keepin’ it cool

Newspaper blackout poem: “How to be cool” by Austin Kleon

5th grade was a big year for me. New school, lowest grade on the totem pole. It was a perfect chance to be seen as someone else. And so my usual self — a self that was more than content wearing pink leggings and a stained tye-dye tee on a daily basis — got up that first morning, heart pounding, and carefully donned a super-coordinated combo involving a tiered jean skirt, a matching jean jacket, a ruffly white shirt, and white keds.

You see, I was desperately trying to be cool.

18 years later, and I’m stilltrying. Oh sure, I’m more comfortable in my own skin these days than ever, and I’ve sorta come to accept my inherent geekiness — even wear it like a badge.* But nothing, and I mean nothing, has ramped up my insecurities like this damn wedding.

There are so many expectations wrapped up in weddings, you know? From the coworker who insists that your life will be less than complete if you fail to order a giant fancy cake, to the mother who demands that you wear white, to the friend who adheres to astonishingly narrow notions of what an invitation should look like. Are you nodding right now?

Andoh,how I rail against this stuff. There’s that pervasive image burned into our collective subconscious of what a bride should be, think, and do, and I don’t want to participate. I don’t want to perpetuate.** I am afraid of getting pegged as a burgeoning bridezilla. I am afraid of others thinking of me that way.

So I overcompensate. How’s the wedding planning going? they ask. Are you stressed out yet? they ask. “Oh, you know,” I say airily. “I’m not really caught up in all that stuff.” Then I cue up the monologue. It goes something like this: “We’re just trying to plan a fun party for the people we love blah blah blah not worried about matching stuff blah blah blah I’m probably gonna just go buy a dress at Nordstrom blah blah blah.”

I’m that kid at the back of the class, frantically waving my arm in the air. Oh oh oh oh oh!!! Me me me me me! I’m cool! Pick me! Pick me! And so I seize every opportunity to corner people and inform them that, “It’s like, I mean, who even cares about flowers, you know?”***

Here’s the thing: I don’t quite feel that spiteful towards flowers. I actually think flowers are pretty neat, and they can look sharp on a table, but they are not my first priority and I’m not allotting very much of the budget for them. OK, fair enough. So why can’t I just say this? Why do I go to extremes to assure others that I am not one of those brides who cares about stupid things like dresses and what goes on the tables? Why can’t I acknowledge that it’s cool to care about these things, even in my own way?

It’s like 5th grade all over again. I am trying too hard.

 

* It helps, of course, that the internet made geeks cool again.

** Here I spent five minutes or so trying to come up with a rap that included playa-hate, discombobulate, denigrate, and circumnavigate, but you know… that is just too much effort for a Monday night.

*** I am incredibly eloquent when I speak.

where the money is going

Because I apparently have nothing better to do with my time, I made a pie chart depicting the (estimated) distribution of wedding budget funds. By no means is this comprehensive, but at least all the main elements are covered.

From this chart I am getting the sense that — for us — food, booze, and photos are the most important loos down which we intend to flush our money in the name of formally celebrating our commitment to one another.

Where are you focusing your resources?

gobsmacked

I came across the work of fashion photographer Tom Palumbo on Grain Edit today, and I was stunned. Just look at these things.

I tried to think of a way to tie these photos into weddings somehow — consider it a half-hearted attempt to stay on topic — but I can’t. I can’t say that you ought to consider these as inspiration, I can’t say that you should try to emulate the look.* They just are what they are. I’m lucky to ogle.

I particularly loved his Flickr photo set of candids shot in 1962 in Paris.

Gorgeous.

 

* Though you may want to.

if wishes were horses

Thank you, hair, for behaving today, which happens to be my birthday.* You are now forgiven for the other 364 days of the year.**

The league is full of Ovechkins, Khabibulins, Rafalskis, and Frolovs, and I get Johnson and Brown

On Saturday, the beau drove me to Los Angeles to see the Kings play the Calgary Flames. He surprised me with seats directly behind the Kings bench. We couldn’t really see either end of the ice, but I got a front-row view of what NHL players do when they’re not on the ice, which apparently involves chewing on their mouth guards and staring into the middle distance. The Kings ended up losing 5-2, but it didn’t matter, because OMG. Erik Ersberg looked at me! And Drew Doughty did, too. I was glanced at by professional hockey players FOR MY BIRTHDAY.***

After the game was over, we walked around downtown L.A. for a while, gawking. We ended up at Cole’s, where we sat at the bar and were each served a delicious Ginger Rogers. This got us talking about signature wedding drinks, and whether we should have them.****

One of our criteria for selecting a venue was that they permit liquor on the premises, so we’ve got that straightened out. Now we just need to figure out the drinks. Will we have a full bar, or a couple of select mixed drink options?

The beau is interested in liquor infusions, and I support this wholeheartedly, especially if my contribution involves sitting on the couch while the beau brings me delicious, delicious samples. He’s already done bacon-infused vodka (so good in bloody marys), so he’s looking for something new. Something like… ginger-infused gin? Ohhh, I would be happy if the Ginger Rogers was one of our signatures. We have some friends that aren’t into gin, it’s true. But if we had a basic bar to go along with it (whiskey and coke, vodka and tonic), no one would miss anything, right? Right?

Can we have signature drinks and a bar? Can we have both? Is this too much booze? Is that a dumb question? Are you having signature drinks? Is it to save money, or are you just interested in maintaining a unified theme?

 

* I secretly love the fact that my birthday falls on the same day as the fictitious, ill-timed wedding of Roger Sterling’s daughter Margaret on the show Mad Men. Yes, I am one of those crazy Mad Men people. Please carry on about your business.

** No, you’re not.

*** Have I mentioned the beau is awesome? For he is awesome.

**** I love how anything and everything in regular life gets turned into wedding fodder, these days.

questions that seek answers

There are a few things I want to know today:

1) Why is “sparkly” the adjective of choice to describe vampires lately? Have they all been slathered in Elmer’s glue and dropped into a vat of glitter, or have they simply been turned into a lightly carbonated beverage? Or both?*

2) What kind of alternative universe of morons do advertisers think we live in? Does Domino’s Pizza actually believe they will ever be able to convince me that they have a dedicated team of “chefs” who regularly battle it out for the privilege of creating another shitty processed pasta breadbowl mutation?

3) How long can I get away with drying my hands on the sleeve of a sweatshirt before I am forced to get up to put the load of towels in the dryer?

4) Why did I eat the whole burrito? I mean, it was generously bathed in mole sauce. I know that this explains a lot of it. But still: why? Did I eat the ENTIRE THING??

5) And then I had to follow it with a cupcake? Really?

6) Oh god. It was a very very good cupcake, and I DON’T REGRET IT IN A MILLION YEARS.

From The Knot's Wedding Shop

7) Should we have wedding favors? Or just forget about it? Part of me thinks it could be fun and the other part thinks it could be just another time- and money-sucking task. The beau suggested we could do something fun and cool that most people would appreciate, like a pint glass printed with a custom design. I agree that would be awesome. Because we’ve all encountered those completely useless favors, right? I recall at the very first wedding I went to after college, I was given a little corked jar containing sand and shells, with the wedding date inscribed on the outside in metallic ink. I think it rolled around the back of my car for several months before I guiltily threw it out. At another wedding, I took home a white chocolate bar of dubious quality, engraved with the bride and groom’s initials in gold. It sat in the pantry for several months before I guiltily threw it out. I don’t want to send my guests off packing miniature pangs of remorse. Plus, I don’t want them to have to carry something around all night, especially when we have to move from the reception site to a bar for the after party.** And I mean, they probably wouldn’t even notice if they left favor-less, right?***

Hmm. I think I might have gotten one answer out of that session, at least.

 

* I’m not drinking that.

** Whenever I read or hear the words “after party,” Eugene Hutz from Gogol Bordello begins chanting in my head, “Party party party party party party AFTER PARTY!”****

*** Not least because they will be drizzunk.

**** In super awesome perfect fantasy world, Gogol Bordello plays our wedding. Until 4:00am. And then the after party, too. I can can see it now: My grandmother careening wildly across the dancefloor with the beau’s conservative uncle, guests passed out across the dessert table. Can it be super awesome perfect fantasy world now? No? Darn.

 

on perspective

You know what gets me down? The fact that the beau and I have this luxurious year to plan our wedding. The fact that we can casually mention we’re having a wedding, and no one looks at us askance. The fact that our broader culture encourages, and pretty much expects, us to take this step. The fact that this part of our journey together is seen by others as a natural progression; just a pit stop on the road of life.

The fact that, for so many other couples, it is not.

Meg from A Practical Wedding wrote of how she and her now-husband considered ways to incorporate their support of marriage equality into their own wedding. I’ve never been particularly vocal or publicly active about gay marriage rights, but over the past few months that post has hummed quietly at the back of my mind. And as the heartbreaks continue to stack up, it’s become more and more clear how important marriage equality is to our society, and how important it is to me.

So. I want the beau and I to do something to recognize our friends and family who don’t have it nearly as easy as we do. The problem is how. The beau and I are unfortunately* not Jewish, so Meg’s ideas that involve Jewish traditions won’t work for us. And I really love the concept of including a statement in the ceremony program, but I don’t think we’re going to have a program.

I thought briefly about making a small speech at the reception, but that feels a bit like preaching, and it’s not like the vast majority of our guests will need much convincing on the subject, anyway. Incorporating our support of marriage equality into the ceremony feels more organic, and more powerful — it could perhaps be as simple as having the officiant offer a prayer or a few moments of silence in recognition of marriage rights for everyone. Then again, that alone seems a bit understated. Perhaps we could also place cards at each seat with a quote and a few words?

I’m not sure what we should do yet. But I do know that it feels completely ridiculous to fret about what kind of save-the-dates to send out for the wedding when there are people out there who cannot have a wedding. That’s a mind-bender and a soul-searcher, right there.

How would you show your support of marriage equality?

 

* There’s a long-running joke between us that I wish he was, but that’s another post for another time

color reel

You guys probably already know all about this, because you are a smart bunch of imaginary readers. BUT! I shall tell you anyway.

Whenever I’m trying to develop a color palette, I like to start on COLOURlovers. I love that I can search palettes by hexadecimal number (basically, a six-digit color code used on the web and computers), and it will show me all the palettes that include that specific color. But searching by hex number alone doesn’t always guarantee good results, especially if it’s kinda obscure (i.e., if it’s not one of the more “standard” web colors).

Should you encounter hex number FAIL, never fear, for you can simply search by keyword instead (“teal,” “orange,” “retro,” “urban,” “fear,” “apple pie” “autumn,” “marmalade,” and “jazz” were among the ones I tried). You’re able to sort results by a variety of variables, but I usually just leave it set to the default, which is score.

So why am I on about colors today? Like many other things things lately, The Wedding Made Me Do It. Now, I’ve said before that we are not planning on having Colors with a capital C, by which I mean neither the beau nor I are into the super Matchy McMatchpants thing. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a flexible range of colors with which to work. Right?

I always gravitate towards the blues, greens, and yellows, which explains my attraction to these guys:

One Fish Two Fish
Dioxide

I love the vintage feel of the palettes below. Perfect for anyone who tends toward retro (which includes me):

Fan of Wet Things
Vintage Casablanca
Hippie Van

BUT WAIT, there’s moar. The following palettes feel urban to me, and a bit sophisticated, and some are contemporary and some are just a tad classy (which are all the things the beau and I are not, but but I might like them just a smidge anyway, and hell, they’ve gotta be the right look for someone):

Urban Boho
High Society v.2
Curiosity Killed
Conspicuous Creep
Slow Motion

And finally, these struck me as perfect for someone doing autumn or beachy as a wedding theme:

October Sky
Shore

All of the above are searchable on the COLOURlovers website by name, by the way.

OH, and last but not least, I also want to give a shoutout to the 3D color wheel at Colorotate. It takes some playing around to get used to, but it’s strangely addicting (it moves! it spins! whoa!).

waiting

The beau is gone this week on a work trip, again. This happens about once a month, sometimes more.

Things are different when he’s gone. I morph back into a careless bachelorette. I stay up too late because there’s no reason to go to bed. My dinners consist of whatever can be heated up in the toaster oven or eaten directly out of the container (witness Monday night’s dinner, which consisted of peanut butter and bananas).

I miss him when he’s gone. We don’t have to be together for every second of every day, we don’t even have to talk sometimes. It’s just his presence and the knowing that he’s there. When he’s not here, I’m always bumping up against the hole in my life. I am more aware of loss.

I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about being thankful, and I suppose this is a good time of year for that. But more than anything I just feel lucky, incredibly lucky every time he comes back home again.

Dog in window on Catalina Island

in which you can almost see my brain explode

And so I return to rant some more about the princess thing, because I’m pretty sure you did not get your fill the first time.

Timely coincidence! My brigadier passed along to me today a link to this post on Jezebel regarding God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible, which was originally posted on Shakesville.

OK. I am putting down the religious subtext and backing away slowly, because dissing religious beliefs is not my deal and surely not the intent of this post (and I’m not even going to touch the companion book for boys, God’s Mighty Warrior Devotional Bible, which involves a wholly separate nutty grab-bag of gendered stereotypes, starting with how a boy is presented as a mighty warrior and a girl as a little princess, and oh my god please stop me now before I have to writhe on the floor in a fit of righteous fury).

Ahem.

Barbie's Princess Bride game (source: Amazon)

What it comes down to is the deliberate use of the word “princess.” It’s no random coincidence that this long-running princess fetish so closely parallels the ideals of the wedding industry. The bride is, after all, the grown-up manifestation of our collective little-girl princess dreams. Right down to the gown, the jewels, and the prince. Right?

My core issue is with the cultural assumption, reflected so strongly in the language of this book, that little girls want (need) to be showered with adulation and attention, to perform, to be pretty. “Girls long to be loved and adored, and give their heart to their hero,” the description triumphantly proclaims — and that pretty much sums up the emotion of the wedding day, doesn’t it? It’s the bride’s ultimate fantasy to be revered, admired, longed for, lavished. And why shouldn’t she? It’s her special day, after all.

The Perfect Bride Reality Show (airing in parts of Europe). From the website: "Every little girl dreams of getting married..."

Add to this sentiment a hearty spoonful of consumerism and what you’ve got on your hands, my friends, is a meaningful event wrapped in the auspices of a materialistic melee. A $15,000 dress? Of course! Everyone will be looking at you.

Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t disrespect a woman who truly wants and can afford a $15,000 dress. What I’m railing against is an industry, a culture, that has told us that these kinds of things are vital to the overall experience of getting married, and the overall experience of being a bride. I’m railing against the co-opting of an unattainable feminine ideal (the princess) in order to perpetuate an ethos of indulgence — a day, a week, a month, a year of you deserve all of this.

And I’m railing against the fact that this indoctrination started when we were so young.

A commenter on the Shakesville post named Quixotess drove it home for me: “I also really loathe the idea of ‘every girl is a princess,’ too. Of course everyone is worthy of respect and safety and pleasure, but, like…it seems to me that this sort of ‘you are like royalty’ idea can only result in narcissism.”

The wedding industry? Narcissistic?

Naaaaaaah.

i am not a princess

You know what I’m completely over? The Princess Mentality. You know what I’m talking about.

“You’re the bride. It’s your day to look and feel like a princess and every princess deserves to be the belle of the ball.”*

You get that? You get those key words? “Your day,” “princess” (x2), “deserves,” “ball.”

Um, no. The day is not mine; it belongs equally to the groom and to the guests. I am not a princess, sister. I am not descended from a royal bloodline. This isn’t a fairy tale. This isn’t a goddamn fucking ball, and I most definitely don’t deserve all of this — because, let’s face it, what you’re really talking about are spa treatments and a dress that costs more than a new car. Not unalienable rights.

Who said that this rhetoric was OK? Who agreed that this should be the way we commonly talk about brides? About women? Don’t think I haven’t seen all those pink sparkly Princess shirts in little girls’ sizes out there. Don’t think I haven’t seen the Princess license plate frames.

Some people may like that, some people may want to be pandered to like that. I don’t. A lot of us don’t. Many thousands of us who don’t identify with the media messages being pumped out at them daily like so much AK-47 fire. Women who sometimes have to look in the mirror to find what resembles, for them, a “real” woman. A “real” bride.

Fuck that. No, seriously. FUCK THAT.

Oh, now look what you did. You’ve gone and made me so mad, wedding industry, that I’m afraid I’m going to have to break out the Eazy-E. With revised lyrics, of course.**

cuz i’m the B-R-I-D-E
and this is the season
to let the REAL muhfuggin’ Bs in

so wedding industry please
don’t step to these
muhfuggin’ REAL Bs

* Quoted from www.mysantabarbarawedding.com/santabarbara/bridal/

** The video has the original, sometimes naughty lyrics, because unfortunately, I wholly failed in my attempts to raise Eazy-E from the dead to re-record the song with new ones. Also, something about him not wanting to rap about being a bride? I dunno, whatever. *shrug*