to worry about. It's a terrible economy, my job is a joke, we're looming under the shadow of an election that might be even scarier than terrorist threats, and some species might actually be wiped off the face of the Earth. But if England doesn't have house sparrows? I mean, can't we give them some of ours? There are plenty that hang out around my car.

I also (unfairly) empathize much more with mammals. I hate hearing about lions and tigers facing benchmarks of extinction; it's just upsetting, and makes me feel helpless. But house sparrows? I'm not feeling it. And it's just England! England is cold and rainy. Why would any animal want to live in England?


When Bad Jobs Happen to Good People

Oooo! Someone thinks I am worthwhile.

Alright, after a good twenty-one months of resistance, I am finally buckling to the pressure and putting comments on my blog. I might remove them if I get freaked out, though. Or if I fail to ever learn what "trackback" is, which is a distinct possibility.

The next move is to change the face completely, but I've gotten kind of used to this stodgy old blue. Does it need a makeover? All comments welcome.


Unidentified Flashing Objects

I woke up last night to blinding white flashes of light. It was 5:23am, and the room was lit brilliantly. Outside I could hear the sound of traffic and rain. So I lay there in the dark, waiting for more evidence of the electrical storm that I naturally assumed was happening all around me. Five minutes passed. 5:28am. Nothing.

The only other options were: a.) I made it up, b.) someone was inside our bedroom, flashing a light on and off for reasons I didn't yet know, and c.) aliens.

I got out of bed to investigate, but found nothing more than a dark apartment and a sleeping cat. There is a fourth option, although it's more remote than aliens. Sometimes, in the Square, the trackless trolleys lose their wires and, for a moment, there are sparks. That's never happened as they've passed our house, but it could have happened.

It's a mystery. A mystery that woke me up, sadly enough, and forced me to lie there, worrying about my swollen knee. I appear to have the same bike-induced knee injury that Peaches had last fall, and it's driving me crazy. I have not one but two bridal showers this month, and I was kind of excited about getting into shape for them. I bought a bike helmet with pink flames, for god's sake, and a beautiful dress. Now not only can I not even bike to work, but I can't even walk to work. V. v. stressful, as Bridget Jones would say.

When Peaches awoke in the morning, he reported the same white flashes, but had assumed he'd dreamt it. At the same time, he heard what sounded like a trash can being dragged across the sidewalk, a detail I didn't notice. Aliens were taking out our trash? So nice of them!