An Ode to Thirty-Two

Today I am 32.

I’m a real adult! Well, sort of…Thirty-two feels like full on adult imposter, a knock-off of real responsibility yet with glorious things like taxes, mandatory retirement savings, and buying sensible shoes for work. I’m considering a practical Subaru for my next car, but I’m also considering a new tattoo. It’s all a balance of reliability and poor decision making really.

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If you liked mandatory retirement savings as required by your job, you’ll really like the new aggressive investment options open to you!  The scent of ROTH, Eau d’IRA.

I haven’t gotten into any of the real adulty stuff yet, babies, mortgages directly attached to my name, marriage (though that will change in approximately 43 more days), houseplants that live longer than a year. I melted succulents last year as I forgot to water them and shelter them from the cruel, cruel desert sun. They became piles of melted brown leaves with significant black char on the ends of each leaf. It was sad. I have, however, managed to keep the rescue mutt, Pepe the Doxiepin of glory, alive for almost two years…though he does eat a lot of our other dog’s poop and subsequently gets his teeth brushed quite frequently.

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This is the face of a shit-eater. Do not trust his happy licks and wiggles or his heroic pose in front of a Batman poster. He is not Batman. And, he will happily clean up the backyard of all leavings. 

Today, I woke up before my alarm at 7:00am and put on a little too much eyeliner to celebrate the day, carefully selecting a dress I purchased when I was 24 for the day of THIRTY TWO. I could be all, “Oh yes, I still fit into the same size as I did in my early twenties, la de da, I am so fancy!” But, it’s a sensible black wrap dress and I’ve worn the same size, uh, probably since I was 14. It’s been two decades of the same penchant for jersey dresses with a little bit of stretch, fancy sandals, too much eyeliner, and a statement necklace that looks like armor, though my body has rearranged itself in numerous different and sometimes interesting ways (here’s to you, stomach paunch of the 30s!).

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Do you like my cute little black dress? I think it’s so flexible, wear to work or out for the evening! Good for any occasion, a cougar prom, a coven meeting, a Russian bride meet-up, etc. 

Half my life ago on my 16th birthday, I celebrated with my mom, her best friend Ginny, and Ginny’s two daughters/best friends/essentially my sisters by going out for Indian food and painting pottery at one of those places usually found near a movie theater and mid-range cafes. As a holdover from our even younger days, Robin and I ordered around Lisa, the youngest of us all, and had her fetch us paint colors are we painted heinously ugly objects. I believe I painted a claw-footed bathtub (about the size of Pepe) in a mottled blue color…for it to sit unused for a decade because really what is one to do with a foot long bathtub to then be donated to Goodwill in my mid-twenties. Fast forward to now, and this event actually sounds exactly my speed as I am still a fan of naan, overpriced ceramics, friendship, and being bossy. These ladies are also in my wedding party in a few weeks so perhaps we can revisit the whole shebang — This time in yoga pants and with wine because those 30s cliches are so real. I make no promises about ordering Lisa around though…

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Minus the single part, it’s so true. Except my version tends more bourbon, chicken wings, and stretchy jeans. Also, if I have to yell to be heard in a bar, I’d rather just leave to go home and sit with my love, the normal big dog, and the small poop-eater while watching HGTV.

 

For celebrating another year of the early thirties, my mom and I went on an adventure of sensible work-shoe buying, wedding jewelry shopping for her ensemble, wedding dress altering and accessorizing, and fancy, fancy restaurant dining yesterday to ring in the olde 32. Pastry, like a Cylon, has a plan for Sunday involving the symphony and crab legs. I also went out to lunch with a friend to talk over spicy Thai noodles about life, loves, and weird ex-boyfriends. Due to Pastry’s crazy work schedule, I’m thinking about an evening of bourbon, chicken wings, and Star Wars with the hounds, normal and poop-eating. Maybe I’ll transfer some money around in a few accounts to truly feel like an adult, maybe I’ll plan a giant mermaid tattoo for my thigh. You know, a balance of responsibility and bizarreness.

 

Pastry Post: The Lead Weights of the Suit Industry

It’s been a little while since I made my first post about suits, and I decided I would have a follow-up for that one in regards to the experience of trying to find my sartorial glory prior to posting the update to my previous post.

But before I begin, I’d like to talk a little bit about power supplies.

Stay with me. I used to work for a computer manufacturer, and one day, we were meeting with a new chassis manufacturer that would, in theory, provide us with our computer cases and the internal power supplies to go with them.

Now power supplies were (and are) an oft-overlooked piece of hardware when spec’ing out a computer build. One that can provide a steady stream of power while absorbing the occasional power spike can save your expensive investment from an early, smelly, death.

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“If ONLY they had spent an extra $20!”

Now it used to be (and I may be accidentally aging myself here), you could tell the quality of a power supply by how heavy it was. The heavier it was, the more capacitors, resistors, and other groovy electrical components were built in to it and it could signify a good buy.

It didn’t take the cheap, crap manufacturers long to figure this out, as evidenced by our first meeting with one of these said manufacturers.

“How much do you want the power supplies to weigh?” they asked, as if it were an obvious question. We were perplexed, because a power supply’s weight shouldn’t really be variable. It should weigh whatever it weighs.

Turns out, this manufacturer would add weights to the power supply in order to make it heavier than it originally would be, thus giving the impression of quality. We didn’t buy from them.

But as I’ve noticed, items that give the APPEARANCE of quality are rife in the custom clothing industry. And things like functional sleeve buttons are the lead weights of the fashion industry.

When Cucumber and I were suit shopping, we dropped in to a suit store in which you’ve probably heard of. It didn’t take too long to figure out that the off-the-rack section wasn’t going to work for me (as I have mentioned, off-the-rack suits and I just don’t get along), but they had a section in which you could have custom clothing made for you. Not that it was bespoke, just that it was a brick-and-mortar form of made-to-measure. Not a bad thing, as long as you accept what it is.

But the sales rep was desperate to make a sale.

The sales rep that we had talked to was a nice enough guy, but it was pretty obvious that his commission went up drastically when custom clothing was ordered, as he was fairly well pushing us that direction from the moment we walked into the store. Can’t say I blame the guy, but the tactics in which he tried to push us towards custom were just kinda slimy.

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You want a suit? I gotcha suit. Full’a canvas! N’stitching!

N‘Buttholes, aye..aye.. mean button holes!

One of the tactics he used, was in talking about how obviously high-quality the made-to-measure suits were, because they employed the use of pick-stitching in construction. Pick-stitching is (anymore) entirely decorative. It used to be that you only saw it on really high-end clothing. But like our friends who add weights to power supplies, the pick-stitch was quickly adopted by low-cost manufacturers as a way of bringing the appearance of quality to cheaper clothing.

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A stitch in time may save nine, but it ain’t fooling anyone into thinking your suit cost more than it did.

The other item he mentioned: functional button holes. I am not a fan of them. Why? Because I’m not convinced of the utility of buttons on suit sleeves in the first place. There’s some debate about the origin of buttons on suit sleeves. The most obvious (and likely correct) source of buttons on the sleeves are a vestigial form that came from the ability to adjust the garment to better suit the wearer whether it be from the owner gaining or losing weight, or simply because it’s hot or cold.

The other origin story of suit buttons involves snot, and is therefore my preferred version. The story goes that Napoleon (or Alexander the Great, or Admiral Nelson, or Wellington, or whatever historical figure you like) repeatedly saw his men wipe their noses on the section of sleeve in which we now see button holes. So disgusted was he by the lack of professionalism, that he had his men sew buttons onto that spot, making it painful to wipe one’s nose.

Now I don’t know about you, but my nose isn’t such that it can only be wiped on one small section of sleeve. Thus, like at Waterloo, Napoleon’s efforts would be for naught.

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“Napoleon (with stereotypical French accent): Ah hah! There is no WAY they will THINK of wiping their noses somewhere else! Now, let’s go invade Russia! There’s plenty of time before winter!”

Functional button-holes on suits, nowadays, are just another attempt at indicating quality. They don’t really offer any real adjustment – buttoning them all doesn’t reduce the size of the sleeve, and unbuttoning them just makes the sleeve split. In short, it looks awful. Worse yet, it’s advised that when you have functional sleeves, you leave 1-2 unbuttoned so that one can tell it was “custom made” (laa dee dah).

Here’s the thing I don’t like about all of this stuff – it’s an attempt to make it seem like your clothing is something that it is not. It’s an attempt to make your suit look fully bespoke (i.e. patterns made specifically for you, fully canvased, etc), and sold for a much higher price than it actually is. After having it tailored to me (which will be discussed in a future post), it looks really great. It fits well, and it will totally serve the purpose for which it is intended, at a price that was acceptable to me.

Adding pick-stitching, functional button holes, and whatever other flair you want is, to me, the same as buying a “Limited Edition” badge, and sticking it on your car.

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It might be time to discuss just what exactly is “limited” on your car.

The irony of all of this? On my new suit that I ordered made for me (despite the fact that I didn’t order it this way), it came with functional button holes.

That Time Pastry Gave Me a Pep Talk (Yet Again)

I’ve been a bit of an anxious pill of recent. I’ve been having anxiety dreams every night around my job, my doctorate, losing our dogs, Pastry not sharing his pie with me.

We had this conversation a while ago in the wee hours of the morning:

“Pastry! Pastry, wake up.” 

“Grrruuummmblrgh, wha?”

“I had a really bad dream and it made me cry…”

“Shwaaaaa? Ssssyou’okay?”

“Yeah. But it made me really, really, really sad.” 

“Wha happen?”

“You wouldn’t share your pie with me.”

“What?” (Alertness achieved.)

“Your pie. We were eating pie together and I asked you for a bite. And, you said no. And IT DESTROYED MY ENTIRE WORLD AND I WAS SO SAD AND I HYSTERICALLY SOBBED AND WOKE UP CRYING.” 

“But, I would always share my pie with you.” 

“I know.” (Sniffles)

“Because I love you.” 

“I love you, too.” (Snort cry) “And, I will always share my pie with you, too.” 

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The Pastry, he knows what to say to calm down his crying fiancee in the middle of the night after a sad pie dream. He’s also just given me another excellent pep talk around all the wedding shenanigans, but we’ll get to that later.

Last summer, we went to the Bridal Expo (as detailed in  The Bridal Expo: We Laughed, We Played Bridal Bingo, We Tasted Terrible Cake). I signed up for a free Bride magazine ’cause why not have a glossy and pastel advertisement for all things wedding directly delivered to your neighborhood mailbox that you forget to check but every two weeks? I would say I waited for its arrival, but I completely forgot about it until my first issue arrived last week.

The cover is a skinny, gently spray-tanned blonde in a delicate white dress (of which the cups are slightly ever so aggressively cupping her non-boobs in a spritz of organza), holding some loosely assembled flowers in a attempt to look like she just casually gathered them from her classic French garden near the ocean bluffs. Her neck is like a Photoshopped swan, elongated and devoid of creases while adjusted for exposure and tone. Her bushy brows have definitely been seeing her brow specialist according to her bridal beauty six month prep list.

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Inside there are hundreds of pages of slender, slightly tan, usually blonde sprites in ethereal gowns with delicate details, slouching delicately on a chaise or grassy knoll no belly rolls to be seen. (To be fair, there are also lots of advertisements featuring puppies, of which I am a fan, and a editorial on Janet Mock’s wedding, of whom I am also a fan, so it’s not all horrible). Flipping through the magazine, I was disheartened. I am loud and fairly fat with bright red hair, freckles, and cleavage that necessitated ordering my bridal gown in a size 20 in order to not squish my built-in flotation devices. I have arm creases (something no one ever has in magazines; see above), neck wrinkles, and persistent hormonal pimples on my chin, moving from side to side every month depending on which ovary would like to mock my skin care regimen.

All the featured weddings in the magazine were pastel, delicate, blush and champagne in a celebration of adulthood’s love. These were adult people pledging their commitments (and perhaps eventual financial ruin considering the cost of eight tier cakes) to each other in appropriate ADULT FASHIONS. And, it made me ponder our wedding, a shindig that my mom pointed out is a perfect combination of my first and grade birthday parties (dinosaurs with an awesome volcano cake to be followed the next year by a Hawaiian themed luau with hot dogs and pineapple on skewers along with giant paper flower construction).

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My first grade birthday party cake looked almost exactly like this one and I still remember it ever so fondly. 

I began to question the purchase of foam dinosaur masks for our photo booth, and thus soon spiraled into a judgey, insecure cloud of wedding anxiety .

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Internal monologue: “Will people judge us? What if they think this is silly or dumb or childish? But, who wouldn’t want to be a triceratops in a fancy suit or gown? I mean, I would…But, maybe not. This is dumb. But, I really want a picture of my friend Brian who is almost 7′ feet tall and Pastry’s conservative mom wearing dinosaur masks…”

Then we got our engagement photos back. And, all I could see was arm creases, chin pimples, and bra back fat in my bright purple gown, unruly red hair blowing in the desert wind. And, I know Pastry only saw his own perceived flaws when he saw the pictures as I’m fairly certain most wedding photographers forget about the groom as a person and use them more as a prop, leading to some bizarrely awkward Pastry poses as directed by our paid paparazzi. I’ve also learned that anytime we are directed to touch noses, we should just glare at the camera in our best emo couple look as it will certainly result in a better photo. NO NOSE TOUCHING PHOTOS. NO. There were…some really bad and awkward photos of us both. It was not heartening.

Meanwhile in overall nuptial planning, Pastry has been on a one-man endeavor to get submersible LED ice cubes for the wedding reception. The Pastry loves all things tech and LED with a passion (as in he has a lot to say about the color range of certain LED bulbs over others), and the ice cubes make him very happy. I fully admit these are not my thing. And, queue epic wedding judgement…

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Cubes in question.

Pastry ordered a bunch in a ton of colors so we could decide what might work the best. And, I was less than enthusiastic while he danced about excitedly with his flashing cubes of freezable gel. He put them in drinks for my mom and I while we were constructing a giant flagging tape curtain (a story to itself). My response was “meh.” He brought them out on the town for St. Patrick’s Day much to the great fascination of drunk people. I didn’t say anything, my silence speaking for my now verging on rude response to the light cubes. I said something akin to “well, I guess we could do yellow and orange cubes…You know, keeping it in line with the color palette of the reception space as I want to keep it only in warm tones…” (Please read that again with a snotty affect.) Pastry asked me to rate how against I was the cubes on a scale from 1-5 and how I felt about including his favorite color of purple, five being “if you do it, there will never again be any roasted carrot salad (favorite recipe ever) ever again.” I said a 3.

Here is me waxing poetic about including purple light cubes. Note this is only about the inclusion of purple as a choice, nothing else.

“I’m afraid that too many colors will take our already on the verge of a kid’s birthday party-esque wedding reception with it’s crazy colors, dinosaurs, ribbon curtains, karaoke, and giant dinosaur over into a fully tacky rave. I’m trying to keep the color palette limited. Adding purple will make it look like a Laker’s dance party in Vegas. I want this whole thing to be fun and colorful, but also really classy and carefully curated, and finding the balance of including a giant dinosaur and purple light cubes is hard…” 

Oh, the snobbery. As if I hadn’t been happily ordering dinosaur masks, colorful fans, making fifteen foot long curtains out of bright pink ribbon. The purple light cubes, they so obviously were the ONE thing that was going to take this over the line. (Uh, not really…That may be the 7′ dinosaur cut-out, ten foot tall tree, or uh, the gigantic dress I’m wearing…)

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I’m the owl on the left. Pastry, right owl, is just trying to be nice.

 

So, Pastry sent me this today.

“So, I had a thought about how worried you are about the wedding and the fear that it will all be silly…

And my thought is: fuck it. 

The day is about you and I, inviting our friends to enjoy the celebration of the union of two very silly people. If someone has a problem with the way in which we choose to celebrate? That’s their problem. Because, honestly, who wouldn’t want to attend a free party with free booze, dancing, music, and photo booths with dinosaurs? Eliminating the bagagge that it being a ‘wedding’ carries, what would your reaction be to being invited to said party? You would totally be like ‘BEST. FUCKING. PARTY. EVER.’

Just keep focused on the fact that this shindig is basically us in party form. And, that everyone coming loves us and will enjoy everything that is there. Because if you’re worried what someone might think about dinosaur masks [and purple light cubes], the thought they are going to have is ‘of course there are dinosaur masks.’ Trying to hold an ultra classy affair with people discussing the better part of trade negotiation while they lament the color scheme of the room is not us.

And, additionally, my thinking is that I wouldn’t care if someone didn’t like the dinosaurs or the purple cubes — We’re both going to love them.” 

And, then he drove over to pick me up for lunch and took me to eat fish tacos in the sun. And, we had a discussion about the German pop band Dschinghis Khan, their epic dance moves, and its applicability to our first wedding dance. (Also, how the guy in the blue looks like the love child of Yul Brynner and a Vulcan princess.)

 

I am very lucky. And, he is very right. The expectations, guidelines, and overall weddingness of weddings got to me.

So, I looked at our engagement photos again with a new viewpoint. In the less staged pictured (see NO NOSE TOUCHING guidelines), I can now see us. I can see how Pastry looks at me with his eyebrows raised in jest, how he holds my hand naturally in promise, and how I look at him like he’s going to share his pie with me forever. It took us both a little bit to become okay with the flaws, the bad angles, the chin pimples, and all. And, now all I see is love and a future of purple light cubes, dinosaur masks, and pie with two forks.

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A Pastry Post: Sartorial Suit Adventures

Pastry’s Quest for the Perfect Suit: A Guest Blog by Pastry

When Cucumber and I started our process of planning a wedding, we decided that, rather than a tuxedo, I would wear a suit. I own one already, and (because I am pretty cheap) had hoped that I might be able to skip the expense of one, and wear what I had. So with this in mind, I took it into my tailor, hoping that some minor modifications would make the suit fit me like a glove and look god-like. This was my first reality-check when it came to me and suits. Because in his (very brusque, VERY funny) way, my tailor informed me that my suit was off-the-rack and off-the-rack suits are not for me. Why?

  1. Off-the-rack suits simply look AWFUL on me. I have a very short rise in my pants (queue rimshot). Because of the way that pants sit on my waist, off-the-rack suit pants tend to sit very low and make it look like I have an obsession with an early ‘90s Hip-Hop legend.

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“A sartorial god amongst men? A role-model for today’s fashion-challenged youth? Or a victim of bad tailoring?”

Often times, an off-the-rack jacket will look fine on me, but the pants will need so much work, I might as well go custom. Additionally, in the case of suit-separates, they CAN work really well, in-theory. Calvin Klein pants in their slimmer fits (paradoxically) tend to look pretty damn good on me. Their jackets, however, are a problem, because…

  1.   If anyone were to describe me, “small” is not an adjective that would be chosen. I’m convinced that in a parallel world, I made a pretty solid defensive football player. I played for a bit as a kid, but a unfortunate formation of my ankles that made running extremely difficult and football practice miserable (I was strong as a bear, so I worked well on the line, but during practice I was consistently at the very end of the distance running game).

Plus, who wants to play football outside in the Arizona heat when there’s Nintendo games to be played?

But ultimately, while this shape may have really benefited me on the grid-iron, when it comes to fashion choices…not so much.

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“Do you have anything in a lightweight wool, preferably in a dark-gray sharkskin weave? And the pants should be flattering to the trailer.”

Adulthood left me with a suit-jacket size of 50R but pants in the 36” waist range. Finding a suit that accommodated these factors was NOT going to be easy.

So knowing that I wouldn’t just be able to use my currently owned-suit meant that I would need to purchase a new one. And I now knew that I couldn’t just run down to the local Saks Off-Fifth and pick up a nifty two-piece. Something custom was in order.

Now, most tailors will do custom clothing (or know someone who will), and my tailor was no exception. When I started to inquire about his custom suitmaking practice, however, he shut me down pretty quickly. “I’m not the guy to make your suit,” he told me, in his densely Italian manner. A flash of irritation crossed my mind for a brief second (thinking he was somehow judging me unworthy of his talents), before he followed-up by saying, “my suits start at around $8000.”

Remember that I’m cheap. So imagine what my reaction must have been to that lovely piece of news – that my wedding attire would be many times the price of Cucumber’s wedding dress. We do tend to challenge gender roles, but this wasn’t a statement I was desperate to make.

Fortunately, Phil (my tailor) is nothing if not helpful. He told me to look into online made-to-measure clothing. I had looked into this a while ago, but had found (through reviews) that when they arrived, they were usually non-customized separates that were picked off-the-shelf as close to the measurements as possible and just shipped.

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Man wearing oversized suit — Image by © CJ Burton/Corbis

Oh yeah. It’s fully custom. Isn’t it obvious this was made just for me?

Phil, however, informed me that online made-to-measure had improved dramatically over the past few years. Apparently suits can arrive on one’s doorstep, with a nearly perfect fit. And if any tailoring is required, the suit-makers will often include a tailoring budget to allow for some small alterations.

With this all in mind, I ordered a suit from www.blacklapel.com. With my obsessive nature at researching all options before ordering, they fit my desire to provide as many customized options as possible, while maintaining the price point that I wanted to hit.

After ordering, they informed me that because of the Chinese New Year, they were running behind schedule and wouldn’t ship for 8-10 weeks. However, when I happened to check it this morning, their website informed me that my suit had already shipped. By coincidence, Cucumber informed me that I had a package waiting for me at home, and that it appeared my suit had been compressed to the rough density of a black hole prior to shipping.

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“Sure, it distorts time and space. But the fabric of reality drapes off the shoulders extremely well.”

I don’t know if I should be delighted or scared about my suit arriving 6 weeks earlier than expected. We’ll see soon I suppose…

The Hotel Cock Block

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“Blocking a hotel rooms is a great way to help guests find a reasonably priced and convenient place to stay near your wedding activities! Simply follow these easy steps to look into blocking your rooms!”

Three weeks later, a delegation to my mom to take care of business, numerous in-person meetings, forgotten emails, and a few minor snafus in the meantime, our block went live for our guests.

AND, IT DID NOT WORK. Queue confused calls and texts from guests.

Grumble, grumble, hiss, hiss, obscene gesture, boo.

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I asked my mom to take on the whole hotel block contract shenanigans in January as I figured it would be an easy-peasy phone call and contract to arrange for a small grouping of rooms at the hotel located literally between the ceremony and reception site. We want between 12-15 rooms. That’s it. She emailed, called, and met with the sales people of this particular boutique hotel. They signed a contract, a contract which requires us to pick up 90% of the rooms in two months with no resell clause. The sales lady very clearly told the mom that only the standard room is offered as part of the block for $150 a night. Suites, though we can book them for $200 a night, are by contract only and if guests book a suite it does not apply to our block of 15 rooms. Sure, okay, so they will offer the standard rooms when guest call, right? Yep. Moving on…

Pastry’s mom calls the first night to book her room. They tell her the option is a suite for $200 and that the only other option “is a handicapped room that is much, much smaller” for $150. Say, wha? Pastry’s uncle calls – They give him the same run around, book him a suite, and tack on the resort fees to everything something that is clearly waived in our contract. My best friend calls and ends up with a suite. They have now booked four rooms, all suites, for $200 a night and fees, and none of them count toward the hotel block.

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Summary of my feelings.

Now, my mom is an epic lady who has managed many, many people for her entire career. She sent perhaps the saltiest email ever to the sales manager at the hotel. Please read the following in a deep, threatening voice of a lady not with whom to fuck.

“We have a major problem with the implementation of the contract we signed for the wedding. Our guests have started to call to book rooms and are being offered only a suite rate of $200. One guest was told the $150 rate was only for a handicap access room, another guest was told that only group sales could handle her request. I am very disappointed in this poor service and the confusion it is causing for our guests is unacceptable. I have an early appointment on Friday morning, but I will call you as soon as I am free.  My expectation is that when are guests call they will be offered the $150 contracted rate. The $200 rate for suites should not be offered at all as we contracted specifically for 3 suites and I have already booked them.  When we speak tomorrow I will look forward to your solutions and expect prompt corrective action.
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The hotel then groveled sufficiently and another friend had no issues when booking her room the next day. Mind you, this is also the same location of the $136 tacos. So, I am not convinced they deserve any business at this point let alone our glorious personages in residence eating tacos at our leisure. But, life and planning move on…
They were very lucky they had to deal with my mom rather than me.

 

 

 

The Mid-Year Planning Lull…Plus Muumuus

I’m still kicking in the desert, planning our nuptial shindig ever so slowly with the Pastry. We entered the mid-planning timeline lull from about October to end of December in which we made some easy decisions, finally booked a florist,  did our tasting at the venue, and generally wandered about no doubt eating too much cheese. All in all, terribly boring things which were quite fun for us while still remaining uninteresting blog fodder. Then there was the joy of a the first dual family holiday season…which actually afforded no drama whatsoever. How dull to get along with both your old and new families. (Though Pastry and I did spend an epic evening drinking bourbon with my mom whilst watching Step Up All In on her 3D TV, making snarky remarks and critiquing dance choreography with perhaps too much intensity.)

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This Lull is also not doing much wedding planning.

So, nuptial updates…Just because I should endeavor to not forget where we are in all of this planning.

Final reasonable florist was reasonable, producing a super creative mock-up of textured flowers, a giant manzanita tree for a wishing tree, and multiple stone, concrete, and glass containers filled with a bizarre array of desert plants. We’re going to do a 10 foot tree in the reception space with a table set up to write wishes for us on colorful tags with long ribbons. The guests will hang the tags, effectively decorating the space for us with bright ribbons, and then we’ll eventually pull them all off the tree. I’m planning on framing them in a large art piece to go in our house. This all theoretically works…But, there is now a chance of a drunken Midwestern relative knocking over a massive tree in the middle of the YMCA showdown on the dance floor…Which honestly might be fine if just for the story and minus the rental costs.

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An even more intense wishing tree likely in Lam Tsuen.(Queue outdated Mrs. Doubtfire reference.) Watch out for the drive-by fruitings!

An Origin Story of Wishing Trees: Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees
“In the past, whenever there was a festival, villagers would throw joss paper into these two trees and make wishes. The higher the branch the joss paper landed on, the more likely it was the wish would come true. People from all over Hong Kong still come here in their droves to make wishes during festivals; however, as it’s not just local villagers hoping to try their luck in the trees anymore, measures have been introduced to protect the wishing trees from becoming buried in paper. Nowadays, wishes are more tidily made by tying joss paper to nearby wooden racks or imitation trees.”

We went to do our tasting and figured out the menu. It was glorious. And, there will be tons of food. I find this exciting (because I get to eat it all) and boring all at once (because talking about a menu for an evening four months away is…boring). Weirdly, lots of people want a full rundown of the whole menu. Essentially, there will be bourbon, snacks, steak, chicken pot pie, tiny grilled cheese sandwiches and cups of tomato soup, a whole bunch of local produce in vast variety of salads, tiny dessert shots, and lots of pie. No favors though as our favors to our guests consists of 5 hours of open bar and a large selection of pie. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!

I obsessed over what to wear for engagement photos. It’s included in our photography package. It seems like a good plan. I’m going to wear a ballgown and try not to fall in a cactus. Pastry wants to embrace his newfound love of sweaters (he had never owned one prior to last year and now wears them all the time). I just keeping thinking about what our future children will say about my questionable outfit choice. “Jeeeez, mom, showing so much leg in such a weird bat-winged dress. You look like an eggplant in a tropical muumuu.” To which I say, “Well, tough, little Adomicus. I may have looked like an elephant-eggplant hybrid, but you’re stuck with a terrible name so I have the last laugh.”

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Muumuu Inspiration = Muuspiration?

I bought a bunch of shoes and used everything wedding planning to procrastinate from writing actual critical analysis papers for ye olde doctorate. Read a chapter, pin dinosaur related items to wedding board. Read four sentences of social construction book, suddenly become enthused about our wedding website! Consider writing outlines, remember blog suddenly and update for first time in months! Look up muumuu patterns! Order another pair of gold wedges! Inquire about Pastry’s suit ordering timeline! Sketch ideas for flagging tape 20 foot curtain with magnetic attachments for outdoor reception area! EVERYTHING WITH ENTHUSIASM THAT IS NOT ACTUAL WORK! Sigh. Then return to work 10 minutes later.

At least there will be lots of pie and bourbon in four months.

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Flowers are slowly driving me mad.

Flowers are slowly driving me mad.

730f04fd81cb732aae13f2ea1a21f11fTranslation: I’ve reached my first wedding planning hiccup and it makes me want to fire bomb a peony-selling establishment just out of spite. Okay, maybe not that extreme…But, it’s just been a truly odd experience having wedding flowers, something I assumed would be easy, be the hardest and most frustrating part of planning this shindig.

So, I adore flowers. I love getting them, I love picking them, I truly light up when I get to put them in my hair. I stop to smell them on walks. I am now contemplating hitting every flower I see and just calling it quits, spray painting some Home Deport stir-sticks gold, and putting them in dollar store plastic containers on each reception table. There. Done. Le Home Depot chic wedding theme.

Stir Stick Art for Every Table

I thought the flower process would go something like this…

“Hey there, established and reputable vendor, we’d like bright and colorful with lots of texture for this total price point, bonus points for creativity and the ability to let us rent a giant tree for an odd community art project for the middle of the reception.”

“Yeah! Awesome! Here’s the quote with an item breakdown by unit. We buy wholesale and offer competitive prices! Also, here are some other creative ideas in your price point! We’ve worked at your venue before and this will totally work there!”

Reality:

Me: “Hi, yes, I did call earlier. No, I can’t come meet you in the middle of the work day as, uh, I work. Clear over there, huh? Sorry, I can’t drive an hour away to talk about succulents for 20 minutes…Your minimum fee is $5,000? Would you take a kidney donation perhaps as a down payment? No? Liver? Wait, I need that…Yes, I can send you a pinterest board for ideas. Oh, and we’re just going to discuss that after I drive way over there? Okay…”

60 miles of driving later…

Florist: “We’ll send you our proposal in the next week and should you not accept it within 48 hours, it will self-destruct, rendering your computer, left side of your face, and hopes and dreams useless. Also, we will not provide any details and instead quote you a totally random total cost with no justification whatsoever. Additionally, our proposal will consist of cropping pictures from your pin board that you sent us and just naming random flowers in the text. For no additional cost, we will also forget to update sections and writing a long detailed section about the use of pastel yellow ribbons. Because when you said ‘saturated, bright yellow’ we thought you were tasteless and decided light yellow is the way to go. Here’s a free bouquet toss bouquet. YOU WILL TAKE IT AND LIKE IT, YOU WEDDING HEATHEN. Enjoy this bouquet of PINK BEARS. That will be $4,000 and a kidney.”

Also, it seems like all florists are really technologically challenged and they all just REALLY want to talk on the phone. Maybe it’s a lonely profession amongst the flowers and they just want a bit of human contact…But, they really want to call me in the middle of the work day. This is time consuming and I don’t want to have to get obsessed, fall in love, break up with floral ideas anymore. Also, NO LIGHT YELLOW RIBBON.

Bridal Magazine Carla (BMC)

The hottest look for Bridal in 2020?

This prior weekend, I went wedding gown shopping with my mom and her best friend/my second mom, G. Our first stop was a lovely, vaguely industrial salon downtown. As our first gown experience was hot and torturous, this was heaven in comparison, comfy couches, bottles of water, a lovely individual consultant, lots of beautiful gown options, etc. I tried on several and found one contender. Sending out a picture to select few wedding party of awesome members, bridesmaid Carla shall henceforth be known as BMC, Bridal Magazine Carla.

Bridal Magazine Carla (BMC) text on Dress #1:

“That really complements you! The shape is sweet and sexy. I love the subtle lacy details, the mix of soft and structured. Pagan goddess flower crown is icing on the cake!”

After a pit-stop for fried pickles and pretzels, the next stop was another salon in a suburb, weirdly located next to a pawn shop, gun store, and grocery store. One stop shopping! Now, that set up doesn’t sound promising, but OH MY GOD, THE DRESSES. THE DRESSES! They were glorious.

Upon sending a picture of my favorite gown at this location to BMC, this was her response:

Bridal Magazine Carla (BMC) text on Dress #2:

“The lace applique detailing on this one stands out a little more and is very artfully and organically placed, bringing concentration to the beaming bride’s face and delicately falling away into the gown much like a willow. The neckline is sweet and sexy again, and additionally this unbelted waistline complements your hourglass shape swimmingly, even elongating your shape, am improvement I think.”

If anything from this adventure, besides the whole most likely find THE Wedding Gown, we have all figured out that Carla has a future in writing for Bride Magazine. I look forward to her future gown and decor ruminations.

Sweating in Another Woman’s Bustier

Last Saturday, I decided it might be time to start looking at large puffs of white tulle in possible consideration for my wedding attire. There was a sale at David’s Bridal, so I convinced my mom this was an excellent plan, made an appointment, and then spent the morning fighting with billowing white fabric in a tiny, tiny little dressing room.

She’s coming for your soul…in a handcrafted, artisan gown with hand painted roses…

When we arrived, they were already running behind for the day, so they let us loose to wander through the racks of dresses. Sorting through white and cream dresses is easier said than done as, well, they all look the same. We hemmed and hawed, ooh-ed over the fancier options, chatted about the finer points of sparkly appliques. I found I was attached to large ball gowns with lacy things all over, bonus points for three dimensional flowers.

The reality of the “fairytale” of finding The Dress, getting lost in a sea of white things in clear body bags.

Our consultant finally met with us, an itsy-bitsy lady of approximately 19 years of age with a large arm tattoo and badly dyed blonde hair. She then proceeded to quiz me about everything not wedding gown related.

“How many bridesmaids are you going to have?”

“Uh, five plus a brides…dude. Bridesdudes? Bridesmanfriend? Wedding guy? So, six. One guy, five ladies. But, ten total considering each side. This is like a bad word problem.”

Blank stare. “Okay, what are your colors?”

“Well, we are attracted to bright colors and are just going to let them all pick their own outfits, so purple, yellow, orange, pink, red…”

“You can buy swatches here for them.”

“Well, I was thinking more the ol’ low key hand everyone a paint swatch and tell them to go wild in outfitting themselves…”

(Stare.) “Where is the wedding going to be?”

“Oh, in a traditional garden and then a super modern reception. Plus there is a bright boutique hotel next door, so it’s a little bit of everything….”

“Okay, I’ll pull some dresses for you. Let me go get you a bridal slip. What is your bust size?”

“Eh?”

“I’ll get you a bustier to put on, too.”

So, I then found myself in a tiny dressing room with no mirror, struggling to latch myself into a used bustier and can-can-esque bridal skirt. Essentially, like this…But, you know, with proportional legs and two feet.

Seriously, why do her legs look so short?

This ensemble as a good look for me, kinda like Ellie the Arizona brothel girl trying to make good on her new marriage life. Waist, boobs on display, flashy shirt, I was excited to try on the expensive white overlays! I was ready to can-can dance!

Now, being as I sang opera, I have spent a good portion of my life trying on fancy ball gowns. I look GOOD in a fancy gown. I know how to walk with a train, gently lift the sides of a full skirt to move gracefully around an obstacle (yelling tenor), and wear a large costume with presence. I expected the same feeling of putting on a gorgeous gown to sing. So, when tiny consultant handed me my first gown and I crawled through the layers to put it on, I was expecting a GREAT FLOOD OF EMOTIONS like Randy from Say Yes to the Dress has promised me through multiple seasons. Instead, I looked like a white- sequin-embroidered tank.

With slightly more sparkle…

My waist was gone, I couldn’t move my arms, and I looked super dowdy. Eh. Glorious. My philosophy in clothing is that it is never the person or their bodies’ fault that something does not look good. The sole issue is with the design. So, take it off and try again. So, on to the next gown…Eh again. Slightly lumpy white panzer tank. A few more dresses in, and I was muttering something about looking like a sparkly, waistless Moby Dick while trying to throw yard of poof over my head in a confined space. Ready the harpoons, Ahab!

Throughout this whole thing, the consultant would just hand me gowns in the tiny dressing room to crawl into them myself. That floaty, full tulle shirt you so adore? It actually weights about 30 pounds. I decided to do some bicep curls with a particularly large and heavy dress. I asked the consultant for something different, and she brought me a Glinda the Good Witch ball gown with metallic embroidery. The mom has now joined me in the claustrophobic room, and with two dresses in there with us, basically cannot move for the cloud of white skirt. The dresses resembled armor, the waists and side rigid with embellishment.

It’s a good look for a wedding, right? Will fit right in with our Rustic Rodeo Clown in Paris theme…

I’m was now sweating profusely and my loaner bustier plastered to my sides with perspiration, slightly reeking of ball gown dreams and disappointed budget realities. Tiny consultant pulls some entirely different dresses, I decide to go rouge and take off my can-can shirt against her wishes, and I actually end up finding quite a pretty champagne colored strapless gown with an A-line skirt and white embroidery around the bust. During this entire time, another bridal party has been lurking outside my room and commenting on every gown. They vastly approve of this final, slenderizing gown. My mom, rightfully, thinks it looks a bit cheap, but presents a good starting place for style at another roomier and higher end locale. We decide we are done, and I return to stuff the can-can slip back into its drawstring bag and peel off the sweatiest bustier in the world.

So, wedding dress shopping, not a magical and fun affair as The Wedding Industry Machine would so like you to believe. I was mostly struck by how unflattering the gowns were in general and how they would not do any woman any favors. And, how the majority of dresses in my size very much wanted to cover me completely with frilly white lace. Meanwhile, my inner Ellie the Brothel Girl very much wants the impressive cleavage to fly free on the wedding day. So, I made a couple more appointments with very different salons, and bought my own bustier. Because, if I am going to have to sweat in tulle in the pursuit of a dress, I might as well do it in my own lingerie.

The Bridal Expo Adventure: We Laughed, We Played Bridal Bingo, We Tasted Terrible Cake

Pastry, my mom, and I went to a massive Bridal Expo at the downtown convention center. And, it was gloriously fun for all the wrong reasons.

The first adventure in the bridal convention was purchasing and printing tickets. A venue we have been considering had a link for two-for-one tickets for the reasonable price of $12. So, I decided that would be a great option as Pastry AND my amazingly snarky mom could also attend for the festive people watching and cake tasting. I bought a duo of tickets planning to purchase one at the door and went to print them out. 100 pieces of paper later, I had, well, 100 different bridal expo tickets laying on the floor of my office. They all had different bar codes, so I freaked out in case I had accidently charged my debit account $600 in Bridal Expo tickets. But, nope, only a $12 charge on my card for a mere 100 tickets! Deal of the century!

“Bwhahahahaha…,” said the paper-eating printer, “I shall print Bridal Expo tickets till the END OF TIME.”

On our way there, my mom was sitting in the backseat of my car, imparting wedding advice. The snark runs deep in our family.

My mom on us planning a fairly non-traditional wedding and what would make both families uncomfortable: “You know, I think you should draw the line at animal sacrifice. I mean, if you sacrifice a chicken at the ceremony, you will lose a few people.”

My mom on reception activities: “Have you two considered those giant hamster balls for people? That would be fun!”

My mom on her possible wedding attire: “Maybe a giant quinceanera dress! Those are so great…” (She really does love them.)

Upon arriving at the expo with our 937 printed tickets, the attendant checking people in handed us nametags, your choices being “guest,” “bride,” or “groom,” mixing ours up so I ended up with the groom tag. Previous to our arrival, Pastry and I put together basically a list of Bridal Bingo, things we were expecting to see at the show. Points were awarded for the following categories:

  • Wearing a veil with regular clothing
  • Wearing a tiara with regular clothing
  • Wearing a veil AND a tiara
  • Rhinestone shirt with reference to bride in any way
  • Reference to “her special day”
  • Reference to “fairytale” or “happily ever after”
  • Crying in public
  • Debates over color names, g. white, ecru, cream, champagne, etc.
  • Coordinated bridal party outfits
  • Coordinated bride and groom outfits

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The Bridal Expo Bingo card for your enjoyment.

Perhaps my favorite siting of all of the above, was this classy groom along with his fiancé, perusing a floral booth. I stalked him down for this picture, slightly terrified he would figure out what I was doing and go all Sons of Anarchy on me.

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You can almost feel the romance waft off of him…

Otherwise, it was a very full convention center full of an exceedingly diverse group of people. The gender split was not as female-heavy as I thought it would be, and the grooms in attendance seemed happily amused participants. We did see one groom in a pure white three-piece suit with a bright blue tie and matching blue shoes. He definitely won most overdressed. There were giant parties of bridesmaids in customized matching shirts and a pair of exceptionally preppy couples wearing matching orange outfits. I fell in love with a crazy expensive bouquet of succulents, pheasant feathers, sunflowers, herbs, and other weird things. Pastry and I kept remarking that a bunch of the couples looked like they were 12.

We went to pretty much every photo booth option possible, and tasted enough cake to henceforth decide NO CAKE at our wedding as we are serious about wedding pie. A drunken DJ who smelled so strongly of rum I thought I would get drunk standing next to him, enthusiastically introduced us to all his vendor friends throughout the fair. Another high point was an outlet mall weirdly promoting themselves with half-naked men in suspenders with a bunch of semi-horrified ladies milling about them. So, Pastry stepped right up, introduced himself, and took an amazing picture with the stripper-esque men to the vast amusement of the entire crowd.

And, then we found my mom some brightly colored quinceanera dresses in the wedding dress section, and it made her day.

We had crossed most of our items off the list by the time we left (after searching for an exit for 20 minutes) except the “crying” item. Lo, on our way back to the car, we happened upon a girl walking down the street crying with her boyfriend. She didn’t have a veil on, but I maintained it counted.

Bingo!

The next morning my mom emailed me a link to a coupon for a discounted human-sized Hamster Ball Experience with the note, “Don’t say I didn’t help with creative wedding ideas.”

“WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY….ROLL, PASTRY, ROLL!”