Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guest Blog: The Tao of My Bloody Valentine

Need a break from all wedding, all the time? My good friend Kara is taking over to guest post. Please enjoy her amazing story about New York, karma and love.

When the guy I lived with for two years got a little lost this spring and IM'd me from LA to say that I wasn't "someone he saw himself marrying," I was gutted. On my saddest days, I clung to something Thoreau once wrote: There is no remedy for love than to love more. When I felt the worst, I did something small and kind for someone else. Why couldn't love take the form of helping a woman struggling with a baby carriage on the subway stairs? Why couldn't I just bend down and help someone pick up the papers that they dropped?

However, I'm no saint. When he left, I kept the My Bloody Valentine tickets that he had bought for us. I deemed it a small trade for packing his things and singlehandedly organizing the detritus of what was once our home.

So, when I got to Roseland last night to find my ex had "refunded" the tickets, thus rendering the ones that I was holding useless, I was saddened that (1) he went out of his way to ruin one last thing for me, and (2) I might not get inside this long-awaited event. I'm a card-carrying music nerd, so this hit like a kidney punch. I went to the desk to confirm. It was not looking good as the dude at the computer kept punching keys fruitlessly.

And this is the part when you should believe that New York is really the most magical place on earth or, perhaps, in a little thing called karma. Doesn't a women that I trained in pilates a couple of times appear behind the glass? Honestly, I was so dumbfounded that I don't remember the entire exchange, but it ended with her ceremoniously presenting me with two VIP wristbands "courtesy of My Bloody Valentine" I literally teared up and hugged her.

My friend and I took our seats in utter amazement and with a renewed belief that universe works in the ways you least expect it. For the first time in seven years, my 4'10" self actually spied with my own little eyes a show at Roseland...from a seat! And not just a show. The jaw-dropping, molecule-rattling, sonic majesty of My Bloody Valentine.

Thank you, CZ. Thank you, My Bloody Valentine.

Perhaps, this is the stuff of movies or the stuff of email chain-letters that your mother might send you. Maybe, you think I wear my heart a little too on my sleeve. Today is my day to pay it forward. Just can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Advice for Brides

When people find out that you’re getting married or just got married, their first reaction is usually to say “congratulations!” The second? To offer you advice. I’ve heard so much wedding/marriage advice in the past year, but what did I learn? That you rarely hear what you really need to know. Below are my suggestions for all the future brides reading my blog.

Pre-Wedding Planning

1) Be very specific when planning with your dj/band. Our wedding was a bit unusual in that Matt made the playlists with all of our music. We wanted to make sure that the dj played only the songs we chose, so Matt worked forever creating CDs and you know what? The dj still put on this horrible elevator music when dinner started. Um, no. Once he put in the dinner music cd, it was fine, but even when things are spelled out, they can go wrong. So, sit down with your dj or band and really talk about what you do and (just as importantly) what you don’t like. Do you want people to be able to request songs? If so, are there any requests that you don’t want to honor? The music really sets the tone for the wedding, so make sure it’s what you want.

2) I'd also be VERY specific with your photographer. My photographer (who also did my sister’s wedding last year) got a lot of great shots of me, but after looking at my sister’s pictures, I realized there were some cute poses of her and her husband that he hadn’t taken of me and Matt. If you’re really diligent, you might want to make out a check-list of all the posed photos you want. Check out some magazines or some friends' albums for inspiration. Hopefully, your photographer will get great spontaneous pictures, but if a photo of you and 2 girls you went to camp with is important, he/she won't know that if you don't tell him/her. Another thing I found helpful was for my photographer to visually cue me. I have scoliosis and tend to hunch my neck and shoulders forward, so every few pictures, my photographer would very obviously thrust his shoulders back, prompting me to stand up straight. Tell your photographer to be on the lookout for things like bad posture or if someone has the tendency to close their eyes.

3) Talk to your fiancé about drinking. Matt and I both decided not to get drunk. Of course, at the wedding I decided everyone should do shots, but by then it was late and all the real adults had gone. I'd just have a talk about drinking so you both are on the same page. You only get one wedding (hopefully)—you’ll want to remember it!

4) Prep your friends / give your friends jobs.
There is a reason you have attendants—you will NEED your friends’ help. There are a million and one things that will happen and you will need good, supportive girlfriends who will be calm and helpful. One example? If your dress is big and pouffy, you will need friends to help you pee. I found the easiest way was to have my sister, good friend Darci, and either my mom or my sister's best friend, hold up the layers of my dress. My sister pulled down my underwear. Then, I stepped up to the toilet and sat on it backwards while they held up my dress. I am not kidding. Ah, the things we do for princess dresses.

Preparing on the Big Day

1) If you’re going to a hotel straight from the wedding, it’ll be much easier if you bring a change of clothes and toiletries to the room in advance. If you can’t do this, make sure you pack a bag to stash at the reception. Then, put someone in charge of bringing it to the car / limo when you leave. You don’t want to have to think about it and you don’t want pictures of you leaving your wedding with an overnight bag.

2) Bring a basket of emergency supplies to the wedding. There are several bridal sites that have really long lists for things like this, but I would recommend scissors (my new bra still had the tags on it), white chalk (to cover up any stains on your dress), Tylenol, bobby pins, hairspray, STRAWS (so you can sip water without ruining your lipstick), bottles of water, and a crochet hook to help with tiny buttons. You might also want to take slippers or flip-flops so you can kick of your heels.

It’s Here! Your Wedding!

1) I’ve heard that a lot of people go the Sixteen Candles route and take a painkiller (or few) before the wedding. If that’s what you feel you need to do, fine, but I was totally charged up with nervous excitement and electricity and can't imagine wanting to dull that.

2) Everyone tells you that it goes by really fast. It does. Everyone tells you to take a minute and just notice that your wedding is going on around you. I would highly recommend this.

3) Eat. Again, another thing everyone told me. This is also very important. Make sure that your friends and family have treats for you and you eat throughout the day. Assign a friend to be in charge your water bottle (with a straw) and a good, easy candy like M&Ms.

4) Make sure your hair and make-up is perfect. (Have a girlfriend on hand who will tell you the truth). No one will question you if you want to spend an extra 5 minutes getting something right. Remember, your pictures are forever. Also, make sure you hair-spray the shit out of your hair. It needs to last through hours of dancing. Bring at least one good lipstick to the wedding because you’ll need a girlfriend to reapply it a lot. And powder. I should have brought power—I look really shiny in my later pictures.

5) Matt and I didn't walk around to all the tables and say hi to everyone. Fuck it—you have a finite time at your wedding—talk to who you want to. Since you’re the girl in the pouffy white dress, everyone at the wedding will see you, so it’s ok it you don’t stop to see them. Also, people will forgive you.

6) Like I said above, people will forgive you. If you're going to do something crazy like make people take cupcakes off their plates and put them back on the cupcake tower, it's ok. You're wearing a gigantic dress. You're the bride. For the day, you can do whatever you want. (Within reason. Don’t get crazy.)

7) One the day of, you have to let everything go. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I have a mild form of OCD. Also, as an artist, I notice lots of details about everything and I want things to be perfect. I was driving my mom crazy with exacting nonsense up the wedding, but the day of, I had to relax and go with it. I wasn't a crazy, demanding bride, but I did plan a lot. And the day of, my mom, sister and Darci really took over. They had to. I really relied on them and thank goodness they were so great. You need to put all your trust in a couple people and let them worry about all the shit you can't do during the wedding. You need to have fun! Dance! Party! Things you wanted to happen won't, and things you didn't want to happen will, it's the nature of a big event. You just need to be able to smile and have fun.

After the Wedding

1) If your dress, like mine, had a row of teeny-tiny buttons down the back of it, have a girlfriend unbutton them BEFORE you go back to the room with your new husband. He probably wouldn’t be able to unbutton them on a normal night, let alone after the wedding stress and drinking.

2) Sex. Most people I know didn't have sex on their wedding night. If you do, great; if you don't, I wouldn't worry about it.

-one more thing-
I was really, really conscious of the fact that I might be bummed out after the wedding. You spend a year planning and getting excited and being the center of attention and after 6 hours, it's all over. Fortunately, I have a new project now since my sister's pregnant (yay!) and I get to make all sorts of crafty baby things. But, when my sister got married last year, she didn't have a super-great time on her honeymoon. She said that it was kind of a let down after being around so many people and so much love and all of a sudden it was just her and her husband and that was it before going back to normal life. Just something to think about.

Any married ladies reading my blog? If so, write what I missed in the comments.

I'm on YouTube!

My bubble dance is famous!! Check us out at:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wedding Highlights

I'm a planner and a reflector, not usually an "in-the-moment" kind of person, so I knew I'd have to be extremely conscious of trying to slow down to enjoy my wedding moment by moment. And, for the most part, I was able to enjoy watching my wedding unfold. Sure, there were a few things that flew by and I don't remember (like most of our first dance), but below are some of the many highlights I will always cherish.

1) Instead of lifting my dress to hand it to me so I could circle Matt during the ceremony, my sister lifted the dress up and set it back down, spreading the train out to better display it to our guests. "Pick up the dress" my mom hissed at Stacey. So she did as instructed and lifted the dress up high, then spread out the train again. The audience got a good laugh (and look at my layers of tulle) before I told Stacey to hand me the dress. Leave it to Stacey to make the moment about her...

2) My cousin's wife, Jennifer, grabbed me during the cocktail hour to tell me that she was watching Matt during the ceremony and she was so touched by the look of love in his eyes. She said that he just looked at me with such absolute love that it nearly made her cry. She gushed that she wanted her daughters to experience that kind of love. It was really sweet.

3) It's funny now, but I will always remember the horrified look on my cousin Danny's face when he came up to me to tease me about Stacey.
"So," he started, "does your sister have a secret?"
"No," I replied flatly.
"Are you sure?" he pried, his eyebrows raised, his giant grin getting even bigger.
"No secret???"
"Yeah, she has a secret. Her secret is that she's fat."
He looked at me in shock and horror, swallowed, and kind of backed away. I didn't know, Danny! She convinced me that she was just fat! (I'll write more about this in another post.)

4) When my good friend Darci was helping me with one of the millions of things she helped me with, she said, "you know, this is exactly the wedding you always wanted to have. You might not know it right now, but trust me, this YOUR wedding."

5) Matt's speech was so touching that it was what finally made me cry that day (again, this deserves its own post).

6) At one point during the dancing, my friend Amete yelled, "this is like Jen and Matt's totally 80s wedding!" I laughed--sure, we had songs from Pulp, Violent Femmes, The Smiths, The Cure, Blondie, Modern English, The Go Go's and more but, oh, right--Jen and Matt's Totally 80's Wedding was Awesome!

7) Amete and I were dancing when he leaned over to share, "I'm probably the only person here who thinks she's totally hot dressed like that," he said about Jen, our friend in the 3-piece suit. "You're probably the only one here who thinks she's a she," I responded.

8) After all the adults (our relatives and parents' friends) had left, I decided that all of our friends needed to do a shot together. The bartenders came to the dance floor with trays of some sort of pink shot and as a group, we all toasted and drank it down. Yay, shots!

9) The spontaneous bubble dance!! A few minutes before Matt and I were to be driven to the hotel in the town car, my mom passed out little containers of bubbles to everyone. The idea was for our friends to line up outside and blow bubbles at us as we passed by and got into the car. However, once people got the bubbles, they started blowing them at each other and around the dance floor. Erasure's "A Little Respect" came on (ok fine, it was a totally 80's wedding) and Matt and I raced to the dance floor. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but all of our friends surrounded us as we danced, blowing bubbles around us. We spent the song dancing together, watching the bubbles, feeling like we were in our own private bubble, wedding snow-globe.

Yay, spontaneous bubble 80's dance party wedding of love!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Wedding: By the Numbers

Number of months we were engaged: 9
Number of times we thought about eloping during the 9 months of wedding planning: umpteen
Number of my Bubbie's 8 married grandchildren who got married over Labor Day weekend: 3 (my cousin, my sister Stacey, and me)
Number of people in the wedding: 9 (my 2 grandmothers, my parents, my sister as the matron of honor, Matt's parents, and Matt's 2 brothers as co-best men)
Number of friends who thanked me for not making them bridesmaids, requiring them to buy an expensive dress they would never wear again: 3
Number of people who got their hair professionally styled: 4 (my mom, sister, Matt's mom, and me)
Number of people who kept their hair they way it was styled: 3 (my mom, sister, and me)
Number of bobby pins in my hair, holding it back and up in a big curly bun: 56
What I normally weigh: 117-120 lbs
What I wanted to weigh for the wedding: 115-117 lbs
What I actually weighed: 109 lbs (I'm not really sure how that happened. Because I'm only 5' 3," it's usually a conscious struggle for me to lose even a pound, and I've never weighed less than 112 as an adult.)
Number of people who attended the wedding: 138
Number of cancellations: 4 (1 couple canceled because he was in a car accident, another couple canceled because their daughter had a baby 2 months prematurely.)
Number of people who asked if they could crash my wedding: 1
Number of lesbians at the wedding: 4
Number of lesbians in dresses: 3
Number of lesbians in 3-piece suits: 1 (there was a lot of confusion among my parents and their friends about how, exactly to define her. We thought she looked great.)
Number of children we invited to the wedding: 3 (Matt's (our) niece, aged 5, and nephews, both aged 3)
Number of children we requested enter the ceremony after the wedding party: 2 (there is only 1 entrance to the room so if the kids started acting up, their mothers would have had to remove them by walking through the wedding party.)
Number of children who sat through the entire ceremony, our request/plea be damned: all 3
Number of times Matt cried about this bullshit: 1 (at 11am the morning of our wedding day. He was upset that I would be upset.)
Number of times I cried about the bullshit: 0 (I had to let it go.)
Number of times I almost cried during the ceremony/wedding / party: a few (once when I began walking down the aisle, and every time I looked at my good friend Darci who was bawling her eyes out.)
Number of times I actually cried: 1 (during Matt's speech--more about this in a later post.)
Number of people who complimented my dress: so many (I la-la-la loved it. I want to wear it again!)
Number of friends needed to bustle the dress: 3 (plus 1 pregnant friend to keep us company.)
Number of people I needed to lift the many layers of my dress to help me pee: 3
Number of dance lessons we took to prepare for our first dance: 6
How much of it I remember doing: 1/2
Number of minutes we danced the hora: I have no idea
Number of people who did the crazy, kicky Russian dance during the hora: 1 (Matt)
Number of CDs Matt put together with all of all wedding music: 7 (It was his sole job for the wedding and took him forever. He made the entire, fantastic playlist.)
Number of waiters who told me he liked our choice in music: 1
Number of people who thought my sister was pregnant: Nearly everyone. Seriously.
Number of people she convinced she was just fat: 4 (me, Matt, and my parents)
Number of people who knew definitively she wasn't fat but was, in fact, pregnant: 7 (Stacey, her husband, her husband's parents who are good friends with my parents, my grandmothers, and Stacey's best friend who I like to call my surrogate sister.)
Number of people who mentioned that Stacey's husband and my husband were both named Matt: 1 (Stacey, in her speech.)
Number of people I made take cupcakes off their plates and put back on the cupcake tower (which we had in lieu of a cake) so my photographer could take a picture of it looking full: 3 (but that's because I only caught 3. It was my only kind of crazy moment.)
Number of people my married photographer either hit on or referred to as hot: 3
Number of photographs he took and posted online already: 934 (They're so great. So great that I'm going to overlook the weirdness.)
Number of shots I drank: 2 (1 with a couple of friends and 1 with the entire group of all of our friends.)
Number of times at the wedding I wished we had just eloped: 0
How great it was: SO GREAT
How glad I am that it's over: SO GLAD

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Am the Alpha Dog

While my sister and I have a lot of similar mannerisms, we're very different people. Our preferences were obvious quite early--when my mom used to breastfeed me, I would cry to go back to my own crib when I was full. Stacey? Just the opposite. She would cry when our mom would try to send her to her own bed. Stacey is the needy child. She is clingy. She wants a lot of attention. And she literally likes to be on top of people. She'll even still sleep with my mom if she happens to be visiting without her husband when my dad's out of town (Stacey's 28 and married).

Anyway, a couple days before the wedding, Stacey, her puppy, my mom, and I were running some errands when we stopped by my mom's friend's house. A few ladies were over putting together the gift bags for the out-of-town guests. My mom and I gushed over their cuteness and started helping, while Stacey promptly laid down on the couch.

Every ten minutes or so, Stacey would whine about how tired she was and how she wanted to leave and take a nap. And every few minutes, her dog would start barking and running around and generally make a nuisance. Finally, my mom had enough.

"Pull it together," she barked at Stacey. "This isn't your weekend. You're not the alpha dog here."

"Yeah," I cried, delighted. "Help out, Beta; I'm the Alpha Dog this weekend."

"Fine," she sighed, resigned. "But I go back to being Alpha on Monday."

"Tuesday," my mom corrected, since Matt and I weren't leaving for our honeymoon until Tuesday.

"Monday," Stacey said firmly. (Readers, if were were a novel, this would be called FORESHADOWING).

So, for the rest of the weekend, whenever Stacey got whiny, I just reminded her that I was the Alpha Dog.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weddings Make People Crazy

Weddings make people crazy. I posted several times about the craziness surrounding my sister's wedding last year, and even though I haven't been posting as much about the crazy for my wedding, rest assured, it's been there. There has been lots of crazy. A hurricane of crazy, in fact. And poor Matt has born much of the brunt of the crazy, causing him to cry at work on more than one occasion.

I do a lot of self-censoring on this blog. My friends and family read it. Matt's friends and family have access to it. And it's not something I've hidden from employers and past clients. So I'm not going to get into the majority of the craziness. I'll just tell one story to illustrate the kinds of odd things people have asked of me.

A couple years ago, someone I'll call Jon friended me on Myspace. Although I had never met him, Jon knew a couple of my friends from college, so I agreed to his friend request. He emailed me a few times, asking about some mutual friends or to let me know when he was in NY, but that was it.

About a year ago, Jon emailed me again about my friend Lisa. Lisa is pretty, fun and Jewish (like Jon), but lives an off-the-grid kind of nomadic life. Because I've known her since I was born, she's more like a cousin than a friend, and even though we're very different, we'll always be important to each other. Jon knew Lisa's aunt wanted me to "put in a good word for him" so Lisa would want to meet him the next time she was visiting in Kansas. I replied that Lisa had a boyfriend but I would certainly let him know when/if they broke up. End of story.

Until a few weeks ago. I logged into Myspace for the first time in a long time and saw that I had a message from Jon. He wrote to say that he had heard through Lisa's aunt that she was single and would be in Kansas City for my wedding and would I mind if he crashed my wedding to hang out with her?

Wait, what? This person I've never met wants to come to my sit-down dinner wedding to chat up my oldest friend? Because I want to entertain someone I've never met? And because she wants to spend my wedding on a first date?

And while I thought this request was so strange, trust me when I say that on the crazy spectrum, this doesn't even register with the other shit I had to deal with.

Back in NY

Hi everyone. Sorry about the massive delay in posting, but I was busy getting married. And in Hawaii on my honeymoon! I'm back in NY now and will begin posting lots about the wedding and the trip. So, let's take a break from the regular surly, cranky Jen and enjoy glowy, married Jen for a while.