So Blessed

5 Nov
This photo was taken by my now sister-in-law Nicole.

This photo was taken by my now sister-in-law Nicole.

Wonderful. Absolutely, spectacularly wonderful. On my flight back to New York City, I can’t think of anything I would change about my weekend in Iowa (except for it to have been longer). I saw many of the people that I love all in one place. I spent time in a beautiful place at a gorgeous time of year. And I married the love of my life.

And while a majority of my time was devoted to the wedding, I was able to savor the pace of life back in Webster City. Trick-or-treating with my one-year-old niece, all dressed up in a donkey costume. Having family meals at my childhood home. Cuddling with my anxiety-ridden kitty Suki. Hiking through Briggs Woods and stopping by the local library.

The wedding was beautiful – at a winery near Ames, with decorations to go with the season. The backdrop to the ceremony was perfect with the ever-changing colors of the tree leaves peering through the glass wall of the reception hall as the sun set.

What I take back from this experience is how truly blessed I am. The amount of love and generosity shown to me by everyone we encountered was astounding. Dear family and friends worked tirelessly to make sure that each detail was accounted for. Tiny snags were quickly mended and everything went seamlessly. My wedding party was everything that I could possibly ask for. If I needed anything at any time during the process, each of my attendants were completely willing to perform each and every task. My matron of honor (also sister) made sure that there was nothing I could even think of that needed to happen that hadn’t already took place. And while each one of us live in different areas of the country, we all shared so much laughter and conversations – it was like nothing had changed between my childhood friends. Our families were just … awesome. My parents, dear lord I tear up thinking of what they had done for me. And seeing all of my family and friends – old and new – all in one place … wow. Even though I wish I could stop at each table and have endless conversations with all that attended, just seeing people, some that I haven’t seen in years, was so great.

And last, but definitely not least, my beautiful husband. From the love poem he read at the ceremony to the laughter we shared over cheap take out in our hotel room near the airport last night – I can’t imagine anyone else that I would want to spend my life with. In all the planning, we spent a lot of time apart. But when we put our wedding clothes on – taking pictures and saying our vows, I kept thinking, “Oh yeah, you. I’m here to marry you. And I am so happy at this very moment.”

The last two days have been exhausting, yet I smile at the thought of all that hoopla and excitement that we were able to share with people we deeply care about. Hopefully someday in the near future, we can be closer to quite a few of them and spend more day-to-day time in their presence. But for now, I am just completely happy and so unbelievably blessed.

Contemplation

2 Nov

Night_in_the_corn_field_by_balazsroby

I’m in my tiny childhood bedroom in the middle of Iowa. I’m laying exactly in the same place I did as a small child, as a pre-teen, as someone home on a weekend from college. I’d stare out my window at the sky above and ponder dramatically about my future life. I’d write in my journal with my legs crossed and think of all the wondrous things that lay before me. The room has changed – from ballerina pink to a burnt orange. While neon star stickers used to shine on the ceiling above, a pack-n-play now sits in the corner for my one-year-old niece. This was the place where I’d play, imagine, and dream.

Now, I’m a visitor, yet today feels similar to the night before my high school graduation. Losing a bit of myself to gain a greater identity, a shinier one. I’m full of hope, wonder, and insecurity. In the past few days I have visited my old haunts – the library, the woods, the cemetery. Places I would go to contemplate, run from the here and now, and while tinges of old memories carry on – everything feels a bit different.

I went through some of my old computer documents, in search of something, anything. I found poems that I had written for various people in my life almost a decade prior. This one was composed to my future husband:

Watching the stars,
One, two, three constellations, no four.
The radiance of those twinkling lights.
You stare straight up, and I look straight at
You.
We lay on this hill forever looking at the great beyond.
Stars never stop glowing, but sometimes go unseen.
Those cloudy nights cover up the beauty, and you can forget that immeasurable sky.
You don’t lie on cloudy nights staring out at the blue.
I wrote it at a time of confusion, a time when I wasn’t sure what was in store for our relationship.  When we were teenagers, we would spend hours at the local cemetery, looking out at the night sky. Sometimes we would lay on the hillside, talking of our futures, of what we wanted. Others, we would try to steal a moment’s kiss before authority figures would run us out. We were young, we were in love, and we tried to grasp on to that feeling with an intensity that I had never felt before.

Our time together was never linear with breakups, makeups and constant arguing. We fell for other people, back in love with each other, and sometimes we ended up despising one another.

It has now come full circle. On the night before my wedding, I am still me but connected to another individual in no way I had ever been before. When he hurts, I ache inside. When I experience joy in my life, he beams with pride. And while nothing is perfect, I want it to be him to tell my hopes and dreams to. I no longer need to keep those thoughts locked deep inside. I don’t have to just look at the sky with hope and longing.

Tonight before my wedding, I remember what it was like to reach all those milestones in life. And I am ready to reach out for one more.

 

Are you nervous? Are you excited?

25 Oct

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There are just a couple more days before my early-morning flight to Iowa. Right now, I have thank-you cards to write and a beauty store trip planned, but other than that my weekend will hopefully be pretty … normal. Well, sort of. Our neighborhood throws an annual Halloween kids’ block party Saturday that we are volunteering at, and we have a reading and pub crawl planned later that night in NYC. Sunday – we will most likely have some friends over for a big vat of chili and some sweet, sweet cinnamon rolls. Oh yeah, I should probably start packing sometime, too.

The problem with being in a different time zone than the wedding event is that I’m pretty removed from it all. Not only from the assembly of constructing the event, but emotionally, as well. Which is hard – mostly on my mom. She has to plan a lot of it on her own, and while I can say what florals and colors I prefer – the bulk of the work has been on her. I’m incredibly grateful for someone in my life with that much motivation to making my day special. But it wasn’t until last month when I flew back for my shower when I saw most of the decorations and table setting fillers. Everything is incredibly hard to picture, even when you have the Skype tool to work with.

Emotionally, I have been going about my normal everyday business, besides having a bit of a to-do list each day for the past month. I go to my 40-hour a week job, watch television, walk around town, grocery shop – the norm. It’s been fun putting together a mixed-CD playlist, going to our Skype pre-marriage counseling, etc., but it seems all a bit surreal still.

I’ve been asked by everyone, “Are you getting excited and/or nervous about your big day?” Um … yes. I mean, I’m normally a heavy sleeper, and this week the slightest sound will bounce me wide awake. Nate needs to get up at 5 a.m. to grade papers, I guess I better get up too! And while I’m excited to see people and celebrate the occasion, but I still can’t wrap my head around the whole concept. I can’t wait to see family and friends, I can’t wait for some snuggling time with my niece, I can’t wait to be in old surroundings that feel so familiar.

When I think about the wedding, I think about this: I love the guy I’m with. I don’t want to be with someone else, and I can’t wait to be more permanently settled and start a family. But we have already started our lives together – living in an apartment, having our weekly date nights, cooking for one another, exploring a new city – for me, it’s confirming our commitment to one another, which is completely exciting for me.

So I have to keep reminding myself that in almost a week, this whole marriage thing goes down. So the answer to the “Are you nervous?” and “Are you excited?” questions? I’m pretty happy, that’s for sure.

 

What’s In A Name?

24 Oct

sign check(1)Through this whole wedding process, there really has been only one looming question. It’s not, “Should I get married?” or “Is this the right guy for me?” or something in that realm. No, it’s whether I should change my last name or not.

I’ve never been a huge fan of my first name, but it has definitely grown on me and I can’t see myself changing it in my lifetime. In high school, there was a period of time when I toyed with the idea of changing it, but that was just me testing my parents’ boundaries, really.

Last name, though, was another story. I, like many girls, would write my first name with a boy crush’s last name in my journal, saying it out loud until it sounded real. Sometimes I would laugh at the way it came out, and other times I would think, “That sounds perfect.”

As the years have flown by, I’ve definitely been okay with my first, middle, and last names. It’s me, that’s who I am. To the point, that I am not totally willing to change it. I’ve thought about hyphenating – but the combination of my name with my fiancés’ sounds a little weird.

Perhaps my hesitation is due to my feminist beliefs or perhaps it’s because I’m not one for “big change.” I definitely do not begrudge anyone who decides to take their spouse’s name – female or male – I just don’t know if it is for me.

My future husband has said that he would love for us to share the same last name, but would understand if I would like to keep the name I was born with. He’s pretty awesome.

On the other hand, I do see a single last name as a symbol of unity, and something that I was happy to have in my childhood. I’m not sure I want to have a different last name than the one my future kids have. I don’t think that is for me.

So while I try to decide this week what my answer will be: 1) Change it; 2); Hyphenate it; 3) Leave it be; or, 4) Leave it be and change it in the future – I’m taking all thoughts into consideration. I don’t think changing your last name is for everybody, nor do I think that leaving your name as is after getting married is either. I just need to weigh what I’m comfortable and go from there.

And hey, if that’s my biggest problem – I’m doing okay!

(Sidenote: If I decide to not change it, I will totally be okay with people calling me by my husband’s last name. So, so fine with it!)

“The Five Year Engagement” holds truth

23 Oct

Carrie Olson:

Since the whole wedding thing is happening in almost a week, I thought this was definitely worth a reblog.

Originally posted on Girl Of The Corn:

In some ways, a bit too close for comfort.

“We were almost perfect for each other …”

“The Five Year Engagement” is a love story. Violet and Tom, a couple that love one another very much, have grandiose plans to marry. The wedding date keeps moving further back as their lives change. They change. Resentment builds, they start testing each other, and the bond breaks. The question of “what if” lingers, and eventually, they do find their way back and renew the relationship.

It’s beautiful, funny, and incredibly sad. For me, it is a bit depressing and too close for comfort. Not the called-off wedding or premise, but the emotional content that keeps this film so fresh.

I have seen this movie too many times, yet refuse to buy it. Perhaps I don’t want to compare my relationship too much to theirs, as I so often do with other movies…

View original 891 more words

I Heart MST3K

21 Oct

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I bought a stockpile of “classic” Halloween movies a week ago. Unfortunately, I accidentally shipped them to my parents’ house in Iowa.

So I guess I won’t be seeing them until after the fact. Last year, I was too broke to consider purchasing “The Addams Family” movies, “Hocus Pocus”, “Beetlejuice”, or my sister’s favorite television show “The Munsters”. I couldn’t fathom spending a few bucks on a pre-owned copy of the ’80s magic that is “Teen Witch”, without thinking about my empty bank account.

So what’s a girl to do without these masterpiece videos? Netflix, of course. For a thrill, we’ve gone through Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho”, delved into “Paranormal Activity” for a sleepless night, and “Blair Witch Project”-ed myself.

But what about the humorous, the lighthearted that my trick-or-treating self enjoyed so much in earlier days? I looked no further than what is absolutely near-and-dear to my heart: MST3K. For those of you non-nerds that haven’t immersed yourself in a 24-hour extravaganza of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you are missing out.

Introduced by my dad, we never could get enough of this Minneapolis-based show when it first appeared on Comedy Central. The Thanksgiving holiday wasn’t devoted just to turkey, no, it was also about “Gamera”, “Zombie Nightmare” and other D-rate movies. Listening to robots and humans make fun of the horrors of cinema made us have such gut-wrenching belly laughs, there was nothing like it. We had quite a few of them dubbed on VHS tapes, and after school or on Saturday afternoons, my two siblings and I would spend hours rewinding the parts we found the funniest. It got to the point where we would find old movies on television and try our hand at sarcasm – sending us in a fit of hysterics over our own humor.

The best were the shorts – 15-minute films that were obviously shown to the youth of the ’60s in P.E. class. My personal favorite was a half-hour black and white promotional flick from Iowa State University. In an effort to recruit the female persuasion to their home ec studies program, the college created one of the most sexist and hilarious films of all time. Add in the snark of Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, and you have got just the best thing around.

My fiancee has been subjected to my family’s humor time and time again, and he has been forced to watch a couple of our all-time favorite episodes. Instead of watching a traditional holiday movie last Christmas Eve, we chose “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” – it just seemed fitting.

We were able to find a few of the episodes on Netflix a couple nights ago. We chose “The Final Sacrifice” on Saturday evening. On Sunday, neither one of us could stop repeating some of the more memorable lines from the show. So imagine my surprise, when Nate and I sat down to watch an hour of TV and he suggested, “Um, could we watch another one of those?” I didn’t even suggest the beloved series, he did it all on his own. How ’bout that?

I knew I picked the right guy.

Make-Up Must-Haves No. 2

17 Oct
I also recommend anything Tarte - it's great stuff, great packaging, and just a great company.

I also recommend anything Tarte – it’s great stuff, great packaging, and just a great company. (Not being paid by them, just have a ton of their products.)

A few months ago, I wrote a blog blabbing on and on about my favorite beauty products and so much has changed (not really) since that day. Well, a few trips to Sephora, some birthday gifts, and a couple flash beauty sales – that’s what.

With the whole wedding day coming up and a couple Sephora gift cards to splurge on wedding makeup with (give me a break, it’s going to be stuff that I’d wear anyway), this list will probably change again – but whatev’s. I’d rather spend my paycheck on magnificent packaging and fantastic beauties than food and rent any day. PB&J’s FOREVA! (I do pay my rent and I do eat more than sammies, just so we’re clear.)

MAC ‘Haute and Naughty Lash’ Mascara

mac mascara-24
Don’t hate. But I’s got some connected friends. This was a present from a dear pal that is lucky enough to get freebies (legally) every once and awhile. Lucky me. I have been stuck with Lancomé – which I still love – but never thought I would enjoy another lash thickening-lengthening blend for as long as I lived. Was I ever wrong. This stuff is more than my jam. It’s my jelly. It does the trick, and although it’s not waterproof, it sure acts like it. (I also really enjoyed the hot pink and purple topper – makes me think that Jerrica from Jem And The Holograms would have worn it.)

Sephora Precision Pore Cleansing Pad

Sephora+Pore+PadSo I have this thing for beauty and lifestyle blogs. A year ago, jobless and bored, I spent hours each day poring over xoJane online. The It Happened To Me section was my delight and I savored each one – until I ran through their entire stash. Lately though, I’m pretty sick of a lot of their content – “I’m shamed for this.” “I’m shamed for that.” “I’m more special and unique and here is my sob story.” Ya di ya di ya. BORING. Yes, I love a good place to be selfish (here) like everyone else, but still – get’s old. There is one fashion/beauty blogger named Alison Freer who pretty much keeps me coming back for more. She recommended this little $5 number in a blog months ago instead of spending the big bucks on a Clarisonic (which I still want.) It seriously cleans out your pours while washing your face with any gritty scrub in the shower. It does the job. Don’t get lunch, get this instead.

Chanel lip gloss

Chanel-Lip-Gloss
This was a birthday gift – which is now probably one of my favorite birthday gifts of all time. I’m a fan of lip gloss, especially the more natural-looking kind, but always have a problem. Stickiness. I’ve bought tube after tube of Smashbox’s kind, and although I love the color, I feel like my lips are glued together. The cheaper brands seem to leave a plasticky taste and feel. This was not only a great color but the first time ever that I felt like my lips weren’t going to stay trapped together in a perma-thin-lipped smile. So worth it.

Benefit’s Watt’s Up

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I’m a big believer in all things Benefit. Not because of the cute packaging (which is super adorable), but because I have never had an issue with any of their products. (I’m planning on buying High Brow this week.) This is a little shine stick that I got with a Benefit mascara for a Birthday Beauty Insider’s Gift from Sephora. (Probably the best b-day gift I have received from that store.) I have gone through three pots of High Beam (a liquid highlighter), but this is one that I can store in my purse, blends easy, and is just pure awesome.

L’Occitane Jasmin perfume

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I used to babysit on the Upper West Side, and would sometimes arrive a little too early for my sitting job. So I’d wander around Central Park and to this block of amazing stores. After too many visits to the MAC store, I happened to receive a free sample of this perfume outside. I grabbed the free sample, said “Thank You”, and went on my way. A couple blocks later, I smelled the scent. It was natural, it was beautiful, it was … for me. I was about to run late to my job, but I had this sudden urge of “I HAVE TO HAVE”, so I went back to the store. I bought the perfume and wear it basically everyday (sorry Origins, you have been replaced). It’s my go-to store for gifts, as I can’t imagine anyone would hate this store’s products.

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector

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This was a find at a flash sale. I wouldn’t have normally bought this for it’s usual price, but man, what a deal. I have found many, many foundations and tints that I could use – and this just edges all of them out a bit more. It has a tinge of shimmer (not too crazy, goes on smoothly (like a face lotion), isn’t at all heavy and has an SPF of 25 (which is pretty important for my everyday face care.) It’s a large bottle, so I don’t think I will be going through it very fast.

First Aid Beauty 5-In-1 Face Cream

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I love face lotions. This was, again, from a flash sale, but it was definitely a steal. This is the creamiest, loveliest of lotions I have ever had. It’s anti-aging, has an SPF of 30, and moisturizes better than any I have ever owned before. So good.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge

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I was recently in a wedding and had my makeup done by an artist (she’s AMAZE-BALLS!) I haven’t had this happen since I was in college plays, and loved the experience. It feels so good, it makes me want to fall asleep, and the “Before” and “Afters” are pretty damn amazing. Anyhoo, she introduced me to Aqua Rouge (on one side is the lipstick, on the other is the gloss), and it stays on like a Mo-Fo. Does not come off, even when you try. So for an event, it’s a must. I purchased a really dark berry color, and plan to buy a nice red for my big day. I also want to try out their liquid liner and other cool products. Love things that don’t melt off my face right away.

So there ya go. Another list. Do what you will with it, but seriously, I would tell you if I hated the product. Oh yeah, another list. I can definitely get behind a “Which Make-Up Products Do I Hate” list. I’ve had more than enough misses over hits.

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