Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How Many People Mention "Sulfuric Air" in Their Wedding Vows?

Thanks, all, so much for the good wishes! It has only been four days since the Big Day, but already it feels like months! Is hat a good thing or bad thing? Regardless, here is a script from the ceremony:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Justice of the Peace selected this to read this excerpt from an Adrienne Rich poem:

No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding
(I told you from the first I wanted daily life,
this island of Manhattan was island enough for me.)
If I could let you know — two women together is work
nothing in civilization has made simple,
two people together is a work
heroic in its ordinariness,
the slow-picked, halting traverse of a pitch
where the fiercest attention becomes routine
— look at the faces of those who have chosen it.

Justice of the Peace:
Nicole and Jennifer, do you vow…
• To love each other deeply?
• To seek new experiences together and grow together? 

• To share your joys and successes, and support each other through your sorrows, disappointments and frustrations?
Do you vow…
• To face adversity with the goal of coming together rather than coming apart?
• To comfort each other when you cry, care for each other when you are sick, support each other when you strive, and share in joy and happiness?
Finally, do you, Nicole and Jennifer, vow…
• To cherish each other and to be grateful for each day together?
• To commit to the journey, even when you do not know the way?
• To create a loving home for each other and for Madeline and Avery?

[Nicole’s to Jennifer]: I am grateful to have found my soul mate, the person who understands me, supports me and even humors me when I might be acting up. The safety and security you provide fills me with confidence that as bad as times may appear they never really will be that bad. You inspire me. You make me want to keep getting better — to be a better spouse, mother, friend, sister, daughter. You set a high bar. You are devoted, loving, generous to those in your orbit and I’m lucky to be revolving around you more closely than the others. You gave me a precious gift when you brought Madeline and Avery into the world. I could not conceive of more joy and love than what we already shared together. Who knew there was an entirely different and wonderful dimension to our love? You did. You are a phenomenal mother to our daughters. You’re gifted and our girls will grow up to be great women for having grown up with you influencing their lives. I cherish you, I have always cherished you and I will forever cherish you.

Jennifer to Nicole:
• It’s been almost seven years of blissful domesticity,
• Six annual lunches at Tea and Sym on the Eve of Christmas Eve,
• 5 amazing nieces and nephews, three of which we born during us
• A new family of four, expanded from a family of two about 17 months ago,
• at least 3 new computers and computer-related personal breakdowns, if my counting is correct,
•Two homes, two cars, and, most importantly two adorable, perfect, and well-worth-the-wait little girls,
• And now, one marriage to last the rest of our lives.

When I sat down to compose some thoughts, an old manifesto came to mind. Instead of hacking it into new pieces or plagiarizing myself, I though I would just quote myself:

“When I was in Bermuda I went for a walk and ended up at a church. It is the oldest church in the western hemisphere, but that isn’t the point. It was hot and the church was cool, so I sat there for a while, maybe almost a half-hour. But that isn’t the point. I thought about you the whole time, and even that isn’t my point. What is significant is that I had one of those flashes, that everything is just how it should be and life is impossibly good. I my not be winning anything yet but my bases are loaded and it feels like its only a matter of time until everything falls into place. And that flash lasted longer than a flash; it was more like a wave that washed over me. That flash become a moment and that moment became momentous. And I wish I could live in that moment. Step into it somehow and push out the edges and expand it, make it last forever. And for some reason I feel like I can only do that with you and that that is monumental.”

Well, I am happy to report that that moment has expanded to a lifetime. I lead a charmed life, and it is all because of you. How did I get so lucky? You make my future bright; you make my past conquerable; and you make my present perfect, even when the days are bogged down in rituals and routines and the ups and downs of daily life. I have never been so sure of anything or anyone in my life. I won the lotto, and, yes, we both know it is you who turns dreams into lightening, even full-on electrical storms.

And, finally, few more promises:

• I promise to never make you part with the ancient fan, despite the threat of missing digits; or make you part with the very impractical rarely driven Mercedes that only seats two ; or make you part with your bizarre collection of empherma currently relegated to closets and storage.
• I promise to tuck you in every night AND turn off the table lamp and to fulfill your desire for the pleasure of clean sheets.
• I promise to never stop trying to met your maturity level; not to panic when you panic; and not forget that you are still the beautiful, witty, caring, calm, successful hero that I feel in love with.

Justice of the Peace: These rings are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love. Love freely given has no beginning and no end. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.
“With this ring, I pledge my love and commitment”
Justice of the Peace: Let these rings serve not as locks binding you together, but as keys, unlocking the secrets of your hearts for each other to know, and thus bringing you closer together forever.
By the power vested in me under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I now pronounce you legally married.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Pictured above, the girls went to a Halloween party. Obviously, they were puppies. Ask them what a doggie says and they sorta saw WOOF. Here is Avery practicing jazz hands and Madeline eating rocks when she thinks no one is looking.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Deed Is [Legally] Done

All that stress and worry and planning and lack thereof is over. We are officially married! I was so nervous that at times I felt like I was going to throw up! There is no way I could have a large wedding. If I could have said my vows alone in a closet with Nicole, I would! The weather was gorgeous and the girls were so well behaved, thanks to the expert handling of Nicole's friend, Beth. Nicole started crying the second the Justice of the Peace began to talk. I read my vows at lightening speed. ( I'll check and see if Nicole doesn't mind if we post the vows, because hers to me make me sound like a saint! Ha!) Here are some pictures of the day until I can do a play-by-play. I love the action shot of walking to the gazebo, flowers in hand, Nicole right behind me. We look so busy busy busy, hurrying to the chapel. Day One of wedded Bliss was spent making a birthday cake for my nephew; Day Two was spent at a Halloween party for the girls and Day Three will be spent wit a celebratory trip to the gynecologist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Girls Are Exploding; I’m Imploding; The World’s Revolting

I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to perform basic grooming habits, let allow have the luxury of writing little updates in my blog. My coffee is ice cold before I can finish drinking it and I even forget t eat some meals. It’s been hectic, to say the least.

I feel like so much has happened since my last post. Avery and Madeline are suddenly little talkers. Perhaps this is the language explosion that I read about? Ask Avery what the doggie says and she barks for us! When Nicole came back from San Francisco, they both decided to reward her for her return by saying “mommy,” though when Avery says it, it sounds more like “Ahh-mmy.” Avery tries to say “choo choo” — emphasis on try — and let me assure you that nothing is cuter than watching her attempt to say this word. Most adorably, she is sort of singing. Every once in a while I can catch a few bars of what sounds like the alphabet song. And yesterday, Madeline said “I” for about twenty minutes straight. They also are both learning more body parts and can now confidently point to bellies, noses, ears and sometimes eyes (which I tend to skip these days, and they poke their eyes in such a way that I am afraid they will scratch a cornea or something).

I have been working on a freelance project that occupies every waking minute when I am not with the girls. That means I have been up to almost midnight every night, falling asleep with my fingertips on the keyboard. I am editing a book with a very soon deadline. Trying to get it in almost-done shape before we leave for Northampton has been torture. But a labor of love, I should add, because it felt so good to be doing something, work wise, that I really enjoy and feel confident in and reminds me of the old me (that I liked). I miss my editing days, and wonder what this all means for my future.

Silly me, thinking that a simple little wedding ceremony would cause not a moment’s worry. We just sent the “script” to the justice of the peace last night (talk about last minute) and I am still writing my vows. I messed up the time of the ceremony. Nicole and I have been going back and forth for weeks as to what time we should do the ceremony, taking into consideration nap times, our friend’s schedules, lighting, temperature, etc. Turns out we booked the JOP for 4:00, which means our two friends up there won’t be able to make it. Our bravado that the girls will be just fine sitting in their stroller watching us and not interrupting the ceremony is a pipedream if ever I heard one. Right now the plan is to ply them with cell phones, remotes and other verboten items, in a lame attempt to keep them distracted. I also go back and forth with trying to find a “babysitter” up there to come for the half hour who can tap dance for the girls so we can have our ten-minute exchange of vows. I go on the Smith College website, thinking there just might be a section on “Looking for a Last-Minute Wedding Sitter?” No luck so far. I checked out the Northampton bulletin board on its town site, but posts are over a year old. Grrrr. And I get so bogged down in the day that I neglect to take care of any of this. And here we are, on the eve of the eve.

Politics and the current state of the country and world are stressing me out, and I know I am not alone. Enough already. I am not enjoying the polarizing effects of this campaign and am particularly disdained by this assumption that “my choice” is going to ruin the country, the economy and the world. Really? Can’t we agree that whoever inherits the Oval Office is f*cked? I am not really convinced “change” is going to come, regardless of who is in office. I am still voting for Obama, but, at the same time, I know if he wins, that means higher taxes for my family and I know that he won’t bring about a single change for the rights I am concerned about. So we are screwed if he wins, but I still thinks this is best for the country. Discouraging, to say the least.

This election has me reconsidering many of my own political beliefs and understandings. My eyes have been opened in many ways. But this country is on a scary path; that, at least, I think we all can agree on. If the media were to be trusted and believed, we are all going to end up on the streets or embroiled in some sort of revolutionary panic state. I can’t stand the coverage anymore. So Plains kids traveled on Alaska’s dime? I am not sure I think that is a bad thing. Obama is going to Hawaii to be with an ailing grandmother? Not sure that is a bad thing either. Yet the media construes these events to such extremes, making Palin seem corrupt for wanting to have her children with her and Obama is corrupt for wanting to reach out to the woman who raised him. I think both of these actions show good family values. If Palin left her kids, the media would call her a bad mother. If Obama didn’t’ go to visit his grandmother, the media would say he was a heartless grandson. Damned if they do and damned if the don’t.

And here I sit, distracted in my own world.

Life will calm down considerably after this weekend. Just in time for the holiday season madness to begin. And did I mention that as of last week, Christmas items are cluttering the shelves of my local stores? I swear it starts earlier and earlier.

Pictured above, Madeline and Avery enjoying the beauty of fall. It is so cold these mornings I have to bundle up before going to the gym. But I love the chill in the air. And below that, my first attempt at waffles with a new waffle iron. That little piece of white in the bottom half of the waffle would be plastic from the butter. I am happy to say my waffles have improved much since this attempt, but the bar was set pretty low.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Need To Get Back To Work, But First.....

• I took the girls to the beach yesterday and they loved it. They played with driftwood and rocks and dried up pieces of seaweed and laughed at the seagulls. The sand was tricky to walk in for them, which slowed them down a bit, so I was okay if they were more than ten steps away from me. Their reduced speed reminded me that I wanted to explore using ankle weights or weighted vests on the girls to dampen their speed.

• I am not good at feeding myself when Nicole is gone. The first night, I skipped dinner. Last night I had a peanut butter sandwich. I skipped lunch today because I sat down instead to write this. Tonight I have no dinner plans and think I will eat pretzels instead.

• I sleep terribly when Nicole is away. I fall asleep reading my Scrabble strategy book and wake up throughout the night. I’m pretty certain I hear tree branches scratching on the windows (there are no tree branches round these here parts) and I swear I hear footsteps on the roof, which would be very scary, as we live on the to floor. I can’t wait till the girls are older, so they can sleep with me because I am scared sleeping alone. Maybe I need a nightlight.

• My free time was shrunk to about zero minutes per day. I am editing a book, which is extremely time consuming. The deadline is fast approaching, too. It feels really good, though, to be using a brain skill set that I don’t exercise that often. It makes me miss the journalism life. Someone needs to jump in here and remind me how not great that life is.

• Nicole comes back on Friday. We are going to a BBQ at our friend’s on Saturday, but Sunday is all about mass quantities of editing. Then there is Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday we leave for Northampton. And then Friday the big event.

• Suddenly, when I am all alone with no relief in sight, it is critical for me to get a manicure, a pedicure and see a movie. Of course, if Nicole were home I be content to remain on the couch or lounging in bed, doing my work.

• We are pretty sure Avery is trying to sing the ABC song. Avery also likes to climb more than ever. First word was Abby and second word is pee pee. Again, these are words used in context. I think she said “bye-bye pee pee” when I changed her diaper yesterday. She waved bye bye to mommy when we did a video chat this morning. Madeline is quite the helper. When it is clean up time before bed, she picks up everything and puts it back where it goes. She even flattens herself on the floor and sticks her hand under chairs and couches to extract hidden toys. Avery, on the other hand, comes over to the bag we are filling and turns it over to dump its contents on the floor again.

• Pictured above, problem & temporary solution. And Madeline crowns Avery Queen of All She Surveys.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Life in a Recession/Depression

The world is falling apart. The economic crisis Part of me prefers not to know things: I don’t want to know how much Nicole’s 401(k) lost; I don’t want to know how much money the girls’ college accounts have lost; I don’t want to know much low Nicole’s company stock is. This ignorance/choice to live in ignorance I liken to lane changing without looking.

I realized yesterday that the home equity loan my mother was living off of would have most likely been cut off. And with banks so tight with credit, etc., it might have been impossible for us to swoop in and save my mother from foreclosure and financial ruin. The economy was bad last March, but it is much, much worse now.

So part of me is living like we are on the verge of a Depression. I think I need to ration the amount of shampoo I squirt into my hand and I must find recipes that utilize the approximately 200 pounds of beans in my cabinets (an impulse buy at BJs). And all is going well for a day or two and then I blow it all because I MUST buy some ridiculous thing that we don’t need (for example, a new picture frame).

One purchase that I am happy with is Abby. Avery’s first word (that is, a word said clearly and in context) is “Abby,” as in the Sesame Street character. This was an unusual development, since she has never seen Sesame Street. However, as I wrote before, she does have a hand-me-down book that Nicole reads to her a lot, and Avery in particular loves it. So yesterday I took the girls to the toy store and bought an Abby doll. Avery loves it, or I guess I should say her. She puts Abby in the mini stroller and pushes her around. She gives Abby hugs and kisses. She just looks at Abby and says “Ahhh-beeeeeeeee.”

Avery was the lucky recipient of a new toy because she was such a good girl at the doctor’s. She has this cyst-like growth on her finger that is probably the size of one of those mini peas. The doctor said it was nothing scary, which is a HUGE relief, but said that we would have to see a hand surgeon because it is on her joint. And to remove it would require Avery to be under full anesthesia. The cyst isn’t hindering Avery’s hand growth at all, so removing it would be for cosmetic reasons, so there is no way we will remove it. Not until she is old enough to have it done with a local anesthesia in an office setting. The idea of her being fully under scares the hell out of me. And to subject her to that because of vanity (which would be ours at this point and not hers) is ridiculous. I was so grateful for our healthy girls and grateful that this is our biggest issue that I celebrated by buying the girls the aforementioned new toys.

Nicole leaves for San Francisco and I am flying solo again.

Pictured above, the girls napping at Aunt Mina’s.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Reason-al vs. Season-al vs. Lifetimers

It is officially fall, with a hint of winter, even. I was actually really chilly on the way to the gym this morning and regretted not wearing a warm jacket. And the heat in our building switched on, which is a sure sign of dipping temperatures. The weather change seemed to happen so quickly. I’m not complaining (yet) because I love the fall and love the chilly weather, but winter with toddlers in New York City is not going to easy, I fear. I look forward to snow days when I can put them in snow suits, because I feel like once they are layered in those puffy winter outfits they won’t be as fast moving. I am also considering custom-making ankle weights for them. They are too fast.

For someone who prides herself on organization, I am not terribly organized about the upcoming wedding. I have yet to reserve the gazebo; I have yet to figure out what to wear; and I haven’t even thought about pictures, video, etc. Time runs away from me at an alarmingly fast rate. I don’t know where the hours, the days and the weeks go, cliché but true.

And Nicole leaves for San Francisco this weekend and will be gone for a week. One week. Well, six days, but still, it is a long time.

Over the weekend, my friends threw me a mini shower, which was really a brunch with presents! We met at Max Brenners in the East Village. It was so much fun. These are people I have been friends with for twenty plus years. It reminds me of that quote about how friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. These are the lifetimers. It is amazing how we are all still close, even though we no longer live in the same town or play field hockey together or drive around aimlessly on a Saturday night. There is a part of me that feel like all friends need to be lifetimers like this, but I am slowly realizing that there is a place for reasonal and seasonal friends. For me, that is huge. Me, the one who hates to burn bridges and let friendships go, is starting to grow up a bit. But these are the people that I might end up living with a la Golden Girls 50 years from now.

What I really enjoyed was the portion of the brunch when everyone made a bead bracelet for me. They dropped beads onto a string while offering wishes, wisdom and advice. I am a sucker for that sort of stuff; symbolism is everything to me. That is why I love charm bracelets. I will be that (hopefully) crazy old great grandmother clutching my bead bracelet and charm bracelet in my knobby fingers, trying to explain it to my great great grandkids.

An interesting development: My children are products of the Advertising and Commercialization, despite my best efforts. Avery’s first word might be Abby, which is interesting since she has never seem Sesame Street. They have a hand-me-down book that features Abby, and she loves to read it, so that is where she got it from. The other day she starts saying “Abbb-hee. Abb-heee,” in context. Yesterday, She said “mommy,” but the refused to say it again when prompted, instead smiling devilishly. They both say Mama, but randomly. No dada, interestingly. They also say Gay Agenda (just kidding). They speaks volumes in babble, and recently their babble has rounded a decidedly enunciated corner. It is very cute. If I ask for a kiss, they usually shake there head no, but if I ask for a honk-honk, they oblige and pinch my nose. To sum up: No affection, but sure, they will squeeze my nose.

And random notes: In my attempts to stop buying processed food, I made stuffing from scratch and it is safe to say it was awful, epically so. Why do foods that are less processed and better for you taste so bad sometimes? I LOVE Stove Top, bit mine tasted nothing like it. It was so soggy that it was almost inedible, though Nicole ate most of hers and said it was nit bad, which means either she has gotten good at lying to me or she has really lowered her standards for my cooking. Maybe I need to try another recipe. Or maybe I just need to buy Stovetop and stop worrying that it will kill me. Despite that setback, I am attempting another recipe tonight that requires bread: Onion bread soup. It is such a good day for something like that.

I forget: Will a nonstick wok kill us?

Pictured above, the Lifetimers through the ages: Circa 1999, 2000-something and last weekend.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Breathe Breathe Breathe Breathe Breathe Breathe oh and Breathe

• Nicole made a joke other night about losing her job. NOT funny. Her company is going through its four? Fifth? round of layoffs, two thousand this time. While we are fairly certain she will be safe once again, one can’t help but to panic in these times, when we are facing the worse economic crisis and massive uncertainly and new Wall Street headlines every day. She works at a bank, for the love of god. No one is safe. The bank could lay off anyone at this point, and just shrug its massive shoulders and say “it’s the economy. Sorry. ” And why not her? I would think it is advantageous to get rid of those who make higher salaries and get bigger bonuses. If I ran the bank, that’s what I would do.

But Nicole’s innocent joke rankled me: The me that worries about stability; the me that was raised by a single mom who never got child support or alimony and who always worried about her mom’s financial stability and will we need to sell the house and move?; and the me who is a daughter of a woman who cleaned houses and did anything she could to support her daughter and herself. There was one winter when my mom couldn’t afford to buy me a new winter coat, and a growth spurt rendered last year’s completely unwearable. Her aunt and uncle took me to Burlington Coat Factory and bought me a fancy red wool coat and a matching red plaid scarf and red gloves and I felt SO special. I remember walking through the aisles with my mom, trying different ones on, not realizing the distant look in her eyes was sadness and defeat. I remember hanging the new coat on my door, in excitement for wearing it the next day. It wasn’t till years later that I realized WOW, we couldn’t afford a coat.

• Speaking of no alimony and child support, my dad is in town from China. With his much younger girlfriend (my age). He’s been here since Monday, but I haven’t spoken with him yet. Guess I am not on the top of the To Call list. I act like it doesn’t bother me but oh how it does. His visits always cause lots of undigested emotions to burble up in me.

• And back to the economy. I feel like we need to stop spending money now. I don’t’ think we are extravagant by any means, but it’s the little things. Like today, I am going to Bed Bath and Beyond because I can’t get through the day without buying a new picture frame, shoe stretchers, new electric toothbrush heads, and at least one impulse item. And then off to William Sonoma because I NEED kitchen scissors. But when I am in the shower, I think “I need to use less shampoo because we could be heading into a depression.”

• My left shoulder hurts. I have to get an MRI for my hearing loss (this has been on my medical to do list for two years), and a sonogram of my thyroid (doctor-ordered a year ago). And Breast Cancer Awareness Month has me freaked out because I do breast exams exactly never.

• My patience is fraying at the seams. Waiting for Word to launch sometimes pushes me over the edge. Waiting for water to boil seems like an eternity. Toddler activities can get repetitive after thirty seconds. After the seventh reading of the same book, I start flipping the pages really fast and reading really fast. By the tenth reading, I don’t even bother to read the words. I even, on two occasions, threw the book ACROSS the room and said “Enough!” in too loud a voice, like a five-year-old, and ran out of the room. And when the girls start acting like that I guess I have no one to blame but myself. After all, what are children if not tiny mirrors that reflect your best and worst qualities?

• The girls both have runny noses, so I suspect this is either the start of a cold or more crazy teething. But the way Avery has been throwing around her toys this morning and complaining, I suspect it is a cold.

• We need to find a babysitter, but I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t imagine walking out the door and saying goodbye and leaving my girls with a stranger. No no no. But we need to learn to do just that.

• My friends and I are getting together this Sunday for brunch, and this always stirs mixed feeling. I am happy because these are people I have been friends with for decades and it is always good to spend time together. But then I am said because I can’t help but to think inside Why Can’t We Do This All the Time? Obviously, we all have our own families and careers and obligations and we no longer live in the same town. But it always makes me long for that simpler, younger life when we were all so, I don’t know, carefree? When I worried about finding the right lipstick color and we wondered how t spend a Friday night. One of these friend’s toddler daughter left a message for me on my voice mail yesterday and I made me ache in a way I just can’t describe.

To sum up: Father issues, mother issues, career stability fears, economy fears, health fears, need a babysitter quandaries, missing my friends, patience issues, and where oh where is my serenity?

If I make it through the day without eating a box of Junior Mints and a bag of pretzels, it will truly be an accomplishment.