September 2008


I’m in an interesting place, I am. My life is full. Completely and utterly filled to the brim. I suspect, of course, that I’ve gone and over done it again. But I don’t have the time to confirm, nor deny, so I plug along.

This weekend I partied with The Girls. My friends who have stuck by my side through bad boyfriends, stupid job choices, and addiction. We gathered to just plain spend time. It was my sister who was the ringleader and she truly gave us a gift–a place and an excuse to be near each other. Time to talk about our loves and our lives.

There was laughter and good memories, and also tears for the rough spots that are so much more damaging than our younger years. The stakes are higher now. Our worlds have expanded to include children and spouses. Our families need us more. We are no longer islands, and it has a level of damage to it not seen in our wonder years of college and early twenties.

I’m sensing a change in my life. A change of proportion. The decisions are bigger, and come less frequently. The choices matter so very much more, but there are only a few truly important ones left to make. The happy patterns we knew as individuals have slowed and heavied in the passing years. And none of the decisions are easy any more. None of them are exercises of simple morals or clear right and wrong.

It’s evident in my own life now. Soon I’ll have a husband. And we struggle with money and managing it. We know the things we need, the things we want, and the differences between them. And it’s terribly complicated. There are versions of right and wrong, nuances to every decision. Everything seems to require a caveat or comes attached to an equally valid alternative. It’s confusing and important. Laden and heavy.

Much of the talk this weekend was of babies. Making them, taking care of them, planning for them, protecting them. And I struggle greatly with this. So much more than I could put into words. I’ve lost such a portion of my life where my hopes would have been easy, and now I’m left with painful decisions and compromises. I’m to blame for my own losses and can shoulder that blame, but it’s no longer relevant. Blame doesn’t really make a difference. It’s purely academic. What matters is what is left and what to do with it.

Our reality is being a young couple in older bodies. We have only modest incomes, matched by modest obligations. We both want to share our lives with children, raise them as good people. And we want to do what is best by them. But we struggle knowing which path is the right one. Do we start now, in a home with dangerous neighbors and little space? Or do we wait until we have a little more security and a larger home? And if we do, have we gambled away our own dreams in the process?

We won’t get pregnant easily. I already know that. I know my body and my history. I know the medical facts. I’ve been told as such by two separate doctors. And every month that passes is another that I know ticks away on that blasted cliche. It’s hateful to me to become cliche, but I have.

And, as with all of the conversations this weekend, there’s no easy answer. Each direction has it’s own flaws and dangers. I just don’t know the right answer, and neither do we. Together we stumble over traditional family roles and financial unknowns. We look across the table at each other responding to our own individual–and very different– instincts. His to provide. Mine to procreate. And no matter how careful we are choosing words and phrases, we still manage to trip and fall. True honesty and disclosure is so very hard. I want to spill out to him all of my fears and worries. Why our neighbor’s disabled child scares me so very much. Why I need to force this into conversations as I see months turn into years, and years turn into the quiet conclusion of failure. I want to share it all, but I don’t. I just look at him and parse my words, making sure I don’t push too hard or commender the discussion. I force myself to be quiet when all I want to do is grab his shoulders and let my panic shake out in front of him.

But most of all I want him to come to the same conclusion himself. Without me shaking. Without me persuading. I’m too good at getting my own way, and that’s not how we can come to this answer. It has to originate with him. Genuinely. Otherwise it’s not a compromise, it’s a concession.

The proportions in my life have changed. It’s uncomfortable and new. It scares me, but I’m sure I can manage it. But it’s certainly not how I expected it.

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It just so happens that the sun will set while our wedding ceremony is happening. Michael — who intensely hates bubbles blowing and rice throwing — thought a neat exit activity for the guests would be sparklers.

Honestly, I’m not sure how this will work. But it could have a magical element to it, so we’re working on it.

At lunch today, I was looking for deals on wedding sparklers and and found this site, that has this to say about their products…

“The best wedding sparklers are the long-lasting #14 Gold or #20 Gold. They are also very effective in exorcisms. All sparklers are wonderful for bringing and ridding curses. Use them to liven up your next funeral. If you light up enough of them, they may even raise the dead!”

I kid you not.

I’m on a quest to banish back fat.

There.  I said it.

I’ve been surprised by a number of things in the wedding planning process, they key being that I (apparently) just as easily fall victim to the stereotypes as the next bride.  Moody?  Check.  Controlling?  Check.  Overwhelmed?  Check.  Consumed by whether or not she looks right in the dress?  Check.  Compulsively talking about flowers/candles/shoes/thank you notes/catering?  Check.

Even being the grown up that I am, I have fallen victim to at least some of the stereotypes.  Case in point: fitness.

Without realizing it, I’ve let my fitness slide a bit.  I get some in here and there, but not my normal self of 6-12 hours a week in a structured format and with bar charts to show progress.  My triathlon season puttered to a stop earlier than expected due to lack of funds (blame: wedding) and lack of time (again…wedding).

And now Sue Kim, wedding seamstress extraordinaire, is in possession of my dress.  No longer can I try it on every weekend, traipsing around my MIL’s house with it.  And the last time I saw it I had a little trouble spot.

My back.

It just wasn’t toned.  So this weekend I did a little assessment in front of the mirror.  You do it, too.  Don’t lie.  And my conclusion was that my buff summer arms and strong (albeit footballishly broad) back were gone.  It all snuck up on me, since I haven’t gained (or lost) a single pound.  My clothes fit the same.  Everything looks the same.

It just now is a little less, ahem, toned.

So I’ve started running again.  And doing the weights in the basement.  (Which is thankfully an option again now that our renovation project is done.  And, incidentally, the results are beautiful (for a basement) and really is due to Michael’s constant willingness to paint.  Day in, day out.  Paint.)  And I keep threatening my legs I’m going to do a spin class, although it has yet to materialize.  But still, you get the point.

It’s time to train for the wedding like it’s an endurance event.

At least it’s an approach I know and can relate to.  And it allows me to have some structure and what not.  Maybe a graph or two thrown in there, right?

And no good training program would be without paying attention to what you eat, and this time I’m taking some advice from one of my bridesmaids.  She’s really smart and knows this stuff better than I do.  So, in my effort to be better about help seeking, I’m taking her advice.

Week one: no grains.*

Sounds simple, right?

Hell to the no!

Apparently I eat a lot of grains.  Enough that without them I’m totally lost as to how to (a) pack a lunch, (b) cook dinner, and (c) make it through the evening without pouncing on the popcorn maker.

Did you know popcorn is a grain?  ME NEITHER.  Had I, I may have changed my mind about the sanity of this whole idea.  BAGELS?  Apparently full of grains.  Raisin bread?  Major offender.  Rye toast?  Forget about it.

But I am help seeking and taking other’s sound advice.  It’s making me a better person.  I can just feel it.  (Or that was just a hunger pain.)

All and all it’s going well.  I’ve eaten more veggies than usual.  I’ve swapped out hummus for my morning bagel and fruit and yogurt smoothies for lunches.  I made a chicken and veggie stew for dinner last night and watched Michael devour 5 slices of white bread with it while I checked to see if my spoon was chewy.  So far, I haven’t freaked out or gnawed my hand off, so I’m thinking it’s going to work.

And if all of this disruption indicates anything, it’s that I’m saving a LOT of calories by skipping the grain!

Next step?  Settling on some plans for my running that has calorie busting intervals and hills in them.

It’s going to be a fun trip.

* Now…before you guys get worried that I’m hurting myself or making radical, unwise choices about my body…don’t.  I’m fine.  I’m just making different food choices.  I’m not going into ketosis or messing with my metabolism or altering things in a radical way.  It’s cool.

I’m already unsure as to whether I made the right decision to go with wordpress.  (Like, would typepad have been worth it?)  I just didn’t have much time to mess around with picking a new venue, but was tired of the issues I had with blogger.  Like not being able to provide inner dialog make mistakes with a font tool.

But I need some help.  I want to do some things here and I’m avoiding buying the wordpress for dummies book.  Although that would be kind of great fun to read.  (In the bathroom.)

Here’s what I need:

  1. A way to track, in sidebar, my training.  Preference is for something that will import automatically from another, relatively sophisticated setup.  (In a perfect world, a place that sinc’s with my Garmin.)  I was thinking Buckeye might work, or Map My Tri, or something.  Regardless, I want to have a snapshot of workouts from the week at minimum, and preferably annual totals, cute icons, and links to maps.  Trainingpeaks offers the best setup (and I heart them), but I don’t think I can share data here, just a link to the public page.
  2. My feed.  Right now I’m feeding my whole post to reader and facebook.  I’m not a total slut for comments, but I do want people to see all the stuff I plan on including in my design for the page.  How do I switch it back to only feeding excerpts?
  3. I totally don’t know how to manipulate the html on the stock design I picked.  In all honesty, I think blogger was easier.  (That whole elements packaging of the page made sense for idiots like me.  I could do it.)  I just can’t seem to figure out how to amend the simplest of things, like the text on my header.  Maybe I’m an idiot.  Or maybe I’m lazy.  Wouldn’t be the first time (in either case).  I guess I should get that book.
  4. My reader shows no data on subscriptions for here.  Could be that nobody loves me, but I’m thinking at least one of the subscribers from IM Able converted over.  (Megan, I’m looking at you, babe.)  Why can’t I see them?  Is it wordpress?
  5. I keep all my imaginary internet friends in a Google Reader.  Can I import that to wordpress so it will show on my sidebar?
  6. Can somebody comment on Typepad and why it’s worth paying money for?  Is it better?  Does it bring you coffee in the morning?  What’s the deal?
  7. And I’m open to any suggestions you guys have.  Even if it’s to run screaming from wordpress and do a ____ account instead.  What I want is for it to look professional, clean, and purposeful.  I plan to put a lot of stuff here about training, fertility, pictures, etc.  Oh, and words.  Lots of words.

Of course I couldn’t just have my wedding dress fitting and have it be normal, right?

Of course.

Lemme tell you about it.

So, as you know, I’m attempting to get through a tall list of things. It was Monday. You do the math.

I’m sitting in my office yesterday morning, typing away, and realize that INDEED that helicopter that I’ve been barely noticing is not going anywhere. As in, it’s hovering right above the building. Hovering.

Now, I don’t work in a big city. I don’t even really work in a big town. I kind of work in just a town. We used to be small, but now we’re ‘just.’ Anyway, zero reason for a helicopter.

Unless, of course, there’s a bomb. A block away. In the parking lot of your Y. No kidding.

(Seems it was an excellent day to not go to the gym in the morning. So I’m off the hook. Kind of. In a karma sense.)

We often get bomb scares around here because we’re the county seat, so the courthouse is busy and life is full of crazies. Lots of them. And they lurve to call in bomb threats to get out of a court date. Running late? Call it in!

But this one was just around the corner in a parking garage. No big deal, except it happens to be in between me (at work) and my seamstress.

Sue Kim is my new seamstress. Every time someone talks about her they use the word “magic.” I like magic. Especially when it comes to managing my back fat. But that’s for later.

First, I have to get there.

So, at the strike of 11:50, me and my HUGE clear bag filled with a MASSIVE wedding dress (its perdy, you know) and two veils go tromping down the street. We had to circumvent THE BOMB area, walk past just about 50 bystandards watching the bomb stuff (which, incidentally, was kind of boring. crackhead with the wedding dress was apparently much more interesting).

Since the seamstress was on the corner that was opposite the evacuated area, I scored. She was open. Problem was I had to interrupt newscasts as I walked past, and the “live at 12:00” feeds they were showing on the Philly news channels.

Because I was blocking the view.

With my dress.

I finally get to the corner and realize that there are — let’s say — 25 decked out and bored fire fighters. And let me tell you…I love me some firemen. There’s something about the boots and the sooty faces and muscles that is, well, distracting.

But (un)lucky for me, they all got a full frontal of my wedding dress. No touching this lady with a ten-story ladder.

I finally made it to Sue Kim’s storefront and they told me all about THE BOMB, THE BOMB, THERE’S A BOMB stuff going on outside their door. I agreed — yup, that’s kind of exciting. And I have a 12:00 appointment. Here’s my dress.

Sue was sweet and professional and clearly more interested in the bomb thingie going on outside. I got all hitched into my super-suck-em-in-bra/forkliftforboobs in a dressing room. Slipped into the wedding dress (sweel!) and popped out of the room.

And every single person was at the window and door watching the firemen, watching the newscasters, watching the robot water cannon suspicious package #1 and #2.

Good thing I dressed for the occasion.

Sue ultimately began work on my hem and the dress started to transform from a massive cloud of fabric following me around to an actual, honest to goodness wedding dress.

That, incidentally, fit. Well, almost.

From the front, it’s great. Keeps the ladies under wraps, sparkles in the right places, and has this sash thingie that makes me look like I have a waist line. And now that it’s pinned with a hem, it’s really striking.

But I didn’t realize right away why Sue was futzing around the back.

And then I turned.

And behold, the back fat.

Honestly, when you put the words “back” and “fat” together, it instantly converts to a cuss. It makes me cringe. And apparently — with hard work and a lot of stressed out dining decisions and lack of running — it snuck up on me when I wasn’t watching.

Dammit.

It’s not a lot, just a little bulge where I don’t want a little of anything. So, it’s back to pushups and low-calorie dinners. And maybe, for Flat’s sake, a spin class or ten.

Regardless, the dress was starting to come together, bomb or no bomb. Once the hem was done, we went for the bustle.

I think bustles are romantic. I’ve always dreamed of waltzing in a ball skirt with a french bustle whishing it’s way across the floor. Look left, look right, whish, whish, pause, whish.

Alas, Michael loves hockey, hot wings, and the Simpsons. Michael doesn’t waltz. Le sigh.

But for one day, I can claim a fancy bustle. Many points and folds and fancy poof. So, I told Sue of my romanticism of the bustle and she got to work. Crawled all up in my business and pinned, poked, and placed 5 separate points, later to have delicate little buttons and ribbons that will transform my long train into my dream of a bustle.

When she was done, she asked me to turn around to see. And I nearly cried.

There, in my corner seamstress shop, with the bomb squad outside, I nearly cried.

I was getting married. In this dress. To that man. Soon. It was actually going to happen. And it took a bustle to prove it.

The folds were perfect and each layer was romantic and feminine and classic. After buying three separate dresses and hunting through store after store and website after website, I finally saw my wedding dress for what it was supposed to look like.

A friend asked me recently if I loved my dress. I don’t. It makes me sad to say that, but I had an image of a classic, refined satin dress that hides behind a $2,000 plus price tag. I have a heart for couture, but a head for frugality. So, I compromised. And I like my dress, but I haven’t yet come to love it.

But seeing it all hemmed and bustled — actually looking like an ivory ballgown — I took one step closer to falling in love with it.

And at the very least, it was the first real moment when I realized that, wow, I was getting married. Me. Broken, stutter start, needy, crazy, ambitious, emotional, talkative, awkward me. And no back fat or bomb could distract me from that.

I found my prince charming. And, yes, his castle is a row house and his white horse is a Honda. But he swept me off my feet like a fairytale and gave me everything I ever wanted in my heart. And now I have a proper princess gown to meet him at the alter.

I walked back to the office with a smile on my face, weaving my way through news crews and anxious onlookers, oblivious to the bomb threat.

I am getting married.

Today, I would like to achieve the impossible.

This, of course, is my current definition of the impossible.  It’s mutated over the years.

A few years ago, the impossible was making it through the day without ditching out on all my own promises to myself.  Dem’s were hard days.

More recently, I’ve found that I can — indeed — pack a gazillion things into one day.  That is, if I’m training for an Ironman.  Cause you have no choice.  You just do it.  If you can open your eyes from your standing nap while you’re at it, you get a trophy.

Recently, I have swapped “triathlon” for “wedding,” but the demands are the same.  Just as much gear.  Just as many sessions.  Just as many.  Possibly less wash.

Anyway, my days have changed.  But they continue to be as fun as eye surgery.

Today I have a $15k grant proposal to write, a grant report to write, a 12:00 noon fitting appointment for my wedding dress (which I need to walk to…through town…carrying a wedding dress (i’m just that cool)(you want to be me)), a 2:00 interview for my new assistant (wheeee), and a deadline drop off for said grant in Philly by 5:00.  After all of this fun, I’m going to come home, run 3.2 miles, do core and arms, assemble some form of dinner, write 30 thank you notes, talk to my rector on the phone, likely talk to my FMIL on the phone, and fall into bed.

And if I do all of that, I get a trophy.  It’s in the shape of soft serve from Dairy Queen.

Because I’m not ashamed to reward myself with food.

“I’m running today.”

He said, “wow.”  He sounded genuinely impressed.  Check that — genuinely surprised.

“Yes.  And I’m not going to keep track of anything and I’m not going to use a plan or anything.”  Confidence was building.  “Nope.  Every day I’m just going to do something active for activity’s sake.”

And before it was even out of my mouth, I knew I was effing lying.

Each time I drop off the training wagon and latch onto the gonna-start-tomorrow scooter that’s putzing by, I feel like I need an event — A Goal — to get myself moving again.

Or a new pair of shoes.

I do that a lot, too.

And I’m falling into that trap again.  I’m miserable at just going running because I like it.  Nooo.  I need to have some purpose.  Some purpose beyond the obvious.

It’s a bit tedious, because if your internal wiring makes you look for purpose beyond just doing (sorry, but Nike is brilliant), then you run (ha!) the risk of finding yourself in a cycle of jumping from goal to goal to goal.

And part of me is a-okay with that.  I’ve done a LOT of fun things just bouncing my way from excuse to excuse to knock out 6 hour rides and half ironmen.  I’m cool with that.

Even though sometimes I wish I could just make that statement about getting up and just doing for doing’s sake and actually mean it.

Thankfully, Michael doesn’t laugh at me.  He just agrees with the idea and lets the corner of his mouth creep up when he thinks I’ve turned my head away.  You see, he gets me.  

Maybe one day I’ll run just to run.  Already, only 5 hours away from my bold declaration this morning I have googled “winter marathon” and logged onto runners world.  Because somehow I always seem to need a race hovering in my future.

To complain about.  To train after.  To mark my progress and path.

So, sorry, Mike.  I completely lied this morning.  (Not about the feet thing.  That was legit.)  I have every intention of registering for some sort of carrot.  Something to get my sorry ass out of bed in the morning for a run.

But this time — I promise — no new shoes.

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