Saturday, August 6, 2016

How to Singlemoon: A Breath-taking Journey Part 1

I'm not a travel writer. I'd like to be, travel writing sounds like the world's most perfect job: seeing new places around the world, eating delicious food, and I assume doing all of my writing from cute little cafes with tall, sweating glasses of beer, a beaded curtain blowing in the slight breeze, and a view over-looking hills that look like white elephants, wait this seems familiar. Maybe that illustrates what I'm trying to say. I'm not a travel writer because every time I try to write about travelling I get cliche and gushy, I am so overwhelmed with the experience of travelling it's hard for me to make sense of it. This is why I've been avoiding writing about my singlemoon. It was too perfect. There were whales and dogsleds and bears and also things other than animals, but those were the highlights, obviously. Every time I sit down to try and write about it it's all flowery verbs, a sudden uncharacteristic need to use the word "breath-taking", and a stream of epiphanies that read like a self-help book about finding my inner woman. But I did write about my plans to take a singlemoon in this blog already, so I feel like it's my duty to follow through and let you know I did it and that now I have found inner peace and released the woman within and also saw a lot of whales.


My first piece of advice if you are going to take a singlemoon is to take along with you somebody who is willing to hide wine juice boxes in their bag and sneak it onto the Amtrak. My friend Katie came with me to Montana on the train and she did just that. She's a chemist so her reasoning was, "If we order one glass of wine on the train and then just pour our own wine into that glass after we drink it, there is no way for them to prove it is not the same wine they served us unless that train has a mass spectrometer aboard, which I highly doubt it does, but I will check." It didn't, so that's exactly what we did. We got on a train in Ann Arbor at 6am Saturday and by 6pm Sunday we stepped off the train in East Glacier, Montana, our bellies full of boxed wine and both overwhelmed by the breath-taking scenery.

You guys, Glacier National Park is great. It's like, amazing. I'm a really good travel writer. We spent three days hiking through mountains that looked like a set of what someone thinks Montana looks like. You can hardly even tell from our pictures that every time we went on a hike there were like 400 other people packed around us doing the same hike, probably in flip flops. It was 4th of July weekend and while I totally think its great that people are interested in seeing the National Parks, it did often take away from the majestic beauty of the wild mountains of Montana to look over and see a family of tourists attempting to take a selfie with a mountain goat, even if the mountain goat was kind of into it.

We did hike one trail that was empty, right outside the first visitor center we got to while we waited for a boat tour to start. This was about ten minutes after we drove into the park and we immediately ran into a black bear. I was eating trail mix, it was sitting five feet away from me in some bushes, and I didn't know if like, bears liked trail mix but I didn't want to stop eating my trail mix, so I just kept eating it and slowly tip-toed past the bear while Katie and I made silent terrified faces at each other and then inevitably decided walking past the bear was a dumb idea because we were already late for our boat tour and now we would have to walk past it again to get back, except this time it was just sitting in the middle of the trail eating berries and although I know black bears are the less aggressive bears I wasn't about to tap it on the shoulder and be like "hey do you mind moving over so I can take a boat tour? I have trail mix if you'd like some." In the end, we waited, it moved off the trail, we went on the boat tour and finished the trail mix. When I think about it, though, seeing a bear that close up was breath-taking. But it spooked us a little. Not enough to buy bear spray, though, despite park recommendations. That stuff is 50 dollars. 50 dollars! I'm not made of money.

We took one other hike that was a little bit harder and out of the way, which brought us up to a chalet on top of a mountain where four people live all summer to man a general store and can't come down, but don't worry people hike up to bring them whiskey, I asked. The view was breath-taking. There weren't as many people on that hike, although we did run into a fairly fresh pile of grizzly bear poo pretty much five minutes in. The 50 dollars we could have spent on bear spray was starting to seem less of a financial inconvenience. We ran into a hiker a few minutes later we told us we'd just walked past a grizzly bear cub. "Should we be worried about that?" we asked. She laughed. "No, you're fine, as long as you have bear spray." But it was 50 dollars! 50 dollars!

The last day in Montana while we waited for the train to take us to Washington I wandered over to the East Glacier Park Lodge, the nice hotel a block form the hostel where we were staying. It was this giant log-cabin style hotel, built in 1913 right off the railroad to attract tourists to Glacier. It was breath-taking, the main lobby opens up three stories, held up by huge lodge-pole pine trunks up to the ceiling. I wandered around, pretending I belonged while a teenager played Let it Go on the communal piano and the guests gasped. There was a display there about the history of the hotel and one section was devoted entirely to a girl who had worked there in her twenties in the early days of the hotel. There were entries from her diary about riding horses, rock climbing, hiking through the park and canoeing through the lakes, all before there were any roads or even really many trails in the park. At some point her and her best friend hitchhiked all the way back from Glacier to Ohio where she was from, by themselves. She wrote in her diary about the boys she danced with at night and the walks they took, where she swore nothing out of the ordinary happened. There was a picture of her feeding a black bear from her hands. This girl, her whole life was a singlemoon, it seemed. It made me feel like my little jaunt on an Amtrak train with secret boxed wine and spending a few days hiking around some well-worn trails was not enough, that sinking feeling that even if I traveled the whole world, maybe nothing would ever feel like enough. But it was beautiful there. Some might say breath-taking.

In the end, I think I learned all the inner-peace, self-discovery things you're supposed to learn when you go into the wilderness like that I am small and the earth is big, everywhere I have been, there were people before me, and I successfully never bought bear spray. I have not yet been eaten by a bear at the time of publishing. Montana was breath-taking.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wedding Jealousy or Would a Bouncy Castle Set Us Apart from the Other Weddings, No That's Dumb, Right?

It's June now, which means much like the slow drifts of cat hair seen floating in the warm summer light streaming through my windows: wedding season is upon us. I'm 28, prime marryin' age, which means weddings have dominated my summers for the last three or four years. For the last two summers every vacation was actually a trip somewhere to watch people pledge their eternal love to one another before we all ate cocktail shrimp. (Ok, I've never actually been to a wedding that had cocktail shrimp, but it seems like a thing that should be at weddings.) I actually love weddings, they are like parties made perfectly to my specifications: they start at like 5pm, end by 10, there's free food, free wine, dancing to music that isn't so loud you can't hear anyone talk, and you usually get to hang out with people you haven't seen in awhile with no pressure to make future plans that you will inevitably never get around to doing. Also there's cake. It's also, I guess, nice to see two people pledge their love to each other in front of everyone they know and even though I'm generally avoid earnestness, I've even cried real human tears of positive emotion at a few weddings. Weddings are nice. I've even been to one that has a s'mores flavored cake.

But this year other peoples' weddings are stressing me out. Our wedding is approaching faster and faster each day, like when you're playing Tetris and all those slowly falling blocks seem totally manageable and you're putting them in the right place and the lines are disappearing and you've booked a caterer and a DJ and it seems totally fine and then all the sudden they start coming really fast and piling up and those stupid long ones won't fit anywhere and you realize there is no possible way all 8 of your bridesmaids can all make flower crowns the day of the wedding because making flowers crowns is actually an impossible human feat which nobody besides Martha Stewart, the chows she trained to make flower crowns, and fancy ladies circa the Renaissance on May Day have ever actually done. The thought of going to other peoples' weddings, which are likely going to be lovely and full of perfect touches I never even considered, and less completely on fire and collapsing as guests flee the reception hall because we forgot to get candle covers, is a little like when you didn't study for a test in school and then the teacher was like "okay let's just go over the answers right now" as soon as you were done. You just don't want to know.

But it's going to be okay. Wedding jealousy, like Pinterest jealousy or Instagram jealously, or any jealously really, is just a made up feeling that you aren't good enough when really, we're all terrible. When you go to a wedding, you only see the end result. As much stress goes into wedding planning, if anything has ever gone wrong at any of the weddings I've attended, I've never even noticed because the truth is: I was drunk. I'm sure there are people who are better than me at planning a wedding, like people who can remember which bank account they paid the caterer with, or people who sent their brothers Save the Dates because they didn't lose them and are very sorry, and people who have never screamed at their fiance about the very specific difference between charcoal and grey suits and are also very sorry. But those people, even though they will have perfect weddings where nobody dies in a fire and/or poisonous cocktail shrimp incident, are probably boring people in real life who have nothing else to do BUT plan a wedding, whereas I have lots of other important things to do like finish watching Orange is the New Black because it went back to being good this season or folding half of this basket of laundry before forgetting what I'm doing and online shopping for pajama shorts. (Side note: Does Hollister still exist? Because my terrycloth pajamas shorts from 2004 are finally falling apart and I need the exact same pair.) The point is in terms of weddings, and life, comparison is the the thief of joy and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was a movie we forgot to return from Blockbuster for a few years as kids and as I recall Maid Marian had a very cool flower crown with straw in it and can someone make that for me?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Singlemoon: A New Thing I Made Up for Weddings

When I was a sophomore in college I studied abroad in Wales, mostly because I’d had a bad break up, the kind of break up where you are walking to class on day and you see a friend and you say “Hey what’s up” and she says “I’m going to a meeting about studying abroad in Wales” and you say “That sounds cool.” And she says, half seriously, “You should come!” And you say “Ok” and don’t go to class and instead go to Wales three weeks later for six months (After coming home from the meeting having already signed up for the trip, calling your parents to ask really nicely for a transcontinental plane ticket and and Googling “Where is Wales?”). This is all besides the point, but an explanation of how I ended up at some point in my twentieth year in a hostel that did not have a television, at the base of the tallest mountain in Wales, about to climb it the next day with my German roommate Harald, my American roommate Sarah who had forgotten to bring hiking boots and was carving lines on the bottom of her Uggs with a pocketknife and a British guy named Liam who had been dumped by his girlfriend the previous day and had somehow ended up on our excursion, presumably to climb Mt. Snowdon with us, but it seemed mostly to compile out loud to us a detailed list of all the things he never liked about his ex-girlfriend, anyway. Again, this is all besides the point but I’m setting the scene: we were in a remote, dimly lit hostel, I was reading a chapter about otters in a field guide to British wildlife (again, no TV), and we met a woman from New Zealand who was there by herself. We asked her what she was doing and she told us she’d quit her job a few months before and now she was hiking all over the UK.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I got engaged, and I realized I’d never done anything on my own,” she said. “And before I got married, I had to know if I could.”

I don’t know if it was that I was in a similar situation: I’d impulsively run off to Europe to prove to myself that I could do stuff on my own, or if it was just the excitement of really travelling for the first time, but meeting that woman was this huge moment for me. The idea that the ability to be alone before you are with someone else is the true success of a relationship, that you don’t need it to be you, if anything you need to be able to exist independently in spite of your relationship, has shaped every relationship I’ve had since then: romantic relationship, friendship, relationship with myself.

So when I got engaged I thought a lot about that woman. I thought about maybe doing something similar, except that I’d just finally after two years of trying and a lot of disappointment, I had gotten a good job that I liked and also I’d jumped the gun a little bit and run off to Australia for six months by myself a year and a half before. But I wanted to do something before I got married, and I think everyone should. I've created what I call the singlemoon: a trip you take without your future spouse before you get married, and it has to be something adventurous. I don’t mean a weekend with your bridesmaids in Cabo. Something you’d never do otherwise, that feels a little outrageous and maybe reckless, something you’ve always wanted to do but have thought: no I don’t have the time, or no I don’t have the money, or no, I’ll never really do that.

So anyway, I booked a train ticket from Ann Arbor to Glacier National Park where I’m gonna hang out with grizzly bears for a few days, then take the train again to Seattle where my friend Erica and I are taking a ferry to Alaska, we’re going to camp on the back deck and I’ve heard rumors that sometimes the boat has to stop because there are traffic jams caused by wales. I’m so excited for this singlemoon, I can’t even talk about it without tearing up a little. It’s something someone with a much more interesting Instagram than me would do. It’s not hiking around the mountains of Scotland and Wales for six months, but I don’t have to quit my job and abandon my fiance while he finishes his PhD, which I’ve already done once anyway. And I’m totally gonna touch a glacier. I’m gonna touch it right on it’s moraine.

My point is: singlemoons should be a thing. That lady from New Zealand was right, you should know you can do things on your own before you decide to spend your life with another person. Even if it’s just a two week train/ferry trip across the country, that’s not totally alone because you convinced a friend to come with you on each leg so you don’t get eaten by various types of bears. (Or at least you both do).

Hashtag singlemoon. This is going to look very impressive on my Instagram.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Important Wedding Questions: If I Don't Have a Wedding Planner Will my Guests Be Consumed by Plague?

The caterer is horrified.

“I didn’t know they even let you have a wedding without a wedding planner anymore,” she says. She’s looking over the form I’ve just filled out, a form with spaces for the name of my venue, my wedding planner, my DJ, where the ceremony will be held, my blood type, social security number, potential names and middle initials for future children, the superlative I won in high school, preferred sleeping position, celebrity crush, etc etc.

I shrug.

“You’ll want to get a wedding planner,” she tells me, which is, to me, a laughable thought. I honestly have no idea what wedding planners even do, besides wear a headset in movies and tell people where to put the ice sculpture shaped like a swan. We are not having an ice sculpture, hence the idea of having a wedding planner seems slightly ridiculous, but you can’t tell a potential caterer these things. Actually, as I’m learning you can’t really tell a potential wedding vendor anything real about your wedding, because they will just tell you you are wrong. Every wedding vendor I’ve met with has found some aspect of my wedding plans completely  inconceivable: the DJ who was sure if I didn’t hire a videographer I wouldn’t remember a single minute of my wedding, the other caterer who said my guests wouldn’t have any fun if there wasn’t a signature cocktail.

This caterer, her name is Kara or Mara and or something, I wrote it down over the phone, but my 8 year old not smartphone has been getting especially crackely lately, and I’m not quite sure. I wouldn’t dare tell this caterer I didn’t have a smartphone, though. This kind of disorganization seems on par with not hiring a wedding planner or being adverse to frozen swans. She’s not my caterer but one I’m meeting with who it turns out is so out of my price range that I am looking at the sample menus she’s given me like they are artifacts in a museum, gingerly and with only the tips of my fingers so not to harm them in their glossy white folder. They are anthropological proof of the existence of a subset of humans who are willing to pay 60 dollars a person for a grits bar, Philly cheese steak bar, burger bar, pasta station, and a selection of fresh sushi all in one wedding.

“The bride couldn’t decide,” Kara or Mara or whoever says when she saw me staring at the sample menu, which was roughly the length of the Old Testament, if the Old Testament included a tasting menu of blue cheeses.

Planning a wedding feels like joining Fight Club, I’m waiting outside the house for three days and Edward Norton keeps telling me I’m too weak, too small, I can’t possibly get married if I don’t make a grand entrance by lowering myself in my wedding dress from the ceiling on a series of Peter Pan wires in a blaze of sparklers while pouring glitter on the waiting crowd.

It’s a little overwhelming.

Kara’s catering business is in Wilmington, North Carolina, where we are having the actual wedding, and because I’m planning it from Michigan, my mom, cousin, and aunt have come with me to meet with one thousand vendors in two days. Her restaurant looks like a cute diner inside, with black and white tiled floors and puffy powder blue booths, despite the fact that it’s located in a strip mall on a highway next to a car dealership. I can’t help thinking this feels like a good metaphor for weddings: the bad stuff, the hard stuff, is all around you: fights about if the room where people have cocktails is going to be too small, the four times I’ve cried on this trip, three of which were not related to seeing a dog on the internet, agonizing over where to have a bachelorette party, but once you’re inside everything seems perfectly placed. Hopefully. Maybe not, considering I don’t have a wedding planner or a signature cocktail.

After Kara I meet with a different caterer whose restaurant couldn’t be more different from hers. It’s just 30 minutes outside of Wilmington, but it’s suddenly very, very southern, with dead marlins on the wood panelled walls and dead sailfish mounted with their mouths open and spears pointing to a glass case full of camo shirts with the restaurant logo printed in hunting orange. Strangely, despite having a strong aversion to things like this when I actually lived in the south, I feel more comfortable at this restaurant than stuffed in the booth with Kara and her 7000 dollar tasting menu. I can smell grits and the chef we meet with keeps trying to sneak bacon into dishes even though I keep telling him I don’t eat pork, but in a very endearing way. It feels relaxed. The chef has tattoos on his hands and he and my mom, at some point in the conversation, stop talking about caprese salad to confirm that they like each other. I’m glad my mom has come with me, she is better at talking to people than me. She has a way of talking to people she doesn’t know that makes them agree to give her friends and family discounts, even though they just met.

Somehow, though, I still feel like I’m not meeting enough people, that no matter who I choose to be my caterer, in two weeks someone will look at me in horror and and say “You chose that catering company? Don’t you know their meat is ground up rat and they roast all their vegetables in arsenic? Every person who has ever hired that caterer has inadvertently killed all of their wedding guests.”

Everyone is asking me a million questions every minute: what is the aesthetic of my wedding, how many people are vegetarians, what’s our first dance song, what kind of flowers are we having, what time is the ceremony, how long is the ceremony, will the ceremony be in English or Klingon or just standard interpretive dance? I start to think maybe Kara is right, maybe I do need a wedding planner just so someone else can decide what things I even like, what song defines Matt and my relationship, who I am as a person. I start to imagine my wedding planner slowly taking over my life when it gets too overwhelming and that seems nice. First it’s picking my wedding colors, next deciding what I’m going to watch on Netflix, then finding me a well-paying job in a city I enjoy, finishing my novel for me while I eat turkey pepperoni in bed.

I start asking every vendor I meet with what the worst wedding disaster they’ve seen in their tenure as people who attend a lot of weddings. One DJ tells me he went to a wedding where all the groomsmen got drunk, did a live strip show for the guests, and pushed a security guard in the pool. Kara tells me she went to a wedding where the bride and groom forget to get any beverages but orange soda and hard alcohol. I collect wedding disaster stories like baseball cards. I google “wedding fails” and send my work colleagues gifs of brides falling of docks, tumbling down stairs, a bride and groom knocked down by a wave in the ocean. I may not have a carving station or a lighted dance floor, but it’s likely my dress won’t go up in flames from standing too close to a candle. This comforts me.

By the end of the trip, we’ve hired the fish-on-the-wall caterer and a DJ and have a place to get married and I feel relatively confident that those are the only things we truly need to have a wedding, everything else is optional. We have the bare bones of nuptials. At least people can dance, eat, and have somewhere to go to the bathroom. The comforting insides of our wedding are coming together, even without a wedding planner. So take that, Mara. And stop looking at me, swan.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Wedding Waitlist: a Campaign for a Tradition We Need

When Matt and I first got engaged, the first thing my more experienced married friends who had been through this before and were lovingly pretending to be excited for me instead of laughing in my face because soon I would have to have a very strong opinion about things like what color shoes my bridesmaids should wear suggested that we start by making our guest list before we did anything else. The idea being that if you know how many people are coming to your wedding and who they are, it will be easier to plan everything else. This is great advice. It's also, apparently, impossible.

Matt and I are now roughly 5 months into wedding planning and we still haven't finished a guest list. I didn't realize deciding who was coming to my wedding would be so hard but it's terrible. I feel like a really mean varsity volleyball coach, cutting people left and right. Who expects they will be invited to the wedding? Will I hurt someone's feelings if they were expecting an invite and it never came? Am I being self-centered to think anyone would be disappointed if they weren't invited? What is the optimal number of people to invite to ensure there will be leftover cake?

The hard thing is, since everyone knows I'm getting married, pretty much everyone I talk to wants to talk about the wedding. It's an easy topic, and lots of people want to share their advice. I talk about it with co-workers, acquaintances, people I haven't talked to in years who have messaged me on Facebook to give me the low down on things they learned when they got married. And its great! One thing I actually like about being a bride-to-be is that it's ability to connect me with people I haven't talked to in a while. But then it makes it extra weird when I realize I've been talking to these people about my wedding, but it's likely I can't actually invite them to my wedding. It always goes back to that Excel document, with the "invited" column and the "Mom's friends it's important I invite because they invited her to their daughter's wedding" (which keeps growing suspiciously longer and longer) column and then the "maybe" column. The sad "maybe" column where people I genuinely like but maybe haven't talked to much since college are hanging out with someone I went to summer camp with or that guy Matt knows from work who he only really talks to when they bump into each other at a vending machine but he's super funny.

So here's my idea: weddings should be allowed to have a waitlist. You know when you apply to college and you get waitlisted and you just have to wait for other people to say no but once there's room, you get to move in. When you send out Save the Dates, you should also be allowed to send out waitlist notices. I mean they'd be really nice like "Hey, I really like you but you there are physically not enough chairs at my wedding for everyone I want to come so you're on deck, I'll let you know." Personally, I would not be offended by this because remember, these would be people you wouldn't be inviting at all otherwise. What's more offensive, just never hearing from someone who you thought you might be invited to their wedding or being pleasantly surprised that you maybe can go to their wedding if several of their relatives and closer friends have other stuff to do that day? In fact, you could even tell waitlisted people, "don't worry, you're off the hook for gifts". It's a win-win situation. And once it was a cultural norm, nobody would think it was weird.

Unfortunately nobody wants to be the one to start the waitlisting both because it's an idea I just made up and because you will look like a jerk, so I'm proposing that if you are a person who I'm sort of close with but maybe not close enough with you that you want me to watch you dance with your new husband/wife to an Ed Sheeran song and throw a bunch of flowers at some unmarried women, then please, waitlist me. I volunteer as tribute to be the first ever waitlisted wedding guest. Then maybe one day we can live in a world where waitlisting wedding guests is as normal as other wedding traditions like throwing a piece of the bride's underwear at a group of grown men or shoving baked goods into each's others faces. Long live the wedding waitlist.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wedding Stages or How I Remembered I Have to Plan a Wedding

As far as I can tell, wedding planning goes in stages. The first stage: panic. About 3 and a half hours after we got engaged I had the realization that I’d never planned anything bigger than a fourth of July barbecue where we decided to buy a keg for about twenty people and then drank maybe a quarter of it and Matt, his roommate and I spent the next two weeks drinking VERY warm beer with every meal. So this gives you an idea of my planning abilities. But suddenly, I realized we had to plan an entire night with food, dancing, speeches, a legally binding ceremony, and intricate floral design and this led to the aforementioned panic. It didn’t matter that the wedding was likely over a year away, we had to know every single thing now. Who will put on the tablecloths? How does a sound system work? Is it possible to grow our own flowers because like they just grow in the ground from seeds and why doesn’t Matt think it’s important that we discuss napkin color and oh my god, my arms are looking kind of chubby, should I be doing push ups right now, I’ll just do push ups right now while I Google “Where do you get a marriage certificate?” The panic was overwhelming. It led to a lot of frustrating phone calls with my parents (who assumed parental panic mode, in which they panicked about all the things I forgot to panic about and then we yelled at each other for not properly allocating our respective panics.) and fighting with Matt who clearly had no idea about anything wedding related at all like had he even ever been to a wedding how could we get married if he once mentioned offhand that he might not even need to buy a new suit for the wedding and didn’t realize there were different types of lilies?

The panic subsided, though, after we booked a venue and picked a date. It disappeared like a magicians rabbit, for all accounts gone except we knew it was still somewhere, out of sight, to be dealt with later. But for a little while we were impressed with the trick, so we happily moved on to the next stage: completely forgetting that a wedding was occurring altogether. For the next few weeks/maybe months we spent zero effort or time planning the wedding and kind of just assumed things would work out eventually. This was a much more fun stage than planning. We barely talked about the wedding except in imagining it was a fun event we’d get to attend sometime in the future: who would give a speech, could we do karaoke afterwards, would it still be warm enough to walk outside on the beach the day before? It was a blissful stage, when people asked about our wedding plans and I’d respond as if they were asking if I was planning to go to the farmer’s market later to pick up plums: “Oh, we aren’t sure yet, we’ll just see what happens”. But all good things must come to an end.

The denial stage ended with actual wedding dress shopping in which I could not deny that everything lacy and long and white looks almost nothing like it does online on my actual body and with that the wedding seemed real again.

We’ve now entered what I’ll call the “plum pudding” stage. Remember when you took biology in high school and you had to learn about all the models of an atom scientists had proposed over time and there was that one model called the plum pudding model and you were like A. What is plum pudding? This is America, can we please use a term relevant to our own cultural desserts? And then you were told that a plum pudding model of an atom is atom that has electrons scattered around it like the plums of a plum pudding which, by the way, is a cake and not  pudding at all and can we just call it a chocolate chip cookie model here in America where pudding is a gloppy, viscous liquid dessert incapable of supporting plums? Anyway, that’s where we are now, in a plum pudding of panic. Tiny negatively charged pockets of freaking out are surrounded by a positively charged background of assuming everything will be okay. Things will be perfectly fine until I suddenly realize it’s extremely important we figure out a wedding hashtag right now, loudly, in front of this coffee shop where we happen to be standing or the wedding will implode immediately.

But actually when I say “we” are in this stage, I mean me. (Ugh, I’m already doing the annoying thing where a married person refers to themselves and their spouse as “we” like they’ve symbiotically attached to each other and are now sharing blood and essential nutrients and opinions about window treatments. Kill me now.) Matt is in his own stage, a stage more like the regular model of an atom: he’s the nucleus, calm, balanced, neutral. Thoughts about the wedding are swirling around him like electrons, never touching him but are still there, orbiting around, ready to form covalent bonds with my wedding thoughts if only I could get those electrons out of my nucleus.

But we’re not even halfway through all this wedding stuff and who know how many stages there are ahead.  I don’t know which will come next, hopefully one where we get around to hiring a caterer. Or at least finally think of the perfect hashtag. (Suggestions welcome.) But either way, time keeps moving on and despite the new blanket of snow we just got this morning, next October is starting to feel menacingly close. Hold on to your potatoes, Dr. Jones.