Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Most - Unexpectedly - Perfect Parts of My Wedding

I got married on Saturday. I had the time of my life.  

Of course, the best part was getting to marry my favorite person. But there were so many other awesome surprises that caught me off guard. Whether goofy, sweet, or downright dumb, these are some of the moments that helped make the day an epic event that I will never, ever forget.

(in no particular order…) 

My Bridesmaids and “The Titscrepancy”
Thanks to my amazing friend Chris, I had the wedding dress of my dreams. It was perfect in every way and it fit me like a glove. But I should have taken it off and put it back on again when I realized that my bosom wasn’t exactly lined up with the dress’s bosom. Instead, I didn’t.

When I shimmied into my dress, I was way too excited to notice that anything was wrong. I just wanted to bolt down the aisle and see my groom. It took all of my restraint to stand still for a photo, let alone get undressed and dressed all over again.

So, my bridesmaids spent the rest of the day sweetly hovering around me and squishing my chest into place — a problem that my Maid of Honor hilariously named “The Titscrepancy.” It was a perfect metaphor for my giddiness about the day and the loving attention my girls Madge, Jessica, and Leigh Ann payed me.

And I felt awesome in that dress. 

When My New Husband and I Sang into Each Other’s Faces

My husband Billy and I love each other effortlessly. But, it seemed like the ordeal of the wedding was going to be a bit of an effort for him.

So I was surprised when he told me wanted to have a couple’s dance. The idea of it made me nervous … I couldn’t imagine dancing — on display — while everyone watched us.

But the whole room dissolved when the music started. I didn’t even notice that anyone else was there.

Billy and I danced to Pearl Jam’s “Future Days,” and to my delirious delight, he sang the words to me while we twirled around. And, like I do every time Pearl Jam songs play, I belted out the lyrics right along with him. So we spun, laughed, and sang right into each other’s grinning faces: 

“All my stolen missing parts
I've no need for anymore
I believe
And I believe cause I can see
Our future days
Days of you and me.”

It was exhilarating. And perfect.

No price tags on these vases!
When He Scraped The Price Tags Off All The Vases

But back to the pressure. I didn’t really get many pre-wedding jitters, but Billy did. However, I knew I was marrying the right man when, two days before the wedding, he stayed up late to scrape price tags off the bottoms of at least 50 vases.

Even after he convinced me that no one was going to pick the vases up, turn them over, and see the offending price tags, he kept on scraping. For me.

I love him. 

Watching My Parents Have Fun

My parents are the kindest people you’ll ever meet. They’re thoughtful, gentle, and unassuming people. And they’re not really into weddings, which was nice for me because they never butted into my wedding planning — not once.

I expected my parents to have a nice time at my wedding, but I didn’t expect to see them have a blast. And I think they did. I’ll never forget dancing to The Von Bondies with my mom. She rocks!

When My Maid of Honor Drove My Car
When we left the salon the morning of the wedding, Madge sensed that I was way too hyped up to safely drive my car. So she took the wheel. Then she took me to my wedding, chatting happily about what it’s like to love and live with a creature so wonderfully baffling as a man.

Also, her fabulous coif was so tall, it kept bumping my Camry's ceiling!

When it Smelled Like Teen Spirit
I wanted our wedding to rock. I think it did, thanks to our carefree approach to the day, our awesome DJ Ray, and the fact that our friends let loose and had so much fun with us.

Two of my MOST favorite parts of the wedding were:

When Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” burst out onto the playlist, and our friends flooded the dance floor and bounced up and down to it, mosh-pit style!

And when Pearl Jam’s “Black” started, except it wasn’t Pearl Jam. It was a startlingly authentic rendition by Ten: A Tribute to Pearl Jam, one of my favorite bands long before I married their guitar player. The members of Ten and their beautiful wives joined us on the dance floor, and we swayed and grinned and danced to an utterly perfect moment.

Two people did tell me that our wedding was too loud. 

I replied, “That’s how I wanted it.” 

We Messed Up the Ceremony (a little) 
Okay so we had some minor mistakes. I don't even know why I'm standing on what is traditionally the groom's side.

Actually, I do. It's because I was SO EXCITED, I ran down the stairs and clasped Billy's hands without another thought. I didn't even wait for my dad to catch up! I'd waited my whole life to marry Billy, and I couldn't wait another second.  

And I think the first rule in being a rock & roll bride is not giving a crap about the small stuff. :)

This is no big D!

“This is Not an Issue.”
Our venue, the Hyeholde, was over-the-top perfect. It looks like a castle, nestled into the woods, and the service was amazing. 

This helped when I had my one-and-only bridal meltdown. I woke up in the middle of the night before the wedding, literally trembling, I was so worried about our wedding cookies and making sure no one's contributions would be left out of the spread.

I called and emailed the event manager, worried sick. 

He calmly replied, “Thank you, Jolene. This is not an issue.”

Um. Yup.

It wasn’t.

The Best Compliment I Got All Day
It sure was fun floating around while people told me I was pretty. I got a HUGE kick out of it. (I’m so grateful to my friend Nichole for doing my makeup and making me feel prettier than I’d ever felt in my life!)

But my dear friend Suaz gave me the most meaningful compliment of the day. I only got to spend a moment with her that day. She used our time together to tell me, “You look like you’re really present.” 

It had been my biggest fear that I would glaze over and miss the day in an anxious blur. But I didn’t, and Suaz helped me appreciate that. I can honestly say I relished each and every blissful second of that day. 

All the Love in the Room
This part sounds a little sappy, but it's true.
Our budget  played a part in every single decision we made about the wedding, including the number of guests we could invite. In the end, Billy and I each identified 20 couples, no more, that we could invite.

Although I would have loved to have even more loved ones join us, our number ended up being a pleasantly manageable one. I can honestly say I loved everyone in the room. I never got whisked away to meet my mom's college roommate or other stranger. Every person in that room was special to us, and I swear -- you could feel it.

The Be-All End-All Cookie Table
Okay, so, the first thing you need to know is that cookies are my favorite food. I am madly in love with cookies. The second thing you need to know is that the Cookie Table is a (genius, if you ask me!) Pittsburgh wedding tradition. When a woman gets married in Pittsburgh, her family comes together to make an absurd amount of cookies. The cookies are served at the wedding. It’s also customary to put out bags or boxes so the guests can take home as many cookies as they can carry.

I felt like I’d waited my whole life for a cookie table! But I was worried, because I don’t have a big family and I didn’t know who was going to make enough cookies for 40 couples.

But guess what happened. The wonderful women in my life rallied. Cookies came from far and wide — caramel cups, ladyfingers, peanut butter blossoms, truffles dipped in purple chocolate, little chocolate nests cradling M&M eggs, snowballs, pineapple squares, flaky wafers with lavender icing, mocha cookies, buttery shortbreads, Megan’s mom’s legendary baklava, apricot twists, and so much more. And to my utter shock, our impressive cookie table spilled over, covering an entire baby grand piano, too! Our guests stuffed plates and loaded bags from the most epic cookie table I have ever seen.

My friend Line remarked, “You didn’t have a cookie table. You had a cookie room!”

It was glorious. And to everyone who baked for us, I thank you from my bottom of my heart!

Christy, Kim, Krista, me!, Jessica, and Megan
When it Was Time to Clean Up
I didn’t want the night to end, but I finally agreed that the DJ should play our final song — the same song Pearl Jam closes every show with — “YellowLedbetter.”

As the lights came on and the room emptied out, I looked over and saw my loyal group of girlfriends – the Wolfpack – getting ready to work. Even though their feet ached and they were, let’s face it, plenty drunk, they weren’t about to leave until every last centerpiece was packed up.

Once again, my heart practically burst. I’ll never forget that moment.

I just realized that I could go on and on and on. When my new sister-in-law put my veil in my hair. When my husband and I ate dinner at our sweetheart table, and he had me laughing as usual. When my aunt came into the bridal suite to see my dress. When we kicked off the reception with Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll." I don’t want to forget any of these moments, or any of the people who shared them with me.

My heart bursts. To everyone who made our day so beautiful, thank you.

I love you.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why I'm Late Today

I could keep an entire blog on the stupid — but real — reasons why I am late for work. Like today. I walked my dog around the block, but he determined that he could not find a suitable place to poop. Instead of pooping, he planted his feet and stubbornly insisted that I walk him around a different block. This in itself did not make me late. What made me late is the fact that I yelled at him, which only confused and worried him, and so I spent the rest of the morning being overcompensatingly nice to him. That is what slowed me down.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Every Crazy Wish Come True

I wouldn't have dared wish for the fiancé I actually got. I would have sounded like a crazy person.

If I had made out my wish list, it would have read like this:

"I wish for a man who's handsome. And I mean that in an Eddie Vedder sort of way … you know, long, curly brown hair, blue eyes and high cheekbones. He should look strong, and wear a beard very, very well.

Please make him a musician, who likes Pearl Jam. Actually, can you put him in a touring Pearl Jam tribute band, so I can go from city to city with him and sing along to all the songs? That sounds really, really fun. Thanks.

And can he be smart -- smart enough to give me advice, but gentle enough to deliver it the way I need to hear it? Make sure he can call me out when I need it, but not in a way that hurts my feelings. This is tricky but critical.

Can he be funny, too? I'd like to laugh a lot.

And a good kisser. Mmm. Definitely.

This is important: please make him like animals. He has to be compassionate -- with an extra soft spot for Beagles, since I have one who needs lots of love.

Speaking of extra love, please make sure he's affectionate, and extremely attentive, because no man has ever been able to give me as much love as I require.

Can he smell good? Whether fresh from the shower or salty and slick from a night onstage, please make him delicious.

And I hope he likes coffee, and sleeping in on Sundays. I hope he's a good cook, and that he always offers to bring me a glass of water when I'm laying on the couch feeling thirsty. I hope he likes dancing in the kitchen.

I wish for him to be hard-working but also silly.

And I want him to value a really good meal.

I wish for him to understand Seinfeld references, and I wish for him to be nice.

And I wish for him to love me too."

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently, to my utter surprise, it wasn't.

Because I found him.

I will never let him go.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

There's a Hair in My Toothbrush, and Other Thoughts on Living Together

It happened again this morning. But this time, I noticed just before I stuck it in my mouth.

One of my fiancé's long, curly hairs was entwined within the bristles of my toothbrush.

I have no idea why that keeps happening.

First of all, let me point out that Billy has extraordinary hair. It's one of my favorite things about him.

Billy and his mane. Fantastic!

But between the two of us, we can leave a lot of long hair around. I can't tell you how many times I've started gagging, only to pull out my toothbrush mid-brush and find one of his gorgeous hairs wrapped nauseatingly around in it. 

I've noticed some other things since he moved in five months ago, ranging from blissful to bizarre. 

Here goes:
  • Good: Living with the right person is just great. Every day when I wake up, my favorite person is there. It's like waking up during a really good vacation, and thinking, "Oh boy! A new day!"
  • Also good: After living alone for so long, I can't believe how much easier life is with a second set of hands. I love when I come home and discover that chores got done while I was out. Amazing! Now I can see why primitive peoples came together. Division of labor is a wonderful thing. (And necessary, because twice the number of showers and dirty dishes makes twice the dirt.)
  • Bad: Forget about any sense of mystery. Every experience is now shared. Even when you have to puke. :(
  • Fantastic: There's a good side effect to breaking down those barriers. It made me feel more more secure. For example, it's been 22 years since I've been comfortable enough to leave my house without makeup. There was a time when I couldn't even bring myself to check my mail without at least a smudge of eyeliner. But Billy knows what I really look like … and if he thinks I'm cute enough to go out to breakfast with, I don't mind rolling out of bed and going for pancakes, as-is.
  • Not so good: In addition to discovering your partner's quirks, you might realize that you have some, too. Apparently, my whole life, I've been scraping my teeth on my forks. I did not even know that was a thing.  I thought I was just eating. Now I know. (I'm still not sure what's so bad about it, though.)
  • Important consideration: If you're going to live with someone, you should definitely like the way they smell. I've had trouble with roommates' personal smells in the past. Lucky for me, Billy's smell is the perfect combination of clean and rugged. When he opens the bathroom door after a shower, our whole apartment fills with this manly smell that makes me want to kiss him, hard.
  • Definitely bad: Your craziness has an audience, always. As a single girl, I would sometimes recognize days in which I should not interact with others. On those days, I would pour myself a glass of wine, sit in a hot bath, then put myself to bed. Now my crazy days are Billy's problem. (Which is why you should definitely live with someone who can make you laugh at yourself.)
  • But when all else fails: You can  dance! I think this is the best thing we've got going together. Any worry can usually be put into perspective by knowing you have someone to dance around the dining room table with. 
And if you can find yourself a musician who plays pretty songs on his guitar all night, you're really in for a treat.

Pros and cons and toothbrush hairs and all, I think I'll keep him. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Love is What I Got

Tonight, during a conversation that briefly brought up exes, Billy told me:

"It took me less than a year to realize that I wanted to marry you. Actually, I think it took less than three dates. I knew that quickly that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. Whether you wanted me to or not."

My family

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Single-Shaming and the Unmarried 30-Something

When you’re female, over 30, and unmarried, being single becomes part of your personality. At least, according to other people.

Strangers make assumptions about you – some worse than others. They might decide that you’re not ready to leave your adolescence behind. (You’re immature.) You can’t settle down with another person. (You’re selfish.) Or maybe you can’t find anyone who will date you. (You’re crazy.)

Especially if you like cats.

This is my cat.

By the time I was 32, I started making jokes about my spinsterhood. I did it to cut people off at the pass. If the topic of my being unmarried came up, which it too often did, I didn’t want to look like I was sad about it. Instead, I made jokes about being undomesticated and proud.

But somehow, my being single was a topic that everyone seemed to have an opinion about.

A younger woman asked me why I didn’t just marry my boyfriend. I didn’t tell her that it was because I suspected he was lying to me. (He was.) A man I worked with stopped into my office after every holiday and coyly asked to see my ring finger. “Do you seriously think people get engaged for EASTER? I demanded, the last time he did it.

But the worst instance of single-shaming came the day before my 33rd birthday.

I had to work late to attend a meeting. During that meeting, I volunteered a suggestion … helpfully, I hoped, and in complete earnest.

But my boss used that moment to shame me. I guess she thought my suggestion was strange, or less relevant than I thought it was. So in front of our Board members, my peers, and the staff who reported to me, she joked,

“And that’s why you’re still single.”

I felt myself deflate. Her words stung like a slap across my face. I sat there, shocked, angry, and embarrassed, and waited two hours for the meeting to end so I could slip away. I went home to my empty apartment. 

My boss had no idea why I was 32 and still single. It wasn’t because I couldn’t get a date, or because I was picky (as she would later claim that she’d meant). It certainly wasn’t due to any lack of trying to find someone who would love me.

I was constantly trying not to be single. Growing up, I took it for granted that I’d fall in love and get married. But instead, I met guys at bars, through work, on and OkCupid, and it never worked out. I dated rich guys and poor guys. I tried a long-distance relationship, I lived with a man for a year. I let friends set me up on blind dates. I went out with guys in Mercedes, guys on motorcycles. Younger guys, older guys, dads and drug addicts, artists and accountants. I was trying my hardest.

But I was still single.

The day after that meeting, I turned 33. My mom and our friend planned a nice birthday for me, with lunch, presents, and a walk around a pretty lake. I smiled in the sunshine, but something dark and sinister lurked behind every thought. 

Now you’re 33 and still single.  

As it would turn out, the very next day, everything changed. I met a man who would quickly become my best friend. A blissful year after that, he proposed to me, and soon I'll join the ranks of the married. (I also ditched that job and boss.)

But I feel a greater solidarity with my single sisters than the wives of the world.

Because I know amazing single women who both want and deserve love. Women who are more interesting, creative, and self-assured than plenty of married people that I know. These are women who have used their time alone to take art classes or write books or rescue animals. They teach, they travel, they’ve mastered the delicate art of going to a party by themselves. They may develop rich friendships, or become devoted sisters, daughters, aunts, or even mothers. Or maybe they use their time to read, cook, get strong, or dream. These are some of the world’s greatest women.

There are also plenty of amazing women who don’t want -- or need -- love. Like their more hopeful counterparts, they are becoming more and more awesome while they get better and better at being single. 

So if you encounter a woman and find out that she’s not married, don’t ask her why she doesn’t just fall in love and get married already. 

Ask her what she likes to do. Where to get the best meal or glass of wine in town. If she loves her job. Where she’d like to go on vacation. Ask her what she’s excited about. 

She’s going to have something to say.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How I Fell So Hard, Part 2

To be brutally honest with you, I always wanted love more than anything else in the world.

But that kind of longing can take a toll on a person. It made me take chances on strangers. It made me give my time and trust to people who didn't deserve it. After a while, it made me feel hopeless, unlovable, and bitter.

The hardest part was that even though I was constantly searching, I was also holding out for someone extraordinary.

I knew that if I found him, he'd have to dazzle me immediately. He'd need to be sharp, and funny, and stand out from everyone else. He'd have to keep me guessing, because nothing turns me off faster than ordinary chatter.

(I hoped he'd be handsome, too.)

And somehow, if I found that man, he'd have to do something to keep from scaring me off.

Thankfully, my friend Jessica saw it from afar -- my perfect match was actually out there. She introduced me to her friend Billy. (See: How I Fell So Hard, Part 1)

Billy is incredibly handsome, and wickedly smart, and I have absolutely no idea what is going to come out of his mouth, ever. But he's also doting, and gentle, and he wears his enormous heart on his sleeve.

And that's why his blue eyes and rock star cool didn't scare me off … because he spent our first date just making sure that I was happy.

And he's spent the past year doing that, too.

But here's the best part.

It was July 5. Billy's band was playing. Everything was exactly as it was a year ago … the guys playing my favorite music at the Hard Rock Cafe, my friends singing along and pulling me to my feet to dance.

But everything was also different. Since that first show last summer, Billy moved in with me. Now, I try to put myself to bed at a responsible time but I always end up lying awake, giggling in the dark at his jokes. I wake up in his arms. I come home to his amazing cooking. I watch him take care of my pets, and I see how happy he makes them. And I learned that even when one of us is being exhausting, the other one will always say something to make it right.

But anyway. The band was playing. They stopped halfway through the show to pull raffle tickets for pairs of tickets for the upcoming Sublime show.

When Billy gave me my raffle ticket in advance, I thought, "I don't want to see Sublime." But low and behold, his friend Brian pulled my number, and I won the second drawing.

And when I went up on stage to collect my winnings, the love of my life got down on one knee … and asked me to (please!) marry him.

Yep. I'll marry him.

And then, the band asked me what I wanted to hear. I picked "Alive."

Since then, a few friends have done really sweet things for us. We've received cards, well wishes, and celebratory dinners. I feel guilty accepting their congrats. I already got what I always wanted -- a dazzling, talented, kind-hearted man. And a perfect diamond ring too!

All things change.

Let this remain. 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

What's left to figure out

Last night

This morning I woke up in Marietta, Ohio with my very own rock star. 

Then we found exactly the kind of breakfast place I like to find in a small town … one with a counter for side-by-side sitting, good coffee and simple folks.

Breakfast at the "Busy Bee"

My weekend was so perfect, it played out like a fairy tale. It has me thinking.

A year ago at this time, an acquaintance asked me what I wanted my life to look like in six months.

A said voice inside my head immediately yelped like a banshee: "I WANT TO LOVE SOMEONE!"

But I didn't say that. Instead, I shrugged and replied, nonchalantly, "I guess I'd like to be a better blogger."

But being single was making me kind of crazy. I had a huge amount of love to put somewhere. It manifested in all kinds of ways -- rescuing animals, worshipping bands, being a devoted friend and daughter. But no one was pushing my hair out of my eyes for me when I rolled over to kiss them on Sunday morning.

Longing for that kind of love was starting to consume my every thought.

Now it's a year later and I'm blessed with a boyfriend who loves as large as I do. It's all encompassing in exactly the way I wanted it to be.

I found it!

So …

Now what do I want?

It's a big, scary question. Not what to I want to buy, or what do I want to have. But what do I want, next, in life?

I know it will involve making him happy, making our life together, and making myself and the people I love happy. It will be about figuring out a life in terms of two.

But what else?

It's very liberating to think about what comes next.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Right this very moment...

At this moment, I am sitting in my gorgeous hotel room in a new city while the love of my life and his band prepare to play downstairs. 

Soon, I'll go downstairs and dance while they play my favorite songs in the world, and afterwards, I'll race back upstairs to sink into our bed and his arms. And even though I'll have spent the whole night watching and adoring him, he will make me feel like I am the amazing one. 

I am aware -- and appreciative -- of the fact that I am present in a rare window of time. Right now, everything is perfect. I love my boyfriend, and he loves me too. I love my family, and best of all,  they are healthy and happy. I have the cutest dog and cat in the world, the sweetest and funniest friends, a nice place to live, a brand new car, and a job that pays me well to write for non-profits. 

It's as though every box is checked off. 

"Are you happy right now?"
"Strongly agree."

I've been through just enough to understand how how rare and fleeting these moments are. 

And I am so grateful to be right here, right now. For however long this lasts, I will be forever grateful. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday with My Boys

The scene on a perfect Sunday afternoon:

Billy and I are both in our Pearl Jam shirts, ready to go out to run errands. Billy strums his ukulele while he waits for me to put my shoes on. Porter the Beagle assumes I'm getting ready to take him for a walk, so I say, "No! This is not for you." And Billy, without a word, changes the tune on his ukulele to "Not For You."

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In 2013 I:

  • started off the year at my lowest point. 
  • needed a distraction so I fostered a sick Beagle.
  • nursed and then adopted the Beagle!
  • went to Chicago and saw Pearl Jam at the legendary Wrigley Field show, which didn't let out till 2am after a 3-hour rain delay.
  • was in two fairly major car accidents. 
  • saw Pearl Jam--at Eddie Vedder's feet--in Pittsburgh, the first stop on their tour.
  • followed Pearl Jam to Ontario, Phildalphia, Baltimore, Dallas and Phoenix.
  • held Eddie Vedder's hand when he leaned out into the crowd in Phoenix.
  • saw my beloved uncle for the first time in too many years. 
  • quit my job of more than 10 years.
  • started a new career in the corporate world. 
But most importantly..

  • fell in love with a man who made me immediately realize that I had never truly been loved before. 
  • got to be a part of his life, which includes the sweetest mornings in his arms and the most exciting nights, watching his band on stage.

What a year! But things aren't done changing in my life. 

I'm ready.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Start a New Job Tomorrow

Tomorrow feels like the first day of school. For the first time in over a decade, I am starting a new job.

So long, old life! You were strange and sometimes wonderful.

My head is spinning. I'm curious about every little thing that's going to happen to me tomorrow. And I guess that's the source of my anxiety today…not that I think I can't do this, but rather, right now, I can't even picture my tomorrow.

I've spent much of today just trying to imagine what my new desk will look like, and what we'll talk about at lunch time.

(What will I talk about at lunch time? People seem to think I'm fun, but not everyone gets me at first.  My plan is to just be nice and see what these people are like. They're a creative bunch, so these should be my kind of people, right? … See--I'm not going to get any sleep tonight.)

The last time I started a new job, I still lived with my parents, didn't know how to drive car, and wore long, straight hair down to my butt. (I brushed it to death, every morning.) I was a 22-year-old, and a very young one at that. I didn't know how to sound like an adult on the phone or contribute to a meeting.

But over the next decade, I'd learn how to run meetings, hire good people, and make sure great people could succeed. So this time, with a whole phase of my career under my belt, I'm going in to my new job as someone who's supposed to be an expert.

Sometimes I feel nervous about that. It's a lot of pressure.

Other times, I feel a sense of relief--because I chose this job because it's what I'm good at doing.

I guess there's nothing left to do right now except go to bed and wake up curious but ready.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How I Grocery Shop When I'm Sad vs. How I Grocery Shop When I'm Happy. See Also: Leaving on a High Note

How I Grocery Shop When I'm Sad:

(It might go something like this.)

Where do they hide the boxes of bread crumbs? Ugh. I just want to get out of here. People walk too slow. Why are there so many PEOPLE?! And look, every register has a line. Geez. Dummies, everywhere! I don't even want this stupid food! ARGHH!

How I Grocery Shop When I'm Happy:

(This happened today.)

Mmm, look at these beautiful lemons! They smell so good, too! I'm going to buy some. I wonder what recipes have lemons in them. I'm going to start cooking more. That sounds really nice. I want to try one of these over here! Mmmm!

What I mean to say is, when I'm sad, the world seems too irritating to endure. Every exhausting timesuck--lines, traffic, plaque buildup, dirty laundry, soap scum, dust, work, meetings, car repairs, other human beings. It's all such a drain.

But when I'm happy, the world is bright and exciting. There are new things to see, limitless experiences to have, and I actually like other humans. Instead of feeling like, "Why is this happening to me?" I feel like, "I get to do this!"

Right now I'm very happy, because I am in love, and also because I quit my job.

I think I quit it just in time, because I've been burning out for a while. It recently hit me that while 70% of my work is my dream job, I am no longer able to tolerate the remaining 30% and remain a happy person.

I become a dick.

I walk around my workplace hoping that no one will share their ideas with me. I hope that I will be excused from meetings. I hope events will be cancelled. I hole up in my office. I get easily frustrated. I try to go unnoticed. Mostly, I rush around, because I want to finish my work and be done with it, but everyone else gets in my way.

But since I submitted my resignation and two weeks notice, I've been reminded of some of the things that helped me love my job for over a decade. Those "things" are mostly people, which is interesting since I get to work with animals.

Today was one of my final days at my job, and I was stunned by all the kindness I received, and from unexpected sources. I got sweet emails, heartfelt hugs, cards, tokens of friendship and even baked goods.

Before long, I felt like I was walking on air. I was so happy--I could smell the sweetness in every lemon, to go back to my grocery store example.  Suddenly, faced with the realization that I had no reason to ever see these people again, I wanted to hear everything they had to say. I wanted them to tell me their stories. I wanted to remember them. I suddenly felt like I had all the time in the world to sit with the people I've been lucky enough to meet.

It's all so sweet, it makes me wish I hadn't resigned.

But if I hadn't quit, I'd be a different person this week. I'd be rushing around. I'd be impatient. I'd be a bit of a dick.

So I'm going to take all of these happy feelings and leave my job on a high note. I'm so happy that I met so many amazing people, and got to be a part of so many truly cool projects.

And I'm glad I'm leaving before I got too jaded and mean and see it that way.

I'm out! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Well This is New: Blogging from the Bar

My new relationship has come with a fun new life. This really, fantastically, hit me at about 1am this morning, when I was 3 hours from home and dancing till my feet and neck burned as my boyfriend's band played. 

The band closed the set an hour later with a cover of my favorite song in the world. I finally relented and kicked off my high heels while the band--the very band I used to follow to bars all over town--dismantled and packed up. Then Billy, my own personal rock star, carried me to the car. Billy and I spent the night in a hotel that was, under its pleasant surface, shockingly filthy, and I still felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Especially when I pressed my head into his chest and fell asleep other people were starting to wake up.

He has another gig tonight, so I'm writing this blog from my stool at a smokey tavern. Our fun life together has only just started, but I can see now that it comes with something new: being the lonely lady at the bar while my rock star unravels cables and does other sound checky things. He keeps tending to me--trying to bring me more pumpkin ciders or whatever else he can think of--but I still get to learn to make a comfortable space for myself in Girlfriend Land.

Tonight, another girlfriend is supposed to come alone, so I'm excited by the prospect of insta-bonding with a fellow Girlfriend of the Band (GOTB?). Last night I just walked up to the other solo girl in the bar. We had a blast shaking our butts and were Facebook friends by the end of the night. 

So, even though I am blogging alone (one of my other favorite things, actually), in a bar, like a weirdo, I can't believe I get to do this. Because soon, the band will start, and I get to watch my very favorite musician in the world, and I know he'll make eyes with me, and then he'll take me home. 

.... Update!
Billy found a nice girl he knows and brought her to me, and now the band is playing.
Happily signing off and posting this now from the Girl Table. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How I Fell So Hard

I met a man named Billy. 

But it felt more like I recognized him. As soon as our mutual friend introduced me to him, I thought, "Finally. There you are."

I watched him play guitar in his band that night. I stared at him for hours, right up until the moments when he looked back at me, and then I got embarrassed and looked away. When we parted ways a few hours later, I was counting on Billy to find me again, and he did. 

Billy and I stayed up late every night that week to talk to each other. After what seemed like forever (probably three days) he finally asked me out. 

So, we went on a first date. I tried not to get too excited about it. I hate first dates. I always pull out the same stories. I always force the same laughs. I almost always get the guy to like me, and then, to my chagrin, I have to let him down gently or else psych myself up for a second date--which is always much worse. I hate the whole awkward routine. 

But then I had my first date with Billy. 

He was waiting for me at the bar, with a water and a straw carefully angled towards my empty seat. I sat down on the bar stool--facing him. Without even meaning to, I stayed that way all night, leaning in to him, eagerly telling him things and taking in every word he had to say. 

Our date was perfect. Billy is gorgeous, but nervous enough to convince me that he doesn't know he is. He's funny, and appreciative, and doesn't bother making idle small talk. We talked for hours, and when I realized that I kept leaning closer and closer into him, I apologized. That's when he put one hand under me and pulled my stool up against his. We were almost intertwined. I felt dizzy. 

Billy took me to my car and kissed me goodbye, and when my knees started to buckle, he caught me. 

His band was playing across the state the next night, but we kept in incessant contact until our second date the following day. We went to dinner, bowling, and finally, because it was very late but neither of us wanted to go home, we went to Sheetz and to Wal-Mart, where we picked out food for Billy's cat and had a pillow fight. 

That second date was an exercise in polite restraint...going through the ritual of getting to know each other despite the fact that both of us knew we were all in. He made me feel exhilarated, adorable and uncharacteristically fearless. All of this means that I finally got to be myself -- my undiluted, starry-eyed self. 

A day or two later, Billy and I walked my dog through Frick Park and sat down at a sidewalk table in Regent Square, where we ordered dinner. At dusk, we started walking home. I held on to my adorable little Beagle with one hand. Billy took my other hand in his and folded me into a long, sweet, mid-summer kiss. For a second, I stepped outside of myself and tried to really see what was happening to me. That girl, on the sidewalk, with the Beagle she always wanted and a man who made her feel so perfectly adored, was me. It seemed like I was watching myself from inside a dream. 

Billy and I have not left each other alone since we met. Since that night, I've discovered that I sleep the soundest when I'm in his arms, and that no one else can entertain me as well as he can. I love watching him interact with other people, and the friendly, gentle consideration he shows them. 

When he talks, and moves, and plays his guitar, I feel like I am drenched with delirious adoration. And when I remember those early dates, I can't believe that -- as excited and hopeful as I was -- I didn't even know him yet. I would come to find that he is even kinder and more loving than I could have possibly imagined.

I can't wait for each new day with you, Billy.

A Suggestion for Trader Joe's, on Behalf of Unmarried Women

Conversation I Had with Two Other Unmarried Women at Work

"Cooking sucks when you live alone."

"Tell me about it! You make a pot of chili and you end up defrosting the leftovers for a month."

"I have to separate my slices of bread because one end of the loaf will get moldy before I eat my way to it."

"And don't even get me started on produce."

"Oh my god! It's a goddamn race to finish the salad-in-a-bag before it turns to slime."

"Right? I've just come to terms with the fact that I have to buy a whole new cream cheese every time I want to eat cream cheese. I know the one in my fridge will be growing green fur by now."

"Trader Joe's should have a single-person aisle with single-serving everything. Tiny mayonnaises and little blocks of cheese."

"It can be called The Forever Alone Aisle."

"And it can be located next to the cat food."


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guy Smiley and Here is Your Life

Recently, I desperately needed to be cheered up.

I called my friend V because he can make me laugh, and so he did, immediately, when he referred to my Beagle as my little "Guy Smiley."

And here is your Here is Your Life host, Guy Smiley!

Instead of rehashing the horrors of my day, which never helps as much as you think it will, V and I launched right into recalling every detail that we could about Guy Smiley, the muppet, and his Sesame Street game show, "This is Your Life."

I remembered that Guy Smiley always got caught inside the stage curtain as he made his way out to the camera, and he would flail around in that distinctly Muppety way until he burst out (An early Kramer?). I also remembered an episode in which a tender-hearted loaf of bread was brought onto the game show (under the guise of being delivered to be made into a club sandwich) so she could be reunited with long-lost friends.

"Loaf of bread, here is your life!!"

I went home and YouTubed it, and realized then that the writers of 1980's Sesame Street were out of their minds.

Such a thought never even occurred to me when I was little.

In that episode, a loaf of bread with long eyelashes arrives on the set of the game show and asks how many slices of herself will be needed.

But Guy Smiley surprises her by, instead, bringing out the baker who baked her. (The studio audience coos when the baker shows a picture of the bread in her formative state, just an "adorable little recipe.")

Guy Smiley then promises to reveal the loaf of bread's best friend, another loaf who once sat on a grocery store shelf beside her. (Loaf of bread winces in anguish when she remembers the day that someone purchased that neighboring loaf and took her away.)

Guy Smiley then produces that long lost loaf... sort of. That loaf of bread has since been turned into two sandwiches and two plates of French toast, which, inexplicably, now have their very own personalities and even speak French!

But the best part might be when Guy Smiley announces that the show will be providing the loaf of bread with...a charm she'll always remember the day!

What? That's nuts!

But I remember watching the loaf of bread's show when I was little, and taking it perfectly seriously. I also remember the episode in which the oak tree is reunited with the cloud who rained on him, and when Guy Smiley visits a museum to surprise a painting of a bowl of fruit, which has eyeballs and is overcome with emotion when the paintbrush who painted him shows up.

I wonder if Sesame Street --and these very shows-- contributed to my steadfast belief that all things have feelings. When I was little, I believed that everything had feelings, and I thought that everything longed to do what it was meant to do. This is how I formed irrational attachments, and wept when my parents traded in our old car (I was sure it was devastated to be sent away), and wanted to rescue every garage-sale stuffed animal. I'd feel sorry for every lost and lonely glove, who surely felt useless and humiliated without its mate. I was convinced my first bicycle felt abandoned when I outgrew it.

Today, I know that's absurd, but I still feel sorry when I, say, send one of my purses to the secondhand store. I wonder if it casts a sad glance back at my other purses and thinks, "But what did I do? Wasn't I pretty enough?" And I hope it has a nice life, with someone who likes it and takes it to lots of places.

See what you did to me, Guy Smiley?


In other news, here are my current favorite things:

Taking my dog everywhere. I'm going to be really, really sad when summer is over and I can no longer socialize by making my friends join me at parks, or restaurants, bars and coffee shops with patio seating. Right now, if you want to see me, you also see my Beagle.

I guess most people leave their dogs at home most of the time. My dog knows that unless I'm going to work, the sound of my keys jangling means that we're headed for adventure, and he gamely hops into my car's back seat. He even knows the sound of a Subaru being unlocked vs. the sound of any other kind of car.

He's up for anything, except staying home alone. And he is the most perfect, amiable little sidekick.

Let's go play!
Related: Food Trucks. The biggest summer food trend, especially for people with dogs, is getting delicious food out of the window of a truck! A different truck comes to my neighborhood every Monday and I am especially fond of the Pittsburgh Taco Truck, with its amazing avocado cream, and Oh My Grill, which serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and dipping sauces.

I also love the crepe truck:

and I love that Porter can come along when I dine this way.
I would like to invent a salad truck, who would have a dazzling array of toppings on various lettuces. Things like chick peas, hard boiled eggs, avocado, artichokes, cheeses, slivered almonds, and homemade dressings.

Also, still, Pearl Jam, who played two wonderful shows in London, Ontario and Wrigley Field, Chicago, in July. I'll see those guys in Pittsburgh in October for a long-awaited hometown show.