The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

It just keeps getting better...

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year That Was...

We started this blog back in January as a candid account of our march to the non-traditional, traditional-inspired "aisle."  Just between you and me, that seems like a decade ago!  This year has been so dazzlingly full on all fronts that it may take a while to simply put everything that has gone down into some palatable perspective...

In the past year, Teri and I have planned a wedding; gotten hitched; moved to a new home and neighborhood; volunteered for various projects, boards, committees and events; worked; prepared hundreds of meals; baked dozens of cakes & pies; listened to a lot of troubles; had a ton of laughs; done probably a thousand loads of laundry; opened a hundred cans of cat food; turned over the guest room to the new-to-us teenager; survived a few squabbles and cried a teapot full of tears.  It has been a well-lived twelve months.

It is hard for me to imagine that our version of partnership, this marriage that we are making is very unique or different from the legalized hetero versions.  Our special gay money doesn't buy special gay toilet paper to share with our special gay spawn who are somehow recognizably different from other young 20-somethings.  The macaroni and cheese we make isn't made with special rainbow pasta and lavender cheese (although I know some who might think that dandy.) This past year, we squabbled over the most ordinary of things and got hooked on Mad Men just like everyone else.

So, as we sit here on the eve of 2012, Teri and I are just a couple weeks away from the anniversary of the day we met (on a grey, but dry January day)--what will this coming year bring in terms of job, life, surprises?  Will we be able to keep our health and our senses of humor?  We hope there will be a lot less cake and a lot more travel, but who knows?  Life, after all, is in the details...

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Work Ethic Conundrum

                                                                         
The older I get, the less black and white things seem; the more I understand how my values, beliefs and what I have learned to call morals and ethics are shaped by my heritage, my place and point in history, the education I have received or endured, and everything from socialization to personality.  Even if I share some morals and ethics with a collective, that doesn't mean valid differences don't exist.

I am not my parents or my grandparents--while I know that I have absorbed some of the values and ethics that they had, I am also a product of where, when and how I exist in the world.  Part of the historical, cultural work ethic I was raised with is that it is better to have any job and to give that job 110% (at least) than to NOT be working; if you do your best and show up to work every day regardless, the system will reward you.  Well, my fellow Gen-Xers and I learned that was not necessarily true as we watched our elders get downsized, outsized and stood by as they saw their pensions and savings get consumed by the system they had devoted themselves to.  We saw white people and males succeed at the expense of women and people of color and we saw a lack of vision compensated by greed and irresponsible stewardship.

So, we got educated.  We read books about doing work we loved and finding the right fit for our passions, skills and intellect.  We listened to motivational experts who told us we could make our own opportunities but we would need to not only work hard, but to also work smart.  None of my grandparents graduated from high school and yet they were homeowners, business owners and were all able to retire.  My parents graduated from high school and owned their own home, but worked for companies and corporations and struggled to build up retirement savings that have been pillaged.  I have a college education and I don't even delude myself into thinking I will ever "retire" in any conventionally imagined sense.  I am far less secure than my parents or my grandparents and yet I still consider work to be a representation of character, self-sufficiency and community investment.

What I do bring into my work is an inherited sense of creating opportunity for myself, my family and my work partners through sheer effort.  I'm not willing to lay down my life, but I am willing to do quite a bit and I have benefited from having the education, privilege and health to juggle and balance work and personal, despite spending many years as a single parent and paying my own way through college (slowly.)  My work ethic is some mutated version of "the more you do do, the more you can do."  I expected to have to earn, work, prove and create in order to carve out success and advancement and I also expect that will neither be easy nor fair. Just because it is my set of values, however, doesn't mean it is the only right one.  BUT...

It is always easier to work with people who have a shared understanding of what work ethic is; a mutual commitment to team; people who speak the same language; have the same understanding of both what is said and what is not; those who are like-minded.  Easier, however, is not always best.  If we are all speaking the same language and saying and doing the same things, what languages, ideas, perspectives and voices are NOT being heard?

I have read articles about how work ethic is dead among the younger generations and I confess right here and now that there have been times that I have sat in meetings or looked across a room and thought, for a brief moment, that might actually be true.  But then, I remind myself, that some versions of work ethic might surely be dead, and some might just be different.  I can only truly know my own experience and while it might color how I can appreciate new and different versions, it does not have to impede my ability to adjust.  I have worked just as hard for $7 an hour as I have for a higher salary, but I am not really someone who is motivated by money.  Others are.  I am content to work as part of a team so that the collective can advance.  Others want to be in the spotlight.  I don't need external validation but I do need to see progress in order to feel successful.  Others are content to do tasks without the need to see results.  We are all different--with different weaknesses and motivations, and we exist in completely different contexts despite finding ourselves in the same work environments.  I tend to think in terms of surviving and overcoming, whereas another might feel victimized or at risk of being a victim.  The world doesn't owe me--but I don't appreciate having it stand in my way either.  Others feel that an education, request or implied obligation needs to be met with an immediate response.

So, the point is this is a riddle, a conundrum--there is no simple answer of right or wrong, black or white.  I am not right while someone else is wrong (or vice versa), we are just coming at things from a different place; there are different inherited ancestral voices sitting on our shoulders.   Yes, I confess I would love to work in a world where everyone did equal parts, worked equally hard and contributed at equal levels.  That will never be reality and accommodations and adjustments will be constant.  Times will change, values and belief systems will morph--ethics and morals are not static.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

'Tis the Season (for Head Colds, Hurt Feelings, and Hurdles)

I refer to the holiday season as a mine field--I am not opposed to the hustle and bustle and festivities, I have just learned that for most of us, it is a time fraught with triggers, emotions, psychology, and history.  Nothing is ever as it seems.  A trip to the grocery store can result in being triggered by an end aisle display of peppermint bark that ends in long-forgotten memories of Christmas past and a long-dead aunt.  Many of us are not at our most healthy, grounded and focused at this time of year and as we trip through the mine field of December...stuff happens.

My already over-developed sense of humanitarianism goes on hyper drive this time of year.  Things like football games and expensive vacations seem glaringly obscene and packed with ignorant privilege while we walk past tags full of needy individuals' names at the shopping malls.  The whole idea that people only have basic needs in December sends me into gales of aggravated ranting. Balancing human generosity with the equally human tendencies toward selfishness, greed and avarice is a hurdle I struggle with every year. 

I find that we are frail and fragile in spirit this time of year, our feelings are easily hurt as we strive to bolster ourselves for the onslaught of memories, reminders, disappointments, fears, and all-to-real relationships.  Who do we send Christmas cards to?  Do we even send Christmas cards?  Are feelings still hurt over that relative who won't be our Facebook friend or the one who refused to acknowledge a wedding or baby gift?  We are forced to interact (and often give gifts) to those who are on the completely opposite side of the political spectrum or whose religious beliefs may be in direct opposition to our own.  While it may seem like the Holiday season is about good will, it is often about compromise, insecurity and overlooking differences--all part of the human experience too.

And yet, despite ill health (this is the season of cold & flu), tender spirit and the attack of triggers in the form of stuff, smells, and people--we all march on.  Like an army of nutcrackers, stoic and wooden, we push ourselves through the season.  We find delight in the little things, take refuge with the chosen family and friends who aren't so hard on our sense of self, search for glee and merriment and kindness in the nooks and crannies of the coldest months.  We do our best.  With varying degrees of success, we maneuver through the mine field of the holidays.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stormclouds and Hormones

While it has been over 25 years since either Teri or I were teenagers, neither of us has really forgotten. Growing up is hard, sucky, stressful and the fact that so many of us manage to not only survive, but to also thrive into adulthood is a mystery.  I honestly think it is a miracle that we are not taken out by our own surging hormones and the destructive forces of socialization.

There are the cranky and inept adults who have power over our time and space; there are the peers who confuse us with their own hormonal unpredictabilities--there are anger and insecurity and sex and humiliation and often all of these things gurgle up in a crazy salad before mid-morning!  There are inequities, bullying, abuse, privilege, and myriad social strata and bureaucratic structure to maneuver on a daily basis.

What I have learned about myself as a mother is that while I did pretty well with younger kids and babies,  teenagers are my speciality. I am learning that Teri is pretty darn good at adolescence too. Neither one of us can be shocked, scared or sucked into drama and we are fierce and informed advocates. My motto is stolen from Anne of Green Gables: tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it--and a good motto for the all-or-nothing-life-is-over-and my-existence-is-doomed stormclouds that surround the teens.

The fact is--life truly is pretty damn crappy for many struggling teenagers.  LGBTQI kids are much more likely to end up homeless and kids who come from unhealthy households are battling through the typical turmoils of teenageland with both hands tied behind their backs.  They need the basics--a warm bed, good food, and a roof over their heads; but they also need some things the more privileged take for granted: someone to ask them about their day and listen, someone to advocate for them, sit with them at the doctor's office, help with homework, or even model how to solve problems without it being the end of the world.  You might be amazed at how normal can seem so unsettling...

What happens when spilled food is not an emergency, but merely a mess to clean up?  How odd that two adults can solve a disagreement quickly with humor and a hug?  How strange that an altercation with a teacher can result in an adult advocate sitting down with the school folks and working out a solution?  What if there was always enough soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, milk and heat?  What if no one asked for anything in return?  What sort of strange world is this?!

Teri and I are woefully ordinary people, not the slightest bit heroic.  There are good days and more challenging ones; things we can control and things we can't.  Talking, hugs, a pan of warm brownies, a walk through the neighborhood--we cope in rather boring and ordinary ways.  I can't really speak for Teri but for me, I feel for all the world like a 100% grown-up who remembers very clearly what it felt like to be a teenager or a kid just trying to move in the world. I don't have to relive or retrieve anything because this middle-aged adult is who I am now (and besides, I have my own bucket of perimenopausal hormones to contend with.)


But the way I see it is that we can either be a help or a hindrance.  Either I can participate in a positive way in the lives of people who need and struggle or I am supporting the systems of oppression.  It isn't really that hard--I just have to stay present, compassionate, responsible and aware.  Adolescents need us--not to throw them to the wolves and hope the strongest survive--but to care enough to provide the basics.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Married Life...Three Months Later

We have been busy. That is my excuse for the seeming abandonment of the blog. The past three months have been full of...well, just general living.  Despite how laid back we'd like to think we are, I am finding that neither Teri nor I seem to be the sorts of people who sit back on the sidelines while the world tumbles past.  We find ourselves saying to each other now--so, this the sort of family we are...

We have made some additions to our lives--both in actual people (or person) and in activities.  We throw a "Wednesday night Drop-In" or drop-in as it has been shortened to for all our kids, family, etc. who want to stop in for a big, hot meal and some conversation.  It is low-key in every sense but the food--which tends to be PLENTY to feed our young adults, their starving friends, and whomever...the living room is overflowing, the candy bowl gets emptied and there are plenty of dishes for the two of us to do after the house clears out.  It gives us the chance, however, to keep in touch with all their lives and to connect and grow together as the expanding family we are. We are so grateful for those who are close and feel the pang of missing those who are so far away.

We have also turned over what was our spare bedroom to a previously-homeless teenager--a young gal who got kicked out of her already rocky home world when she came out as queer.  She's working to finish high school and deal with the crappy realities that have been her life so far.  When the opportunity presented itself, Teri and I just knew it was an of course moment for us.  After all, this is the sort of family we are.  It just isn't enough to say that we have certain values or to state our beliefs from some obnoxious soapbox, it matters more that we actually live them.  So, we're getting back into the swing of gallons of milk and empty orange juice pitchers in the fridge--teenage moodiness and energy with a queer twist.  I cannot help but exclaim: how lucky are we?!  The universe just keeps offering up amazing adventures.  Besides, how could we not adore this complicated creature?  She is incredibly good for the likes of us.

We have decided that we just need to say "Yes" to things--at a time when the whole world seems to be shuddering and contracting with fear and insecurities, there are so many ways that we can all just roll up our sleeves and jump in--whether by holding a protest sign, or taking food to the homeless, or serving on a task force, board, or volunteer project.  Chances are, however little one thinks they have, they have enough to share--whether it is time, food, money, a ride, or an offer of help.  Stick up for someone who needs an ally, a friend, a mom--it is amazing what can be done with bacon, pie and compassion...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A New Groove

"What's been new with you?" Someone asked me this a couple days ago and I stumbled for an answer. I wasn't quite sure the context of the question--did he mean in the last month? week? 24 hours? What, indeed, is new with me? Well, as Teri and I have been known to say--everything and nothing.

We have started entertaining in the new house and that seems to be what makes it actually feel like a home. This is not to say that we are solidly in a new groove yet, but we're working on it.  We realized this past weekend that it has been exactly one month since our celebration and ceremony, sheesh, Life has just been flying along! This morning, as I am sitting at the dining room table looking out over the back yard, I have been thinking of the things I love about the new house so far:

  • Attached garage off the kitchen--3 steps down to our washer and dryer (almost-vintage, but ours and so far reliable) and then 12 steps out the back door to the clothes line.
  • A huge bath tub with plenty of room to roll around
  • Friendly neighbors and a good diversity mix
  • A kitchen large enough to waltz in
  • Warm-toned wood floors
  • The 8-minute walk to work (for me)
  • We can see the full moon from our bedroom windows
  • The sound of clucking chickens in the morning from next door
  • How easy it is for friends and family to find us
  • The joy of sitting on the front porch and watching the world walk, ride and wander by
Considering the past couple months, I don't know if I would have chosen to have a middle-age Wedding and then move into a new house all within days of each other. Heck, who am I kidding?  My optimistic temperament probably would have assumed it would be a an entirely-doable little challenge and while it was doable, it was a bigger challenge than we anticipated.  Would I do it all over again just to get to this new groovy phase in life?  Hmmm....maybe....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Community and Cookies

Yesterday marked our one-week anniversary of being in our new home.  We just found out this morning that we inadvertently left a few items behind in the dryer (show of hands for how many people have done this?  I think I've done it at least three times in my adult life!) Strangely enough, it seemed like an odd jolt to have to go all the way back to the old house and neighborhood to retrieve them.  Teri and I are working on feeling settled in this new version of our lives.

This past weekend, we were invited to a little barbecue by our next door neighbors and we got to meet several other folks who live on our street.  Breaking out the shiny new cherry red KitchenAid stand-up mixer we received for a Wedding gift, we used it to make cookies to take to the party.  Gooey chocolate chip cookies in hand, Teri and I traversed the fifteen steps it took to get from our front steps to our neighbors and felt ourselves slipping into an entire new community.  One of the top ten things were looking for in our home search was a feeling of neighborhood and connection with neighbors and this time the universe provided.  We had a little taste of neighborliness at our old house with some fantastic folks and friends who lived on nearby streets and we wanted more!

The aftermath of the move has been a little bumpy as we struggle to find places for all our treasures and get back into a post-Wedding, post-move rhythm.  There is work to do and just general personal care to tend to.  After so much upheaval, both Teri and I are feeling a bit ragged.  We can't help but feel that a life without checklists and trying to find a misplaced sweater would be lovely.  There are new sounds to get used to, new details to absorb (What day is the garbage picked up and what time does the mail get delivered?) and there are all the little daily elements to learn.

We baked a pie last night from apples on one of our backyard apple trees and made note of the fact that this oven runs a little hotter than our last.  We are remembering to lock our side gate at night and learned how speedy it is to ride to the nearby DariMart by bicycle for ice cream.  As we sat with a bunch of our neighbors on Sunday night, we also learned other things--twenty years of history: who lived in the triplets' house before they were born; which houses tend to have trouble with bats roosting in the chimneys; which neighbors take in all the stray cats; and who else commutes by bike or foot.  We are starting to discover a new culture and as students of such things, we find that to be just groovy.  Now if we could just remember which light switch is for the garage and which one is for the dining room!

Friday, September 2, 2011

On the Other Side of the Move

It has been almost three weeks since our ceremony and we are, at last, reasonably settled in our new house...August has been intense.  It seems ages ago that we were baking cakes and barking orders at visiting relatives.  Now we are getting used to new "house noises," meeting our new neighbors and unearthing yet one more box of books that needs to find a home.  The amazing fact that we have survived so much upheaval is not lost on us but, seriously, what were we thinking?
Our new-to-us house is a typical, post WWII West Coast one-story: Two bedrooms, little bathroom with an ample tub, living room that leads to kitchen that leads to dining nook and an attached garage that is too small to park a car in, but just right for bicycles, camping gear and the washer and dryer. When I stand in the kitchen, I get the strange sensation that I am standing in my grandparents' kitchen since the layout is exactly the same--the location of the sink in relation to the stove, refrigerator, cabinets. This house feels completely different than our last one and we like it!

Last night, as we were sitting in the living room after taking a good walk down to the river, over to the rose garden, and back through the neighborhood, Teri mentioned that in this house, she has the overwhelming sensation of being right in the middle of life.  Whereas our old house felt like it was tucked into the edge of things and surrounded by trees and neighbors we couldn't get to know, the openness, airy-ness and nearness to downtown makes it feel as though we are pulsing along with a new rhythm of now. We are living in a community.

Change can be good for the soul and experiencing change with a partner can be both extra-challenging and extra-invigorating.  This move was completely different for me than any other move I've done (and I've done plenty!) Teri did so much of the organizing, packing and coordinating that I truly didn't feel like I had to do it all on my own; I just let go of so much and let her be in charge.  I did the finding, negotiating, phone calls, truck renting and address/service changing but dividing up the tasks and such was seamless.  That isn't to say there weren't cranky moments and disagreements, but all in all it was fun.  Imagine that, a fun middle-age move!

So, with the garage left to tackle and the art-on-the-wall negotiations remaining, we are through the bulk of the move and we have left the "practice house" for good!




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Newlyweds

Finding the words to re-cap the last few days seems nearly impossible. There have been nudgings for me to get back to putting something down here in the blog but, to be honest, it isn't like the day after the Wedding life went back to some breezy easy mode.  In fact, this morning (Wednesday) was the first morning that felt somewhat "old school."  Even if our house is filling up with boxes and we are both focused on our pending move in just over a week and a half, the Wedding finally feels in the past.

Last night, over the last bottle of champagne, Teri and I finally had some time to the two of us to just talk.  We talked about our favorite parts and the amazing joys, but we also shared our disappointments and what we thought would go differently or what we forgot.  There was gushing, of course, but for two pragmatic and practically-minded women, we couldn't help but make some room for the other too.

As "newlyweds," we do not feel any more committed to each other than we did before.  What does feel different is that our commitment is legitimized in a deeper way for our family, friends, and the community we care so much about.  The entire process has given us the opportunity to get to know each other even more--strengths, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies; it has allowed us some time to fully embrace our different families, meet each others' friends, and accept the unchangeable.  We have had to talk about and work through some pretty bumpy stuff in a fairly public way. We jumped into a journey that has been personal, emotional, political, spiritual, and practical and invited the world in to participate in that journey with us.

I know this woman pretty darn well after three years, but there is plenty more to come.  One of my favorite parts of our vows was when we promised to trust in the other's abiding love.  Partnered with our vow to strive to not take each other for granted, we've committed to companionship and love; we've committed to each other, to our kids, to our families and to our friends--those we already know and those who have yet to find their way into our lives.
Teri and I are still the same women we were before cakes and baked ham and champagne toasts; and the world is still the same world it was before two women stood under a beautiful arbor in a crowded garden--but I like to think that there is a renewed bubbling of love, a strengthening of community, and a hopefulness in the ability we humans have to come together in a grand metaphorical embrace.  My life may be a sloppy prayer, but nonetheless, it is an attempt at just that: beauty, love, attachment, compassion, concern--a pledge; a vow; a promise.


Friday, August 12, 2011

So, This is What One Day Away Looks Like?

There is no turning back now--well, I guess, technically, there is always a turning back but for Teri and I, we are so in full swing Wedding Land now it appears there is nowhere to go but onward.  No more second-guessing--the garden isn't going to get any greener, the house isn't going to be any cleaner, we aren't going to be any thinner so now it is time to just bring on the party!

Yesterday, Teri and I spent over seven hours baking the cakes and cupcakes.  I have to tell you, it feels a bit naughty to use five pounds of butter in one day.  After beating up the fourth bowl full of buttercream frosting and washing the beaters for the last time, there was no doubt that a drink was in order.  We had just enough time to share a few sips before the late afternoon arrival of family and friends.

In the midst of baking, the flowers arrived: two huge boxes delivered by a congenial Fed-Ex man.  We mistakenly assumed there would be instructions in the boxes telling us what we needed to do with them once we pried open the heavily-stapled boxes to unveil hundreds of blooms and blossoms. We panicked, as if a delay in 10 minutes would cause every last stem to wilt and amidst our panic I barked, "Call Rhonda!"  Rhonda is Teri's coworker and a flower and garden maven; she is also helping us with the arranging and such with the flowers so we figured of all the people we knew who might be able to talk us through a two-bride panic, she would be the one.  She did and I have a suspicion that she could sense our hysteria as she reassuringly guided us via cell phone in getting them into buckets of water.  The are taking up space in the coolest, darkest room of our house which just so happens to be our bedroom.  Who knew we would get to fall asleep surrounded by 80 long stems of sunflowers and hundreds of other roses, lilies and statice?

Today will be full, but in such a glorious way. I won't be making 20 pounds of potato salad by myself and Teri gets to make pies with her mother and her daughter. My grown kids and the Becher boys get to reunite and reacquaint after not seeing each other for fifteen years. My BFF Wendy and my BFF Doreen--two very different women--get to meet each other at last as they both pitch in to help. Our lesbian friends, our gay friends, our kids, Teri's parents, our sisters, my oldest pals--all squeezing in and around our little bungalow to arrange chairs and hang paper lanterns.  Last night, after coming back from dinner and while two dozen eggs hard boiled, Teri and I shared a glass of wine and commented that there are certainly easier ways to do a Wedding, but our goal of having a collaborative, shared experience is starting to feel very worth it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Four-Day Drill Sergeant

Honestly?  I am not sure whether to apologize for my foibles and flaws or call out to have my awesome bossiness celebrated...I imagine it all depends on a person's perspective and relative closeness to my current tendency to micromanage.  Seriously, though, there's stuff to do and very little time to do it in.  If it wasn't for our checklists and spreadsheets and the fact that we really are very organized, I might feel even more tyrannical. In the immortal words of Mary Poppins, "spit spot!" and in the echoing words of my dad, "We're burning daylight!"
The other day Teri put up some definite boundaries when she told me to go to work and micromanage them and stop micromanaging her. I couldn't tell her that the staff  was probably breathing a sigh of relief that I was at home and not up in their business on the work front (although it is in my job description.)  Part of me figures I can just apologize later all around for being such a drill sergeant and pushing us all along.  I am sorry, but not sorry enough to stop my behaviors...yet.

My justification is that four days is NOT very much time.  That is only 96 hours if I'm doing the math correctly.  96 hours to do all the things that couldn't be done until now: the cooking, baking, decorating, practicing, entertaining and final sprucing and cleaning of EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD.  Okay, that was a little drama for humor's sake, but really, lots to do. The differences in our temperaments and pacing couldn't be more pronounced right about now between Teri and I and underneath is a whole lotta anxiety.  My way of dealing with the nervousness is to stay focused on coordinating and doing while I think Teri would prefer to curl up and hide out from the bustle and pressure.  Both perfectly justifiable approaches, mind you, but not the most compatible. As Teri commented with exasperation yesterday, "As soon as I finish one thing, I have to move right on to the next!"  That's the key to how it works as distraction!

I am trying to ease up or at least have some compassionate humor about the fact that I am tapping my baton and blowing my whistle (metaphorically, of course, although had I thought ahead a little...) I really do have some idealistic vision of turning over some of this to my Best Gal Wendy when she arrives on Thursday.  Surely she won't be too exhausted after driving all the way from Indiana with her two young adult sons?  In the end, it is going to be what it is going to be--but with 96 hours to go, Onward!




Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who Will be Missing

Summer tends to be a somewhat nostalgic time for me anyway--as the years stack up, I find that the slow, warm days of Summer seem to fertilize memories and those creeping moments of nostalgia catch me when I am simply going about my day.  The smell of drying cedar trees, a growing breeze that shuffles along a garden hedge, the sound of bees buzzing around the lavender blossoms, the first taste of dripping, locally grown cantaloupe--Summer now reminds me of Summers then...

Throughout the Wedding Planning process, I have been overlapping the current with the past in what sometimes feels intensely spiritual and at other times is emotionally annoying.  Both Teri and I have found ourselves talking about our history books of weddings, births, loves, funerals and all the various incarnations of ourselves; we catch ourselves talking about and feeling the bittersweet presence of ghosts--all those people who have created the women we have become, but who are no longer alive in the expected sense.  Recently, Teri told me about a tribe of people she was reading about who have three different words for people--one for those who are still physically alive, one for those who have been dead a long time, and one for those who are dead, but there are still living people within the tribe who have memories of them--that third, middle, life-and-death-straddling group is the one I think of as the ghosts that move in and around my every day.

I was visiting my mother a couple weeks ago and she shared that it is during gatherings--birthdays, holidays, weekends when the "kids" are visiting that she has moments where she expects to see my dad (who has been dead amost 2 years) come walking across the yard.  I understand this.  As our Wedding day approaches, I feel the presence acutely of those people who will not be in attendance in any way but my mind and memories.

My life is full of useful sacred objects connected to these ghosts and memories.  You wouldn't know them to see them if you waltzed through our house but I do: a battered orange plastic pitcher that was my Grandma Peggy's "kool-aid" pitcher.  There is a scratchy line etched on the inside to show you where the water fill line is; a pair of wire reading glasses that were my dad's when he died--it is all I've taken as my legacy; my marble rolling pin that was given to me as a wedding gift the first time around by my late great-grandmother--the wooden handles are long-gone but I still use the rolling pin and imagine I will until I'm done in this world; scarves and costume jewelry that belonged to my Grandma Jean; worn table linens with the name "Rodley" stamped on the hem edges that belonged to my Grandma Rodley; a diamond ring my Grandpa Tuff gave to my mother. Teri has her sacred objects too--as I was finishing up the ironing of all the tablecloths yesterday, I found myself getting a little weepy and when I got to a beautiful and well-used cloth of Irish linen patterned all over with faint clovers that is Teri's, I realized that I was ironing it for the first time as part of "us" and wondering at all the O'Leary meals that may have been shared across that tablecloth.

To someone else, these items are just the "things" that make up the set dressing of our lives, but for us, they hold little pieces of the essence of those who we have not completely let go. While they may not be here in body for our ceremony or our merging of lives, and we don't get to know exactly how they would feel about the whole thing anyway, we can only imagine.  Since my grandmother who is still with us, will be at our ceremony and celebration, and I was out when all of my grandparents and dad were alive, I like to think that they would be mingling and sharing in our day--regardless, they have all been with me throughout this process.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friends

While I have been mulling over writing a blog about family (maybe tomorrow?), what comes to mind after a very full day of tasks and activity is actually friends--mostly how incredibly grateful Teri and I feel to have such a fine posse of friends...

If we allow ourselves to ponder on the blessings, help, laughter and warmth that has come in our direction from our friends, we both get pretty overwhelmed.  It is dazzling and delightful--and a little mysterious.

The fabulous arbor is on loan from one of Teri's coworkers.  At 10 am this morning, Rhonda and Ruth drove up into the driveway and, while we were expecting the arbor delivery, we didn't know what it would look like.  Now that it has taken up temporary residence in the garden, we couldn't be happier, or feel luckier to have such sweet and sharing friends!

This afternoon, Team Biscotti assembled at our house and we made batches and batches of both chocolate and almond biscotti--all from recipes shared by our friend, Lynn.  Lynn and her partner, DT, and another grand friend Victoria helped us mix, shape, cut and bake dozens of crunchy strips amidst some very stimulating political discourse as we pondered how to fix all the problems of the world! It made what could have been a very tedious afternoon into a festive party.  How is it we can be so fortunate to have friends willing to spend an entire afternoon helping with such a task? (granted there was some blueberry pie and limoncillo, but I don't think that was payment enough.)

There is still much to do and while having some helpers is great, it is the ongoing support, laughter, conversation and genuine care that we value the most.  I have lived long enough to learn that major life events can bring out the very best, or the very worst in people; for Teri and I, we have enjoyed discovering who our nearest and dearest are and have been trying to simply appreciate the bonds of friendship we have in our lives!

As I crawl off to bed exhausted after an incredibly full Saturday of ironing tablecloths, hanging twinkle lights, baking biscotti and other tasks I barely remember, I cannot help but feel like the most fortunate woman in the world to have so many true friends.  It seems to be one of the cornerstones of a wedding and a marriage--the support and encouragement of community.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Single Digit Countdown

So, this is what one week out looks like? Teri found me sitting in our spare room early yesterday morning with my second cup of coffee announcing that I was feeling oddly calm.  Of course, this is balanced by occasional upheaval where I wonder if it is really too late to change the color scheme entirely or make massive changes to the long-set plans?

I confess that most of this past week has been consumed with work, which has left little time to fuss over last-minute wedding details.  Teri has been taking care of a lot of the cleaning, sorting and packing--not to mention spider re-location and late-Summer plant sprucing.  As dull as it may sound, I think working on grant proposal narratives and battling the big "isms" of the world is a respite from a 2-page daunting list of Wedding must-dos!

Teri did half and I did half, but we got all the cloth napkins cleaned and ironed.  I've started working on pressing the heavy box of white and ivory tablecloths, and I shared with Teri that there feels to be something soothing and sacred about sliding a steaming iron over some of the more vintage pieces. A person can't help but wonder how many other irons, tables and occasions a particularly aged rectangle of linen has witnessed?  I have some lovely and worn ones that are probably at least 70 years old and it feeds my soul in some unexplainable way to press the wrinkles out of the recently washed coverings.

Meanwhile, as we prepare for a week of cooking and baking, Teri has cleaned out the refrigerator and the freezer and we've been counting and assembling supplies. I've cleaned, counted and organized the flatware and one of the tasks that took us an entire evening this past week was to write all the place cards, escort cards, do the final table assignments and arrangements, and put together packets with all the necessary items (place cards and holders, table signs, etc.) for each table. Teri even alphabetized all the escort cards and we have them rubber banded and labeled.

Loaned supplies are arriving--including some wonderful tables to augment the rented ones--offered up by my ex in-laws (who will also be at the Wedding) and a garden arbor from one of Teri's co-workers scheduled for delivery tomorrow.  We are writing thank you notes as the need arises and trying to get all our recipes in order as we work on the final grocery shopping list.  It is less about planning now and more all about the doing!

Our teams of helpers, friends and family will be arriving this week.  Biscotti Team flies into action on Saturday to kick-off what will be a whole lotta kitchen activity for the next several days. I think we are looking forward to being able to play with our friends and family more than just about anything else...

Monday, August 1, 2011

The 12 Days of Wedding

Somewhere in the midst of all that has been crazy, kooky and self-imposed, Teri and I have found ourselves at this place--with twelve days to go until our ceremony. That's it.  Just 12 more days and while I'd like to think that we will sail through with ease and bouncing jubilation, I'm not entirely convinced that will be the case.

I realized last night as we settled in to watch an episode of Six Feet Under (we are in season two of our entire run re-watch) after what was an incredibly ACK! sort of weekend, that sometimes the "happily ever after" isn't that a gal has a stress-free and simple existence with another, but that at the end of all the kookiness and challenges, one can still look across the messy living room and be overwhelmed with feelings of love.  Yup.  I still love you even though I thought you were a poophead two hours ago...

The march to middle-age matrimony has been a tangle of triggers (impressive Walt Whitman sentence, eh fellow writers?), changed minds, culture clashes, surprise expenses, bubbling stresses and intentional clarifications.  We've had to face family culture differences, well-meaning advisors, resurging ghosts of relationships past, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and, I'll be honest here, cranky disagreements over nonsensical diversionary topics.  Darnit if I don't still love this woman intensely and further realize that after waiting almost five decades, I truly have found the person-partner who fits.

Running with abandon across a field into each other's arms it's not; battling the surprise wasp-nest side-by-side it is.

With checklists and calendar in hand, this is what the next twelve days just might look like:

On the first day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: one detailed grocery list
On the second day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 2 too-late rsvps
On the third day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 3 hours of ironing
On the fourth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 4 borrowed 6-foot tables
On the fifth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 5 cups of dried rose petals
On the sixth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 6 strings of white twinkle lights
On the seventh day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 7 gallons of lemonade
On the eighth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 8 gallons of sangria
On the ninth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 9 table packets (pre-sorted name-tags, table tents, decor, etc. for each reception table)
On the tenth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 10 pound of organic tomatoes
On the eleventh day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: 11 minutes of frustrated sobbing
On the twelfth day of Wedding, my true love gave to me: a lifetime of committed companionship and love...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Uninvited Wedding Guests: Spiders

The weather has finally dried out here our part of the Pacific Northwest.  We are having to water the garden almost daily and keeping up with deadheading flowers, trimming trees and general Summer gardening tasks is consuming us.  At least, I keep telling myself, until mid-August and then it can do whatever it wants!

Every morning, as I walk out to water the garden, I walk through a gauntlet of spider webs and industrious spiders.  I don't remember having to battle spiders on this big scale last Summer but then again, I wasn't quite as hyper-sensitive as I am this year.

They are sweet little spiders, working hard to build their webs between shrubbery, flower stalks, tree trunks and patio chairs--just trying to do their Summer spider thing and start a family.  Teri and I keep moving them out of the way, off into the bamboo hedge or on the edges of the garden and we keep finding them across paths or dangling from our ceiling fans indoors.  Sheesh.  Come on, Spiders, work with us!

Teri has decided that we need to add "sweeping the webs" to the task list for the day before and the day of the Wedding.  Some brave soul or two will need to do a sweep through the yard and garden and then we'll have to run out there and get married before they re-build. 

Don't get me wrong, I am a spider fan--I love having them all around the garden to eat the pests and am normally patient with peeling the broken webs off my face.  Teri and I delighted in watching a bunch of babies hatch last year on our deck and grow until they spun off amazingly long webs and launched themselves into the world. These aren't the sort of spiders who bite or grow enormously huge--they just want to be sweet little industrious garden spiders in our happy organic garden.  But we are about to have 75 people wandering around our garden eating cake and the last thing they need is spiders peeking out at them.  So, sorry spiders, but you are going to have hide out for a day or two or build those impressive webs on the edges of the garden for a couple weeks--after that, you can have the entire yard to yourselves!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Who is the Girl and Who is the Bride?

The other day a friend of ours (you know who you are) called Teri and I an enigma. We were humorously talking about our shared fluidity in terms of how we operate in the world and in our relationship.  We don't identify ourselves in any sort of rigid gender way and we don't have clearly defined imitations of gender stereotypes that we subscribe to. People have asked us to define ourselves before--both people within the Queer community (gay, lesbian, transgendered, etc.) and those without--or they have assigned designations for us. Like many people both straight and gay, it doesn't work and it doesn't fit and we don't really want to play anyway.

A couple years ago, I was part of a panel presentation in front of a group of young adults and someone asked me which of us (my partner or I) was the "woman" in our relationship?  I answered that we both identify as women and guided the person in clarifying whether they wanted to know about sex roles or jobs, skills and tasks that they had gendered? It was mostly the latter.  Most of us are raised in such a gender-segregated and gender-defined world!  I remember from kindergarten on, having the school day keenly separated by "girls" groups and activities and "boys" groups and activities.  Stereotypes and generalizations are made CONSTANTLY and the majority of all that stuff is created or made-up.  It has absolutely nothing to do with genetics or sex identity.  Sorry, but it doesn't.

People wonder what a household with two women or two men could possibly be like?  How does everything get done?  How do you know who gets to be the "king of the castle?" Who makes decisions, controls the money, does the crappy jobs? Who? How? and my answer is Why does it have to be so boggling?  Why does every castle have to have a king? 

Teri and I have a drawer in a bathroom where all the nail polish lives.  We also both have our own well-stocked toolboxes (and while we know how to do a lot, we also know how to read up or google something we don't or know how to call a professional when the need arises.)  I know het men who don't use tools and het women who don't own a single bottle of nail polish.  My son played with dolls, my daughters had Legos-it didn't make any of them gay (at least not yet)--let it go, loosen up, think beyond the stereotypes!

Some people are "butcher" than others and this goes for men, women, hets and gay people.  Some days I am "butcher" than other days and the fact that I can acknowledge what is inherently me and what is behavior and created means I can move beyond the rigidity of stereotypes.  Some days I have to do the crappy jobs and it's not because I'm a woman, it's because it's my turn.

As many of you know, Teri and I are both wearing dresses for our ceremony and it was by personal choice.  I think of myself as a bride and a spouse and she does too.  We don't have to try to imitate some gendered ideal just to make it easier for people to wrap their heads around.  I am an idealist and an optimist and I think people can free themselves up beyond nail polish and checkbooks and "who wears the pants"-- after all, by now, none of this is terribly revolutionary.

I often think of a favorite recording of my kids when they were younger: "Free to Be You and Me"--it was actually from MY generation and my sister gave the kids a copy when they were preschoolers.  They listened to it constantly and they still reference many of the songs and skits including one with two babies trying to figure out whether they are a girl or a boy. We can get beyond this and I'm here to tell you that it makes room for focusing and concentrating on stuff that isn't made up.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home Hunting

Along with all the Wedding planning stuff, Teri and I are searching for our next home.  Our time in the "practice house" as we called it when we found it and took the stressful leap of faith to co-habitate together has gone past it's comfortable tenure and now we are in the market for a place we can settle into for the long haul.  The search is not without it's own stresses and challenges and, to be honest, if it weren't for some forces and folks beyond our control, we might have postponed the hunt a little longer.  But, alas, the time has definitely come!

We have had the grown-up conversations--buy? rent? lease? apartment? house? townhouse? what part of town? how many bedrooms? how much yard?We are selective, taking our time and processing some of our feelings around the move.  We each have different strengths when it comes to picking through the details and moving--even though we have both moved more than two dozen times in our adult lives.  We don't mind moving, but we have different approaches, skill sets and strengths.  We are both looking forward to getting settled in a new place; the possibilities and the unknowns--as Teri has said, she'd like to just fast-forward to the first of September and have all the parties and boxes and moving over with!

I can say that this house and home hunt feels completely different from our last one!  We know each other so much better and we have established our shared values around what is important and what is not.  We are Out and legal as a couple, our finances are commingled, we have shared in all the lessons of the practice house and we have some pretty clear ideas of what we want in our next incarnation. So, as we peruse neighborhoods and squeeze in phone calls and showings around all the other 2-week Wedding stuff we're doing, and we start to pack away unnecessary items in labeled boxes, there is a soup pot of emotions: excitement, anticipation, resentment, frustration, anger, fear, exhaustion, humor, skepticism, annoyance, gratitude, confidence, concern, hopefulness.  We divide up tasks and try to pay attention to both what needs to get done and how each of us works best.  And then, we get to take turns having the overwhelmed melt-downs that seem to be inevitable!

We are looking forward to kicking off our married life in a new place and shedding off some of the "old challenges" for the inevitable new ones.  Mostly, though, we are just trying to stay present in the process and keep focused on the temporariness of this period in our lives.  There is a whole new world on the other side of September!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Change of Plans!

I have done enough events to know that this is the time when the best laid plans...shift! That is the ironic roller-coaster ride of planning--the trick is to get good and organized in the time leading up to the big day so that one can adjust to all the inevitable changes. In the end, it sort of has a life of its own and it is going to be what it is going to be--so now is the time when things are a-changin'!

This morning, I was up quite early after a poor night's sleep and realized that our planned seating arrangement was really no longer adequate.  There have been the expected unexpected adjustments and now we need to rearrange the tables and the seat assignments to accommodate. Okay.  Looks good.  Teri did point out that she fully expects that it will change again a time or two in the next two weeks.

Second adjustment of the day--calling the rental supply folks and arranging for delivery.  We originally planned to do the pick-up and drop-off ourselves but what were we thinking?  While getting all the stuff back to the fabulous Parties to Go is not going to be a problem, it became readily apparent that having the tables, chairs and dishes delivered would make the whole preparation day before the wedding run much more smoothly.  Okay--change of plans!

The guest list is morphing (yet again), who is doing what is morphing (yet again) and right now it is really a matter of just staying in and on the roller coaster ride that is the final two weeks.  We can do this! Armed with a cell phone and a credit card and a list of good pals who've said they are available to help--there isn't anything we can't manage!  At least--that is the affirmation for today...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Where are We Now?

I'll bet some of you are wondering if we have imploded yet? Well, the answer is no, or at least not really; or even if we've imploded a little bit, we re-inflated and are managing to hold it together.  Maybe not with as much grace and panache as we'd have liked, but so be it.

As thousands of couples legally marry in New York state, Teri and I have 19 days to go until we have our ceremony which we are calling a Wedding--even if our state of Oregon is still clinging to the separate and not equal approach to civil rights.  So be it.  We certainly have all the stress, expense and challenges associated with a "traditional Wedding" but that is just how things stand.  A few months ago, I made a list of our Wedding Planning Land by the numbers as things stood then.  I thought I'd take a little time to give you all an update of where things stand now...by the numbers:

Days to go until the ceremony and celebration: 19
Number of people who have not let us know in one way or another whether they will attend: 16
Number of solid-colored bridesmaid/best gal dresses acquired: 5
Number of invitations we mailed that were returned and needed to be re-addressed: 1
Number of invitations we re-addressed because of couple status changes: 3
Number of gifts we have already received: 3
Number of tables we will likely have for reception meal seating: 8 (or 9)
Total silverware items purchased for event: 216: 6 dozen each: knives, spoons, forks
Number of pairs of glass salt & pepper shakers purchased: 9
Pounds of flour purchased at Costco: 25
Pounds of powdered/confectioner's sugar purchased at Costco: 16
Number of 2.5 gallon glass beverage dispensers we now own: 3
Total programs printed and assembled: 90
Total wine cork place-card holders crafted: 100
Date we filed Domestic Partnership paperwork with state: 6.3.2011
Number of get-away weekends we've taken to de-stress and re-group in past few months: 4
Number of months since we got engaged: 16
Number of practice cakes we've made: 15
Times we've squabbled about money: 0
Times we've squabbled about people: countless--we are generally on the same side but have often needed to vent!
Number of rings purchased: 6 (3 each-- engagement rings, one we started wearing when we filed our DP paperwork, and one that we will exchange during the ceremony)

I realized once I started that I could go on and on with the list, but maybe it is best to stop quantifying.  What it all boils down to is we are getting closer.  We tell people that if we'd known some of what has gone down in march to our big day, we might have chosen to do something different BUT there are things that we have appreciated about the process as well.  We have learned more about each other and feel even more solid in our values and we have seen both the best and worst of ourselves and each other (and a few other people as well.)  Long after we've re-homed all those dozens of sets of silverware, we will have the planks of this process in the platform of our relationship.  Not to mention, we won't be able to truly evaluate until at least August 14th!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's Just Call This What it Is

It has been a while since I have written here about the elephant in the room-it isn't like I forget, it is just that one would like things to be as normal and ordinary as possible.  Mostly.

Yesterday, I watched the Senate committee hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 116, S., 598) introduced in both the U.S. House and the Senate.  I was home sick from work, so instead of chairing a meeting as previously planned, I propped myself up on pillows and watched the live stream of the committee hearing.  Those old white men who spoke out against it and in defense of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) sat there as others testified about the harmful and discriminatory realities of 15 years of DOMA (homes, death benefits, health coverage, inherited property--all lost or denied because of federal policies) and then went on to say that it wasn't that they were "against" gays and lesbians, they just believed that getting rid of DOMA would open the doors for children to be taught how to be homosexuals and that same sex families were normal (never mind the children who grow up within such families), that "traditional marriages" are the only ones that count, and that if gays and lesbians can legally marry then taxpayers will be subsidizing polygamy next.  Whew.  Good thing those people are not "against" gays and lesbians!

Yesterday was also the day I was reminded that there are some relatives who won't be attending our ceremony because "it makes them feel uncomfortable."  We tried to weed out the obvious antis and right-wingers in the guest list construction, but as Teri and I and every other gay person in the world knows: you just never know. We never know how people truly vote, what sort of language they use with their kids or in the privacy of their homes, or what they might actually do in the face of differences and diversity.  You just never know...until you do.  And then we get to come face to face with a unique kind of bigotry: homophobia.

The reason that I think of homophobia as a unique sort of hate and bigotry is that when one is a person of color, part of a minority religion or some other diverse group, chances are, so is one's family of origin. There is a sense of belonging--at least to the family or to a minority culture--from which one can draw strength, survival skills and a defensive base of self-acceptance.  That just is not the case for LGBTQ folks where often the first line of rejection, hatred and homophobia comes from our families.  We have to go out into the homophobic world to create a sense of belonging and to create safe spheres where we can be ourselves in any sort of genuine way.  For many of us, our families eventually come around--or they learn how to "accept" and "tolerate"--I don't think that is the case for other targeted populations who know that even if the rest of the world rejects them, they have a kindred haven within their families. I am not saying that one form of bigotry or racism is better or worse, just that there are some differences.  Of course, I will NEVER know what it is like to be a person of color, so I can only truthfully speak to what I do know and experience.

So we fight and struggle within our families, our schools, our communities, and then we continue the struggle on a larger, political and human rights level.  We have people tell us that they are not "against" us, they just can't imagine seeing two women kiss or wonder what two men do in bed or other imagined moments they believe justify denying fairness and justice.  We bolster ourselves for the comments, legislation, misinformation and fear that people seem to feel necessary.  To be honest, I can't really decide if I am sorry that these people feel "uncomfortable" or not.  As I told Teri last night in talking about the people from our world who are choosing not to come to our ceremony, I don't know if it really bothers me or not since I have had years to develop the thick-skin necessary to live in a world of "isms." Of course, we don't want anyone present who is thinking icky thoughts, but we also would like to think that by now, our ordinary "outness" has made a difference in easing people's homophobia.  With all the movement toward increased social justice and basic rights, we can forget that people are still victims of gay-bashing and homophobic violence, schools are still unsafe for our kids (and not because of the gay people), and every day people still come out to families who reject them.

The elephant in the room is that there is STILL an elephant in the room...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Wall

With three weeks to go, things have become temporarily un-fun. We have had over a week of rain and cool temperatures here which is a. unseasonable and while it is b. great for the garden, it is c. hard on the spirit. 

Repeated attempts to contact the last of the non-rsvp-ers have yielded a couple responses (thank you) but there are still a couple dozen folks unaccounted for.  Teri and I have decided that come deadline day, that's it--we'll just go with the numbers we have. And we are striving not to take anything personal at this stage even though we are vulnerable, exhausted and stressed. We don't have any control anyway--the requested solid-color dresses have become come-as-you-are; the seating chart is a moving target with additions, subtractions, break-ups and the like; and the stress of knowing I may have to cover work stuff on the Wedding day despite attempts to the contrary for nearly a year are weighing us down. Even if our two main mantras are "Whatever" and "It is what it is" does not mean that two gals have not become a bit worn down by reality.


Work stuff, neighborhood stuff, family stuff, personal stuff--this is the reality of not only weddings but of marriage. The bridal magazines show glowing young brides surrounded by color-coordinated perfection--but this has nothing to do with real life. Real Life is personal emotional upheaval that tends to catch us off guard, tending to family dynamics, being there for our kids no matter how old they get, house hunting at the most inopportune time, dealing with energy-sucking people, discrimination, economics, politics, weather, getting sick, and myriad other unglamorous realities.  this is also the stuff of Weddings, I'm here to tell you.  Weddings may look pretty perfect on glossy magazine pages but they are a messy microcosm of the merging of two different worlds.

So, we're tired, Teri and I--we aren't sleeping particularly well and yet we are trying to take things one day at a time.  I've managed to get a bit sick in the midst of all this Life stuff and we are reminding ourselves that commitment isn't really about the ceremony and the celebration.  As Teri says, as far as we're concerned, we're already married--Life just gives us practicum for reaffirming our commitment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Healing Powers of Bacon

Warning to all you vegetarians and vegans out there who happen to be squeamish--this blog is, indeed, about bacon!  Well, it is actually about comfort food and survival during stressful times, but there will be a great deal of bacon chat going down in the next couple paragraphs.

For Teri and I, the last couple weeks or so, bacon has become our go-to salty comfort crunch.  It doesn't take much, just a slice or two or a freshly made BLT sandwich and we are feeling temporarily grounded and supported by the universe.  We have started to joke that if it weren't for bacon, we might have crumpled under the pressure of Wedding Planning Land a couple months ago. 

I am sure those who knew Teri during her decade of Veganism might be shocked or surprised at the way bacon has become her pre-matrimony drug of choice.  Those who know me are likely not surprised at all.  Think about it--it's BACON for goodness sake!  What's not to love?!

We talk a good talk about getting zen and stress free and we really are pushing back with big choruses of "What-ever!" but all that Seriously, Back Off! is fueled by bacon. They say when the Good Laura closes a door, She opens a window; or when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade--but I think it is much more powerful to fry up a pan of bacon and I believe bacon is one of the spiritual gifts of coping the Universe has given us. It doesn't take much--no need yet for us to sit down and eat an entire package (that day may come, of course, but we'll face that pork belly when we get there), but if ever I write my Lesbian Wedding Survival book--there will be an entire chapter dedicated to bacon (and maybe another one dedicated to chocolate...)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Music, Laughter and Self-Preservation

How much time he saves who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks.
Marcus Aurelius

Seriously...Teri and I are both clinging to our senses of humor and shared belief that all things are temporary--with the strength of ten Grinches...plus two! And as much as we might understand and be able to justify some of the crap going down because we are students of human nature--still...seriously.

So Yay for laughter and Yay for our amazing friends and family who are listening, supporting, encouraging, and offering to spearhead vigilante groups--I'm here to tell you that two gals would end up on the front page of the local paper if it weren't for the true heros and heroines in our lives.  Can I get a Woot! Woot?!

Yesterday, one of the daughters, Lucy, and her BF Jacob came over to help with our music play list. I lured them in with blueberry pancakes (okay, so they were already committed but why not add food?) and amidst tangled wires and three computers, we compiled the most eclectic mix of music known to man or beast.  Now I hate to burst anyone's stereotyping bubble, but there will be no Indigo Girls or Melissa Etheridge or what I call "old-school-filling-up-and-spilling-over" Lesbian music (you know that genre of counter-culture female singers from the seventies--a guitar, unicorns, abundant yearning, walks along the seashore, etc.)  Instead, with Lucy's help, we've got some of the modern dance music that Teri likes, some of the punky anthems that I like, and songs pulled from just about every era and decade.  I mean who wouldn't want to hear Petula Clark belting out "Sign of the Times" followed by the Ramones and "I Want to be Sedated"?  Oh yeah...

We had some parameters, of course.  I had to give up on having any Prince or Iggy Pop because, well, Teri hates them and I begged that we keep what I call Teri's "emo" music off the playlist too--okay, maybe one James Blunt song made it out of the Itunes library and into "Wedding" but that is it!  We kept our minds on the eclectic group that will be in attendance, threw in plenty of 80's music (because that's where we're from) and a grand smattering of all sorts of other fun stuff.  The ongoing dialogue went something like this:

Me: I love that song!
Lucy: But not for a wedding.
Me: Teri loves that song!
Lucy: Okay (picture Lucy clicking and dragging).

Alright, maybe it wasn't quite that biased but I am sad to report there will be no Iggy & the Stooges belting out "I Wanna be Your Dog" at our Wedding Extravaganza but there will be the classic stoner rendition of "Sister Golden Hair Surprise."  I am sure you can imagine the dynamics.

Lots of laughter and now that we have the soundtrack for our special day, I feel confident that the music will contribute to the making of some pretty amazing memories--regardless of the periodic sniping of poop-heads along the way. 



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Month to Go!

The blast-off countdown has begun and as I told Teri over BLTs last night after getting home from a meeting--whatever!  Now it is not that either one of us has reached apathy or that we don't care at all, it is more that we have exceeded the saturation point for lists and worries and stress and anxiety.  You want to come to the wedding even though you weren't invited? You haven't got your dress yet? You've decided you can't possibly participate in a lesbian wedding?  You are afraid that the garden might be crawling with scary gay people? You have allergies? You don't like us anymore? Whatever!  With a big crazy-eyed sigh, I've let it all go.  It is going to be what it is going to be and I have reached the whatever point.  I am sure many others have been here before us.

Control is not to be had, while laughter, love, and resiliency are.  I'm good with that. I don't know if the Whatever mantra will carry us through to the glorious end or not--we might have a resurgence of Ack! (fondly borrowed from my comic and cartoon days) but for now, ahhhhhh.....(visualize shrugging shoulders, raised eyebrows and a disinterested yawn.)

Now then, for those of you who doubt my ability to Let Go and Let Gaga (mutation of the well-known religious slogan intended) because you've been following these bouncy blog posts, let me assure you that living through three strong-willed teenagers as a single mom has taught me a thing or two about picking one's battles and finding peace in the midst of chaos. I know a little about laughing my way through a world that doesn't much resemble the one I imagined, I'll have you know!  Of course, with all the preparation and attention we've given this celebration, I'm sure it will look quite a bit about what we've imagined and so what if the human element brings about the unpredictable?  Bring it on because we are vibrating at the zen stage of whatever.

As Teri has said, one month to go, means one month until it is all over and our lives go back to some sort of normal. It also means one month until we get to see some of our most favorite people in the whole wide world and share a few meals and plenty of laughs, hugs and memories.  Somewhere in there will be our intentional commitment but it will be sandwiched by so much fabulousness that the not-so-fabulousness will be a bit like mosquitoes on a camping trip.  Whatever.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time to Put the "Party" Back Into Wedding Party!

The task lists are created, the spreadsheets are filling in nicely, details are getting done and things are being tended to.  Now it's time to focus on a little of the fun stuff.  With the pending arrival of family and friends from afar, and the chance to have some laughs, fun and shared experiences with those closest to us here, we just can't let the opportunity pass to enjoy having all of these people here together!

The questions, however, are what to do and how to squeeze it in?  We also want to allow room and space for those who want to get out and do some exploring, shopping or sight-seeing on their own that isn't Wedding-related. Teri and I have turned our thoughts to welcome baskets and gifts for our attendants, hosting a relaxing rehearsal dinner barbecue and whether or not we want to do a group trip to the day spa for some pedicures or other "we appreciate you" activities. It comes down to how to include and spend time with a diverse group of folks, and timing; figuring out schedules is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

While we also anticipate the preparation, decorating and cooking will be fun too, it is so important for us to really soak up all the reasons we have chosen these people to be such an integral part of our ceremony and celebration--and they have been so fabulous to accept.  I confess that when we started this Wedding planning adventure over a year ago, I was neither eager nor had I imagined ever getting married in any sort of ceremonious way again--but being able to share with so many of our besties has been the best part!

So with just about three weeks to go before people start arriving, our thoughts truly turn to how to celebrate, appreciate and embrace the people who are making room in their lives to be a part of ours!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Things Have a Way of Working Out (One Way or Another)

I am not always the most patient person in the world. Probably not even the most patient person on our street--and my lack of patience is only one of my many human flaws. There is always a bit of disparity between how one would like for things to go and the way life actually unfolds.  Surprise!  Fortunately, the Universe has balanced out my lack of patience and tendency to want to get things just so with the ability to be quite flexible and to bounce.  Whew!  Since Life has a way of working itself out with or without any help from me.

Wedding Planning Land is unquestionably in the home stretch.  Both Teri and I are starting to partition out our energy on the things we can actually influence, forcing ourselves to let go of the areas where things are just going to be the way they are going to be. This is the place where we let the people who want to help do so and let ourselves experience the humor and joys of what IS (instead of fussing over what could have been or what isn't).  Things are just going to work out the way they do...

I am not an overly woo-woo sort of person but I do believe that Life is a combination of random mutating surprises and a conspiracy to ensure that some of what a person needs finds him or her.  The same rainstorm that upends trees can also produce a gorgeously radiant rainbow.  As things either fall into place or fall by the wayside, I am feeling an increased sense of trust that things will work out in just the ways that work for us.

 With a month to go, the little paper table shapes on our bulletin board seating chart are getting peppered with colored sticky tabs; there is a silly army of 18 identical glass salt & pepper shakers arranged on our kitchen counter and our utility room is overflowing with supplies.  We are starting to get incredibly excited to see visiting friends and family members and finding that the things we thought were a big deal six months ago don't matter nearly as the day quickly approaches! Who knows what will happen between now and then or how the final event will unfold--but things have a way of working out...one way or another.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rituals, Words and Vows

With all the fuss over tables, linens and cake recipes, it can seem like the actual "ceremony" part of the ceremony gets bumped aside. I don't think that is necessarily true in our case, it is just the part that makes both Teri and I feel the most nervous and unsure.  It is also the part that feels the most important.  As Teri likes to say, everything else is just icing on the cake.

Creating our ceremony is a place where Teri and I can be as traditional or as personal as we want--and we are probably a little of both.  It is also the place where when we start to talk about it, we get a bit anxious.  Standing up in front of everyone and letting all our gooey and serious feelings flap in the breeze is very different from the self-deprecating and authentic humor we generally use to talk about our relationship.  But, alas, that is what Weddings are all about.

My sister is officiating the ceremony for us and we have complete trust in her skills and abilities.  For those who don't know, my sister is an actor, director and theatre maven extraordinaire.  After Teri and I wrote up what we have been calling the "script" for the ceremony, I emailed it to my sister and she is the one who is going to help us turn it into reality.  As a matter of fact, later this morning we are all three getting together for brunch and notes to further craft the ceremony.  When my sister suggested it was time for us to take a meeting (silliness intended), she mentioned that she had jotted some notes on the script and it made me smile--it was comfortingly theatrical.  I trust her sense of timing, delivery and word flow.  Teri trusted me to put all our thoughts and snippets of poems and words into a ceremony script and now we trust my sister to make it into our ceremony.

We opted for no additional readers or speakers and we opted to not write individual vows.  Instead, we have created vows that we will both say--each separately and guided by my sister.  There is some ritual woven in but our goal is to keep it relatively short and with no awkward pauses or lapses.  We want flow. We want accessible language.  We want it to be personal and meaningful. And, we want to make sure everyone can hear everything. Even though we may get nervous at the thought of the actual ceremony, I do have confidence that between my sister and the musician, and amidst our team of attendants, Teri and I will be in very good hands.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Practice Cake Home Stretch


With just over a month to go, many of our Wedding Planning realities are winding down. There may be a sense of panic in some areas but when it comes to the cakes and pies, I'm feeling pretty darn confident.  That may have something to do with the fact that in the last six months, we have made dozens of Practice Cakes!

I have to wonder if after the wedding passes, we'll be able to go back to just calling them "cakes"--they've been called practice cakes now for months and that may just be the moniker that sticks.  While I have been a fairly confident baker for the past decade or so, I have not been a confident cake decorator.  When we decided that we would do our own Wedding baking, I had a sense of panic (as you may remember) and decided that if I just practiced whenever I got the chance, my skills would improve.  What I discovered was that in addition to practice, it helps to have great recipes and the right tools.  Filtering through our baking pans to find two round sets that never fail and adding a few quality offset spatulas to our arsenal have been good things; as has developing a no-fail buttercream frosting (yes butter and yes cream).


To be fair, we haven't actually eaten all of these cakes--some have been for birthdays, parties and potlucks and while some have been yummy and gorgeous, some have been total disasters.  But, my skills are improving.  I still don't embark on anything too fancy and while I can make some simple scallops while wielding the decorator tips, that is about it. I've learned how to use just a smidge of the fancy gel tinting colors (I use a toothpick to get the right amount out of the container) to get a lovely pastel or jewel-tone to the frosting instead of the scary neon colors I created early on. I've also learned that the talented folks at Etsy are fabulous resources--instead of trying to create my own royal frosting flowers and shapes, I can buy original ones from experts and they are happy for our business. I've learned how to draw letters and shapes into the frosting with a toothpick lightly before trying to pipe them; I've learned how to crumb-coat and how to get cakes out of the pan in tact every time.  All skills I didn't have before embarking on this challenge.

Unlike many months ago, I'm actually looking forward to creating the actual cakes (three or four? Teri and I are still debating) that we'll have at the Wedding. I still couldn't win on an episode of Cake Wars, but that's not really the goal I was going for...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Flowers Ordered? Check!


While we initially had a fantasy that we would be able to grow all the flowers we could possibly want or need for our ceremony and celebration in our own garden--that just is not going to be the reality.  Since we chose sunflowers for our "signature" flower and wanted a garden-y mix of other flowers, the decision was made that we were just going to have to purchase.  We have ordered the flowers and--cover your eyes and ears Martha Stewart--we ordered them from Costco.

Yes, I know we should have and could have gone local; Yes, we researched and priced; in the end (or the one-month-out) Costco won out. There have been moments where I imagined myself with baskets over my arms wandering the Farmer's Market on the morning of the wedding choosing fresh, local, in-season flowers--returning home to fluff and arrange with ease.  Reality check--how am I going to have time to do that?  And how will I know there will be enough of what turns us on?  The good thing is that Teri and I have a couple friends/family members with skills who have volunteered to help arrange and we have plenty of vases and vessels--now, if all goes well, the flowers will arrive on or about August 11th and be open, clipped and ready for the 13th!

With 80 stems of bright yellow sunflowers and hundreds of other assorted roses, gerbera daisies, stock and lilies arriving on the doorstep in florists' boxes, we should be good to go.  Of course, while I sound relaxed, I will be fussing about whether or not the flowers arrive on time and what sort of quality, whether they are open, and how well they work and last until the last possible moment!  Just because I can now check the ordering of the flowers off our list does not mean I can completely let go of the worry.