Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"You can't just run out into the world willy-nilly, expecting dessert!"

I said this today. Upon reflection, it has deep meaning. At the time, I meant it for what it was: we (David, Nicole, Chad, and I, as I ventured to Kato for a visiting trip) were at Green Mill seeking dessert after a lovely meal, and they have a terrible dessert selection, causing us to decide to go elsewhere for the closure of our meal. So, Dave said, "Well, let's go," to which I responded, "Well, where are we going...(you know the rest)". It really made us laugh.

I enjoy spending good times with all of my friends, but I don't think I laugh as hard with anyone as I do with Dave and Chad. And, if it's possible, it's like their humor rubs off on me, and I feel funnier when I am with them. I miss them. I'm pretty sure the people at the table next to us at GM wanted to move. Chad guffaws with the strength of many men, yet he is just a dark-haired replica of Niles Crane.

~~~~~~~

We went to Culver's, by the way. I had blueberry cheesecake custard. It was tasty.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I was spooned by a woman without underwear...

Nothing allows you to be ridiculous quite like a special occasion. No time other than a friend's bachelorette party, for example, can you wear a necklace of candy penises out in public and not feel completely humiliated (only about 30% humiliated).

Last night was Molly's last hurrah. It was an incredibly unique day of "sending forth" our single friend into marriage, complete with a "shower" and a party. But, it was so much more than that. We began our day at Color Me Mine, a pottery-painting shop, to express our creativity (or frustrations) by choosing from a variety of pieces to apply as many of over 80 colors as we liked, however we liked. I made a necklace and a tile, that will serve as a trivet. This was not the "typical" Midwestern shower with finger sandwiches, pastel dresses, and silly games (like, um, my shower...which I loved, by the way), but it served the same purpose: for the women closest to our friend (who lived near enough) to "shower" her with love, affection, and of course, gifts. From there, we went to the Green Mill to eat, open presents, and have cake. Butternut squash ravioli with asparagus and sun-dried tomotoes=fabulous, just so you know.

The rest of the night took a turn for the raunchy, as we headed Downtown to a hotel. We played silly games involving nuts and bending far over (I could describe, but it is much more fun to let it dance around erotically in your imagination). A hotel room (suite, kind of, as it was quite nice) filled with women drinking, laughing, sharing, being silly, and ultimately having a splendid time in each other's company.

A tour of Irish pubs in the area, moments of embarassment during some "required" rituals of the bride-to-be, and lots of conversation totaled a night of FUN. Arriving back at our hotel room at 2:30, some of us drunk (myself included), some of us on the edge, and others who managed to completely sober up, we actually went very quickly to bed, but not to sleep. Conversations turn a little weird in the dark, a phenomenon I had forgotten from middle school sleepovers. But soon, the giggles and stories subsided to silence, and we slept.

The whole day was very fun, but not because of all the fun activities. (Is there a better word to use than fun? It seems like one of a few words that although used in many contexts, it just has no equivalent to perfectly express the joy of the moments.) Mostly, I enjoyed being with my friend Molly and her friends from the ages. This was the first time I had met her "other" friends, and it was so refreshing and not at all surprising that they are a wonderful group of women. I am honored to be in Molly's "group". Kelly, Molly's Matron of Honor (married just in April), planned the whole party and radiates energy. She and Molly smile and enjoy each other like comfy clothes. Chris, another bridesmaid and friend from high school, is beautiful and fun, enjoying (it seems to me, anyway) her recent single status. She laughs easily and pokes great fun at the annoying men who bother us during the night. Angie, wife of Molly's husband's dear friend, is down-to-Earth with her wine-making stories and comfortable, practical clothes, yet altogether intriguiging and inspiring with stories of nude beaches and nipple-piercing. She and I very much enjoyed people-watching together, finding flaws to giggle about in many of the passersby. Yvonne, a friend of Molly's also through a friend of her husband's, is spunky and sexy, muted only by the joy with which she speaks of her 3-year-old son, Brody. (Herein lies the title of this post, as she was my bed buddy, who had admitted previously to never wearing underwear, and I woke in the middle of the night to her arm wrapped around me, spooning me from behind. If I weren't so hot, I would've enjoyed the cuddle.) Jen, another high school gal, didn't spend the night, but enjoyed the night out with us by roping in most of Molly's "victims". She is fit and gorgeous, and the kind of woman you could hate easily if she wasn't so darn likeable. She is also self-admittedly blunt, which is so refreshing when so many people never speak the truth. Eireann, a friend from college I believe, was only out with us for a short while. She is a poet, and a teacher, and adorably coy. She blushed at the penis necklaces that the rest of us ate with fury. She was out of her comfort zone, I believe, and that made her presence there so much more special, because she was there to support her friend Molly.

Good friends. Good times. I look forward very much to spending another important night with them all in a mere 13 days. Congrats, Molly. We all love you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another year older...

"Birthday, it's your birthday; One year closer to death!"

This is a song one of my college "friends" used to sing. It's quite funny if you know the tune. There's more, but I don't remember it all. It's kind of how I feel this year. People who are older than me, including my husband, think turning 26 is nothing. However, I disagree. I would rather stay 25. It is my "Golden" birthday, which was supposed to be a big deal when I had someone to share it with, but my kindred birthday spirit moved to Ohio. Ew. Ohio. But being "closer to death" is going to be okay...

Anyway, I am 26 today. Actually, I will be in four hours. I was born at 5:05 A.M. I am home now from a dazzling night at Suzanne's house discussing Harry Potter among eight dozen other things. Good times had by all. I wanted birthday sex early, but alas, my husband sleeps. So, I blog.

Because I suffer deeply from parasocial relationships, I feel the need to reference "Friends". Recently, I watched "The One Where Everyone Turns Thirty". Although I'm not yet to that milestone, I think of Phoebe above all others in her thirty-year-old plot. Phoebe had goals for turning thirty, one of which was to do a mile on a hippity-hop, which is a little outside my own goals, but I digress. I am a very goal-oriented person. In my previous life (which is how I refer to life before Patrick), I had my whole life set out for me: marriage at 23, first child at 25, second at 27, etc. At 26, having just married a month ago, I'm a little behind that schedule. Of course, that schedule no longer exists. My mother always laughed at my "goals", because she said that no matter what I planned, it wouldn't happen that way. She was right, of course. Damn mothers and their being right. This is now sage advice I try to pass on. I try to plan as little as possible now, especially because that is how my husband prefers to live our life. I am learning. Phoebe finds out that she isn't thirty, but is instead 31. A whole year of her life lost! She hasn't done any of the things she wanted to do by the time she was thirty (have the perfect kiss, meet a Portugese person, go to sniper school), and gets quite depressed. This also makes me think of my best friend Jen, who isn't 100% sure how old she is, as her birth certificate says one thing, and the rest of her life and her driver's license says another.

I think, if I woke up tomorrow (that's assuming I'll actually fall asleep at some point tonight), and found out I was 27 instead of 26, I'd be okay with it (despite being even still closer to death :-)). Here's why:
1. A little under a month ago, I married the most perfect man in the world. I enjoy the proof of this (my wedding album) at least twice a day. I can't think of anything that makes me happier than my husband. He is everything I ever wanted, and so much more.

That's it. I lecture my students on having a 1 without a 2, but despite the other blessings in my life, he is the thing that makes being 26 fine. I love my family, my friends are an absolute dream, and my job is, for the most part, fulfilling. But having him makes life everything I want it to be. It's a little ridiculous, actually, how one aspect of my life can make me so happy.

I recently blogged about HP. Still no spoilers, but ultimately, the message one should glean from Harry is love conquers all. It's crazy how true that is. I really feel like everything else in the world could be toppling in on top of me, and having Patrick would make it all okay. As much as I was eager to get married, I know that I would've waited forever for Pat. He's that wonderful.

My thoughts are random and disconnected because a) it's almost 2 and b) I'm slightly inebriated.

Those are my thoughts on my current state of being. Here are some thoughts about how much I love the other people in my life, and how I plan to spend my birthday:
1. My sister sent my first birthday card. It came on Monday, which is 4 days early, because she didn't want it to be late, and mail from Little Rock has been known to take up to ten days. I know this, because we chatted online for about an hour, then spoke on the phone for over two. A day well-spent.
2. I got two birthday cards today (yesterday) from my in-laws (which was signed "Love Mom and Dad" and included a nice check...yay for being married) and from my Molly (which included a whole package, consisting of a beautiful paperweight and an "E" stamp; plus the most perfect card ever: yada, yada...Happy Birthday, Your Highness!!!...get it?)
3. Angie is here. She came for HP discussion and for my birthday. She baked me a cake. A yummy one with Bailey's and nuts and chocolate and all sorts of goodness. We are going to eat it for breakfast.
4. Husband bought me a pink iPod with my name engraved on it. It hasn't come yet, but he has a knack for telling me what he's bought me for gifts before I get them. I've very excited to finally jump on the iPod bandwagon, and only slightly embarassed that my niece will have to teach me how to use it.
Aside: No matter how blaze' (sp?) one pretends to be about her birthday, getting cards and gifts is just special.

I invited peoples to come bowling tonight in honor of this day. Friends, beer, heavy balls. Sounds like a celebration. I'm sure I will feel the need to blog about it tomorrow.

(I recognize that this is a terrible sample of writing, but I will embrace it for what it is.)

Happy Birthday to Me. A pinch to grow an inch...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Gone, but still no Peace

Today, this morning, our last houseguest finally left. My house is back. The only remaining person in this house who is not my husband, is our darling niece who lives with us, and she usually stays quietly in her room, bothering no one. It has been my goal to clean my house, and reclaim it as my own as soon as the suitcases had vacated my living room. But alas, I can't clean, I'm not perfectly at peace, because I am sick. Sick! I haven't been sick since I had my tonsils out in March, and it feels like it's all coming on at once.

I've convinced myself that it is my stress from the last three months boiling out of me at last. Now that I have finished the school year, planned a wedding, had a wedding, enjoyed a mostly relaxing honeymoon, and hosted houseguests for longer than I would have liked, my body is reacting. I am stuck in bed, with nothing to do but read, watch tv, and blog, which sounds great, but I really want to clean. This is rare. I am compelled to have a clean house, but when I went upstairs to get something to eat, I almost fainted. I don't like being this weak. It feels like a waste. Summer is only so long, and every day that goes by without something fun or productive happening is a squandered day. Right now, it is twenty to four and all I've done is slept, eaten scrambled eggs (a reliable, easily swallowed sick food), and watched season seven of Friends. What a waste! When I look back at July 23, 2007, I will have nothing to show for it but this blog. Grrr.

I'm just whining now. When I started this over an hour ago (I'm obviously still watching Friends), I really believe I had something better to say. Oh, well. Boredom takes hold.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter, 1997-2007

NO SPOILERS, I PROMISE!!!!!!!!

I sobbed as I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday. Not because of the plot (I said I wouldn't spoil for those who haven't yet finished; although, if you haven't read it yet, what on earth are you doing reading anything BUT?), but because I will miss Harry Potter. The genius of J.K. Rowling's books is not just the amazing descriptions of a fantasy world filled with conflicts making for excellent plots, but her exceptional characters whom every reader loves. Her characters are so real, we all love them as if we know them personally. Harry, of course, we know most intimately, having grown up with him. Truly, the books would be quite different if they were told from Ron's perspective. But it was with Harry we learned about Hogwarts and everything else in the wizarding world.

I had never been very into any fantasy-type genre. I rejected reading Harry Potter for several years. The first four were published, pretty much one a year, and I scoffed at the mania that had risen so quickly from these "children's books". I do remember, however, how my video-game obsessed cousin of Harry's age, was enthralled and began reading just because of these books. Cool. But I resisted (much like I first resisted blogging...). Shortly after the first movie came out, my very dear friend Angie gave me the first three books in paperback as a gift. "There. Now you HAVE to read them."

And read them I did. In one week. Then I went out and bought the fourth. And read it. Then I saw the movie. Then I became a maniac, too. "When will book five be out?" I whined along with the rest of the Potter fans. And when it did, I bought it at midnight and read it cover to cover. Same with book six. For book seven, I didn't do the midnight purchase thing, but instead had pre-ordered it and waited for the mail to come like a child at Christmas. And it didn't come until after 11!!! You can imagine my anticipation. When it came, I ripped it open, sat in awe for a few seconds, removed the dust jacket, and turned each page carefully. Reading the epigraph was rather depressing, I thought, but I knew it would all be explained. Stopping only to use the bathroom and supply minimal sustenance, I read straight through the book; it took ten hours. Today, I started reading it again.

The movies are their own piece of art. I enjoy them and anticipate them as well (HBP, late 2008; DH, early 2010), but not in the same way. By the time the movies come, we know what's going to happen, we just get to see how it appears on screen (and we all love bitching about the things inevitably left out). Seeing the movie on opening day is just as important as reading the book on release day. I do both for the following reason: I don't want anyone or anything to spoil the experience for me. Bad reviews? Spoilers? Yuck! Yesterday, I didn't even turn on my tv or go on the internet on the off chance I came across something revealing. In fact, I am a little upset because I heard a rumor of something that was leaked and it was actually in the book, exactly as it had been described for me. Some people...

Fact is, I love Harry Potter. I love Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and even Snape. Even Percy, for that matter. Not a single thing in these books turned me off for one second. They are bold, exciting, intimate, and riddled with deep messages and lessons that resonate beyond any capacity of "children's books". I feel very lucky to have been a part of "Harry Potter Mania", even if I jumped on the bandwagon a few years into the game. Never before have a series of books caused such an immediate fanbase. Never before has an author reached billionaire status from just her books. And I was a part of it. I'm proud of that. My husband doesn't make fun, exactly, but he has repeatedly said, "I don't get it." He hasn't read the books; he may never read them. That's fine. He and everyone else in the world who shakes their heads at grown adults dressing up and waiting in line for days to be the first to begin reading will never "get it", because now it's too late. My husband could read the books and love them (he has seen the movies, but only because I made him), but he will never be able to be a part of HP Mania like those of us who waited anxiously for years at a time for the next installment.

And now it's over. There will be no more HP books. In fact, I would be disappointed if there were. And the sadness I feel is bolstered by a sense of finality. No more waiting, debating, and rating. No more desciptions are needed, no more answers are needed. J.K.R. has explained it all. The final installment was brilliantly written and makes it easy to say, "Goodbye Harry and Friends; you will be missed."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who needs sleep?

Well, you're never gonna get it. Who needs sleep? Tell me what's that for. Who needs sleep? Be happy with what you're getting; there's a guy who's been awake since the Second World War.
(Blogger has made it impossible for me to figure out how to italicize that...)

This song comes to mind, as it is 2:43 A.M. and I can't sleep. Granted, I purposely stayed awake initially in order to finish the book I was reading (The Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood...lovely writing with an intense winding story...highly recommended). That was an hour and a half ago. I tried to sleep, but it's hot and I'm awake with rigorous thought.

Pat goes back to work tomorrow and I have to make like I'm accomplishing things instead of being a lazy housewife. I need to shop, clean, do some initial research for my alt plan paper before the idea wanes, organize the wedding gifts we left piled in a heap in our basement before the honeymoon, take my dress and his suit to the cleaners, do the rest of the laundry, and mainly, continue to play hostess to my houseguests who now have houseguests of their own (don't ask). I love them very dearly, but my house is not currently my own and I am not happy about it. I am typing this in bed next to my sleeping husband because I can't go upstairs, as my living room is a bedroom, not to mention a closet, for my guests. And frankly, they are not clean guests. Suitcases lay open with clothes pouring out of them like so many petals of a blooming flower, just not nearly as pretty. Sleeping bags and other accoutrements do not get rolled and stored during the day. And there is just nameless *stuff* everywhere. It is not as though I am neat as a pin when alone, but when it's just us, it's my stuff. And I'm not uncomfortable around my own stuff strewn about my house, because if I want to pick it up, I can. Coming home from a two-week vacation, I desperately want a clean house, but I can't even make it so. Maybe the kitchen, but even the fridge is full of things that don't belong to me, therefore I don't feel like I can throw out.

If ever any family member would happen to read this, please let me emphasize: I love my new family, more than words can say. I am just a bitchy woman who likes things just so sometimes. And when someone asks you if they've overstayed their welcome, you can't possibly say yes...ever. Not to mention the fact that I do like to be helpful, welcoming, and loving to as many as possible. I just didn't expect to have seven people in my house when I returned from my honeymoon. It is only four now, but still, that is more than usual.

Despite this, I love being married. He's good people, my husband, and goes out of his way to make me as comfortable, safe, and happy as possible. We went tubing down the Cannon River today. I use the term tubing loosely, as the river is so low, it was mostly floating and often portaging, as the river got so low we couldn't even float in some places. At one point, I was trying to forge through the low part instead of getting out of my tube and walking, and I hit a rock hard with my tube and the current was just strong enough to flip me, causing me to lose my tube. Husband rescued me and gave me his tube, then walked a good fifty yards on the hard, rocky river bottom until my original tube could be recovered. My hero :-) Despite the low river, it was a pretty good time. I think it would have been a really good time with more water, but c'est la vie.

It is three in the morning now, and I feel like I should try to sleep again. I have many things to say about my honeymoon, and pictures to boot, not to mention other things going on in my life, but crazy ramblings are all that I am suited for at this late (early?) hour. I leave you with this quotation from Margaret Atwood, that should speak to bloggers everywhere...

"The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it. Impossible, of course."

Saturday, July 7, 2007

And so it is...

(It should be noted that it was my full intention to capture every memory of my wedding as soon afterward as possible. However, six days later, this drive from San Francisco to Yosemite with my husband [woo-hoo!] at the wheel is my first chance to write. The day after the wedding was filled with a gift-opening, then a lunch with the in-laws, picking up the pooch from the kennel, unloading wedding gifts, then a barbeque to send off some out-of-towners. Sunday was an all-day scatter to prepare for the honeymoon. Then every day of the honeymoon so far has been so fun-filled, that the idea of staying awake at night to chronicle my memories was more exhausting than the day’s activities. Thus, I hope my recollections of the day are still as crisp now, because this entry is serving the purpose of one day being able to “relive” the emotions of such a day. This will be long. )

In true storybook fashion, I awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside my bedroom window. At my mother’s, where central air is laughable, a window propped open with a ruler is the only viable cooling option for nights that don’t drop below seventy. Yes, in an attempt to be somewhat traditional, I slept at my mother’s, while Patrick slept in our hotel suite. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Waking up in my childhood bedroom painted as purple as the roses in my bouquet began my day of transition. Despite the fact that it’s completely untrue, I felt like I was waking up in that room for the last time. As much as it feels like nothing has changed, it also feels like everything has changed. By choosing to change my name, I feel like I have chosen to leave Emily [Maiden Name] behind. I retain all that I was, keeping myself whole and true, as well as my memories, but somehow still feel like I have a clean slate to build an entire life as Emily [Married Name]. It’s rather surreal. Much like the rest of my wedding day. Although it was completely unplanned, I spent the rest of my morning mourning Emily [Maiden Name]. My alarm was set for seven thirty, but those birds in their natural wisdom woke me at six thirty. I laid in bed allowing the realization of my wedding day finally being here to wash over me, taking deep breaths and trying to relax away my tense muscles and slight headache, until seven. My mom was still asleep, so against my inkling of doubt, I left my pajamas on and started walking. I figured it would help my tension slip away. The walk became nothing short of ritualistic. I walked past the church where I was baptized and confirmed; I walked to my elementary school and hopped on the swings. Swinging through the amazingly clear sky, I thought about my dad and I cried. Surprisingly, this would be the first of only two cries that day. I walked home (which wasn’t far, as my church and elementary school are both less than two blocks from my home) and did yoga in the backyard until the neighbor lady came out in her pajamas to water her plants. We exchanged pleasantries and I went inside, telling her I’d see her later, as she was of course coming to the wedding, having known me since I was a baby. Inside I ate breakfast and went upstairs to wake up mom. Already awake and taking out her curlers, she received the obligatory, “I’m getting married today!”, but I did not fall flat on my face (Friends reference).

We both got dressed and ready, loaded up the cars, and headed to the reception hall to drop off essentials (votives, cake service, guest book, photographs). We drove separately, as we would part direction after. I stopped at a local coffee shop, one of my previous haunts, for some morning sustenance. I was apparently glowing when I answered “I’m good” to their question of “How are ya today?”, because I felt the need to tell them it was my wedding day after their inquisitive looks. They helped me decide what would be best, then gave it to me for free. God bless locals. Almost immediately at the reception hall, we ran into my future mother and sister in law, as they (as well as darn near everyone else) were staying at the hotel that was also said reception hall. They helped unload, and later set up. When I brought my luggage up to the room, I found my wedding letter from Pat. Because we had decided not to write our own vows, we agreed to write a letter to each other expressing how we felt. Reading his letter alone in my hotel room was the second time I cried. I gathered my senses, then went back to the lobby. I rang my sister down from her room, as I was picking her up, then we went to pick up Kristin, literally my oldest friend (three or four years old I believe we were). The strength of our friendship, like most lasting twenty years, has come and gone like waves over the years. It is currently one of the best relationships in my life and I hope it stays that way forever. Few people have touched me like Kris has. She has that effect on most people. Anyway, the three of us drove to another friend’s childhood home, as we were arranging flowers as a group there. (Her parents were also gracious enough to let us have our rehearsal dinner there the previous evening. They are very generous and loving people whom I adore.)

Another fabulous friend, Suzanne, agreed to be in charge of flower-arranging. With actual floral experience and a penchant for being bossy, she did her job perfectly. The flowers (assorted roses and nothing else but prairie grass to accent the corsages and boutonni√®res) were amazing. Other than being ridiculously cheap, it was very fun working together on something important. Later, Suzanne’s expertise would prove very beneficial when the groom’s rose dropped its petals mere minutes before the ceremony. She had prepared a second for just such an occasion. Sigh. No one appreciates preparedness more than me.

After all flowers were arranged, watered, labeled, and boxed for pick-up by yet another wonderful friend, “the girls” and I met for lunch at Olive Garden. I say “the girls” with utmost love and admiration. The women who surrounded me on my wedding day are mine, wholly influential friends whom I love without restraint. Only one other friend should have been there that day, but circumstance made it a tricky proposal. Because this is for my purposes alone, I am taking liberty to ramble whenever I feel like it. So, for my sake:

Les. My “big” sister who is hands-down the best matron of honor anyone could ever ask for. As she mentioned in her perfect toast which will be described later, she and I are closer now than we’ve ever been, despite her living 800 miles away. She is strong, brave, smart, wonderfully devoted to her husband of nearly two years, and the single-most charming person I’ve ever met. I’d gladly give my life for her, and I’m pretty selfish, so that’s saying a lot.

Jen S. My “other” sister. Jen is the friend who has been adopted into our family as one of us. She is as close to my sister as she is to me. Each of us now being in different states makes no difference to the strength of our bonds. Jen migrates to our home for the holidays, as her own is not even worth mentioning. She has a spirit that radiates into every aspect of her being, proven constantly by her many, many thriving friendships. I am proud to call her my best friend.

Kristin. Mentioned earlier, Krissy Dee (as only I am allowed to call her) has been in my life for nearly as long as I can remember. With her, I have memories that cannot be rivaled. In addition to all of the extraordinary events we’ve shared, she will forever be my friend if for no other reason that she was there when my dad died. There in every way a friend could be. My other close friends no doubt would have been if they were yet in my life, but they weren’t. (Jen lived in FL at that point.) Kristin is the most giving, loving person ever. She doesn’t have a selfish bone in her body. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Heather. It was Heather’s parents who opened their home to me and mine during such an intimate time. Heather is just like her parents in that respect. She is the friend who you can call when you just need to vent or pray or laugh or be bored with. And for reasons beyond me, no one gives good advice like Heather. She will also tell you when you’re wrong, or when you’re being unfair or stupid. She can be extremely honest when you need it the most. I hate that, but in a good way. Heather helps me to be a better person.

Angie. Ah, Angie. Angie is one of my kindred spirits. Though I hold all of my friends in highest regards, not all of them can I say I connect with on some odd level I will never understand. Angie and I are altogether 100% different and 100% the same. Never have I had a more rollercoaster like friendship than I have with Angie. Just like a rollercoaster, it thrills me to laughter and tears at every turn. There are some things about me that only Angie knows and vice versa. Not because we don’t judge each other, because we do and openly (yes, there’s a story), but because we might as well, as we often read each other’s minds. Life is boring without Angie in it. I know this for fact.

Jen B. I have told Jen many times that if I could switch lives with any one of my friends, it would be hers. She laughs every time, as I’m sure she has her trials as does everyone else, but she is completely admirable in every respect. She is a good mother who will surely be receiving many phone calls from me in the coming years, an amazing wife, one of the absolute most organized women I’ve ever met which she proves daily at both her editing job and her mothering job, and frankly, inspiring to all of the women in her life. Oh yeah, and I’m the godmother of her youngest son, which is an honor that still brings me to tears. If you don’t know Jen, you want to; if you do, you are extremely blessed.

Suzanne. I didn’t like Suzanne when I met her. Having now been her friend for eight years, I now know why: she is very intimidating. In our college group of friends, it could be argued that we pick on Suzanne the most. More than likely, this is because she takes it better than any of us do, but also because she has so many endearing qualities, we can hyperbolize them and poke fun. She does things I am afraid to do without even batting an eye. She tries. She tries new things, then tells you about them with remarkable passion. Despite this, she has a vulnerable side that is just as endearing. It brought me great joy during grad school to accompany Suzanne to the grocery store, because she was afraid to go alone. That’s love.

Anne. Anne is super-special because she is the reason I have my husband. Anne was a junior when I was a freshman, and I have looked up to her ever since. Even though sometimes she’s clumsy, Anne is the most graceful person I’ve ever met. She is smart, funny, beautiful, basically every guy’s dream. It is only by the grace of God that the guy who captured her heart also happened to be Patrick’s best friend. Despite that obvious connection, Anne is inspiring because she follows her dreams. Even though she had a lucrative job with a national company, she quit to get her PhD. Another friend with bravery I know nothing about.

Ellen. I miss Ellen. Having moved to Ohio after her marriage four years ago, Ellen is an elusive friend. I am very blessed that she was able to come home for my wedding. She couldn’t make it three years ago to the “summer of weddings” (three weddings in nine weeks), but did come for Suzanne’s wedding two years ago. We hadn’t seen her since. Like with all good friends, during the two days we spent together, it was like she had never left. Five years ago, Ellen gave me a magnet for my birthday that read, “My world is better because of you.” It is on my fridge now and forever, because it reminds me of my dear friend Ellen who lives so far away. Her heart is so pure, however, you can feel the friendship from Ohio.

Molly. Molly was not with me that day at Olive Garden, but was there the night before and the night of. Molly’s new. She doesn’t belong to any group of friends; she and I don’t have a history of stories to reminisce about for hours; and we didn’t go to school or on any trips together. She is just my new girl. I have so many great girlfriends, that for a while, I didn’t think I’d have time/emotion/etc. for another. I haven’t “made a new friend” since early college. Molly is proof that kind of thinking is ridiculous. Having worked together for two years, our friendship bloomed like a morning glory. Thankfully, however, it won’t close like one. We clicked. I would be so bold as to put her into the category of kindred spirits. No other explanation exists for how comfortable I felt with her so quickly. Except for maybe that she’s an amazing woman from whom I can learn a lot. I feel like I have known her forever.

Wow. How blessed am I? And I even have more friends; these are just the ten that I can’t live without. Sure, Les is family, but she’s still a friend to the core. I’m very lucky they were all available to spend my wedding day with me.

So, there we were at Olive Garden, enjoying never-ending soup, salad, and breadsticks, with a cute waiter, and they all decided to share what they liked most about me. To be honest, I don’t remember what everyone said, but I was extremely touched by each. We laughed, we ate, we celebrated in a way that annoyed all tables around us. A high school friend came over to offer congratulations and a kiss on the cheek. It was a very special lunch that will never be forgotten. I worried momentarily that my mom might be hurt that she wasn’t invited, but then I dismissed my worry because these moments were meant to be spent with the women who have grown with me. And even though my mom and I have an exceptional relationship, it is a relationship that is unlike any other. She is my mom, first and foremost, our friendship comes second. With these women, the friendship comes first.

I don’t want to leave anything out, but it is only lunchtime on a very full day and already I have rambled on and on. To preserve some sense of editorial ability, I will condense the next portion of the day. From OG, we went to J.C. Penney to have our hair done. Yes, all ten of us. I was at first disappointed that we weren’t all sitting next to each other (I apparently have no clue how this salon thing works), but we all looked beautiful at the conclusion of an hour and a half. The stylists at JCP are geniuses. We were served baklava and juice, and they put up with our yelling across the salon at each other. I will send them a thank you note.

From there, it starts to blur. Once I saw myself with a bridal hairdo, including a veil, I suddenly realized this was all real. All theories and concepts of my wedding were suddenly materializing into actual fact. I felt like I was going to puke, and it wasn’t because I ate five breadsticks at lunch. It wasn’t cold feet; it wasn’t worry (as everything I had previously been freaking out about had been taken care of); it was just an emotion I’d never felt before. It was an intense anticipation of what I was sure would be the crowning moment of my life so far.

We went to my hotel room to get ready together. Jen B. so lovingly ironed my dress, Heather did my make-up beautifully, the photographer came to take pictures of us, and everyone hustled and bustled (literally in some cases) around me until suddenly it was mere moments until the limo arrived. Suzanne and Jen helped me into my dress and shoes, Les put on my necklace, and then the great reveal. I looked into a mirror, and I was a bride. It was breath-taking. Not because I looked so wonderful (although I did), but because it was like seeing someone else. Everything had come together so perfectly, it was shocking that the moment was almost here. But it was. We got into the limo and drove away. When we came back, I would be a married woman. Wow. I don’t remember what we talked about in the limo, but I’m sure it was fun. The ceremony site was beautiful and set up almost perfectly (a couple flower pots needed to be moved). The boys had done a great job. (As this chronicles my wedding memories, it does not include the details of my enfianced and his circle of friends. They spent the day golfing, then doing everything I asked of them including picking up, setting up, and taking down many wedding details. They were awesome.)

Once there, we took pictures, ate sandwiches, and waited. When Patrick showed up, I was hidden from his view. Les led him by his hand while he kept his eyes closed, so he could see me all at once in one moment. It was an indescribable moment. I only hope he feels the same. More pictures, more waiting. Pastor Steve arrived. The marriage certificate was signed, and everything started rolling. My bridesmaids and I held hands and prayed behind the mill (the wedding was held at an old stone mill) while wedding guests arrived. As we lined up for the big show, it all came rushing forward.

My mom walked me down the aisle, so she was standing waiting with me. We told each other I love you, teared up a smidge, and hugged. Anne’s husband Josh turned to look at me before he walked down the aisle. The way he smiled at me and gave me the thumbs up started me going. But not crying. I was certain I would be a sobbing bride. I made sure Heather used waterproof mascara even. But what came from my mouth was not sobbing; it was giggling. The anticipation I had since I saw myself in the mirror all bubbled out as a clear expression of joy. I giggled all the way down the aisle. And once my mom gave Patrick my hand, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Pastor Steve had wonderful messages and great things to say. I’m told both the flower girl and the ringbearer provided some form of entertainment. But all I could focus on were the eyes of my beloved. His voice was strong and unwavering as he recited his vows. Mine was the same, I hope. I would occasionally glance over his shoulder and lock eyes with one of his groomsmen, and they would make me smile even bigger with a wink, smile, or raised eyebrow. We exchanged rings; we were pronounced married; we kissed; we recessed down the aisle. It went so fast I honestly don’t remember it all. We chose not to video record it, but I don’t care. It was perfect. I felt it and could also see it on the faces of my friends and family as we left.

We suffered our first hiccough as a married couple when the limo got blocked in. A guest who had arrived late took a convenient parking spot instead of a wise one. Patrick had to get out and walk back to find the owner so we could leave. All was well, however, as one of my new sisters-in-law came to visit me in the limo. We chatted until Molly showed up to take my picture. Then Molly and I chatted. It was just a funny little thing that was really the only thing that “went wrong” all day.

Once we were free, we had the limo take us to Pub 500, the location of our very first date. Our intention was to recreate it. The couch on which we had sat was open, so we sat and ordered some drinks, the extent of our first date. We were, however, hungry, and I was very much wearing a white dress. So, we moved to a table, ordered chicken strips, and watched the ninth inning of the Twins’ game. They won. We sat as a bride and groom in a bar eating chicken. We won. It was one of my favorite parts of the day. Our first date as a married couple.

After a suitable amount of time had elapsed, we had the limo take us to the hotel. Les had arranged the bridal party and had discussed the order of things with the DJ. Applause filled the room as we entered the reception. It was so exciting to see the faces of our loved ones smiling as they ate, drank, and were merry. Our plan all along was to begin with the first dance, as we didn’t have a traditional dinner. By dancing ourselves, we were opening up the party to all. We chose to dance our first dance together to a song picked by our niece, “I’d Like to Think So” by Levi Smith. It isn’t a popular song, as Smith is a Texas artist with a small audience. It was perfect, however, as it could’ve been written about Patrick and me. Though the song was less than four minutes, it felt like forever, as we were both a little uncomfortable with everyone watching us. We had a plan to release the tension: weeks previous we had decided to make the second song something crazy that would certainly make people laugh. “Everybody Dance Now” by C&C Music Factory did the trick. At the last note of our slow, touching wedding song, we both busted into real dancing with the screeching lyrics. We had warned the bridal party to join us, and soon many people were out on the floor laughing and enjoying themselves. Mission accomplished. The next song was also planned: “In My Life” covered by Johnny Cash, played for my sister and her husband who didn’t get to dance to it at their own wedding. After those three songs, Patrick and I engaged in the cake-cutting ritual because our photographer had to leave. What I wouldn’t know until way later was that the rest of the cake was never served. Around midnight, we served cake.

When people have told me in the past I wouldn’t get a chance to eat at my own wedding, or that it would pass so quickly I wouldn’t know what hit me, I didn’t really believe that would be true. Maybe for others, but certainly not for us. We were having a rather small wedding (150 people), so surely we’d have time to enjoy ourselves and mingle with everyone. But I was wrong. It was a complete whirlwind. Dancing, talking, meeting people I will probably never see again. People left without saying goodbye. Don’t get me wrong, it was very fun and completely enjoyable. It was really everything we hoped it would be. But four hours goes really fast when you’re the center of attention. Something I will never forget are the speeches. Les went first and it was beautiful. For someone who was nervous as all get-out, she did an amazing job. She said she didn’t say anything she had planned, but instead spoke only of today. I wish she would’ve planned it, because then there would be a written copy somewhere. She spoke about how happy I was, how similar we are, and how much she loves me. There was more to it, of course, but I could never repeat it as elegantly as she did. It was extremely touching. I may never remember every word, but I will always remember how I felt: very blessed to have a sister like Les.

Patrick’s best man, Dave (as Pat has always referred to him; David, as he introduces himself), also spoke eloquently and off the cuff. Telling Patrick he loved him like a brother, he toasted our future and happiness. I had never met Dave before our rehearsal. I thought it would be a little odd having someone brand new to my life be such an important part of such an important day. But Dave is everything Patrick said he would be. I felt like I had known him for many years. It is easy to see why Patrick and he are such good friends. He is a wonderful guy, and I wish he and his wife didn’t live in Illinois.

I spoke next, also without plan. I joked about my poor speaking skills, thanked everyone for being there, thanked our friends and family, our parents specifically, and mentioned our loved ones who couldn’t be with us. Patrick’s speech was well-planned, as it was another little joke he and I decided would be a fun way to lighten the mood and make our guests laugh. Putting the microphone down, he took several sheets of paper out of his breast pocket. After fumbling with them a little, he straightened them, picked the microphone back up and said, “Go Twins.” People laughed hysterically. It was great.

As I said before, the rest of the night was a lot of dancing and talking. I can’t count how many people told us how wonderful of a wedding ours was. And though it is my own, and I am extremely biased, they’re right. Our wedding was magnificent. Everything about it was exactly what we wanted. Nothing was stuffy or impersonal; everything was expressive of who Patrick and I are as a couple.

I won’t share any details of the evening after the reception, but that time was just as wonderful as the rest. Now, our married life has begun in California, and we have nothing but excitement for our future. It really is almost scary how happy I am. I look forward to coming home, making my name change legal, finding room in my small kitchen for our many wedding gifts, and living out the rest of my life as Patrick’s wife.

(Two days after beginning this blog, I will finally stop. Obviously, I didn’t write for two days straight, I am on honeymoon after all. My apologies to my few readers for the length, but trust me, it could’ve been worse.)