Tuesday, September 30, 2008

...To the Chapel...

I'm not generally a traditionalist, but at this last minute (4 days left), I'm trying to incorporate "something old, something new," etc. Here's my something blue, though I'm still not exactly sure if it will be in my hands, in my bouquet, or pinned under my dress:
I don't go in for much religion, but rosary beads are just beautiful, and I have many sets. I bought these in Fatima, Portugal a couple of years ago, and carry them with me, usually in my purse, nearly all of the time. Fatima is a place where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared many times to a group of children in the early 1900s. The tree where the apparitions took place is still there, surrounded by a stone wall. People from all over the world make pilgrimages there to pray for healing, and to light candles in honor of loved ones. Most of the pilgrims are women, as this is a location dedicated to giving thanks and praise to Mary, not Jesus Christ. Women walk, or crawl really, on their knees along the worshiping path, which is plenty long enough to leave permanent scarring. My friend's stepmother guided us there, and she showed us the scars on her own knees. Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, Fatima is an impressive place. Just outside of the church grounds, there are rows of vendors selling everything from blessed statues and holy water to plastic toys and clothing. Everything is up for negotiation, so I needed a translator just to make the purchase.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

...the Happiness I Seek

My thoughts exactly, except that I have a microwave:

Review of Bagel Bites

It's a Nice Day for a...

I'm not really sure how it happened, but I'm getting married in nine days.

Today is the first day that I have felt calm about the wedding, in terms of logistics. We've finally taken a headcount, corralled the vendors, made the favors, straightened out the payments, worked up a schedule... But I keep feeling like there is something major that we've forgotten.

The only tasks that are really left are making place cards to match the already-completed (four times over) seating chart, and writing our vows. Vows! Dave really wants us to write our own, which I have been dreading since he first brought it up many months ago. We've agreed that there will not be any previews; we're each going in with our own thing, with no idea of what the other will say. The goal is to be totally honest and free that way, but it feels to me like a setup. What if I decide to be silly or serious, and he goes in the opposite direction? Will his be three lines, or five minutes long? Argh, as if the overall stress of planning the wedding wasn't enough!

Over the past year, I have seriously considered my stance on marriage. The conclusions I have come to are unsettling, to say the least. I don't believe that people are meant to be married to one person for their entire lives. By "meant", I mean that it is not a naturally-occurring phenomenon, but one that society has imposed on us as morally correct. This may be because of responsibilities expected of parents, so that there is no question of who the mother and father of any child are. Another reason could be due to sexually transmitted diseases. However, I believe both of these reasons to be modern takes on the situation, while marriage predates any history that I've uncovered.

It makes sense that men should want to "spread themselves around" to further their line, and should desire the woman in their life at that moment that is most beneficial to that end. It makes sense that a woman should be attracted to a man only so long as he is the strongest (mentally, physically, emotionally, even financially) in her life.

I am the type of person who has crushes. I love to fantasize about friends, acquaintances, celebrities, you name it, and the lives/nights/conversations we might have together if circumstances were different. I epitomize the addictive personality; somehow able to avoid drugs, I focus instead on routine, personalities, beauty, excitement, belonging...

I can't imagine spending my life with anyone other than Dave. If he is not with me, I am planning all of the stories that I can't wait to tell him when we are together again. I'm excited to share all of the experiences that we will both have, whether side by side or individually. The fact that he understands my need for freedom is one of the ties that binds us, though I question regularly whether he wishes it were somewhat different. I guess I just feel guilty that I do not want to spend every second of every single day for the entire rest of my life with any one person. I think he understands that, and maybe even agrees with me.

That still doesn't help me with my vows.

By the way, my bridal shower was on Sunday, and someone bought that espresso machine... Come on over!

Friday, September 5, 2008

...Hands Off My Stack

I really want an espresso machine. My trip to Portugal a couple of years ago instilled a love of espresso, but I never realized how much of a desire I had for it in the morning and after-dinner until this whole wedding planning process began.

In recent years, the custom has become for the engaged couple to create a registry of home and kitchen supplies at one or more stores. I believe this came into being primarily to avoid receiving 13 blenders on your wedding day, which is considered bad luck, unlike having freezing rain ruin your one-time-only white dress, or having gooey bird excrement land in your perfectly coiffed 'do. Anyway, I have always considered this tradition to be the perfect expression of the greed, self-importance, and consumerism that dictates our American lives. However, friends and family have made it clear that they prefer to give us a tangible item instead of checks made out to "CASH". As far as I'm concerned, shelling out what it will cost for the obscenely over-priced on-site hotel rooms and gas to get there is gift enough for me, but a wedding registry they shall receive.

Creating a registry can be great fun. The standard procedure is to attend some type of in-store meeting, complete with instructions on what items should be chosen. This should involve both the bride and the groom, even though the bride will probably end up choosing 99% of the list. Not willing to waste time being told what I (we) need and want by some clerk who has never met me (us) before or seen my (our) living arrangements, I chose to create my (our) registry completely online.

Dave and I have been living together for more than three and a half years. Just before
moving in, I purchased for myself a complete dinner set, including twelve 5-piece place settings of formal dishes and twelve sets of wine glasses. Over the years, we've amassed furniture, glassware, pots and pans, wooden spoons, every kitchen gadget in existence (or so I thought), decorative items, linens, etc., etc., etc. This didn't leave much for a registry, so I had to get a little bit creative. An espresso machine would be wonderful; an airbed would really come in handy; our entire apartment is tile, but a vacuum would make cleaning up cobwebs so much easier.

Suddenly, I came to a realization that would seem obvious to anyone else: we're allowed to have stuff that's new! We don't have to use only second-hand castoffs from family and friends and garage sales and dark corners of basements! Not to say we didn't purchase anything of our own, but imagine the cooking we could do with pots that actually matched, that hadn't been scorched or scratched by metal spoons! We could pick out glasses that we actually liked, and maybe even have full, matching place settings of flatware, instead of having to mix if there were more than three people eating! I feverishly added products, anything that caught my eye. Then came the process of paring down the list, removing the completely frivolous nonsense, with an eye on prices the whole time. In the end, there are were a few rather expensive items on the list, but the majority were affordable prices that I would easily purchase for someone else's wedding gift.

Now came the fun part: monitoring the list on an almost-daily basis, seeing what people had purchased, without actually knowing who the purchaser was. Did they buy it online and tell them to drop-ship it to us? Will I get this at the bridal shower, or even at the wedding itself? The anticipation was nearly too much, and the guilt created by this greed was even worse. Problems I hadn't thought of emerged: as months passed, items went out of season and were discontinued. Someone had purchased a beautiful set of blue glasses that I loved, but the matching pitcher was no longer available! Visions of perfect summer evenings on the deck with the white serving tray holding our new glassware were shattered. Someone has purchased espresso cups, but what if I don't get the machine? Can I really afford to complete these sets, or buy that expensive kitchen equipment that isn't absolutely necessary?

This gift registry has forced (a
llowed?) me to reveal the most spoiled side of myself, and I'm beginning to think this will create more debt for me than the actual wedding.