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

It just keeps getting better...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Can I do to Help?

We are closing in on the two-months-to-go mark on the calendar and while people are assuming things should be kooky, we are actually in an organized lull.  Amidst all the offers we've been getting from those who want to help, Teri and I are having to say: hang in there, we need you--but not quite yet!

The big, crazy push is going to be in the final week leading up to the celebration.  That is when we will need people to help iron tablecloths and deadhead flowers in the garden; and sort and stack and hang and drape and sweep and mow and peel potatoes.  Whew!  Yes, we need you and we so appreciate all the offers, but are you willing to be on standby until we can give you a task?

In the midst of the offers, I just have to say again that Teri and I feel amazingly blessed.  Between the kids and our friends, we have had quite the team of helpers and supporters throughout the whole process.  I feel a bit like I am letting people down, however, when they ask: "How is the wedding planning going?" and I say that everything is on track.  It hasn't really been hectic or overwhelming (yet) and we just keep clicking along and checking off tasks and items. We've managed to break things up and keep on our timeline.

So when our son, Stuart, stood in the kitchen on Sunday asking what he could do to help; and our friends ask for assignments, we are telling them: Yes!  We'd love your help, but hang in there for a few more weeks.  You will receive the call to activate your service--assignments and details to follow (codeword: Lez Wedding)!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chalk-o-late Cake

It has been a couple months since we made a practice cake.  For a while there, we were baking and experimenting to find the recipes we will use for our celebration, but then we got a little over-caked.  When I knew I was going to have the day off and the house to myself, I decided  one of the things I wanted to do was a little baking--I miss it and I haven't been carving out nearly enough time to play in the kitchen!

The silver-tray-turned-chalk-board is a little craft project I did for the Wedding.  I was wandering around an antique store with Lucy and we saw some similar trays and I knew that this was a task that I could actually replicate.  Teri and I had been considering some sort of chalkboards for the wedding to share directions and mark specific areas and recycled and repurposed silver-plated trays seemed a good fit!

All it took was a spray can of chalkboard paint.  I think they are so cute and fun that I haven't been able to wait and save them for the wedding.  I've had this one in the kitchen where we can jot little messages, draw pictures, etc. As a gal who likes words, I could go a bit crazy with the chalkboard paint and everywhere I see potential chalking surfaces...ah, the possibilities!

In reality, there has been far too much seriousness going on around here lately, and not nearly enough chocolate cake and silly messages.  Work has been heavy, the weather has been heavy, and all sorts of other stressors and considerations.  I realized today that what has truly been missing is the sense of whimsy and playfulness that Teri and I both appreciate.  Sure, we have to be grown-ups and put up with life's crappy challenges, but some fun, pleasure and lightness are needed as well.

So today I ate bacon for breakfast, watched a French film with subtitles and baked a chocolate cake.  Other than writing one article early morning, the focus has been on what feels good. Productivity be damned!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Handy Dandy Household Tasks...

...Done by Two Women who Don't Exactly Like Projects!

If you want to see Teri and I are at our best, you should see us in the kitchen getting ready or cleaning up after a big party, or casually telling stories over coffee at a cafe, or even problem-solving around some big political or community issue.  If you want to see Teri and I at our worst, you would peek in on the two of us trying to hang a shelf or fix a broken dishwasher (both tasks we tackled yesterday)--we have skills, we just don't shine during the fix-it process.

Like any self-respecting lesbians, we have tools--power drills and levels and hammers and measuring tape.  We are not A-List Tool Toters in that we don't have air compressors or power washers or a buzz saw.  We have what we need to get by, as well as a decent little comprehensive household fix-it book, but what is missing is a love for the process of repair and improvement projects.  That is something we both just don't have!

We are cerebral problem-solvers--we want instructions, books, diagrams and (hallelujah for modern technology) how-to videos on YouTube.  If truth be told, what we'd really like is some sassy tool-savvy woman to come by and do the fix-it and shelf-hanging work for us, but we are too stoic and too working class to ever press for that.  Instead, we bumble and squabble our way through with a desire to do  the task both quickly and perfectly (and those two don't exactly go hand-in-hand when it comes to such things.)

We are getting better at not taking things personally, but it wouldn't be a fix-it project without one of us stating that she was going to go do something else and let the other complete the task since her input, ideas, suggestions and talents were not being utilized or appreciated.  Teri can walk away mid-project if things get too cranky or complicated but I just want to get it done and get it over and I have a tendency to push for completion no matter what.

There is something both psychological and familial in project tackling.  I think Teri and I each hear our Dad's voices when we are trying to change the breaks on a bicycle, build something or fix a broken appliance.  They could do it, and they obviously took time and effort to teach us how to do it as kids, so we should surely be able to do it too.  My dad had tools for everything in multiples and he was a diligent, measuring, creative, perfectionist when it came to projects.  He was prolific and he could fix, build, or craft anything.  I remember him drafting measurements and designing projects like barns and arbors on graph paper prior to starting anything major.  He was the King of the level and cautioned us against ever letting a stranger change our car oil or mess with an engine.  Needless to say, I know quite well how to change oil, replace a flat tire, and build a fence--I just don't have the same talent or experience the same sort of joy in the process.  Alas, that doesn't stop me from feeling some kind of pressure to do it well and stylishly when the occasion arises.

So, when Teri and I complete a task or fix a broken whatever, we have a battered sense of accomplishment.  We've done it, and we have managed to not terminate our relationship over it (probably because we actually understand where the other is coming from), but we need some recovery time.  And there are likely lingering doubts over how we could have done it better or should have done it quicker.  We have probably not been gentle with each other as we channeled our dads' voices and value judgements so it takes us a little while to bounce back from tool time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

RSVPs Please!

When Teri and I got home from a very long day (and a delicious dinner at a funky Japanese-inspired restaurant), I opened the mailbox to find an ordinary stack of mail infused with a few RSVP reply envelopes. Yay!  I underestimated how delightfully fun it would be to receive these via the good old-fashioned snail mail.

As I told Teri last night, I've had some good ideas, some dumb ideas, and others that were pretty average, but I am big-headed tickled at the idea I had (and Teri approved) to have people write us personal notes on the back of the reply cards.  We actually had the following statement printed on the bottom of the reply cards: Please share your "words of wisdom" for a long and happy union on the back of this card before sending it back to us!  Our thought was that, instead of having the traditional guest book at the wedding, we would collect all these cards and either put them in a book or make a framed poster of them.  We wanted to encourage even the "sorry can't comes" to send us something personal.

Now, people have plenty of time to respond and I am absolutely certain that there will be those who still won't, but we wanted to get them out before summer starts for all of those who are planning and scheduling their busy calendars.  According to the old day etiquette, three weeks out was the amount of time that one was supposed to send out Wedding invites. By today's standards, the recommended timing is between two and three months.  I don't know if people really are any busier in 2011 than they were in 1955, but we sure like to think we are.

Meanwhile, reading our loved ones' sweet, funny, deep and irreverent words of wisdom adds a whole new layer of warmth and excitement to the process.  And for those of you, like me, who have forgotten how fun it is to get real mail, I'm telling you, it rocks!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Final Round of Supplies

It is time to make some final decisions and bite the bullet. I can't help but think if we really wait until the last minute, we will have fewer choices and spend even more money, so I have taken some time these past few days going over the what's-left-to-acquire list and doing some procurement. 

Since we are doing our wedding ourselves at home, we don't have the luxury of utilizing all the tables, chairs, dishes, linens, etc. that might be available if we were renting a hall.  I've read in several articles and books that this can make things more expensive in the long run, but I'm still not finding that to be true.  Yes, we are having to rent some tables and chairs and we have purchased some additional items (like glassware, flatware, and plates) that we wouldn't have otherwise, but we have got great deals through research and we have a post-wedding plan for re-using or re-homing just about everything. We have had a commitment to trying to be as green and ecologically-minded as possible which has guided us in making some decisions, while thrift and common sense have played a role as well.

Months ago, when we started the planning full speed (January, actually), I took inventory of what we had and anticipated what we might need; and we wrote down many of our initial ideas.  Now, we've narrowed it down to the definites and it is time for the final push to get everything in order. I am actually glad that we did things in chunks because we have made some definite adjustments.  For example, we initially chose orange and yellow as our accent colors, but because we opened up the clothing for the attendants to include all the colors of the rainbow, we have made room for some multi-colored nods to the rainbow as well: multi-colored linen napkins for the white tables, for example and instead of an orange and yellow candy bar, we are going with a big jar of gum machine bubble gum balls and rainbow swirl suckers.  Not so much to make things tacky and busy, but just enough to embrace some of the whimsical, vintage, summer garden/picnic theme we have chosen.

So, time to order all those gumballs and swirly suckers, and to do a final inventory of supplies.  The fun part is more boxes arriving on the front porch--the more challenging part is figuring out where to store everything for the next two months!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Texting, Lavender-Patchouli Soap, and White Tablecloths

I couldn't settle on one solid topic for blogging this morning--there were a few snippets floating in my mind over the past couple days and I suppose the best way to categorize them would be under a heading of relationship culture. Each relationship or partnership seems to have its own culture--evolving over time.  From style of communication to rituals, disagreements and even vocabulary--there is a glue that holds a couple together and some of it is in the cultural details.

Teri and I text.  I was just learning how and getting proficient at texting when she and I met and instead of my traditional letters, phone calls, and emails, we actually got to know each other via texting.  While I joke that in the beginning the texts were saucy and steamy and now they are more likely to be something like "Could you pick up creamer and cheese?" that doesn't really tell the story of how and why we text.  We are busy and we work at very different sorts of jobs--sending each other little texts and photos throughout the day helps us stay and feel connected.  I can respond to a text from Teri while I'm in a long, drawn-out meeting and she can send me a photo of a lizard as she's walking between sultry greenhouses. We let each know we've made it to work, we're on our way home or even give each other a heads up when we know we're going to need to do some crabby decompressing upon arrival.  We use texting to find each other in a bustling mall or to send photos of all sorts of things.  Now that I write about it, I think cell phones and the invention of texting has made me a better partner!

The lavender-patchouli soap is a whole different sort of relationship cultural element.  Teri put out her love of patchouli when we were first getting to know each other.  Like many Eugene-ians, I tend to associate the word patchouli with a scent that is more weed-over-sweat-over-dirt-mixed-with-dreadlocks-mixed-with-old-clothes which really has nothing to do with the actual scent of the herb.  Teri was a purist and her version of patchouli loving was for actual soap and incense with the authentic scent.  I didn't really mind that smell but the scent and herb that I truly love is lavender.  On one of our first trips through the Eugene Saturday Market together, we discovered a local soap vendor who makes and sells a wonderful Lavender Patchouli soap.  Pioneer Natural Soap Co. in Springfield has a shop, but they also sell via the Saturday and the Holiday Markets.  We love that soap and while we might dabble with others since variety is key to both of us, that soap is our signature soap.

Finally, the white tablecloths are a different sort of cultural signifier. When Teri and I were moving in together there was a bit of stress.  My stuff, her stuff, what stays and what goes. 

While neither of us is a hoarder, we both have the things we cherish, collect and keep.  Teri was critical of why I had so many dishes, table linens and glassware.  What could one woman need with 12 white tablecloths?

Seriously? Anyone whose ever thrown a party knows how indispensable the good quality cotton tablecloths are!  It has been many years ago now, but I actually purchased a dozen restaurant-quality tablecloths (big 118 by whatever ones) from a linen supplier and gave some as gifts (my mom now has a couple standbys too) and kept some for myself.  Add to those all sorts of vintage, modern, cotton and poly and you have the go-to collection any person could be proud of.  Teri didn't exactly see it that way.  She saw it as a lot of linens sitting around in a cupboard waiting to be called into action.  We created some humor around it, she let go, and as our Wedding approaches, all that linen (plus some additions) will be called into action.  She has gotten used to the fact that we are that couple and when ever anyone we know might need some tablecloths (or wine glasses or heavy china service plates), they can come to us.  Truth is, I've turned into my great-aunt Winnie and that is just the way it is.

Of course, these are just a few little elements of what has become Teri and Kori that come to mind.  We are not terribly unique in that we continue to find the things that work for us, the places where we disagree and where we can compromise.  Every couple tends to find their way in terms of creating a culture that is a merging of two very different ones.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Emotion Salad

As the days tick by, I'm starting to realize that Wedding Planning Land is an intensified metaphor for life--sometimes it is fun, sometimes it's funny; other times it is simultaneously frustrating, exciting and inspiring; still other times, I'm bored with the whole thing and ready for it to be over.  For both Teri and I, I think we've entered the Emotion Salad stage and we might just be here for a couple months.

As anyone who has gone through the process knows, a ceremony and celebration is the means by which we take what has been a rather private and personal relationship-building, and run it up the flagpole to fly in a rather public way.  We are inviting others--friends, family, coworkers, complete strangers--into our world on an intimate level.  Cool? Yes, but nerve wracking too!

Besides all the gooey commitment part, there is the simple fact that, as Teri likes to point out, this is mostly a big party.  That's where the fun and exciting part comes in!  Since my thirteen-year-older's reading of Margaret Mead, I have been fascinated with ritual, celebrations and milestones on a cultural level.  To paraphrase one of our daughters, I love me some good parties! From the planning to the food preparation to the final clean-up--it is something I enjoy immensely.

So, we've got excitement and I know that for Teri, hearing about and sharing in other people's excitement about our celebration has been validating and inspiring; and we've got some frustration and disappointment and worry; we've also got love and silliness and humor and some hurt feelings and nerves.  We wrestle with triggers and annoyances and self-doubt while also feeling studly and accomplished.  There are the sweet moments where we admire our rings or imagine what we will say to our kids during a toast, and there are crabby moments when we disagree or forget or overlook.

It is a salad--an eighty-days-left-emotional-wedding salad.  Can someone please pass the dressing?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Emily Post Says...

I have a copy of Etiquette by Emily Post that has a copyright date of 1957.  I used to keep this heavy, musty volume in my office for years--either on a desk or bookshelf and it provided hours of stress relief.  Somewhere along the line, however, I stopped keeping it at work and last night, I pulled it off a bookshelf here at home for the first time in eons...

This book is a treasure, not only as an anachronistic historical document, but also for the dripping classism and racism AND the fact that in 1957, Westerners were already in the quickly-moving borderland between stodgy gender stereotypes and class lines and a new world of social upheaval. You'd never guess it to read through the yellowing pages of Emily Post.

So, last night I read to Teri from some of the "Preparations for a Wedding" chapter after first reminding her that "A lady never takes off her gloves to shake hands, no matter when or where, and never apologizes for wearing gloves when shaking hands." These morsels of absolute fact have been lost on those of us born post JFK.

As you might imagine, there is no room in this 650 page book for anything non-hetero--when it comes to Weddings, it is constricted and shameful enough to be a widow or a divorcee: "The marriage of a widow differs from that of a maid in that she cannot wear a bridal veil, orange blossoms, or a myrtle wreath, which are emblems of virginity; nor does she have bridesmaids..." The divorcee is not even allowed to send out printed or engraved invitations: "engraved invitations are not in good taste; handwritten notes or possibly messages on visiting-cards are best."  There is another chapter on what exactly visiting cards are and the hard rule that one must leave no more than three of those on the silver tray when one goes calling. Fortunately for the groom, "the fact that a bridegroom has been married previously has no bearing on the wedding preparations." Whew!

Many things come to mind for me when I read Emily Post, but I mostly hear my daughter Lucy's voice.  She says that she finds it interesting when people ask the question: "What time or era would you most like to live in?"  Her answer is normally some variation of: "That depends, do I get to be any gender I want or do I stay a woman?  If I'm still a woman then this time suits me just fine!" She might add details about the fact that she can vote, go to college, have any job she wants and who knows--maybe she's relieved she doesn't have to wear gloves?

I am all for manners and respectful behavior and I definitely DO believe that one should RSVP, bring a little something when invited to a party, and write thank you notes to hosts/hostesses and in response to gifts--but I think those rules are gender-free and based more on the "Golden Rule" than on anything else.  I am with Lucy, I am grateful to live in a time where there is less rigidity and made-up propriety and that there is room for creativity, fairness and differences.  There is a haunting line in Emily Post:

     It is of course obvious that a perfect society would be composed of those who have tastes and interests and a general point of view in common, but liking, appreciation, and friendliness also can exist between those who share only some one special interest or activity.

One doesn't have to wonder how reactionary books like The Stepford Wives and The Feminine Mystique (published in 1963 I'll have you know, and Betty Friedan started working on it in 1957) were devoured so by a public stifled by rigid and exhausting expectations.

So when people ask me what era or time I'd most like to live in, I cannot help but imagine myself as I am--both as a woman and a lesbian--and I have to tell you, NOW is a lovely time to be alive.

Monday, May 23, 2011

By the Numbers

Just for fun--and to celebrate the achievement of putting the invitations in the mail this morning, I thought I would do a little re-cap and taking stock using numbers to express the Wedding Planning process so far:

Number of days left until August 13th: 82
Number of blog posts written (including today): 98
Number of wine glasses Teri and I currently own: 80
Number of wine corks we've saved up to use as place card holders: 110
Amount of money spent on invitations and address labels: $105
Number of cloth napkins Teri and I currently have: 76
Number of months since we got engaged: 13
Number of months since we met: 29
Amount of money spent on ribbons and candles so far: $63
Number of visits to our official wedding web site: 43
Number of program covers we stamped and punched: 97
Amount of money spent on stamps so far: $62
Number of cake stands we own: 3
Number of platters and trays we have: 11
Number of chairs reserved from the Party Supply store: 70
Cost of Domestic Partnership registration in Lane County: $60 plus $7.75 for an official certificate
Number of punch bowls we own: 1
Number of white and ivory tablecloths Teri and I now have: 22
Number of vintage cotton tablecloths: 7
Number of gallons of home brew beer we plan to make for the celebration: 5
Number of rings purchased from local jewelry artists: 4 (two engagement and two wedding)
Amount spent on Save-the-Date postcards: $28
Amount spent on books and magazines: $56
Our combined age at the time of the ceremony (Kori and Teri): 90 years, 11 months
Number of weekends left before the ceremony/celebration: 11
Number of 8 foot banquet tables rented: 9
Number of large round tables rented: 1
Number of dining/patio tables we currently have: 3
Number of Best Gals: 2
Number of Bridesmaids: 4
Number of Bridesmen: 2
Amount spent on antique playing cards for table numbers: $5

Being able to marry the woman we love and celebrate with our family and friends?  priceless.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thinking About How Far We've Come...

Yesterday, as Teri and I went over the guest list one almost-last time, made some adjustments and additions and stacked and rubber-banded the invitations to be put in the mail this coming week, I got to thinking NOT about the tasks left to do, but wondering just how many items and tasks we've already checked off the "to do" list...

One of the snazzy things about the handy-dandy checklist we've been using, is that I can go back and look at all the tasks we've checked off--from deciding on a venue, to finalizing the rental list for the party-supply store, to ordering invitations and purchasing our rings.  Step by step, we've had discussions, made decisions, and worked through a daunting list in what I used to refer to with my kids as do-able chunks (I learned during their adolescence that the term "baby steps" did not work--I can't remember which of them nearly took my head off--metaphorically, of course--at the insult and insistence that I was calling her or him a baby!  Do-able chunks became the family term for breaking things up into manageable pieces.)

There can be no denying a sense of accomplishment and teamwork as we have moved through the past year of planning, just as there is a sense of accomplishment in looking back over our time together as a couple.  While we do not have the decades under our belts that many couples we know have, we do have a good foundation for looking back over our shared history: Bumps, bruises, laughs, gooey delight and stormy exasperation...

The Wedding Planning list is getting shorter--I am glad we gave ourselves plenty of time with what I think of as a just-right engagement. I am doubly-glad to be experiencing this particular adventure at the age I am now.  When I started this blog and we started the planning process, I felt as though there was no place for the forty-plus in Wedding Land, but Teri and I have found that this has been a great age to create such a celebration.  We were musing yesterday that this has been our ceremony and our party from the beginning and much of that is due to the fact that we are seasoned, independent and relatively confident women in charge of our own lives. That wasn't where either of us were at in our twenties. 

It has taken us both half a lifetime to get to this point in our personal evolution, and a year to get to this point in the planning of our shindig--we've come a long way, baby!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Marigolds, Ladybugs, and Calendula

As much as I long to spend every day working away in the garden, that just isn't my reality at this point in life. Teri works with plants all week long so I think it especially fabulous when she's willing to spend a day off toiling with yard and garden tasks!  We have your basic urban, organic, cottage garden.  No perfect lawn or easy-care hedges.  In fact, since we can't be out there fighting pests and weeds every day, we try to take advantage of what tricks we know to keep things thriving and healthy: a combination of herbs and companion plantings, lots of compost, organic slug bait and hundreds of ladybugs!

Teri and I have some shared favorites--we both love calendula and marigolds so, despite the fact that they are not your smell-good plants, we have them tucked in and around all sorts of things.  They thrive during the dry summers here and do a decent job of attracting good stuff and warding off bad stuff. We also plant as many nastursiums as we can find homes for and delight in the bright, sturdy flowers! Nothing seems to want to eat any of those flowers.  Teri likes big, fluffy flowers and I like
ones that are a bit on the wild side--no fuss.  Now that I write this, I can see why we were attracted to each other!                

Gardening with the wedding in mind has added a fun twist.  I think it has definitely got us out there in the yard more as a couple and the garden is responding.  I have never really gardened with any one else before (except my kids) and I'm finding that I really love it.  Earlier today, when Teri was mowing and trimming and I was using the weed eater, I was amazed at how quickly we could tackle our entire good-sized yard.  Then, on a trip to Gray's Nursery to purchase our packet of ladybugs (we got some last year and while some stayed and had little aligator ladybug larvae babies, we have some aphids on the roses that could use a good ladybug infestation so we decided to do it again this year), we wandered through and it was Teri (yes, she likes to tell people that I am the gardening addict) who plopped some plants into our basket to add to the increasingly-crowded beds.

So, the garden is reasonably happy, and as we head into June, Teri and I are actually enjoying the time that we are spending out among the veggies and the bugs--even if the pending celebration is motivating us to do more than we might normally be inclined to do!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I am beating myself up a little over this but I'm going to confess how lately, there has been a lacking--okay maybe not a lacking, but I have felt the need for a little thanks, a little appreciation, just a smidge of that intoxifying validation...

Can I get a gold star?  One?  One a day?  I realize it is silly and completely un-grown-up of me.  I also realize that just doing the deal as I used to say with my kids should be enough, but isn't.

I understand why fundamentalist religious sects focus on and invent pending judgment days--they want some validation!  The idea that the Great Being is going to choose them and give them accolades and rewards for putting up with the tedious, troubling and downright painful process that can be every-day life is a great motivator.  Who doesn't want to be chosen?  Paraded down puffy cloud aisles draped in gilded robes?  Okay, maybe I am not craving that much validation--a hand-written "thank you" note might suffice for me right now.

Without some validation, there is a tendency to feel taken advantage of, unappreciated, and to only hear the criticism and requests.  I know that by the time a gal gets to be my age, she should be able to invent her own validation or to at least rise above the invented need for any sort of outside kudos--but I am not quite there yet in my personal evolutionary process.

I have taken on a great deal and that is no one's fault but my own. And, if truth be told, I didn't take it on for any other reasons than a. it seemed to be what the universe requested and b. a person needs to have a mission to do all she can, and c. a gal has to do something.  There has never been any previous desire for external validation--I actually prefer toiling away behind the scenes.  I think most of us try to do the right thing as we see fit just because; I think many of us try to do our best and do as little harm as possible (at least that is what I like to believe about people.)

So, I'm at this place.  I think people get burned out when there is a complete lack of validation.  It can be hard to see the forest for the trees when one is plodding along taking care of business and picking up pieces and making plans and taking care of details.  Maybe the lesson is to say "thank you" to someone every day?  Kudos offered, appreciation shared, little rewards and tokens of Woot!  Woot! given whenever possible?  Just because we are grown-ups doesn't mean we don't need the occasional metaphorical gold star!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Planning 2.0

In about a week or so, we will be mailing out the invitations. This means the hypothetical guest planning is coming to an end, and the actual managing of RSVPs will begin.  It is exciting and just a little nerve wracking.  I want to make sure we're ready!

It seems months ago (because it was) that I made Teri stand out in the 22 degree weather with a tape measure and help me measure areas of the back yard to figure out where we would put the buffet, dessert and seating tables, and how many people we could comfortably accommodate.  We crafted our guest list with that in mind but, as many of you know, it hasn't been an exact science.  You never know until you start actually inviting people and they actually RSVP (oh, please, Universe and the Good Laura, inspire people to actually RSVP!), how many and who.

So, now comes the seating chart stage and this takes planning to a whole new level.  We want to do assigned tables and that means figuring out who sits where and with whom and that can get a little complicated. I have a computer document that I used to figure out the mapping of tables, trees, etc. but decided that something Teri and I could both look at and have a visual and functional tool to work with as we figure out where and who (and who goes where) would be nice.  So...presenting the handy, dandy, bulletin board--used by wedding planners for centuries (maybe not centuries, but definitely decades!)

What is fun about this bulletin board is that I have had it for years.  It has nicks and places where the cork has peeled and it also has my daughter Lilly's signature all over it in pencil and pen from those early teenage years when she was affixing her name to just about anything.  What is fun about my hayseed approach is that I used what paper I had which was lined notebook paper (I'm a writer, not an artist).  I originally made little paper trees to help me figure out where the tables had to go but got rid of them because they confused me.  You'll notice the little cluster down in the lower right corner?  Those are the beverage and dessert tables which haven't found a forever home yet.

Once we start to manage RSVPs, there will be little names pinned to each of the numbered tables.  Things will change, it might take us until the very last minute to get things where we think they should be and people will still likely move around, but at least we can say we gave it our best shot!  We are even prepared in case we need to add tables, but for now, this configuration allows for 80 guests. While I do love the tidiness of being able to do all this on the computer, I think the bulletin board will allow for Teri and I to be able to do this together and that is as it should be!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Death of an Electric Skillet or Goodbye Old Life

Many moons ago, when I used to visit Teri in the early days of our relationship, she usually cooked in a square electric skillet--eggs, pancakes, burgers--whatever it was we were eating while at her place, there was a good chance it got cooked in that skillet.  I liked that skillet and I confess I associated it with those early getting-to-know-you days.

Sunday night we made a joint decision--the skillet was dead.  It had to go.  The time had come.  As I held up the scratched Teflon pan with the wiggly handles and cracked lid, I gave Teri one last chance: "It's going.  Speak now or forever hold your peace."  This final decision came after months of both of us complaining that the skillet had lost its nonstick and that it didn't heat evenly (the dial didn't seem to be correlated in any way to the actual cooking temperature.)  I had even stopped using it altogether, favoring my trusty iron skillet instead.  It might have seemed like a drastic move, but we both knew it was a long time coming.

Teri's final comment was "Goodbye old life..."

Isn't that the way of things?  Not just for Teri and I and the electric skillet but I often think life can be measured in the smallest of ways--Christmas cards, the life span of an automobile and the number of meals cooked in a particular skillet.  I could go on about how things aren't made to last any more or the poor quality of that skillet, but it would eventually have outlived its usefulness anyway.  Time passes, we have to let go and move on.  Whether because, as in the case of the pan, we'll probably burn the house down if we continue to use it, or simply because things change--life calls upon us to embrace the present
and future.

As I walked out the door carrying the scraggly pan parts, I told Teri that this created room for a new, functional electric skillet.  "It's just like a break-up," I told her, "thank goodness the universe created space in your life for me!"

Wedding Worry in Dreamland

Things seem organized and manageable in my waking life when it comes to Wedding Planning Land, but lately my dreams seem to be sharing a different story--now that we have less than three months to go, my subconscious is working overtime...with worry.

The last couple mornings, I have woken from stressful dreams full of chaos and wedding details gone awry--tablecloths that can't be found, important tasks that were mysteriously forgotten.  In my dreams I have been scrambling to find people to help at the last minute or looking out over a sea of broken tables.  Alice's version of Wonderland had nothing on Kori's version of Weddingland!

I suppose it is to be expected but I find it odd that seemingly composed daytime ME can give way to completely unprepared and wacked-out, doodle-headed ME in my dreams.  Perhaps this is simply a Wedding version of the test-in-school-while-unprepared-and-naked dream that many of us have found ourselves plodding through in our subconciouses.  Perhaps it serves a purpose in helping me to work out my worries and fears around our big celebration--but I don't like it!  Mostly because in my waking life, I might feel a desire to get organized and a case of the nerves that comes and goes, but I hadn't realized I really had any worries and fears until my sleeping brain took over.

So far, the dreams I have been wrestling with are about details--not lack of love.  (Whew!) Teri hasn't left me at the Tim Burton-esqe altars my mind has invented and neither one of us has changed our minds.  Instead, we have had to serve everyone peanut butter and crackers because we forgot to prepare the food and, in one dream, my non-English speaking Chinese mother gave away all the dozens of linen tablecloths I've been collecting because she didn't know how else to express her disapproval of the union (my actual mother in this lifetime is neither Chinese, nor does she speak any language except English but I liked that I invented additional layers of diversity for myself.)

I've been trying to channel what I know of Jung from college Psychology courses, but I have one of those personalities that tends to simplify and distill instead of over-complicating situations.  What is going on really?  I think that our Wedding is a big deal with lots of planning details and my brain is occupied with every day things like work and life during the day--at night my subconscious gets to run wild with wacky worry!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Humor, Fear and Activism

Living outside the made-up or perceived norms can be a bit scary.  I don't really think about my own lack of protection on a regular basis but every once in a while, I am reminded that safety is not a given.  I read a news article about someone who has been the victim of violence, or find out about some hate graffiti or other activity and I am reminded how unsettling living in even the "safest" cities and towns can be for those who are not white, not straight and not shrouded in privilege.

There are an awful lot of people who get to pretend that everything is alright.  There are an awful lot of people who haven't experienced the gift of getting to see life through the eyes of the non-privileged.  And, yes, to some extent I think it is a gift.

With the fear and lack of safety, I think the Universe gives us some other coping skills--courage, activism, and humor, to name a few.  I can tell you that I have not met a gay person or another minority soul who doesn't have a pretty decent sense of humor around oppression issues.  This doesn't mean that we think they are funny, it means that we can find humor in some of the ignorant, outlandishly racist, or overwhelmingly bigoted things that might go down.  We also can poke fun at some of that silly oppression stuff from the inside (as in Teri and I standing along side the dancing "fruit stand" sign on a recent trip up the Columbia Gorge with our good friends (two gay men we call the Boys.)

The courage to be out, to stand up, and to work as an activist does not always go hand-in-hand with minority oppression (I sure wish they did!) but they are some of the best and most bitter-sweet coping skills I know of.  Being active--whether as a volunteer, an organizer or activist, or simply as a person who refuses to stand idly by gives us a way to participate in trying to fix the problems and right the wrongs that others create with their hate, fear and ignorance.  It gives us a way to try to create a better world for those who may come after us just as our ancestors worked to make it possible for us to live as we do.

The other day, I had a fantastic work meeting with another local activist--a black woman who happens to be in her sixties.  As we were chatting and I said something about being an out lesbian, she grinned and said: "I didn't know you were a lesbian--that makes you so much more interesting!" I chuckled and told her that when she'd called me on the phone, I hadn't realized she was black and that little fact made her much more interesting as well.  I think we were both acknowledging that the differences are a gift, being able to move outside the perceived norm can also be a powerful place to maneuver.  My gayness does not completely negate the white privilege I wear because of my skin color in the U.S., but it does give me and others like me a different perspective--one tinged with fear, humor and courage.

Pre-Wedding Partner Projects

There are those couples who are excellent at doing projects together...and then there are those who couldn't work together peacefully to stamp and mail a letter--Teri and I are somewhere in the middle (and it fluctuates depending on the project, our moods and our blood sugar levels.)  Still, I believe that we are getting better at projects--or, perhaps, we are more aware of our styles, triggers and when we are more likely to be collaborative.

With the pending Wedding on the horizon, we have had plenty of practice at partner projects.  While there have been some divide-and-conquer projects, decisions and elements (ones where we each flew solo for the bulk of it), some of our best projects have been ones we've done together.

Yesterday, we finally completed our compost area project.  I have always been an open-air compost person.  I tend to garden on such a scale that a three-sided structure works well and every house I've lived in as an adult (not including apartments) has had a compost pile. When we wandered through the sad, but promising yard here when we were on our house quest, I noticed the overstuffed, abandoned and non-functioning compost structure and vowed to bring it back to life.  It didn't take much and we've been able to build all our veggie beds and build up other areas of the garden using almost exclusively our own compost.  All this said, it has not been without its challenges...

Trying to keep critters out of the open bin--particularly the neighbor's dog--has been an ongoing issue.  Dealt with by an unwieldy collection of wire fencing, posts and other barriers. When we had our dog, Lola, she would wiggle or leap in and since she had a stomach of steel and we figured crunching potato peels and licking egg shells was not going to kill her, it was not a major concern to us.  We were almost always outside with her and we'd just hoist her out before she could get into too much trouble.  The neighbor's dog is larger and often unsupervised and Teri and I have tried to be receptive and responsive and have spent the entire time we've been in this house responding to concerns about the compost.  Having the open air bin wrapped with so many barriers made it almost nonfunctional--tough to get in to dump scraps and clippings, unwieldy to turn and aerate, and, as Lucy pointed out, an eye-sore.  So, we put our heads together and did some research and decided to create a solution that was decent-looking and functional (and not-too-expensive since we paid for the whole project ourselves.) Debate, discussion, measurements, and tool-searching ensued.

What we created or built is a wood and lattice hinged gate at the front (hinges on one side and hook closures on the other) and a one-foot lattice edging all around the three other sides of the top. We should now be able to simply swing open the gate to remove compost and to get in and aerate it and the open middle top should make for easy additions.  While we did have several laughs during the building process, we also had several of the bossy-let's-do-it-my-way moments.  I sawed, Teri measured; I hammered, Teri measured--in then end, Teri hung the gate front and finished it by herself while I was off running an errand (I think she was tired of collaborative problem-solving).

Is it perfect?  Well, no, not quite.  Will there still be concerns from the neighbor?  Likely.  But we are generally proud of ourselves.  It was our shared project from start to finish.  Knowing that we can collaborate is important to both of us and while we might not always do it completely smoothly and without debate and conflict--there is a special sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you've done something as part of a team.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We Have...the Rings

We might not be exactly "on schedule" on this particular Wedding element as The Knot would have us be, and I confess we have taken quite a while investigating, discussing, trying on and thinking about our bands of silver, but as of yesterday, they are in our possession.  And they are a secret.

I know that may seem a little odd for two women who decided to document via blog their journey to the altar (so to speak--no real altar in our backyard garden to note), but there is something about these little symbols of commitment that makes us want to keep them squirrelled away until the day we bless them and make our promises.

I can tell you that, in the end, we decided to go with matching ones--although we really didn't know that was what we were going to do until we found them.  I can also tell you that they are hand-crafted by a local jewelry maker (we did know that, if possible, we wanted to make it a local purchase.)  I can also tell you they are simple, but not plain and that we are both absolutely happy and content with them.

So, for now they are nestled together inside this little box--each in her own tiny little plastic bag and floating in cotton.  I love knowing that they are there, ready and waiting for our son, Stuart, to carry them for us on August 13th until we can slip them on each others' fingers. I plan to wear mine along with the narrow, braided, silver ring Teri bought me as an engagement ring and Teri plans to wear hers alone on her left hand, moving her black diamond engagement ring to her right hand after the ceremony.  It seems rather ordinary--our version of this tradition of giving and wearing rings--but I find that there is something amazingly ordinary in some of the most meaningful elements of the love, commitment, marriage trifecta!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Summer Please?

I know that we are in good company, but Teri and I are ready for summer.  Seriously.  Ready.  For Summer.  We didn't really get much of a summer last year and we are still feeling the deprivation.  As our weather seems to alternate between an hour or two of psuedo-sun and several hours of drizzle, rain or bluster, we are dreaming of easy, warm days and drinking our morning coffee in the summer sun on the deck.

Today we took a trip to Ikea with my sister and as we wandered the show rooms and fondled shelves and fabric and exciting wooden furniture, our thoughts weren't on cozy Winter nights but on summery candles, bright colors and patio furniture.  We couldn't resist adding this bright red umbrella to our outdoor table and chairs and it didn't even matter if it was threatening rain when we got home--we couldn't wait to set it up and imagine breezy nights under a clear sky!

It was warm today. It felt wonderful.  It might be able to tide us over for the next several days of threatening rain.  I imagine the Ikea trip might tide us over for a while as well, although in truth it may have given us more ideas for future projects than for present ones.  Please Summer, we're ready--we have things to accomplish this year!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three Months and Counting...

I am reminded this morning that we are at the three month mark in Wedding Planning Land.  Three months sounds like an adequate amount of time, but 92 days does not.  Especially when two gals have plenty of other every-day living things to do in addition to planning a ceremony!

While at work yesterday, I was participating in a morning meeting and for part of the meeting we were looking ahead to events, activities and calendar dates to make sure that everything that we needed to cover and be a part of with our programs and staff, we would be.  It just so happens that our wedding coincides with the Eugene Pride celebration (why Eugene holds their Pride event in August instead of June like everyone else is fodder for another blog).  I've known this for a while and actually sent around an email to staff a few months ago letting them know that we'd need to make a plan for staffing our involvement in this event that didn't involve me because I'd be getting married!

What seemed both ordinary and revolutionary is that we were discussing this around a table at a program meeting: "We can still do the booth and go to Kori's and Teri's wedding--we just might be hot and sweaty!"  and "We can get volunteers to help staff the booth (Teri and I did an all-day stint last year)."  As I have said before, I feel incredibly blessed to be not only out at work, but to also be able to have it normalized in such an obvious way.  It is not lost on me that while we were discussing how to work with and around my summer same-sex wedding plans at work, there are people in Uganda trying to torture and kill people who are even closeted, hidden or suspected homosexuals.

Teri is also very out at work and being able to share the pending wedding with her coworkers has added a layer of fun and normalcy for her as well. Her coworkers offer advice, supplies and relish in keeping up with how the plans are going.  For a het couple, this might be par for the course, but we are not taking any of it for granted!  We are well aware (because we see and hear the homophobic rhetoric every day too) how many people are determined to make sure that same sex couples and their families continue to be discriminated against, feel unsafe, and have their love and commitment ignored.  It is a strange border-land to be living in.

As I've mentioned before, neither Teri or I ever thought we'd get married again after regrouping from our first ones.  For various reasons, some of them because of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and the other anti-equality efforts and others because of our own wariness at finding a partner with whom we would want to commit for the rest of our lives and being able to merge lives, families, etc., we didn't exactly plan for a mid-life wedding.  Now, with only three months to go before our "big day" there is much to do and much to feel grateful for, but things are in no way ideal.  For every congratulation we receive, there are at least as many comments. legislation and hate crimes to counter the inevitable progress.  The strange thing is, it is just so easy to treat our wedding as a normal, typical and wonderful event for many of the rather ordinary people we know. In the end, I can't help but think of the question from a 6 year-old a few weeks ago who, upon meeting Teri and I asked "Are you two going to get married?"  Without blinking an eye, Teri answered "As a matter of fact, we are and in just a few months!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taking a Moment to Just Feel Good

Teri and I were riding our bikes home last night—she came to meet me at the end of the work day and after I did one last work task (giving public testimony at a government meeting) we had dinner together in downtown Eugene.  It was a gorgeous Spring night—warm enough to ride without coats, sunny enough to need sunglasses and not too breezy.  While I seemed to think I had plenty to be stressed and crabby about—the combination of her lovely company, a delicious bowl of pasta and a relaxing pint of beer seemed to be just what was needed to remind us both that life is pretty darn good.

Despite a crowded bike path and almost getting hit by a car that pulled through a crosswalk on a red light where we were legally crossing, I felt a surge of appreciation and gratitude as we came pedaling down Park toward our cozy little bungalow.
There is great deal to do on a daily basis--much to worry about and fuss over and tend to.  I make mistakes, bumble along, and then find myself rejuvenated and re-inspired.  I genuinely love my life right now and I felt that I just had to declare it as we were riding: Our kids are grown and finding their own way, and yet we both have the satisfaction of knowing that we've done that--been moms, raised kids, and strived to build a family; we both have jobs we basically like and that we are reasonably decent at; we get to exercise every day and are healthy enough to move and play (maybe not sliding into third base or playing an entire soccer game any more) and we live in a town where it is so easy and pleasant to ride or walk as a means of transportation; we have each other and we have the time and resources to do things like meet for a mid-week dinner out or slip away for a long weekend.

Things are not perfect--there is still so far to go to create a world of peace, freedom and fairness.  Things are not always perfect between Teri and I either, but taking a moment just to feel good and grateful seems to be one amazing way to remind ourselves why we stay in the game!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

All Gay All Day

Yesterday was a long work day. Not only long, but I'd also forgotten to tell Teri that I would be home a little later since I had to go to a 6 pm event before finally making my way home.  Instead of being crabby at me, she actually enjoyed the unscheduled few hours alone in the house to sip a glass of wine, soak in a bath and do whatever she wanted without interruption.  By the time I got home at 7:30, I was thrilled to kick off my shoes and curl up on the big sofa to watch Haunting in Connecticut with her, sipping a cup of coffee re-heated from the morning pot.  As I explained to Teri, it had been "all gay all day" and I was ready to just be a person at home with her partner!

I am so fortunate that I get to do work where I am both allowed and expected to bring my sensibility, understanding and experiences as a lesbian to the work.  I was reminded yesterday while I participated in a luncheon, panel and work session at the University of Oregon around LGBTQ issues in our public school system how many people are not yet out at work and how it can still be unsafe and unwise.  The event was called UO TeachOUT leadership summit and it was dedicated to creating safe and inclusive work places for LGBTQ faculty and families in the k-12 education setting.

Yesterday evening, I attended a community briefing organized by Basic Rights Oregon on the marriage equality campaign that they have been so diligently organizing. While all of this work and social justice organizing is inspiring and important, it can also be a constant reminder of inequalities, unsafe communities, bigotry and other ugly realities. I can't pretend that everything is hunky dory, nor can I expect to do the work without outing myself and my family constantly.  I am not alone, there are many others of us who do this--whether because we are lesbian or gay or transgendered, or as a member of some other oppressed minority. It can be both a gift and exhausting.  The conversations are important, being out is important--but how many hetero people have to out themselves as straight every day?  How many hetero people know that in outing themselves, they are also outing their partners and families? 

I have an amazing partner.  I know that when she chose me, she had no idea the extent or the realities of the life she was choosing.  A few days ago, on Saturday, Teri and I drove up to Portland to attend yet another event--a crowded cocktail and schmoozey (as we like to call them) crammed full of other people who do various forms of social justice work.  For someone who was uncomfortable with being out only a decade ago, Teri does an incredible job of making conversation and answering the "what brings you here?" question.  I overheard her telling someone she'd just met about her painful coming out process, and then talking about the estrangement she feels from her childhood religion.  I don't imagine this is cocktail conversation for the het set!

It is funny to me that people will still say things like "I'm fine with gays, I just don't want to know what they do behind closed doors."  In truth, it is at home that I get to relax and just be a middle-age woman, I don't have to be THE lesbian and Teri and I don't have to be gay couple. It is behind closed doors that we get to just be two people--happy, content, ordinary and we can let down our guard a bit.  It is out and about in the rest of the world that we have to be careful, diligent, aware and political.  Being all gay every day can be pretty darn exhausting!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Practice House

Teri and I moved in to our current house together in December of 2009.  At the time we called it our "practice house" and I still think of it that way.  When we moved in, we knew we wouldn't be here forever and as two women who have each moved over two dozen times in their lives, we weren't particularly disturbed by that fact.  We still aren't.  There are things we adore about this house and things we don't but the one thing we can say is that it has served its purpose and given us the space and opportunity to come together as a couple and a domestic team--with all the bumps, bruises, and belly laughs along the way.

Teri and I were not giddy or confident when we decided to move in together.  In fact, we were more
typically wary and cautious.  The one thing we knew was that we wanted to choose and move into a new-to-us place together.  We had both seen multiple couples struggle and crash because one moved into another's space and there was an extra power imbalance from the beginning.  Sure, it can work, but we wanted to start fresh, together, and on as even footing as possible!

For those who know us and were privy to the details of our cohabitation--they know that even with our care and attention, it was rough going for the first couple months.  It took us a while to create shared space that wasn't overly Kori or overly Teri.  What I remember about that time is that throughout the tears and the insecurities, we both kept declaring that we were determined to figure out how to do it and that we both had confidence that we would get to the other side.  We did.

The Practice House has been a gift--we are also convinced that this is a great place for us to have our wedding ceremony--even though we don't plan to be here forever.  A few people have asked us why would we want to have our ceremony here when we don't plan to stay?  For us, our ceremony and celebration is a bridge between what has been the early years of courting, building a friendship and establishing a strong partnership and the commitment to spend the rest of our lives together.  We live in constantly transitioning times and Teri and I have both developed strong "bouncing" skills as I like to call them: her upbringing and early adulthood as part of military families and my years as a single parent have given us a comfort-level with the impermanence of life.  We have strong senses of loyalty and rootedness, but we tend to carry them with us as opposed to investing them in a place or a building.

As we start to think about where we might like to live after the ceremony (and we actually are beginning to imagine a move at the end of this year), we both feel grateful for our years here in the Practice House and confident that this time around, instead of two separate people with all their boxes and baggage, we will be moving forward as a cohesive team.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Music, Shoes and Magic

While I am quite determined to get married in my bare feet, I got to thinking that I'd like to have a pair of sandals--possibly red, probably shiny, and definitely flat--on hand in case I decide I don't want to spent the entire evening of our ceremony in bare feet. It seemed a simple enough quest, but so far, I've tried on fifty pairs of shoes (give or take) and haven't found the perfect sandals for me.  I did try on these sassy patent red pumps and while they were bold and girly, Teri commented that I could definitely aerate the lawn if I wore them around the garden for any length of time.

I found just the sort of sandals I imagined--but they only came in colors I didn't want.  I found just the sort of shiny red I dreamt of, but the shoes were not me.  Anyway, the quest continues and gives me yet another self-imposed detail to fuss over.  Because, of course, there aren't nearly enough details to tend to for the next three months as it is!

Yesterday, Teri and I finally got to meet our harper!  We've been trying to set up a meeting to talk about music, let him see the yard and actually establish a face-to-face working relationship.  Yesterday afternoon, he came waltzing in our front door sideways with his harp strapped to his back.  What a surprise and a delight to have him set it up in our living room and play for us while we thought about what sounded good for our ceremony.  It felt a big magical, I must confess, and since Teri and I are both fans of Celtic music, hearing some of the tunes he played so beautifully on the harp made us quite emotional and teary.  What a perfect choice for us!

When we were making decisions about music a few months ago, we debated whether to splurge on a musician or use recorded music.  As with any wedding, the budgeting process comes down to priorities.  We told ourselves that we we would use the following measuring stick: When we look back on our wedding day, what are going to be the things we remember and what will end up not mattering?  We decided that things like what sort of glasses (plastic or glass?) we used wouldn't make memories for us, but the music would.  Then, as we evaluated referrals and possibilities, the idea of a harper playing in the garden rose to the very top.  Now that we have met him and heard him play, we are so excited that he will be a part of the ceremony!

What we didn't realize was that hiring a professional musician would actually help us to move this plannng process to a whole new level.  As Noah (the harper) commented yesterday, he's been a part of far more ceremonies that we have and he had all sorts of questions, suggestions and considerations to get us thinking.  We are now aware that we need to turn our loose ideas about the ceremony into a definite script--with timing and ques and such worked out as best we can. While we won't know for sure until we get to the rehearsal the night before the wedding, we do need to get going on how the "event" will stage.  In chatting with Noah, Teri and I both realized that we are doubly blessed in that my sister will be officiating and she has nearly three decades of acting and directing experience (this little fact put Noah at ease as well, I think.  When he heard that the two "whatever" lesbians were not going to be in charge once the ceremony starts, he seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.)

Standing in the yard and figuring out where the musician would be, where Teri and I would stand, how we might approach the vow-saying spot and imagining things like where the sun would be and how to make sure there is parking for Noah, made us further realize what a fantastic, intentional and magical process this actually is.  Now, if I could only find the perfect pair of red sandals...

Friday, May 6, 2011

99 Days (2376 Hours)...

Well, we are down to counting the days in two digits. I was trying to think of something witty to do with a mutation of the song "99 bottles of beer on the wall" but I couldn't get the words and the rhymes to work. All wedding all the time from here on out? Well, not exactly, but we are getting a tad bit more focused. 

I have said it before and I will probably say it a few more times before this part of the adventure gives way to a new part of the adventure: the process has been valuable and meaningful.  Yesterday, while I was getting all the domestic partnership paperwork in order, which included a telephone call to the Lane County Clerk's office where a very personable woman tried to help me, I felt frustration at the legal realities in a very intense way.  So much so, that I came home feeling a

There is definitely a feeling of "less than" in the domestic partnership process.  It is NOT a civil marriage and while it costs the same amount to apply and it will cost us the same amount to dissolve (if ever that becomes necessary), it just isn't the same and it doesn't feel the same.  There won't be papers to sign at the time of the wedding like there were the first time both Teri and I got married to men and to be honest, it has the feeling of not quite real. No wonder people are confused--both gay and straight.  Separate is NOT equal. We won't be filing joint Federal income tax and we still need to have all of the additional documents such as an Advance Directive and hope that they will suffice. 

Last night, when I was talking it through with Teri, I asked her: "What do you think will happen with the whole domestic partnership paperwork when civil marriage equality passes?  Will we have to get married again?  Will we have to pay and file and pay close attention to how our relationship is protected?"  I didn't have to think of any of these things the first time around!  I genuinely believe that equality is inevitable, but I know I'm not alone in questioning and wondering.  After all, I know plenty of people who actually went and got married in both Oregon and California when it was supposedly legal--only to receive letters in the mail telling them their marriage didn't count and that other people had both the power and the legal backing to strip them of the rights their neighbors enjoyed.

Like other marginalized and oppressed communities, we find a way to cope and validate and commit on our own terms.  As Teri said, the ceremony and the vows are icing on the cake.  Our relationship and our family is the cake and that is what really matters.  It is a strange path, however, and one that sometimes takes more fortitude and patience than I think I can muster.  The personable woman at the County Clerk's office couldn't actually answer my question, she suggested I contact an attorney.  It isn't as simple as filling out a paper, applying for a license and knowing that we have stepped into a new conjoined life together.  For us, we have to be cautious, careful and diligent and all of those qualities don't really sound terribly romantic do they?

99 days to go--99 days to go until what?  For us and others like us, this is an ongoing journey...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Because of Coffee...

I imagine that every couple has some cultural and symbolic glue that seems to hold their relationship together.  Teri and I are coffee people--and not just in the sense that we like to drink coffee--we are coffee snobs, coffee aficionados and, well, we actually met in a coffee shop!

The other day when talking about coffee with some friends, I was reminded how even our coffee drinking has been a place for compromise for Teri and me--I am a dark-roast gal and she likes her coffee lighter (we buy medium roast for the house and sometimes I make it darker when I'm really craving a serious cup of coffee.)  I drink my coffee "black, no room" and she fills about 1/3 of her cup with vanilla flavored soy creamer. works.

Teri and I met in a funky, local coffee shop called The Wandering Goat.  When we were getting to know each other, there was coffee and conversation in book stores, coffee shops and even sitting in my kitchen.  I remember reading a fun book a few years ago: Is it A Date or Just Coffee? A book specifically geared to the confusing world of lesbian dating.  For us, it was both.

Now, on school days as I like to call days of the week when we have to work, Teri generally gets up and makes the coffee since she's up with the chickens (something my mother used to say).  When she doesn't have to work, days off and weekends, I get to make the coffee (I generally make MORE and it has a little more of a kick than the school day version.)  We both decadently relish waking up to a cup of coffee that someone else made.  I think it might be a woman/mother thing.

Because coffee has played and important role in our coming together and our life as a couple, we were determined to find some way to represent that in our pending Wedding ceremony and celebration.  We considered giving out bags of coffee, cups, etc. but it wasn't until a couple months ago that we stumbled upon the idea: we are going to make biscotti for the wedding favors--each guest can take a bag of homemade biscotti home with them as they leave the party.  We plan to make a couple different kinds to represent our own differences and collaborations. What makes a perfectly brewed cup of coffee even better?  A yummy chunk of crisp biscotti!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Land of Lists! (or Go Team Wedding!)

It's list time--time to compile the final team that is going to help us pull off our fabulous event.  As far as I am concerned, this where it starts to get fun and the more organized and inclusive things are, the funner it is for me.  For Teri, she also wants to make sure that those who want to be involved and have offered to help get to participate wherever possible.  Of course, we won't need to take advantage of all of the offers (we have to keep the team and tasks manageable, after all), but now we are breaking down the dream into details and pieces and assigning them to members of the trusted team.

We've got a plan!

Actually, what we have is some spreadsheets and tables and time schedules--but that, my dear friends, is the making of a great plan.  Now we just have to match up people and names to all those dozens and dozens of tasks on the Mistress Plan (as opposed to Master Plan).  It helps when people actually say out loud what they want to help with.  Our daughter Lucy made it loud and clear that whatever else happens, she wants to be carrying a clipboard around on the day before and the day of (like Julie on The Love Boat, I think) checking off tasks as they are completed.  Cool, one less thing that we have to worry about. Otherwise, we have to guess and hope that we've matched the helper person with the best-fitted tasks.

The truth is, some friends and family have been more involved and interested in our pending celebration all along--there are varying degrees of participation and excitement and that is not only fine, it is also to be expected. I've learned that it is far better to go with the strengths, compile the "A" team of those who are eager and can be trusted to follow through than to try to force people to be involved just because it seems they should.  And, in all honesty, there are people I feel more comfortable asking for help than others.  Neither Teri or I are afraid to say that we need help, but we do want to know that when we hand it off, it won't come back to bite us as an unfinished task in the end.

It would be fair to say that there are actually three overlapping teams that make up Team Wedding and I imagine that is typical of any couple's merging:  there is Team Teri and Team Kori and then Team Us.  While both Teri and I need a little individual support, we ultimately need everyone to come together and, after all, isn't that what weddings are all about?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Excitement is Building, Decisions are Being Made

We are just about at the 100 day mark and I think that Teri and I are finally starting to feel a little excited about our pending commitment and celebration. It is decision-making time and while some things are falling into place, there are other things where we are just choosing plan B (or C) and moving on.  We are happy to hear that Teri's identical twin sister WILL, in fact, be able to attend and Teri is over the moon with relief and happiness that her sister will be here to serve as her "Best Gal."  While we had some ideas for understudies, we really didn't want to have to go there.  If truth be told, we actually have back-up plans for everything from the location to the officiant.  Lessons learned by living half a century!

We have changed our mind about a few things too.  We are opting OUT of an immediate honeymoon trip.  We decided that we will likely wait for Fall or even Winter when we will really need and want to get away from the grey Willamette Valley and instead plan to just take it easy and slide back into our late-summer lives here in town.  We might scoot away for a debriefing weekend after everyone leaves but we have given ourselves permission to NOT feel any pressure about that. Whew!  Sigh of relief...

Last night, we started a conversation about our "team."  The time has come to get in touch with all those people who have volunteered to help and match them up with tasks and jobs they really want and like to do.  I told Teri that I'll get the lists and schedules ready (that's where I shine) and we can start to assemble the who, what, whens and wheres.  Another lesson learned from a few decades of event planning is that the caliber of the team is key!

What started out as a loose idea and a collection of ripped-out magazine pages and late-night conversations is starting to take shape.  Yes, there will be bumps and challenges in the next 100 days, but we are allowing ourselves the space to enjoy the process and feel excited and gooey about our collaborative journey.  Of course, we haven't reached the panic stage yet either!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vows, Rituals and Traditions

We have come to the place in Wedding Planning Land where our thoughts are getting rather heavy with ceremony and vows.  Teri and I confessed to each other a couple days ago that despite the fact that we already have an incredibly happy, content and well-suited life together and we are both completely prepared to tie the knot, there are some nerves and some apprehension and it is all around the vows and the seriousness of the ceremony.

We wouldn't be getting married if it didn't mean something to us.  For all our independence and modern groundedness, the pending commitment of our ceremony is something we are taking very seriously.  While we may understand that many marriages don't last forever and real life has a way of surprising all of us, the determination to make a promise; a vow while surrounded by family and friends is something we both want and respect.

So, with the invitations addressed and stamped and boxes of decorations and supplies stacked neatly in the utility room, the time has come to focus on the vows, rituals and traditions--the symbolism of the rings we are choosing, the music selection, the traditional and cultural elements we want to include in our ceremony, and the unique and meaningful words and vows we want to share with each other.

We have started gathering ideas and phrases and we bought a book: The Knot Guide to Wedding Vows and Traditions and there are already several dog-eared pages of things we both like.  Just as this whole planning process has been an important journey for us in terms of clarifying our commitment, sharing values, and learning about each other--as we delve into what the vows mean to us, our relationship expands in a different way.

While Teri and I were both married as young adults (teenagers really) in heterosexual marriages, neither one of us put the same care, consideration and thoughtfulness into the wedding process as we have found ourselves doing with our ceremony. Whether it was our youth or our evolving not-het-ness, we may never know--but for both of us, this time around feels genuinely monumental. There are so many different ways to do a wedding, just as there are so many different ways to do a relationship or a marriage.  For Teri and I, our thoughts are now very much on who we are, our values, and the binding intention of the promises we are making to each other.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Holding Hands

I am a chronic hand-holder. I confess. In fact, it was one of the early negotiating topics for Teri and I when I told her that I was obviously and militantly out (to co-opt a word used by the "other side") and wondered how comfortable she would be holding hands in public?

For most het couples, holding hands is a given, something taken for granted or barely thought of as one reaches for the other's hand while walking down the street, through the mall, or stretching out to touch fingers across a restaurant table.  Even for those het couples who are not all about the public displays of affection, holding hands is an easy, assumed affectionate connection.

For gay and lesbian couples, holding hands in public takes a bit more thought.  I would argue that it is still an act of bravery and courage.  As much as it may feel as natural and inevitable as it does for any loving couple, it isn't that simple for us.  In some nation-states, it is considered a crime, an invitation for life in prison or even execution.  Here in the U.S., a hand-holding same-sex couple may be overlooked, but they might also draw stares, comments or even questions. For us, it is anything BUT a given.

That said, Teri and I hold hands.  According to her, she has not always felt comfortable enough to do this and in the early days and years after coming out, she was not okay with this simple gesture.  I am more ballsy and I tend to reach for her hand or take her arm regardless of where we are. Yes, sometimes, it invites people to assume we are sisters (see my earlier April blog post) but mostly I don't care what other people assume.  Their lack of being able to conceptualize two forty-plus year old women holding hands seems a challenge on their part, not ours.  Besides, this is the woman I love, this is the heart of my family and our affection is a gift.  Period.

We are not the first couple for whom simple affectionate gestures like holding hands, a close-lipped kiss or walking arm in arm were considered potentially incendiary or revolutionary. It is, however, another simple way that some partake of a privilege while others are excluded.  Most people never even give het hand-holding a second thought.  Forget the big elephants like marriage equality or discrimination protection (okay, don't really forget about them but for the sake of this blog, I'm taking on a seemingly smaller chunk)--how about drama-free hand-holding for any and all loving couples?