2014 & Weird New Things

Happy New Year, everyone!

Last night, everyone kicked 2013 out of the way to welcome 2014. It’s been a long while since I’ve had a good New Year celebration. Actually, I don’t even really remember having a specifically nice New Year’s, like, ever. I remember New Year’s Eves spent sitting on the couch and web-surfing with my parents while the news showed the ball drop in the corner of the living room as casually as if it were just another night on which we were letting Star Trek reruns play in the background. I remember another year, in high school, I was being an angsty teenager for not being driven to celebrate the coming of the new year with my first serious boyfriend. The year I met my fiancee, I was home alone because my folks were at a party with their friends. The next year was spent with some friends, which was fun but also somewhat socially stressful. Last year, I was working all day on New Year’s Eve, and only managed to get out of work by 11:45; the new year came while I was in my car, speeding to a friend’s place, where Luke was celebrating with friends until I could get there.

This year, I was expecting the same situation as last year. I worked all day New Year’s Eve, and was fully prepared to be there for the restaurant-wide champagne toast at midnight. However, we were actually pretty slow (extremely so, compared to last year) because of various reasons, and I was cut by 8:45 (which is early to be cut, even on a normal weekend shift). I was able to get out of work with enough time to stop at home and change into normal clothes before heading to where Luke was celebrating. This year, he was at his grandparents’ house with a lot of family. I didn’t tell him I made it out of work and could be with him at midnight, so it was a surprise when I turned up. When I arrived, I got lots of welcoming hugs before finding Luke playing a game (of course – what else?) called Munchkins with his brothers and cousins. I quietly settled next to his chair and started rubbing his back, and after a minute he turned to see who it was and just about fell out of his chair when he saw it was me (he comically repeated his double take – ridiculous faces and all – to play off just how surprised he had been). Obviously, a giant bear hug followed. Happy.

I got there at around 11, and had time to grab some grub and socialize before we all gathered in the main living room to watch the ball drop and cheers with sparkling juices. At the end of the countdown, we all cheered, sipped our drinks, and the room began churning and stirring from everyone going around hugging absolutely everyone else. I grew up separate from all of my extended family, and it’s just my parents, my sister and I here in Michigan, and most family gatherings included stuffy road trips and a fair share of personality clashes. Luke has at least a hundred members of his family (read: clan) here. They get together all the time. Seeing the entire room of family so relaxed and comfortable and happy was really new. And really great. 

Shortly thereafter, we all migrated to a different room to take a family picture (also not as long, stressful, or exhausting as the ones I grew up with!). However, there was one thought that hit me hard: this is the first year that Grammy never gets to see. The already-heightened emotions in the room definitely gave way to a wave of momentary crying. I told Luke and he just hugged me and soon everyone was back to chilling and playing games. 

2014 is going to be a huge year for me. I’ll be leaving the restaurant I’ve been at longer than any other, I’ll be getting married, moving out of my parents’, finding a new job, and starting a new education program (massage therapy, probably. Maybe grad school. I’m still picking which to start first). And, I get a huge new family (and brothers! which I’ve always wanted). Lots of new, weird things to do and responsibilities to have. 

All weird stuff. Stuff I’m sure I’ll get used to at some point. Hopefully, I can learn to be super organized, responsible, and tragically domestic and actually do those meal planning things and decorate a home and have a cleaning schedule and such. How else will I get along without my mom nagging me to empty the dishwasher? We’ll see what obstacles I can conquer. I’ve seen a lot of statuses about being glad to leave 2013 behind, but I feel like I can’t help but be aware that the things I want to leave behind in 2013 (grief, stress, homework,  etc.) will all carry over and find me in 2014. The only thing I can hope for is to face these things with more flexibility, resilience, and positivity.

And now, I’m going to get all list-makey and organize, clean, sort out schedules, appointments, resolutions, and to-do lists.

Happy New Year!

 

Holiday Catch-Up

I’ve been a busy, busy girl lately. Because it’s the holiday season, and particularly this week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, my work knows no schools are in session so they just decided to schedule me just about every day until school does start again. I’m not happy with a lot of my work situation currently, for many reasons. Because my fiancee lives so far away from the restaurant I work at, I know I’ll have to leave once I get married; I thought that knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel would help make frustrations at work more bearable but, in actuality, it does the opposite. With only a couple months to go, I find myself thinking “what am I putting up with this for? Why don’t I just quit early?” Honestly, though, I have friends here. I’m looking forward to my last day to go get married and have people go out with me after work to say goodbye and such. One of my coworkers I was venting to suggests that I just leave now, and find someplace like Applebees to just fling burgers out for cash for a month or two until I get married. This is a perfectly valid plan, but I’m still torn because I love the people where I’m at. I’ll leave the settling for someplace like Applebees until after the wedding until I can find myself a big girl job that actually utilizes my degree or something.

Wedding planning feels a bit like working out right now. I took a break for a couple days from the routine I had been doing, which was just doing something productive and wedding-related everyday. Now that I took the break, it’s hard for me to get back into my routine. Especially because I have the big, fun parts done with and now it’s all details, specific schedules, and guest lists. It’s also hard for me to get time with my mom to sit and power through these things because she’s traveling to see family while I stay home and work, and when she’s home it feels like she and are only ever home at opposite times. Once school starts up and we get settled into routine again, I’m looking forward to having a mom date.

I know very well that I have a lot on my plate this semester. Besides work and wedding planning, I have 17 credits this next semester, and grad school applications to tackle. I’m trying to remind myself everyday not to get angry with myself over little things, and that my attitude is my choice and choosing to be happy makes all the difference. The time I have up until the wedding is going to teach me a lot and challenge me in lots of different ways. Time for my stress management training to actually come in handy!

Right now I’m just trying to catch up on basic tasks and write an essay for my grad school app, and pirating with my man in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag until I have to go to work. 

Falling Together

Here I am, sitting in a quiet living room, browsing Pinterest (because for real, though – my life is now all Pinterest. Shameless Pinterest), and I come across a photoset that I have seen before:

pictures to take before the ceremony without breaking tradition. so cute.

These are photos from grooms and brides having pictures taken together before the wedding, but without seeing eachother. I’ve known for a while that this is something I want for my own wedding, but then I pictured Luke and I in these photos. And here I am, sitting in a quiet living room, and maybe I kinda sorta started tearing up out of emotion and excitement for the first time about everything.

Oh, and do you guys remember this last post where I said I hoped the right choices (especially for venues) would be as clear as day and that I would fall in love with one that was somehow miraculously available on only one of the two dates we’ve been considering? IT HAPPENED. I am feeling so crazy and happy that it actually happened like that! The venue I’m looking at for my reception is one that I really loved when I was looking with my sister for her wedding in 2010. It was the first reception venue I called, and when I told the lady this, she promptly began offering education about things to look for, consider, and ask when it comes to shopping around for reception venues. This immediately made me excited and that I could trust this group of people. They’ve been consistently available to contact, promptly respond to my emails, and very helpful with getting everything to fit into my budget.

Other places I have toured have either been much too expensive, or the girls working with me just weren’t personable or made me feel awkward, or they were unenthusiastic about, well, my wedding (which feels really selfish to say, but for real – my wedding means their business, and being excited and enthusiastic for others is #1 for customer service and even just generally connecting with others).

This morning, I met with a reception venue that was all of the above. Feeling a little discouraged, I drove down the road to the church I am hoping to get married in. I was worried it would be too weird or awkwardly set up, but when I walked into the quiet and empty sanctuary, I just sighed. The room was big, but probably not too big; I know this church does great backdrops for the stage with fabric and lighting; although the carpet color isn’t part of my colors (navy, spring green, and white), it was a muted purple, which fits into the combination so well and was actually a color I had considered using. When I walked down the center aisle to the front of the stage to consider the stairs up to it, everything felt surreal. I felt as if I were a ghost bride, looking at the ghostly, empty seats of my ghost guests, and that all of this would be fleshed out, colorful, alive, and breathing in a few months. As I was leaving the building, I looked out a completely glass wall to a beautiful back yard of the church: a creek with a bridge, lots of trees, and even a gazebo. Perfect for taking pictures.

Is it weird that the carpeting is possibly the one thing about either venue that makes me feel super anxious? I want to say that this is because it is the only thing about venues you can’t change, but that isn’t true. There’s lots of other things about venues you can’t change. Maybe it’s because there’s so much that could be wrong with it – the pattern, color, texture, stains, etc. I don’t know. Weird neurosis, I guess.

I’m usually very good about tuning into my intuition and gut feelings about decisions, and I think that this skill is going to be absolutely key throughout my wedding planning process. Listening to my intuition, staying calm and breathing, and keeping an open mind. I’m so stupidly excited (obviously). I also have an appointment for my first time shopping for bridal gowns, and I’m unbelievably eager to spend time with my mom and my sister, and to just see what there is to see. Going in with no expectations or demands, I can keep my mind and options open, and my stress low.

The big things – the wheres – seem to be falling together. Once I can get a grasp on these big things, I feel that I have a foundation on which to lay each brick and detail. I know it’s within my control to make this process a harried and stressful experience, or a calm and fun experience. I have that control over my responses to the process.

And I choose to have an absolute ball while planning the biggest party of my life.

My Engagement Details/FAQ

So, I have my own engagement story now! And, since many people have been asking me for details, I have created an FAQ for the occasion!

MY RING!

My ring!

When did you get engaged?

I got engaged Sunday, December 1st.

How did he propose? 

Well, we went out on a romantic date to a fancy-ish restaurant in downtown Rochester, MI. Every holiday season, they are notorious for having every inch of each and every building and storefront covered in Christmas lights. They’re all different colors – some patterned, some solid – it’s really beautiful. At dinner, we were lucky enough to be sat a table by the window so I could see the town from my table. This particular restaurant has paper as table cloths and crayons at each setting. I always love this and have fun drawing and writing things to him across the table. It’s fun seeing how well I can or cannot write mushy things upside down. Our food was great, and then we head out to walk a block or two along the lit-up town.

A small, bad angle of our restaurant.

A small, bad angle of our restaurant.Our dinnersOur dinnersI just adore that smirk.I just adore that smirk!

Trying to write upside down on the paper table cloths!

Trying to write upside down on the paper table cloths!

Some were more successful than others at writing upside down ;D

Our next stop was this fantastic dessert and coffee shop that has a significantly artsy, cafe ambiance and atmosphere. They’ve got everything – house-roasted coffee, cheesecakes, mousse, etc. We decided on chocolate fondue for two, and settled into a love seat by a coffee table. We talked while our chocolate melted and got warm, and they brought over the dish of our fruit and cookies to dip. Once we had finished, we began discussing logistics and timelines of getting married. Luke then began an adorable little monologue about things he loves about me and how he doesn’t want to ever be with anyone else, and proceeded to get on one knee in front of me (still sitting on the couch). He pulled out the ring box, asked me to marry him, which I answered “yes” and we hugged and it’s pretty typical from there!

Our yummy dessert - chocolate fondue!

Our yummy dessert – chocolate fondue!

Our last picture of being just boyfriend/girlfriend.

Our last picture of being just boyfriend/girlfriend.

His car has bluetooth capability so we ended the nigh by sitting in his warm car, calling our families on speakerphone together to tell them we were engaged.

It was perfect, and even though it was technically a public engagement, because we were sitting and he just shifted his weight to get on one knee on the floor, it really wasn’t obvious at all what he was doing. It still felt very private and intimate. No crowd applauding, no congratulatory comments on our way out. It was perfect.

Did you cry or scream?

Haha, no, I didn’t. =]

Did you know it was coming?

Yes, I did. I had known for a while because we discussed it a lot. Nevertheless I had been feeling held in such suspense! It’s been surreal that it’s actually happened.

Do you have a date planned?

Well, we have a couple in mind. It’s been less than a week, so any planning that I’ve/we’ve done has been really spontaneous and kind of up-in-the-air still. We want to make sure the date we choose works best for the most important people to us before we move forward with plans and announcements. We are looking at May or early June, though. I’ll keep you posted.

Where are you getting married?

I also have no clue about this yet. Like I said, it’s been less than a week. He proposed on Sunday, and it is Friday (technically, it’s the wee hours of Saturday morning).

What’s the best part about being engaged?

The best part has really been the fact that I have been feeling so special to have my sister and two best friends so excited for me and so enthusiastic about everything, and that Luke’s family has done absolutely nothing but welcomed me with open arms and excited smiles. It’s been very sweet.

Also, I like being able to actually discuss/toy with plans and ideas without looking like a lame person for planning her wedding before even being engaged. I’m not gonna lie, that was definitely happening a little bit. Guilty. Sue me.

What is the most difficult part about being engaged?

In the moment, I want to say the most difficult part has been trying to nail down a date. Luke and I are both anxious to just be able to have a date decided and run with it. I feel like everyday I’ve been making calls trying to figure out what day works for our immediate families and best friends. Once we can just get a solid date decided, we’ll feel like we can actually get started on some other solid plans and begin to flesh out the actual wedding.

Another really difficult thing is still dealing with the recent passing of my wonderful grandmother (my mom’s mom), and figuring out how to make room for all the happy and excitement in all the grief and pain and complicated family matters that arise from such events. Luke told me the night he proposed that he was hoping to propose on my birthday (September 16th), but nothing about that really went right (the weather was awful, and our plans involved a lot of outdoors – and also I hurt my ankle very badly), so he held off. The first thing that popped into my head at that time was If he had proposed on my birthday, I could have called Grammy about it. I did tell Luke this. We’ve talked about it and he actually told me it came up in a conversation with her and he got to tell her how he had a ring and was planning to propose ASAP. That makes me really happy, that she knew. Grief comes in waves, and more than once in just this week, I’ve found myself looking at one thing or another that made me think of her, or even just thinking about how excited and adoring she would be over the situation and crying. But it’s okay. Ultimately, right now I’m so very glad to have a reason to bring my family together for something to celebrate, considering a funeral was cause for our last gathering.

Additionally, I’m having a terribly difficult time getting used to calling him my fiancee. So, that’s pretty hard. Words are hard. whomp whomp.

Don’t Get Me Wrong…

I really like my job. Really. But what I don’t like as much is people. And there are just a few different kinds of people that come in all the time that drive me a a little crazy.

1. The girls who come in wearing very obvious self-tanner and huge Snookie-poofs and order very complicated and picky salads, and then their boyfriends order an actual sandwich and then they say “ugh, I can’t believe you ordered that, how can you eat all that?” in a whiney, obnoxious tone.

2. People who think they deserve everything there and own it all already just because they have some sort of remote connection to the owner. Or they know his first name.

3. Anyone who wears way too much perfume or cologne.

4. People who hand their sandwiches back to me and say, “Didn’t I say to grill this???”  When, in fact, they did not.

5. The women who randomly walk up to the counter and say “CHOCOLATE MILK?!?” And I’m all, “uhhh, what about it?”  and they’re all “They didn’t bring it over!” and I’m like, “it’s right there in the cooler, you get it yourself.” and they try to act like they were still right to be angry as they walk over to get it.

6. Men who are more than twice my age who insist on “taking me away from all this” and promising that I “will never have to make another sandwich again… for money.”

7. People who order while talking on their phone. Especially when they’re in the middle of a monologue and I feel like I have no way to ask any follow-up questions (what kind of bread, any cheese, what kind of toast, etc.).

8. Girls that come in and only order a toasted bagel with cream cheese to go. Not only because this is the exact scenario in which I almost cut off my finger the other day (my boss doesn’t think a bagel-slicer or pre-sliced bagels is sensible), but because it really makes no sense. We’re a cafe/deli. We don’t even make our own bagels, we get them from New York Bagels every week and flash-freeze them to keep them fresh. So it’s not like there’s any special reason our bagels are better than anyone else’s or anything. So if you really want a to-go, toasted bagel and cream cheese, I really just don’t understand why you don’t just go to Starbucks or Tim Hortons or even New York Bagels.

December, be good to me.

the first snow.
I love it.
When you walk outside into this wondrous scene, everything
everything.
is quiet.
muffled.
muted.
Even the air your lungs try to obtain seems to be far away from you,
waiting.
Still.
holding its breath.
All you can hear is your own boots shuffling along on the concrete sidewalks
and a little place in your mind is sure that time really has stopped, and you don’t even need to go to class
or that you might be the only person left on this planet.
or that perhaps you’ve finally gone deaf.
But you’re walking,
and it comes to mind that you want to be walking with some one.
Now, I don’t care who it is, or what your relationship is like,
but you want them with you.
Perhaps smiling at you over a steaming mug of stupendous hot cocoa,
or speculating about the best defense strategy were you to get ambushed by snowball-throwers.
Or, even some one to there to catch you if you slip.
and you’re never sure if that electrifying jolt of adrenaline is because you nearly fell,
or from their arms protecting you
from melting away
seeping into puddles and icicles and snowflakes and trees
Whether you prefer indoors or outdoors in wintertime, walking inside is so much better this time of year.
the rush of warmth,
the heat hugging you enveloping you
it’s cozyand the white dust in everyone’s hair
melts
away
and you are all left with damp, imperfect tendrils
and rosy cheeks
and cold noses
All the energy and lightness
the Christmas trees(!)
and sweet Christmas lights (!!)
and the giving and the getting and the glowing
and the loving and the lighting and the listening
and the sweets and the songs that get stuck in your head
“bury me in your quiet love
and we
will blow
away”
breath becomes visible
as if a reminder
that you are doing something.
that you are living.
that you are here.
and that the air you’re breathing and living on is the same air sustaining every other person
As for me,
I’m a snowfall kind of girl.
indoors, outdoors, cuddling, curled alone with a book
it’s all for me
this
winter
is all for me
and better call me inside
or I will become part of the snow.