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It’s 60 degrees and raining out, which makes it a very gray day. And I’m sleepy. I’m on my second cup of coffee, when I try to limit myself to one giant mug in the morning. I wasn’t up super-late last night compared to most Saturday nights. We were in bed by one. Usually we’re up until 2 or 3.

Yesterday we spent the day outside. We started the morning with brunch at our friend C’s housewarming party. C bought her first house in March, and has spent the past couple of months settling in and trying to get her upstairs apartment rented. She asked my opinion about green things in the garden. I identified a whole lot of volunteer bib lettuce, jill-over-the-ground, peppermint, spearmint, and mustardy weed things. She’s got peach and fig trees that appear to be producing already. Apparently the house was owned by an old Italian couple, and they were pretty prolific gardeners. She’s offered me space in her garden, because she probably won’t use it. It’ll have to wait until next year, because this spring and early summer are just a little bit bonkers.

After that, we went to Niskaday, a town festival with crafts, local businesses and the requisite terrible for you food. Jarak and I quickly got bored, because this is the sort of thing that’s great if you have kids, or have money. We currently have neither.

So we went over to Logan and Mariana’s house to do a copious amount of yard work in preparation for having our wedding after party there. Destroying small tree stumps so that the trees don’t come back next to the house, moving giant hosta clusters, spreading dirt, terracing the hill to build more retaining walls, picking lots of grass and roots out of garden soil, raking grass clippings etc, etc, etc. Many hands made light work, there were 7 of us helping at one point. We were powered by grilled yumminess and beer. We must have worked about 6 hours on and off. We quit around 8 as the light was starting to fade. I managed to not get any more than a tiny bit of sunburn on my shoulders and across my cheeks. SPF 30 for the win!

We hung out and drank, made s’mores, and watched the Niskaday fireworks. Jarak and I headed home around 12am, and crashed after we washed the dirt and smoke off of us. And now I’m just tired…

Last weekend I went out to my mom’s house in NH to do wedding prep stuff. I finally found a pair of shoes!

Product Image

They basically look like this. And they were really cheap, which I really like. We also took in my dress, pulled off the peachy-pink waistband, and rescued dozens of sequins and beads that kept falling off the dress.

We went and tasted wine from a winery in the town where I was born. I did the math on a case of wine, and almost fell over from sticker shock. I called Jarak and said “hey, can we get away with a case total, instead of 2 cases?” We decided that we could, and I came home with 3 dry Rieslings, and 3 semi-sweet Rieslings. We’ll get the reds from a place near us.

Weddings are seriously expensive, even when you’re doing things really cheaply and doing them all yourself.

Jarak and I finished bottling wedding beer, racked the wedding mead again to help it clear, and got our marriage license on Friday. Now it’s even closer to being official! And there’s a judge who will do the civil ceremony for free at city hall. It’s amazing how easy it is to get a wedding cert, all we needed was our birth certificates and photo ID. It was less complicated than getting our Enhanced Driver’s licenses. Odd.

In a little over a month, I will be married. This is so cool.

My old roommate had this on his FB wall. It about sums up my thoughts on the matter.

My old roommate had this on his FB wall. It about sums up my thoughts on the matter.

I started this blog as I was preparing to move from Boston to the Albany area of NY. I’d moved to Boston for graduate school, and had started my career there. 6 years living within biking distance of the T, and right on multiple MBTA buslines. I lived in Somerville and Arlington, went to school in Cambridge, worked in Brighton, and Charlestown and Dorchester. I also grew up less than 2 hours northwest of Boston. I refuse to call myself a Bostonian, because I’m from NH dammit and I won’t be labeled a Masshole. But Boston was my home for a long time. I did a lot of growing up there.

One of my roommates right after grad school had an amazing girlfriend who ran marathons for the Liver Foundation. They are now married, and she ran again this year. Through them I met another fantastic friend who was also running for the liver foundation. My cousin qualified to run the Boston Marathon in 2011, and I biked out to see him. I met the woman that he married last month that Monday.

So even though I did not have the day off, I did not watch the marathon, and I was not in Boston, yesterday is hitting pretty close to home. Because I would have been there. I am often in the scrum near the finish trying to find my friends. That could have been me. I’m so very, very glad it wasn’t, and I’m so very, very glad that all of my friends are ok, but still. These sorts of things are supposed to happen somewhere else, to someone else, not to “my” city, not to “my” people.

To add insult to injury, one of the fatalities in Boston is an 8 year old boy. My client that died in February was 8. Too close to home.

We had a regularly scheduled trauma-informed training today. That is, we are learning how work with kids who have long histories of trauma and how to effectively treat them. And our instructor Would. Not. Shut. UP. about how it’s making everyone feel on edge, and that it’s making people fear that there are bombs in buildings. He named the school I work at specifically as a school that people might be afraid had bombs in it.  He clearly didn’t even think that anyone had personal ties to Boston, or to people who might be running. He didn’t even check to see if we were ok emotionally about it. I was really pissed. I had to spend most of the morning trying not to cry. I had a really hard time with it. I posted something bitchy on FB around 11am.

My father called my cell shortly after that, and left a voicemail letting me know that while he was now ok, someone in my family had recently taken ill, and was being cared for. That was it. I lost it. I had to leave the room, and couldn’t stop crying.

I cancelled my appointments for the day, and came home. I’m still not ok, but at least I’m not crying. Jarak was here, and he gave me hugs and let me just decompress. I’m knitting a hat for my niece who’s due this week. I’m mailing a check to our wedding photographer. I will go to the gym tonight and do deadlifts with my friend. I’m doing really basic, self-care things, and not being at work. Work is really hard right now. I need some scheduled time off I think. This is just too much.

Now that we’re just over 3 months away I’m feeling pressured to Do All The Things! (all at once!) I have fabric to find (and likely dye) for the waistband of my dress, find ribbon that’s the right color for all the ribbony things, and find shoes to wear with my dress. I’m suddenly finding myself frustrated both at the world and at myself for not being able to find the right colors of things. Our wedding color is indigo, that blue/purple that changes depending on the light. I can find blue, I can find purple, but not indigo. It’s maddening. Fortunately, one of my aunts is great with dyeing fabrics, so I’ll likely just ask her to dye stuff for me, but I’m starting to feel like one of those crazy people who wants things Just So. 

The shoes are an even more frustrating dilemma. I keep threatening to just get married barefoot, but the actual ceremony space is paved with brick, and my feet won’t be callused enough by mid-June to deal with sun-heated brick if it’s warm out, and I’m not in love with the idea of walking through parking lots barefoot. I’m 5’10”, my dress reaches the floor when I’m barefoot, and I’m loath to add much in the way of height to myself because it’s a wedding gown, not a wedding tea-length-dress dammit. Also, we’re getting married in a garden, and I don’t want to wear heels because I don’t want to sink into the ground. ALSO, I hate heels. A lot. Finding dress shoes that are white or silver or purple and aren’t heels and look cute? Not so much, and again with the making me feel like I’m high maintenance.

I know on one level I’m really not, because I’m basically rolling with whatever our venue gives us in terms of chairs and tables and not really giving a crap if everything matches. We can’t attach anything to the walls of the reception hall, but it has beautiful exposed beams and tons of sun, so it’ll sparkle and be beautiful no matter what. We’re having tiny centerpieces (one or two blossoms in a bud vase) because I want everyone to be able to talk to each other across the tables. And we’re poor, but mostly because I want people to talk to each other and big centerpieces get in the way.

One thing that I’ve been blown away by is how many people keep offering to help. I haven’t really nailed down all the things that we need help with yet, but there will be lots of getting aunts and uncles and cousins and friends to carry things and set up. We’re doing a terribly old-fashioned “it takes a village” sort of wedding, because we’re broke, and also because it means so much more to us to have our friends and family help us out and be involved than to pay someone we don’t know lots of money to make stuff happen. These are the people who have made us who we are, and who will be supporting us in our life together after we’re married, it makes sense to have them help us start our life together as well.

I have a blurry vision of what I want to have happen, and it’s very slowly resolving itself into an actual picture. Jarak has almost finished our registry page. We’re not registering anywhere officially because what we want is from all over, and we want people to buy local to them, or to us, and to support small businesses wherever they can. The registry is to help ensure we don’t end up  with 5 waffle irons, and to help us remember who gave us what so that we can send thank-you cards. Jarak learned PHP to make it work, and it looks awesome. Hooray geeky fiances.

The other big challenge is creating our wedding playlist. We’re doing the iPod DJ thing, because it just seems simpler (and is infinitely cheaper). I plan on handing my iPod off to our Twitch who’s lending us his PA system and telling him to only let Jarak and I touch the iPod upon pain of body slam (he’s a martial artist, and a Strongman guy, and used to play in a band. He rules.) We’re dividing the playlist up into three sections: ceremony (if we can’t find anyone to play live) cocktails/lunchtime music (Old Jazz standards) and dancing at the end.

We’re designing the invitations this week, and will hopefully have them printed and ready to send out by the beginning of April. We got a rubber stamp made of our family crest, which is really cool, and will be going on the back of all of the invites, and probably all envelopes we send out from here on out.

So yeah, details! Ack! Married people send me your “how to survive the last few months” advice please!

I’ve been dealing with some serious shit recently. One of my clients died a week ago. He was a little guy, under 10. If you live in the Capital Region you’ve probably heard about it, but I’m not going to go into detail. Suffice to say, I’ve been caught in a maelstrom of grief, anger, disbelief and worry. I found out while I was on my on-call week. I got a phone message from CPS asking for information about this kid, and that he had died. I had to kind of sputter into the phone to the answering service that this was *my* client. I hung up the phone and promptly burst into tears.

Jarak was home as it was Saturday. I told him what happened and he just held me while I cried. All I knew at that point was that I needed him to be there for me. And that all that was keeping me held together was his touch. If he hadn’t been there last weekend I honestly don’t know what I would have done. He was there in between all of my phone calls to hold me. He didn’t ask a lot of questions, he was just there. After 3 years, he knows what I need when I’m upset and I’m so grateful for him.

The grief keeps hitting me in waves. I’ll be ok most of the day or evening, and then it will slam into me and I can’t work or do anything except go home and cry. And Jarak is just there for me. More than any other time, I’m realizing why we have partners. We have partners, husbands, wives to support us when things go to shit. To hold us when there are no words and the only thing that will make us feel better is human touch and connection.

We drove down to Maryland for my cousin’s wedding this weekend. The wedding was amazing and beautiful, if absolutely nothing like ours will be. I’m so very happy for them. We spent Friday night in Philadelphia with one of my college roommates and our cake maker. I haven’t seen her in 6 years, and we picked up right where we left off. There is a reason we were such good friends in college. And our cake is going to be Epic.

Going to a wedding, visiting old friends, and seeing family after this past week was a welcome break, but probably the best part of it was spending 3 uninterrupted days with Jarak. I fell asleep on the couch last night snuggled up with him. I’d been anxious since we got back into New York, but something about touch makes it all go away. We’ve been through a lot as a couple, with 2.5 years of long-distance and financial issues, and learning to communicate, but this week and this weekend has really hammered home to me that there is no one in this world who I’d rather have with me than him as I tackle the rest of the adventure of life. He makes it better just by being there, and that’s what makes him the perfect partner for me.

I totally missed my 1 year blogging mark. I haven’t blogged since before Thanksgiving. December was a whirlwind of 80 client caseloads, 3 day a week workouts, cooking, baking, travel to York, PA for Christmas, creating our wedding website and making our registry list and finally mailing out our save-the-dates. It was all very boring, and also very tiring. I have tended to want to plop on the couch, watch Netflix and knit after work instead of blogging. So here we are on February 10th, the last day of my 20s and I have 2.5 months of blogging to catch up on. Except I won’t.

Today I want to talk about milestones, specifically birthdays. I turn 30 tomorrow. Whoa… 30. Except that I’m not freaked out about it at all. It helps that almost all of my friends are 1-10 years older than me. 30 doesn’t feel old compared to my friends who are in their early 40s. In fact I’m happy and excited and feeling very proud of myself for all that I have accomplished in the past 30 years. I’m approaching it in a “Woo! I rock!” kind of way. I went to a Goth Night on February 1st and if it was your birthday month you got a tiara. So I now own a plastic silver tiara with pink stones. I normally hate pink, but it’s a tiara and it’s awesome. I wore it at my birthday potluck this past Friday. It was fun.

In terms of accomplishments, there are some things that I wish I’d been able to get around to already, but life conspired against me, and I just have to make them happen when I can. Namely, studying abroad never happened, and when I was 18 I was convinced that I would be married and finished having kids by the time I was 30. Instead I’m engaged and will not end up starting a family until I’m 31 at least. (Although things may change.)

What have I accomplished in the past 30 years?

-I completed both my BA and MA by the time I was 24

– I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and am working towards my Registered Art Therapist and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist certifications.

– I have dated enough people to know what I needed and what was toxic for me so that when I found Jarak I knew that he was perfect for me.

– I have made many good friends who will still be my friends in 10 years (I hope)

– I made two major moves, one from college to grad school in Boston, living on my own for the first time, and then the second one from Boston to Schenectady to live with Jarak.

– I financed a good (used) car that will last me for at least 10 years.

– I learned how to bake bread, from my parents’ recipe.

– I weathered a horrible relationship, graduate school, being perpetually broke/underemployed, dealing with demons of my past and my parents’ divorce, with the help of my absolutely fantastic therapist in Jamaica Plain. 6 years of work means that I now know how to ask for help when I need it.

–  I Grew The Fuck UP. (seriously, I want to smack my 15, 18, 22 and 25 year old selves…)

I think that’s a pretty good list. The last one really kind of sums everything up. I’m much more calm, settled and patient than I was even 5 years ago.

So what does this year bring?

-Jarak and I are getting married!

-My cousin and our good friends are also getting married.

– I get to welcome my niece into the world in April.

-I get to meet my cousin’s awesome baby.

– Travel to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Portland, ME and Halifax Nova Scotia (our honeymoon!)

Maybe I will start a garden, start a compost pile/bin at our friend’s newly purchased house. We will also begin saving for a house and hopefully will have a house before we start our family. In addition, I hope to move into private practice for more flexibility and more money with less pressure to work 45 hour weeks with no breaks.

Wedding planning is kicking into high gear. We’re starting to design our invitations, and have brewed our first batch of Wedding Beer, a Robust Porter. We went suit shopping for Jarak yesterday, and I’m trying to find some sort of bodice/bustier thing to wear under my dress to smooth out any (perceived) lumps under the satin. We’re doing cake-tasting with my college roommate in Philadelphia at the beginning of March. We’re starting to shop for things like dessert plates, cocktail glasses and napkins. I joked to Jarak that now I’m actually allowed to bug him about wedding plans every weekend, now that we’re less than 5 months away from the wedding date. He agreed. The crazy thing is that I’m not super-stressed about anything right now. A little worried about how we’re going to pay for it all, but other than that? Meh… All that really matters is that the people who we love show up, we declare that we are madly in love with each other and want to stay that way, and then we eat and drink. I refuse to worry about tiny details like whether all the shades of purple and blue match, or that we “should” do thing x, y, or z.

And now I’m off to continue reading Game of Thrones, which I started last week and am thoroughly engrossed in. Tomorrow after work I will go have a beer or 3 at Bier Abbey to celebrate actually being 30, and hopefully will remember to blog more.

It’s been a hell of a week. No, literally, hell. I’m on call at work, which means that I can’t ever relax completely on my “off” hours. I always have to have my damn work phone with me. Add that to the fact that I’m seriously overworked and underpaid, and my bosses don’t appear to care, and it’s been a very rough week. Like coming home, throwing my keys on the table and pronouncing “I hate everything” and then throwing myself on the bed. Apparently I turn into a four year old when I’m tired and stressed out. Fortunately, my on-call week ends at 8am tomorrow morning.

Jarak, fortunately, has been wonderful. I’ve been careful to let him know that I’m not mad a him, I’m mad about work. And he’s been taking care of me. I’m super lucky to have him, and he has made things better. He took yesterday off of work, and we spent the whole day together. It wasn’t some grand trip or event, it was just puttering around the house, running errands, lunch at the Indian grocery, and then making dinner and bottling the stout we brewed at the end of August. (It fermented for something like 73 days. It’s nuts) Having a full day with him was wonderful.

On a different note, we’ve been doing lots of wedding-y stuff. It’s going slowly…We’re working on our website (by we, I mean Jarak built the thing, and comes to me for design approval on things. He’s awesome and creative like that.) We ordered our save-the-date magnets from a local printer who neglected to proof them beforehand, and our 3.5×4″ magnets were rotated 90*, so our photos were squished. Jarak grumped at them mightily about that, and they’re reprinting them for free, but still… argh! It took UPS 3 tries to deliver our box of envelopes because the driver rings the doorbell and then leaves… We have purple envelopes! And they’re local and recycled paper! Yay!

I’m trying not to compare our wedding to anyone else’s. What I know is right for us, and fits our budget/style/personalities is in some ways totally different than what is expected by people for a wedding. My cousin is getting married in March, and our good friends have invited us to be in their wedding next September. There will be huge differences in style, budget and aesthetic among all 3 weddings.

Other than the fact that we’re doing this on a (relative) shoestring, the main difference is how much we are doing ourselves, or are asking for help from friends and family. We have made our mead, will be brewing 2-3 batches of beer, and I will likely make some sort of yummy for the reception. Both of our families are full of amazing cooks who we are asking to help provide food. My college roommate who is a fantastic pastry chef is making the cake.  My mother is altering my dress. Our friend who used to be in a band is providing our PA system. We are focusing a lot on local businesses for things that we can’t make or do ourselves.  Our rings will likely be made locally (I have yet to find a pre-made ring that’s exactly to my liking.), our flowers will be from a local farm, the wine will be from a local winery, and perhaps best of all, Nick and Britin Foster of All Good Bakers have agreed to provide sticky buns for the morning of the wedding. These are all things that we believe strongly are important. And we are so blessed to have so many amazing people who are willing to help us out and make our day an awesome success.

Neither of us are particularly religious, and as such we are getting married outside with a friend doing the ceremony. Our siblings and my Bestest Friend Ever are standing up for us, and are standing up by family, instead of by gender. We will likely have an uneven number of attendants. Jarak and the boys will not be wearing suits. (Seriously, outdoors in late June? Shirts and ties are fine.)We will not be having champagne. All of these are things that we’ve been questioned/challenged on already. Fortunately, the questioners have graciously accepted our explanations.

Still, it’s hard to not slip into the mode of “oh, she’s getting/doing that? why can’t I do that?” Or “I wish I could afford that.” Even if it’s not something I want or need! Stupid wedding industrial complex and the cultural expectations that are wrapped up around weddings. Defending our choices is easy now, but I worry that I’m going to be sick of defending and explaining them come June when someone decides that I “have” to do something or we “must” buy this thing.

On a related note: in light of the “something old something new” rhyme, I’ve gotten it into my head that I’d like to borrow a sapphire/lapis necklace from someone. It feels rather silly and minor, but I think it would be a neat way to roll the last two parts of the poem into one. My engagement ring is my something old something new. The amethyst was in a necklace that my father gave me when I was 12.

I’ve had this post kicking around in my head for weeks, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to best get it all down in pixels.

A few months back, Jarak and I were having tasty beers with our friends Logan and Mariana. (They are our closest friends here in Schenectady, and Logan is going to be our officiant. We are in their wedding 3 months after ours.) Somehow the topic of divorce came up, and we realized that 100% of our parents, for all 4 of us, are divorced. Two of the dads have remarried, Jarak’s being one of them, but at the core, none of our biological parents are married to each other anymore.

My parents were married for almost 30 years. They were my role models for marriage. When they separated when I was 25, I felt like my world was ending. (That was also the summer of my car dying, and the very real possibility of shoulder surgery. Summer of 2008 sucked.)Growing up, I felt really proud that they were still together when the parents of my friends and my parents’ friends were getting divorced. I never thought it would happen to me.

It’s a very different thing to experience parental divorce as an adult than I expect it is to experience it as a child. While all of my friends who have divorced parents have had 10 or 15 or even more years to get used to it and for it to become the new normal, I’ve had about 4 years. The wound is still very fresh for me. And as such, the idea of getting married feels very scary, and very brave right now. And I’m absolutely terrified at this point.

I know multiple people my age, and maybe a bit older, who have been married and are already divorced. Someone recently posted to Facebook about how 50% of marriages end in divorce and that everyone should “save themselves the money that they would spend on  a sham wedding.”I read that and felt like I’d been hit. It wasn’t intended to hurt, but it did, because it brought out all of my insecurities and fears about making this huge commitment to this man who I am madly in love with.

I can write about this now, because I’ve talked to Jarak, and my dad, and other friends about my fears. I’m afraid I’m going to say or do hurtful, awful things. I’m afraid that when things get hard, I’ll want to run away and I’ll act on it. I’m afraid of forever. Because forever is HUGE. Like mind-bogglingly huge. Looking at wedding rings and realizing that we need to make good choices now, because these will be the rings that we wear for the rest of our lives. I’m not yet 30, my family lives well into their 90s. I can’t even wrap my brain around 60+ years with the same ring on my hand, let alone in a relationship with the same person. Don’t get me wrong, Jarak is absolutely who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but “forever” in the romantic abstract is very different than forever in the “I will be with this person from now until one of us dies.” It’s a big promise, and I worry if I can keep up my end of the deal.

We are writing our own ceremony, and our own vows. I’m beginning to understand why the traditional vows have “In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.” among other things. It’s going to be important that we have something in our vows about sticking through the hard times, and that even if we don’t like each other sometimes, that we will still stick together. We’re a good team, and we’re really good for each other, but there may be a time when one or both of us feels like that’s not the case. My dad gave me some good advice today. He told me that we will hurt each other badly at times, and that we will have to learn to forgive, both Jarak and myself. I know that while I can forgive others fairly easily, it’s much harder to forgive myself.

Our wedding is the beginning of our marriage. And we’ve talked more about how we want our marriage to be, than how we want our wedding to be. I would do just about anything to make Jarak happy, and to take care of him. I’m reasonably certain he would do the same for me. I hope that going into this big huge commitment at 30, after being together for 4 years at that point, and being clear eyed about the idea that there are going to be parts that are really hard, will somehow fortify our marriage against the boogeyman of divorce. What is a wedding, but one of the biggest expressions of hope for the future any two people can do?

I hate wedding planning. Or rather, I’d like it a whole lot more if I had more money. Weddings involve lots of Things and Things cost money. We’re broke. Not poor, but broke, as in “If we didn’t pay 1/3 of our incomes to student loans we’d be great.” I’d also like it a lot better if stupid Facebook didn’t bombard me with stupid ads down the side of the page about getting married and “the white dress diet” and shoes and ack!

I keep picking up wedding magazines, hoping that they’ll tell me something interesting or new or doable, and then I put them back. I don’t need to spend $5.99 on a magazine that is trying to sell me a vision of my wedding that is totally different from the one that I already have. This is what happens when you have two artist types designing a wedding. We already know what we like, and just because this season’s hottest color is pink, doesn’t mean we’re going to have anything to do with it. I bought one, a Martha Stewart one with neat hair ideas and some cool favor ideas. All of the others stay on the rack.

That being said, I’m a girl, and I’ve been envisioning my wedding since I was about 10. I clearly remember having a conversation with one of my 5th grade friends about what we wanted our weddings to look like and I said I wanted a purple dress. She informed me that I couldn’t have a purple dress unless it was an evening wedding. May I remind you, we were 10?

My parents got married outdoors at my grandparents’ house in rural coastal Maine. It was simple and beautiful. I’ve always kind of wanted to recreate that. However, my father has sold his house, and Jarak’s parents’ back yard is half swamp when it rains, so backyard wedding was right out. And this is where we ran headlong into the Wedding Industrial Complex. Searching for reception venues kept bringing up big banquet halls, plated dinners, and lots of fancy, expensive stuff. We didn’t want any of that.

My dreams for the wedding:

outside
lots of flowers
purple things (dresses, flowers, etc.)
good food and drink, maybe potluck
dance party!

Jarak’s requirements:

not too hot
open bar
as little money as possible

These did not connect very well at first. We agreed on open bar and outside, but otherwise? We were on two separate planets. I’ve been to a lot of weddings. Jarak has been to three or four, and two of them were with me. We had to be on the same page before we could even begin planning. We had a number of very grumpy conversations about money and not spending it frivolously, and whatnot. We started the budgeting process with the question of “What is reasonable/ what are we comfortable spending on this.”Getting on the same page in terms of the language that we were using was really important.

We finally realized that we needed to ask for help. We suck at asking for help. We don’t like to impose on anyone. But once we started to ask, it became clear that people would love to be part of our wedding and to help us out. One of my aunts was overjoyed when I asked her to help with the flowers. We’re bartering for things, we’re making things, and we’re learning to ask for help.

A big issue of contention was my dress. It seems like madness, when you have very little money, to spend upwards of $200 on a dress that you will wear once, for 10 hours at most. We had our biggest fight over the damn dress. At first my mother was going to make it, and it was going to be silk, and all handmade and beautiful. I wanted a princess dress, with a corset bodice, full skirt, sweetheart neckline and straps. All white, mostly plain, not a whole lot of sparkle and certainly no ruching. My mother and I went out to go try on dresses so that she could see what looks good on me, and what I like. We went to a big boutique and I was feeling fat and yucky and grumpy about shopping. I tried on about 20 dresses, and decided none of them were good enough,(bling! ruching! pickups! Lace! Ivory! ugh!) which annoyed the heck out of the consultant. After an hour, we gave up and went home. We stopped to get coffee for me, tea for mom, and to split a really good raspberry chocolate cheesecake. It was the perfect palate cleanser.

And then we found my dress. We went to a little secondhand store in Milford NH called I Do, Again. It’s this tiny boutique with used, bought-and-never-worn, and store samples of wedding, prom and other formal dresses. The woman who ran the store was in the middle of packing it up to move into a bigger space. I tried on a few dresses, which headed in the right direction, and then pulled on an Ivory (!) strapless (!) dress with a lace(!) and beaded(!) overlay on the bodice. It laces up the back corset style, and it fits absolutely beautifully. It’s polyester, not silk, and has a hideous pink waistband. I almost said no. However, when the shop owner found a purple scarf from one of the other dresses in the shop, tied it around my waist and stepped back, I started to cry. Seriously, me, the “I hate shopping, and most girly stuff annoys me” girl, cried when the purple sash went around my waist. It was perfect. And it was under $120. I totally had one of those “Say yes to the dress” moments, and I wanted to smack myself, because I don’t do stuff like this! So my mom and I are going to alter the dress to make it perfect. We’re removing the pink waistband and will add a purple one, we’re taking in the top of the bodice and making the straight neckline a sweetheart and adding a halter strap because I hate strapless dresses, but it will be beautiful. And now I can worry about other things, like finding compostable wine glasses, designing our save the dates and invites, sewing Jarak’s vest, and… and.. and…

I’m realizing that the reason I don’t like any of the wedding magazines is because they’re for people who don’t have their dresses, who don’t know what they want their flowers to look like, who don’t know what the invites and save the dates should be etc. Wedding magazines are not designed for artists. I’m marrying and artist, I am an artist, and it is awesome. And we’re going to look spiffy!

Sundays are my “get things done” days. I am simultaneously making yogurt, making bread, cooking rice and lentils for dinner tonight and lunches during the week. Fortunately, most of these projects involve paying attention to things for short periods of time, and then walking away.

Friday Jarak and I headed to my dad’s house in Southern NH to pick up the remaining items that I had stored at that house. Unfortunately, my parents have had to sell their gorgeous 4 bedroom colonial that we built the summer before my freshman year of high school. It’s on 20 acres of former dairy farm, mostly fields, with a stream, pond and an orchard my parents started when we moved in. Closing is on Thursday, and everything needs to be out by then. The house has felt less and less like “my house” and more like somewhere I visit. I haven’t lived there since I was 22, and after my mother moved out, it felt even more foreign. When I arrive at that house, my dad says “welcome home” and it’s really not home anymore. The apartment I live in with Jarak is home now.

Even though I have complicated feelings about the house, the fact that I won’t be able to visit the property anymore hit me really hard Saturday morning. I had a good cry, and felt sad about it for a while, and then moved on to the hugely frustrating and exhausting task of moving my bedroom furniture down a flight of stairs and into the trailer. We also helped my father move some of the larger things that he couldn’t do by himself into the trailer that he’s using to move.

Packing up my childhood room was strange, and interesting. It’s remained relatively unchanged since the last time I lived in that house. Which means that there was a lot of high school still on the walls. Posters of panthers, artwork I did in middle and high school, the shelf that held the porcelain doll and other delicate girly things that were given to me, the collage of Airwalk ads I tore out of Wired magazine when I was in 8th grade. Very, very high school still. It was interesting making decisions about what things should be moved, and what could be trashed. I found myself saying “I won’t use this, but I’d like to put it in my little girl’s room some day.” Noticing the shift from nostalgia to dreaming about my future girl who I could share my girly things with was interesting. The bed I grew up sleeping in is a family heirloom, and even though there’s no space for it in our apartment, we had to take it, because our first child will sleep in that bed. This whole move was an exercise in planning for the future while acknowledging the current sadness and closing of a chapter.

Over at A Practical Wedding, there’s often a lot of talk about being a team, and doing the hard things together. This weekend I really understood why I’m getting married. Beyond the fact that I love him more than anything, Jarak and I are a great team. We help each other, even when it’s annoying and we don’t really want to do it. Having a partner means that the really hard things are doable, and not so painful and daunting. We each are made better by the other. I could not have done this weekend without him, which I’ve made sure to tell him and thank him for multiple times. Watching Jarak help my dad was really special, because they’re two of the most important people in my life, and seeing them work together really brought home the idea that he’s family now, even if we’re not officially married yet.

Jarak and I have gotten really good at moving recently. We’re also really tired of moving at this point. I woke up this morning and realized that my abs hurt. Our hands hurt yesterday. Jarak was a rockstar and did all of the driving, mostly because we borrowed his step-mom’s car, but also because driving with a trailer scares me, and I had a humiliating experience trying to back up a trailer when I was in college, and have been avoiding it ever since. I really hope that the next time we move, it’s into our first house. For the first time in 7 years, all of my belongings are in the same state. I have moved one particular dresser 3 separate times. (I replaced the dresser I’ve been using with one from my room in NH, so we had to put my old one in storage.)

We’re looking forward to a few weeks (months?) that don’t involve being on the road. In the past month, we’ve gone to a wedding in Burlington, VT, driven to Midcoast ME to visit my grandmother and aunt, and been to my dad’s in NH twice. It’s been a lot of driving, and a lot of not being home. My cat has not been happy with us.

On the up side, now that we have my other bookcase, we finally have space for all of our books. We’re at 5 book cases and counting. I emptied two banker’s boxes of books today.

Now to put lentils and rice away, clean up the kitchen, and wait for the dough to rise so that I can form loaves and bake it. Then either reading or netflix.

I always kind of knew that this blog would become a wedding blog, it was just a question of when.

Jarak and I had decided a while ago, when we had first realized that This Is It, that we’d get engaged after living together for a year. It then took me a year and a half to find a job and move out here. We had talked about shortening the amount of time that we live together before we got engaged, but never really settled on a number of months.

At Easter this year everyone kept asking when we were going to get married and I kept saying “Sometime after he asks me, I dunno.” I realized that that put an unfair amount of pressure on Jarak, and started saying basically “When we’re ready” in response to the wedding question.

“But Seren” you might say “you’re such a forward-thinking feminist, if you wanted to get married so much, why didn’t you ask him?” It was really important to me that he ask for a number of reasons. The first being that if I had my way we probably would have been engaged a year into being together, and that was too fast for him. Second, Jarak has never had a serious girlfriend before me, I wanted to give him time and not pressure him to get married before he was ready. And third, part of me is the little girl who dreams of fairy tales and romance and down-on-one-knee traditional proposals.

I got my proposal, but not down-on-one-knee, and it was so perfectly Jarak that I have to giggle every time I tell the story. We went to Rochester for our 3 year anniversary. We both went to college there, and they’ve got a great craft beer scene. We went because the Rochester Craft Beer Festival was that weekend. After making the 4 hour drive, we had dinner and drinks with one of my old friends from college and then went back to our hotel. We were snuggling and kissing and he kept looking at me in the strangest way. It’s his “I’m thinking about something important” face. And he finally looks at me very intently and says “Let’s be engaged for real. Let’s quit fucking around.” And I threw my arms around him and kissed him and said “Absolutely.” I fully expected to cry, but I didn’t then.

I cried when I got my ring. We designed my ring, and used a stone that came from a necklace my father had given me when I was 12. It was set in yellow gold, and I never wear yellow gold, so I never wore the necklace. It’s a big amethyst and it’s beautiful. It’s my birthstone, and I love purple. We went to a local jeweler the week after we got back from Rochester and designed it ourselves. It was then that it really started to sink in: We’re getting married! It took a few weeks for my ring to be finished; apparently everyone in the jewelry business takes 2 weeks off at the beginning of July. I wasn’t expecting it until the end of July/early August. But about a week before I thought I’d get it, Jarak surprised me with it after we’d made dinner and were just plopped on the couch. I cried then. I can’t stop looking at it. It’s sparkly!

Jarak and I at a friend’s wedding September 2011

My ring!