Saturday, October 31, 2009

Homecoming Queen















I just watched last weekend as a high school beauty was crowned queen in front of a stadium of parents and peers...

The fact that I have been nominated twice in my life for this role may be some sort of social echelon feat, but losing profoundly in both contests sort of cancels out the glamour.

High School: I've straightened my hair, I have a sash that reads 'Homecoming Queen Nominee,' I bought a new dress, new shoes, and am getting letters from relatives on how proud they are. Then things turn sour. I am reminded by one of my (then) closest friends 'not to get my hopes up' on the Friday of the big game, am escorted out by my parents onto a freezing football field, and am waiting anxiously...thinking I might actually be the one. Not only do I not make Homecoming Queen, I do not make Homecoming Queen Runner-up. Which means the student body has rejected me (at least) twice.

College: The nomination was the easy part. The interview was where it all went south. Unlike the other nominees, I had to conduct my interview on the phone while in New York, NY because I had the fabulous opportunity of working Fashion Week. So you can imagine me, in the middle of the loud city, looking for a place of peace to answer these 8 'simple' questions. It was one of those moments when I could think of everything opposite of the answer I needed. For instance, the interviewer asked me what I loved most about TCU. All I could think about was negative things about the campus/community. So I talked about how inclusive it was, how welcoming the people were...all things I had thought to the contrary in my own experience. Next question: What is your relationship to TCU? "I am a student." I think that's where it all stopped.

So I clap with the rest of the crowd when this young girl is crowned queen. But who I'm really looking at is the other girls, around the periphery, who are learning just how 'cool' it is to be 'uncool!' I fly under the radar these days...

Maserati's, Seals, & Hot Pants





































































The concept of people living somewhere I consider a vacation hot spot is still something I'm not quite used to. In a place where even the plumber is at the beach (and left his van clearly marked/parked in front of the ocean) and where t-shirts proclaim 'Tijuana 10K, Run for the Border," it only makes sense that it's my soon-to-be husbands natural habitat.

Last weekend, we made the trip out to San Diego, California to surprise Bryan's family and say hello ( I told you I absolutely love surprises!) Sometimes I think I love them too much. I have no problem surprising someone at the expense of their own embarrassment, humiliation, or terror. To me, all is fair in 'love and surprises.' I'm sure that all my friends can attest to this.

Anyways, Bryan got to drive me around all weekend in a prized little hand-me-down from the more eccentric side of the family...a burgundy-colored Maserati that suddenly transformed the tranquil man I knew into a cunning and slick driver. Clearly, I didn't fair so well with the rushing wind. We pull into a gas station, only to get a load of this (blue shorts, anyone?) and I am reminded that I am in the free for all state.

We visited my favorite thing in the city--the seals--which sparked a conversation that I hadn't thought of in quite a few years. Everyone has had a 'bad kiss' with someone in the past- I have at least two. My incident just happens to bear the name of 'the seal.' How, you ask? Because at this point in my remote past, I was sitting upwards on the carpet in a house I shared with a few girls from college, when I was 'encroached upon' by a certain gentleman who refused to fully get up from his comfortable position lying on his stomach. As he was coming in for the kill, I kept thinking...this is the most unnatural behavior, it looks like a yoga pose, and everything about this gesture in my direction was forced. And he looked like a seal. A while later, I replicated the incident for the cameras...

I love San Diego, the 'real' seals, and the ability to wear hot pants with cheek-cutting tan lines no matter what your age or where you are.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two Priests in Chicago





































It should come as no surprise that I am the one in this situation. I am the one in the middle seat of the back row of a seven-seater van in the middle of Illinois/Indiana. I'm sandwiched between my soon-to-be husband and my soon-to-be officiant, Father Paul.

Why am I in Chicago/driving to Indiana? I am here on a whim, on a last-minute ticket provided to me by Bryan's grandparents because we just must see the USC/Notre Dame game that was played the weekend of October 17th. The weekend kicks off with the horrendous flight situation (as described below), picks up with my arrival at our hotel for a short nap, escalates when I wake up and realize that due to a serious miscommunication, Bryan has left me and gone with his grandparents 1.5 hours away in a taxi cab--which costs me $65 to catch up, and carries a theme of relative confusion and tired irritability throughout. I am whisked away to two meals that nearly run back to back with the USC yell-leaders and cheer-squad. Traditional to his grandparents, they treat the whole team to dinner (and in this case, an additional lunch) at the finest restaurants in whatever city the team plays. I make a mistake in ordering a 'carrot cake.' I am introduced to the crowd as a sort of celebrity...since I will now be 'family.' I freeze on Michigan Avenue and am the sucker for the 'Chicago' sweatshirt. In between the mayhem of a USC pep rally, these dinners, an alumni brunch for the highest ranking donors and their guests, the actual game, the voyage out there and back, and making it onto our 7am flight out on Sunday, I managed to catch a few pictures from the city.

But back to the Priests--there were two. I happened to be sitting next to one and behind another, and this comprised the third 'start' to our premarital discussions. I was completely unaware that my coursework wasn't the be all end all. Nonetheless, I welcomed the chance to get to know the man who would be ultimately presiding over the ceremony. The more he questioned me, the more I questioned. The more he asked, the more answers I provided. I consider myself a healthy debater of sorts and tested these waters --albeit outside the Basillica on Notre Dame's campus (anyone here can sense the hilarity of the scene itself) as they needed to be tested. He asked us why we were getting married. I raffled off a long list of reasons, Bryan cites 'love' as the answer. Apparently he was right (at this point we are now in front of an ND paraphernalia shop). I have missed my first question!

There are Skype dates yet to be set with our Priest in the future (I am not kidding) and questions to be heard, but I bet none of my peers have ever spent a 12 hour day with their Priest...let alone body to body in a van.

Flying the Friendly Skies


It's probably best not to get myself talking about airports for fear that I might have a 'flashback,' but I certainly have never been a VIP customer for any airline, nor have I ever been treated like one.

Last Friday, Bryan and I rolled into DFW International Airport at 7:11am for a 7:35am flight. We all know how this story goes. Come late and watch the flight attendant staff turn into an army of ruthless individuals. So I'm cruising ahead, checking us in manually on the computerized screen, when a 'lady' comes from behind, let's me know that I'm late, presses one of the buttons on the screen, and informs me she has now put us on standby for another flight that departs three hours later. I kindly smile back at her and ask her why she just did that without asking permission. 'Because you're late,' she says. I am now crimson. At this time in the morning, no one is particularly friendly or alert--so I corral Bryan and we head through the slowest security line possible. Of course they ask me to remove my jacket, only to showcase a white tee shirt I was wearing without the appropriate undergarments to accompany it. We get to the counter where I present our fake tickets. She says, 'looks like you're on the next flight.' Yes, thanks to your bozo staff up front, I am. She informs us this flight is full, naturally. I know this is bullcorn. I see 15 people waiting on stand-by for this flight 'ahead' of us. I know there is always another seat on an airline.

I start having my flashback to about a year and a half ago on the Fourth of July weekend. I was bumped by an oversold flight, left to lay (deathly sick) in the airport for three hours until the next flight arrived. I had gotten bitten by a spider (I kid you not) on my left breast and I was nauseous, had fever, and this particular member of my body had nearly doubled in size. If not for the awkward and painfulness of the situation, I might have actually been blessed. I had vowed not to let things like this ever happen again.

Needless to say, you don't mess with me in airports since that ridiculous day. I explain to Bryan that I am 'going home' if we don't make this flight, making my terms not only crazy but assuring him I have now turned on airport mode. He walks up to the counter, returns, picks up my bags, and we are on the flight in front of all the other people. That's what I'm talking about AA.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grocery Stores



I'm not sure what it is, but I become a different person in these atmospheres. Everyone has their thing--road rage, family gatherings, or coworkers that put them in the red. My thing happens to be in more socially congenial places...like the local shopping market.

For whatever reason--I call it efficiency, Bryan no-doubt would consider it neurotic--I don't like 'hanging out' in grocery stores. I come in with a list; I expect to find everything on my list in under about a half an hour (depending on the magnitude of the recipe at hand) and I like to see that there is only one person in line ahead of me at the checkout with a dozen eggs. Rarely has this been the case. In my more domesticated home in Texas, I've gotten craftier with recipes, ventured farther with ingredients I've never heard of, and typically decide to perform this shopping operation on the choicest of 'less-crowded' days...Saturday or Sunday. So you can imagine my vehement feelings towards Tom Thumb one Saturday afternoon as I was looking for the [cursed] pine nuts and italian blend seasoning. I split my list with Bryan and went off on my merry way. Why are the nuts not with the other nuts? Why is there no italian seasoning blend?--no, I've really read all the labels at this point. After three shopping attendants finally direct me towards my prizes, I don't even want to make this recipe anymore. And then I find Bryan, leisurely looking for the second item on his list or about ten and I'm out. And what's this about people looking through their shopping carts at the check out, like they are cautiously selecting which item they think would look prettiest on the belt first. Get on with it people! I am a double-fister; a carton of pop, a jug of milk, and bread all in one fell swoop. This is the market; not a lounge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weeks 3 & 4: If You Want to Please Your Man...


"Now Ladies, you need to give your man some good ol' lovin.' You know what I mean. And often."

These were my words of council after tonight's class, ironically not themed as last weeks class topic on 'intimacy.' While last week was an entertaining young couple with a relatively painful story to tell (of which we put together the pieces that there must have been a lot of other partners tainting their past), this weeks couple had been married thirty years and was full of advice you'd expect to hear from a few generations back. In addition to said above advice, we were also lectured in the ways of 'hot food' :) This makes me smile...it makes me blip back in time to a 1940's scene where I've got an apron with a rooster on it and am holding onto a fresh cobbler pie, all the while rounding my nine children up to greet their father when he walked through the door--and of course I am a size two with stunning hair.

Speaking of making your man 'happy,' I was reflecting on a time really late at night my freshman year of college. I was studying for a biology exam--one that included the males various body parts and reproductive features. In an attempt to remember several facts at once, I would make sentences to pull things together for the group, mostly of comedic origin. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong sentence to describe the necessity for a cooling system down south. I exclaimed something to the nature of 'if you want to please your man, blow down south.' This was fatal. You can clearly see where I was going with this...You need a fan to aerate....not a profane act. That part of the memo, however, was clearly lost in my statement. Nonetheless, nobody missed that question.

I thought I'd share just a few tips (for the crowd, of course) we were given last week on how to resist intimate temptations:

1. Stay vertical (they had a kitchy way of saying when men go horizontal...something else goes perpendicular).
2. Go Home (meaning, 'please get out of my apartment, it's late.')
3. Be Accountable (I would venture to say that this blog is a pretty good start..)
4. Watch for Flare-Ups (apparently chick flicks are dangerous we were told...)

I love these classes. I mean, who would ever do this voluntarily? Except maybe us? Maybe this crazy couple who will probably have been through every local training program known to man by the time we walk the marble floor? Hey, all I've got to say is I've got all my cards out on the table...this boy's gonna know exactly who he's marrying!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How Do You Get Here?





































How do you get to the point where you are so intoxicated by love that you aren't aware in the least of your surroundings? I've always fancied myself to be a romantic person at heart. I've had role models and dreams just like any other little girl, and like many I've looked on as older couples help each other on and off the bus and around town thinking that someday that would be me and so-and-so. But I like to think that crazy love starts much sooner than that.

Take, for instance, Washington D.C. I traveled out there two years ago to get my fair share of all things politics and red, white, and blue. I never thought this to be the feeding grounds for cosmic love, but you can clearly see that I was mistaken.

Looking back, I'm almost embarrassed that I took these photographs...and then I'm not. Who else would? Americans come to the capitol to relish in the glory of the freedom of our country, and I was merely doing the same thing. The freedom to feast upon your significant other in 90 degree weather on a bench, the freedom to knock your spouse over and seduce them on the sidewalk, the freedom to take a snapshot and post these images on the internet.

Live and love, my friends. God Bless the U.S.A!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sacagawea



This one's for you, Ry. And yes, I do take requests:)

In New York, the subway system portals are infamous for giving you miscellaneous change back. My favorite is the always-exciting Sacagawea. No, I would prefer not to have the lightweight, convenient dollar bill back in return. I would like to burden my wallet with change the size of an Oreo and get through the weird looks when I try to pay for normal things with my new 'change.'

After one such evening of receiving this Indian treat, my good friend Ryan and I were off to a fun-filled night of cramming everything NYC into the little time she had there to visit. One of the first stops of the night was to one of my favorites, Chocolate by the Bald Man. A quaint little restaurant that buzzed with the smell of the giant chocolate melting fondue pot and a menu full of items like white chocolate ice cream and hazelnut waffles or private hot cocoa bars with the works. Our quick in-and-out was no such thing. After two hours of waiting for hot chocolate--no joke--and three interruptions of random waiters to see if they had seen 'our girl,' I began to feel that impatient rumble that plagues the native inhabitants of Manhattan.

I can't say that I've ever done this before, but I didn't wait for the bill. Don't get me wrong, I didn't steal or just walk out. Instead, my behavior reflected the worse for what I felt. I looked at the menu, calculated the tax, and left my change on the table without ever having seen our waitress more than once. And to top it all off, I left my 'money,' my Sacagawea. As we rushed out of the restaurant, I remember fighting back laughter and the very unfortunate timing of feeling the need to go to the restroom but couldn't turn back...no, not now, not after I just left a small Indian princess on a table in a city of millions. So as we ran down the streets (rebellious, I know), I couldn't help but get into one of those contagious states of laughter thinking about our waitresses' face once she returned to the table. Out of towners? Most certainly. And the nerve we had just to walk out and leave a questionable form of payment on the table. I tried my best to recount the story over the phone on our walk back in front of Trader Joe's, But found myself just crossing my legs instead and yelling 'Sacagawea!!'

I haven't been blessed with one of these presents since that time. It's as if God knew I could only abuse their power. I miss you, New York!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 2: Fighting Fair & In-Laws



This weeks prep course focused on a sort of anger management that often went hand in hand with familial relations. So Nate & Janace spoke on the development of a Negative Emotion Response Plan and their tactics for 'saving a marriage' when the disagreements start to rain down. They were another seemingly unlikely couple, which I think has become sort of my favorite thing about this whole learning process. Today, we had to go around the room and state our favorite dates that we've shared with each other, which sparked some interesting discussions.

While my partner voted for a KU basketball game (shared with none other than my dad and uncle), I voted for a crazy day we had shared back in California at Sea World. We were theme park magnets that day...we were there for a 'deal'...we had gotten in with a AAA discount and were ready to have some 'bargain' fun. So when we walked through the gate and saw a small stand for wristbands that would get you 'unlimited' food for the whole day, you can imagine what we did. I have never eaten so much in my life. The both of us had multiple sandwiches, hamburgers, ice creams, cheesecakes, and popcorn. It was complete junk. But we couldn't stop because it was 'free' and we were getting a deal. I'll never forget that evening back at his parents place when we lay down facing each other because we were exaughisted and our bellies touched. I laughed so hard I cried, but it hurt because I was so full. I got my favorite Sea World fleece with the wales tale on that expedition, and I will never forget the Shamu show.

But anyhow, this couple was hilarious. He was very slow to speak...she spoke so fast that I barely caught half of her words. They described a time when there was a huge argument and how it was handled. They were living in Scotland and she had found American 'corny dogs' at the store they had to walk to and had brought them back to the house with the great anticipation of serving them for dinner the next night. Her husband hadn't heard these very specific instructions and ate them all the next day while she was in the classroom. It was great to see this man shuffle even to this day when recounting the story. He even went so far as to say that he still won't eat 'corny dogs' because they are a flash back....you know, like 'back in 'Nam.' They proceeded to refer to the times that we will be so angry we're crazy in the future as 'corny dog nuts.'

But here is the best part. We weren't given much verbal instruction about In-laws. Instead, I was given the following synopsis on a sheet. Good grief! Could this be any more dramatic? Are we supposed to approach this relationship with loving arms held out or weapons? You be the judge!!

V. Thought and Principles About In-Laws

A. The person who causes most of these conflicts is unfortunately the mother of the groom. On study suggests that she typically initiates as much trouble as all the other in-laws together.
B. The primary victim of interference is the daughter-in-law. Often the mother of the groom is jealous of her daughter-in-law for dividing the affection of her son and tries to win back the central position in his life by alienating him from his wife.
C. Competition and conflict between these two women reaches its most violent form when they have to live together in the same house.
D. Child-raising is frequently an area in which the mother-in-law interferes
E. A mother-in-law who acts in these ways can be very troublesome, but she deserves your pity more than your hostility. What she really needs is the love of those around her, but since she seems unable to get it she tries instead to gain her ends by manipulation and intrigue. Unfortunately, she usually does not realize that she is completely defeating her own purpose.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trips


I've never been the most graceful woman on the planet.

In elementary school, we annually 'performed' the Stations of the Cross. This was a series of silent pictures, if you will. my job was to walk up three stairs, bend down on one knee, and point my finger at the kid who played Jesus. I was Judas. While wearing a makeshift toga that had also doubled as a Halloween costume, I made my way in front of the congregation of parishioners and parents. I made it up one step, tripped, and the safety pin ripped half of my toga off.

In high school, I fetched myself a pair of those 'hooker boots' when I was a freshman. I know, not the classiest moves I've ever made, but they were a fashion statement and Target had them at my price point. Target also had them minus any traction and slick as a whistle. So as I cruised down the 'junior locker aisle' with my brand new yellow L.L. Bean side bag, leopard skirt, and black knee-high boots, it's no surprise that I landed with my skirt stretched to the nines and my face nearly in the pants of a gentleman I never had a shot with thereafter.

In my later years of high school, we had passing periods of only ten minutes. This time was supposed to be utilized for using the restroom, getting books, etc. I always wound up running around like crazy and barely making it into class before the bell rang. One one morning, I was walking up a set of stairs to get me to the second story and tripped up the steps. One of our largest football stars happened to be right in front of me, and I used both hands to steady myself in a jerk-reaction by grabbing each butt cheek and hanging on. I guess I was shocked by my behavior, because I lingered in that position long enough for the gentleman to turn around and stare at me. After waiting a good fifteen seconds after a normal window of time for explanation, I yelled up the stairs 'I'm sorry for grabbing your butt!'

I fed my bird a cookie


Though she's not supposed to eat chocolate, I did it. But look how funny this is...and she still has it all over her beak. Hey, sometimes I get lonely :)

In honor of our engagement, in honor of President Reagan







When Bryan's grandparents' friends' (following?) told us that they wanted to throw us an engagement dinner at their home in Arlington, Texas, we were excited. We would have been even more excited had we known what we were in for that night. Our only job was to select a favored President between Ford, Bush, and Reagan. My dad picked Reagan. We also couldn't have had better timing because it just so happened to be the 'big night' for high school football and Jamal, a local kid that our hosts had been sponsoring for quite a long time now.

I have never been inside a more colony-esque palatial mansion in my life...we're talking plantation-style. An exact replica of Andrew Jackson's home, 'The Hermitage' boasts every presidential relic this couple could get their hands on. A red carpet runway, twenty foot ceilings, rich mahogany wood, chandeliers for miles, artwork from centuries past, and marble everything. We were greeted with a staff who served as bartenders, wait staff, photographers, and the cleanup crew. There were china sets all around...each displayed as a part of a presidential collection, there was a hair of Andrew Jacksons framed on the wall, as well as pictures of the host and hostess' with elite leaders from all around. My jaw was on the floor.

Bryan's grandpa deserves the badge for the best attire of the night: blue sunglasses that were worn the whole time (which a dear friend of my mothers later confessed she thought they were because he was blind), a silk Roberto Cavalli shirt with a firework-like pattern all over (I know it was RC because it said that all over in print), blue slacks and blue suede shoes. Whabam. Sitting next to his grandmother in jewels beyond imagination, my mother thought she had the best seats in the house.

I guess I am from a town of cows, but I had no idea that etiquette dictated that people should be mixed and seated next to less-familiar members of the group. At the very least, the thought never entered my mind that I would be on the opposite side of the opposite end of my fiance...with a four foot by four foot centerpiece to serve as the median. I didn't see him the whole night. Instead, my place card sat me next to the male host of the evening and (thankfully) beside one of my future sister-in-laws. We had formal menus, red, white, and blue jellybean favors, and all the silver and china one could desire. Yes, we even had sorbet to cleanse our palettes in between courses.

We started off with introductions, going around the table and starting with my less-than-fearless mom, who laughed her way through her own introduction. A slightly drunken host kept announcing me as the 'smart girl' to the rest of the room. Our introductions were interrupted randomly by the host sitting next to me to give me updates about the high school football game. He even pulled out a recent article about the kid from his front pocket. When my dad had a turn to speak to the room, he made sure to announce (after so much repetition on the topic that it was weird) that I would be naming my firstborn 'Jamal Paul.' The host announced towards the end of the evening that we should do this annually, and my mom badgered him all night 'suggesting' that we do this again, starting his rally all over again. Things got a little 'terse' on my end when the host began speaking about his hired help when they were right there...and as the fierce warrior that I am, I shot that conversation down fast. Other than the social scrambled eggs caused by some of the controversial conversation topics, best night hands down.

We left with a 20x14 of ourselves, a crazy amount of colored jellybeans, and a camera full of 'all the pictures everyone wanted to take but was too afraid to.' If this is an annual thing, I'm bringing everyone I know to the next one.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Get the Pictures





How to ruin your engagement pictures before you take them:

1. Experiment with facial waxing on the day-of the photographs, then insist to experiment on your partner.
2. Try your hardest to pick the best day for the best weather--one in which turns out to be 95 degrees. Then wear all black.
3. Buy a dress at least one dress size smaller than you really are. Give yourself about a month to 'fit' into it. Recognize about halfway through that it isn't a weight loss issue, it's a rib cage issue. Adam & Eve, round two anyone?
4. Try to bleach your teeth with Crest Whitestripes in the two week leading up to the photographs so you drool because of your tooth sensitivity. Also, make sure it's so poignant it affects your sleep because you can't even have the fan blowing on them.
5. When it's high allergy season, definitely schedule your shoot amongst the weeds and pollen. And be sure to wear extra lotion so the bugs will find you out. Teach your partner the word 'chigger' in the process.
6. Wear neon lip color that suddenly becomes a problem when it won't come off your partners lips. Realize that you should have bought Chanel brand.
7. Make sure you take shots where your mother will ask if it's really you...because apparently you don't look like that everyday.

Despite the odds, Miss Dixie did a fabulous job and I just had to share the (journey & experience) of what we were up against :)

Week 1: Communication

This last week, we started a new sequence of engagement prep classes...each week is a different topic and a different couple. So we set aside and hour and a half to learn how to communicate.

Rob & Jodie jumped right into it. Well, Rob did at least. A small-framed man with big impact expressions and a tendency to jump up on his tip-toes mid-speech, he sure kept us entertained. He had diagrams, props, the works. We were in a room with only twelve people, a nice contrast from our last group of sixty. We each had to go around the room and say how we met. The couple next to us met on the internet; myspace, actually. The couple behind us? Her mother belonged to a Christian motorcycle bikers club with a dude who she later introduced to her daughter...and now they're getting married.

But the great part was that Rob would go on and on, turn around to Jodie, and ask if she had anything to add. At one point, she actually said 'well, I've thought of about 20 things, but...' Rob brazed over it and kept going. Occasionally, Jodie would open her mouth and then shut it. Once she even got a little bug-eyed after exhausting her failed intents to speak. I kept thinking about the irony of this situation. And when he noticed he was running out of time, he paced back and fourth frantically and made me more cognizant of the time than I ever would have been in the first place.

And there were several group questions that garnered some interesting answers. Like, for instance, the very purpose of marriage? One couple volunteered that it was to make it last. Really? Am I really walking down the aisle with the end goal [purpose] of my marriage being just not to get divorced? Another couple volunteered that our sole reason for marriage was procreation. I dare to believe that there is something more than both of these reasons, and our answer reflected such. So we were the only people in the class eating the 'free' snacks, relaxing, and just praising God that he has a master plan behind all of this!

A long time ago I was in a group therapy session and I remember taking from it this one fact: if you ever think you are weird, just go to a group therapy session. I once watched a girl do an entire choreographed (and quite scandalous) dance routine to no music in the middle of our circle of chairs to show us how she copes during moments when she considered taking her life or hurting someone else. I was the only one biting back laughter at the craziness of that thought. Same goes for these classes. I wish they had 5, 10, and 20 year reunions to see who made it go the distance, because most of the time I'm just left laughing and scratching my head!