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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This is a Sad Post About Friendship, Love, and Death

Dearest blog,

I have not forgotten you. I have just been terribly busy with wonderful things, very sad things, and all other sorts of things in between.

In the past six days, I have finished my first semester of my doctorate, gone on a staycation with my Pastry love courtesy of a door prize win at a venue we did not book, interviewed a DJ for our karaoke reception, marveled at said DJ’s amazing Indian Jones’ themed backyard and pool, started the ring design process for the every so lovely custom engagement ring, finalized the wedding gown I want to buy, harassed my best friend into coming to visit me this coming weekend, booked a pie tasting adventure, interviewed a wedding coordinator, read four books on building communities of practice, worried when said best friend suddenly was in the hospital, signed up for a gym membership to tone these arms, and lost another good friend of 27 years as she decided to end her life after struggling with her bipolar disorder for so long.

That last bit is definitely an immensely sad addition to a generally frivolous wedding blog, but it’s true and powerful and painful. 

The last time I talked to her was about how excited she was to come to the wedding next May and how her husband was recovering well from a recent surgery. She was a gloriously eclectic, whip-smart, charismatic, and vibrant friend since the time my family moved in next to hers when I was around 4. She was almost 7 at the time, and she told my mom she was disappointed it was us as she had been told a nice Chinese family was moving in instead. We had all sorts of growing-up adventures, playing street hockey, raising kittens and trapping scorpions on the hillside, racing down the street on skateboards (me, very badly), going to the beach to body-board or just to be seen, stealing squashes out of a neighbor’s yard, learning the finer points of adolescent flirting, going to college parties while I was still in high school, visiting each other in our respective cities as we both moved around during college and post-college. We shut down karaoke bars in Hollywood, and ate cheap Mexican food in the middle of the night in a variety of locales. After my dad passed away several years ago, she was one of the only people to visit my mom and I after his memorial service, bringing a bag of carefully selected snacks and an orchid (that we inevitably killed due to lack of water shortly near after). I took for granted that she would always be there, loud, talkative, slyly challenging people with her wit. She was not perfect in my memory or in hers, and she seemed to constantly worry that she was living her life in an inherently flawed way, struggling with a history of severe mental health issues and the sudden loss of both of her parents in the last couple of years. And, so she ended her own life.

I am so sad that she is gone. And, I feel so privileged to have known her.

It would now be easy to frame this in terms of a wedding for the sake of blog coherency, new beginnings and endings all becoming very transparent in the process of creating a new, little family. But, I don’t want to diminish my friend, her experiences, or the loss. So, simply, I am a bit sad, but I will be okay. And, though she is gone, I know that she will be okay in the end. And, the rest will continue to move-on, arrangements for weddings and memorial services, plans, lives, families, losses, loves, and deaths. Friendship moves and changes people in such unexpected ways. And, she changed me to be me, flaws and all. I will miss her dearly.

True Love Equals Tolerance for Triscuit Intolerance

I’ve been quite busy with this whole working full time and doing a doctorate business. At week eight of class, I have had about nine assignments and thus have gone a bit crazy (crazier?). Pastry and I went to the grocery store earlier this week, me stumbling around like a snack-sneaking zombie as Pastry tried to herd me in the correct direction. And, lo, I happened upon a giant display of Martha Stewart endorsed Triscuits.

I LOVE Triscuits. But, er, wheat in general does not love me back. But, my inner snack-sneaking zombie voice told me that I should get a couple boxes of crisped wheat snacks in fun flavors like Toasted Coconut and Sea Salt or Rosemary Olive Oil. I snatched up a pile and ran up to Pastry at the self-checkout stand. In my snack-enthusiast daze I don’t quite remember the actual conversation we had, but it went something like this.

“Triscuits, eh? Don’t those make you feel ill?”

“THEY ARE DELICIOUS AND I LOVE THEM.”

“Your call, Cucumber…”

So, we went home and I promptly ate a bunch of Triscuits. Cut to day two, and my packed lunch at work was a bowl of cherries and Triscuits. I got home and had Triscuits prior to dinner. Pastry made a delicious dinner of bacon-wrapped chicken thighs and green beans. I may have had a few more Triscuits. Pastry, so cleverly and suavely, devised a romantic maneuver after dinner. Meanwhile, the epic of amount of Triscuits I had ingested over the past day, suddenly resulted in me, well, feeling like this below picture.

Holy god.

“I am SO SORRY. Really. SO SORRY. Oh god, it’s so bad…”

“My love, I am marrying you. It’s really okay. I don’t care.”

Thus, we ended our romantic date evening by laying on the bed, laughing and reading Amazon reviews of Fiber One Bars. Pastry reminded me that perhaps this should be a cautionary tale concerning my Triscuit indulgence.

He really is the best. And, those coconut Triscuits are really delicious.

The Weighted Decision Matrix of Romance

I am a Vulcan of love. Rational, logical, analytical, melding my mind with my Pastry on our mutual adoration of air hockey, pie, and adventures. I am by trade a researcher, educator, and artist. In Pastry’s phone contacts I am still listed as “Cucumber The Singer/Researcher” from our first date (a glorious evening of sushi, people watching at Walmart, and playing Battleship at Ihop over hot chocolate). So, I research stuff, and by stuff, I mean everything. And, I love me a good criteria, rigorous study, and analysis. This process, probably to the chagrin of my more emotionally driven love, is how I have approached my equal part in planning our wedding.

At least 800 thread count, please.

First, reconnaissance.

Reconnaissance is generally defined as a preliminary surveying to gather information or a strategic, military observation to ascertain strategic features. Within my own field, reconnaissance is a preparatory stage, an initial phase in which an exploratory stance is adopted, the understanding of the problem is developed, and plans are made for an interventionary strategy. So, wedding coordinators beware, I AM ON A MISSION. A MISSION OF LOVE AND EVENT COORDINATION, possibly with a signature bourbon cocktail and a small zoo animal encounter during the reception.

I think I have perhaps slightly terrified Pastry in my martial scouting of possible wedding venues. Meanwhile, The Wedding Industry Machine has instilled in me a great fear of not being able to find a venue, afford a venue, book beyond the select caterer, plan the nuptial date, coordinate ALL THE THINGS, incorporate whatever deranged rustic rodeo clown in Paris theme we desire, GET EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT, DO IT NOW, NOW NOW OR YOU WILL LOSE OUT FOREVER ON THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE, FEAR FEAR FEAR FEAR. (Pant, pant, pant.)

“Ugh” followed by a “This post doesn’t seem to be very aware of the cost of health care and education these days…”

In actuality, Pastry and I have discussed how though a wedding is a kickass way to celebrate our official union with our nearest and dearest, it is likely not going to be the Most Important Day of Our Lives. And, how our lives together will be composed of important days of various weights, graduating with a terminal degree, getting a promotion, having/adopting children, falling more in love, battling in future air hockey championships, playing Battleship and pie on our anniversary years and years down the road. The wedding is an important day, but it’s just a day. My sincerest hope is that it is just another great day in our lifetimes of many good and great days.

But, back to the assault upon finding a venue as the first wedding-related task. I coordinate very large events (1,000+) quite frequently for my actual job so I do know the importance of a solid timeline. As much fear-mongering all wedding planning guides instill in the average reader, there is some bizarre truth to it all as this shit needs to get done a year in advance. Which is ridiculous, but there you go. So, we’ve been gathering reconnaissance on venues, non-traditional, farms, zoos, gardens, parks, all-inclusive, historic buildings, cultural centers, goat farms, whatever place that might let us gallivant in our best finery and then drink in semi-public with our families. I made an Excel spreadsheet to track it all. I haven’t color coded it yet, but it is really just a matter of time. And, thus, this weekend we are off to start the whole looking at expensive places to hold this shindig.

Excellent showing, madam or sir, excellent showing.

Second, a weighted decision matrix. (Also sometimes referred to as a grid analysis, Pugh Matrix Analysis, or Multi-Attribute Utility Theory.)

My mom taught me some very important things in my life; How to stand up to injustice, how to endeavor to be fair, how being a strong woman is a wonderful thing to be. She also taught me how to put together awesome Powerpoint presentations (circa 4th grade when I made my astounding marking presentation debut with the innovative, “patent-pending” Sponge Coat, a rain jacket made of sponges) as well as the utter glory that is the weighted decision matrix (which I still currently utilize in my everyday practice). Essentially, you use this handy ol’ tool when you need to make one choice based on a multitude of criteria as well as account for the importance of the criteria by reducing everything down to a numerical weight. I am a nerd and I love this shit. #noapologies

Pastry is on board with my analytical framework as he is just as much of a data nerd. In my Vulcan logic-is-king manner, I was listing out possible criteria, location, catering/booze, flexibility, parking, insurance provision, cost, as well as the associated importance. Pastry kindly asked that we include an “x-factor” to my very tangible list of criteria, so that we could account for what just pulled at our heartstrings the most, the place that we just knew in our hearts was the place, what moved us the most. This. This is why he is my partner and makes me a better person. So, I gave our x-factor the highest numerical weight.  Because even sometimes Vulcans can fall in love with humans.

Bonus Spock .GIF as recommended by Pastry: