auld lang pine*

I had to come back for a minute and share with you some quality insight from my brigadier of honor, with regard to the rosette dress in the previous post. I am even going to do that fancy thing where I put it in blockquote format, like this:

“It literally looks like someone came upon a pile of hotel sheets sitting in the hallway while the maid was working, stole them, and then stapled them together with some origami and a $2.99 barrette from Claire’s.”

Yes. And it all could be yours for only $2,100!

In other news, I am having a hard time comprehending the fact that today is the last day of 2009. My local Ralph’s** grocery store is not, however. They already have the Valentine’s Day candy out. I know, right? WHUT.

We made some last-minute New Year’s Eve plans with friends in L.A., and we’re scrambling to get our ish together before we drive down, so I don’t have time for a bigger, better post today. Cheers to each of you. So long, ’09. Here’s to 2010.

See you next year!

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* I have no idea.

** Dude. Ralphs. I buy one little pack of diapers for a friend’s baby shower, months ago, and I’m still getting handed coupons at the register for Enfamil. I DO NOT HAVE A BABY. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE.

the hunt is on

Hi! How are you? I am fine. I am back from Virginia, and more importantly, I am back with two bridal stores under my belt.*

The first store was rather, erm, traditional. I should have known something was up when I asked the salesgirl to avoid beads and sequins, and she brought out: beads and sequins. This was because there was probably a grand total of three dresses in this store that were not, uh, bedazzled, and those were mother-of-the-bride dresses. Traditional, I said? That doesn’t begin to describe it.

Sidebar: You know how, back in the day, cartographers inscribed uncharted areas of nautical maps with Here be monsters? Well, they could have adapted that as a slogan and slapped it up right out front in the store window: Here be gowns. Thick, heavy, long. Out to eat your soul. Or at least make you trip over 20 cubic feet of train.

Being that I was there with my mother, and it was my first bridal store, after all, I embraced the experience wholeheartedly. Anything the salesgirl pulled off the rack, I agreed to try on. I tried on poufy. I tried on super shiny poufy. I tried on bedazzled grecian, and I tried on bedazzled one-strap off-the-shoulder-cape. I tried on a mermaid cut and thought I was going to fall down. I tried on a dress featuring something called rosettes and I thought I was going to start laughing, right there in the store, until I had to lie down on the floor. “Take a picture of this,” I whispered frantically to my mother, so the salesgirl would not overhear my mirth. “Take a picture take a picture now.”

Take a picture, she did.

No, no no. I think I can still squeeze through a doorway. We need to go bigger... bigger.
Rosettes, you say? I have some of those in stock.

After that was over, we headed to my next appointment at Nicole Miller. This was like a ray of white sunshine shooting through the bleak gray winter of my very being. Because these dresses… these dresses were light! These dresses were airy! These dresses enabled movement! These were simpler, and cleaner, and more modern, and, and… and there was nary a bedazzlement in sight!**

Bottom line: these dresses were much, much better. There were a handful I was kinda fond of, including this one:

Eh? Eh. Nice.

But in the end, I had a clear favorite.

Oh hai have u guyz seen my iron?

When I showed this picture to my dad later, he said it looked like I was wearing a Glad trash bag. Which sounds cruel, but I thought it was funny. I subsequently refer to it as my “Glad bag dress.” Sure, sure, it looks like someone crammed it in the back of the closet after a party and then forgot to steam clean it afterwards. But I liked it anyway, wrinkles and all. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. And hell, maybe I will never find a dress that I fall head-over-heels in love with.*** But still, even it had been love, I don’t think it would have been worth spending $1,300 for it. Ouch.

My mother, on the other hand, loved them all. Lesson: mothers are biased. One strapless dress made my armpit fat leap upward from the top as if it were attempting, in terror, to escape. “I don’t like this,” I said, gesturing to the armpit fat. “This is no good.”

“Oh whatev,” my mother said, rolling her eyes like an extra in Clueless. “Nobody would even notice that.”

This is not the kind of feedback you need, when you are shopping for Big Important Dress for Big Important Day. The kind of feedback you need is: “Woman, your armpit fat is trying to flee your body. This is not the right kind of look for you. Next.”

IN CONCLUSION: what an interesting experience.

NEXT MONTH: I will visit Los Angeles and do it all over again. Baby.

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* Just… bear with me, here. One day there will be a dress-free post. Promises.

** WELL OK. A slight bit of bedazzle. But it was easily overlooked.

*** I’ve been thinking about this lately. Is this another trapping of the wedding industry? This idea that a dress will complete us, complete our big day?

winter holiday

Via http://kitchenretro.blogspot.com

If you’re looking for some last minute gifts, you can’t go wrong with half a nightie and whiskey toothpaste. Frankly, I think the copywriters for this ad from the November 1960 House Beautiful had been brushing their teeth a little too frequently,  if you know what I mean.

Tomorrow the beau and I depart for Virginia. We’ll be gone until next Monday, so posting will be light to nonexistent during the coming week.

Happy Christmas and stuff, if you’re into that kind of thing.

dress list

Wow. Another wedding dress post. You guys must be ecstatic. You probably woke up today and hurried over to your computers to check this blog. “I hope she’s written another post about dresses!!!!

Well, who am I to let you down? Here it is, in list form. Because Becca from A Los Angeles Love wisely advised me to make a list of real wedding dress criteria. You know, to get my thoughts down, to figure out what’s most important and all.

So here goes.

  1. I am looking for something just near ground-length or shorter (perhaps tea length). We are having an outdoor ceremony and reception, in a courtyard where the ground is covered in deconstructed concrete. I had never heard of such a thing before I encountered it at our venue. It looks a lot like tan dirt, except it’s not dirt; it’s kinda powdery, but not dusty. Are you even following this? I’m not, really. The beau, on the other hand, apparently knows so much about it that he’s taken to referring to it via acronym. “I just don’t want a big long train dragging all over the ground,” I’ll suddenly announce, completely apropos of nothing, like I have some kind of wedding Tourette’s. “Well yeah, because the ground is D.C.,” the beau will say, casually, like the supreme gangsta of deconstructed concrete slang. “Because huh?” I always say, blinking. I’m slow on the take sometimes, you see.

    The deconstructed concrete in question.
  2. More than the fact that I don’t want fabric dragging all over the ground, a formal dress with a train just doesn’t suit the feel of our venue, nor does it suit me. I’m kinda funky, in a way.* I like offbeat things. That A Los Angeles Love post I linked to up there, by the way? That post contains the pictures of the first (and only) dress I’ve ever actually kind of liked. I particularly love the bottom of it — go see if you haven’t yet clicked through. But that was the first time I ever thought, wow, so dresses can be kind of cool, huh? It’s flowy without being prissy, bohemian without being hippy, gorgeous without being ostentatious. And Becca looks amazing in it. Sorry to keep calling you out here, Becca.
  3. I want to be able to bust a move in this dress. No corsets or boning or lacing up. I want to bend and twist and shout without feeling like A) I am about to rip some seams out or B) I am about to pass out due to breathing restrictions.
  4. No strapless. No beads, or sequins. No shiny fabric. No poofyness. A little lace might be OK, if gingerly applied. No bows need apply. I am getting married, not getting dressed for my first day of grade school. A V-neck is preferable to a scoop neck or high neck, because it just looks better on me that way (shows off what minimal assets I have, as it were).
  5. When I first started imagining what I might wear, wayyyyy back in June or July, the colors that came to mind were sunflower yellow or cornflower blue. But all the dresses I’ve seen since are white or ivory. So I’ve begun thinking, what if I’m missing out on something by not wearing an ivory dress? I know, I know. I get the message that it’s OK to go your own way, but sometimes I worry. I am, after all, a human with a sometimes overwhelming urge to be one with the rest of the pack. Especially when I don’t know just what the hell it is that I’m doing — like looking for dresses — which is when I turn to others for cues on how to act.** Anyway, I may end up deciding that an unusual color is right for me, but I want to see what the ivory dresses look like on me first. Who knows, maybe ivory is my way after all.
  6. Budget. The dress should come in below $1,000. Well below $1,000, actually, I’m hoping. And I’m thinking that if I don’t find a nice sample dress off the rack, I might just have a dress made. Maybe! Who knows?? It’s a zany world out there, after all.

Well, there it is. Have a good dress-free weekend, ya’ll.

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* But not in the smelly way.

** This would explain the phenomenon of the wedding blog community, in a nutshell.

overthinking alert

I never intended to start a theme, here, but I’m officially going to call this week out as dress week. Because dresses seem to be all I’m thinking/writing about lately.

Today I began making appointments at bridal shops in the D.C. area to look at dresses, which is a good thing, right? Progress! And stuff. But no, instead I feel anxiety. Because the proprietors all want to know when the wedding is, where the wedding is… and then they start sounding resentful when I tell them I don’t actually live there. “Will you be able to make it back for all your fittings?” one store owner pressed, her voice suddenly a higher pitch.

Fittings? I just want to try on some dresses.

I understand that shops need to make sales to stay in business, so I can’t blame them for not being thrilled about a client who doesn’t seem a likely candidate to make a purchase. But this is probably the one opportunity I’ll get to give my mother what she wants: a chance to see me trying on dresses. I don’t mean to jerk them around, but I have a right to, well, just look, right?

This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened. Last month, while going up to the Bay Area, I contacted a shop in Berkeley about trying on some vintage wedding dresses. When the store owner saw the area code of my phone number in my email signature, all kinds of warning bells apparently went off. She was concerned that I would not be able to make it back for future fittings (because really, it’s such a long drive to the Bay?). Her trepidation only rose when she found out that I wasn’t 100% sure about what dress type I was looking for. She told me she would not make an appointment with me. OK, you know what? I recognize that a store owner can’t just let any schmuck wander in off the street and start pulling very old and delicate gowns on and off at whim. But still, ouch. The sting of rejection… uh, stings.

These shopkeepers’ reactions are making me feel like I have no business going to their stores when I’m not necessarily serious about actually buying from them. I don’t want to go have a one-on-one with a shop owner who secretly despises me. The thought alone is making my stomach go flip-flop.

Confession: I considered inventing some kind of fake back story to take to these shops in D.C. I could look up some venues around there that have the same courtyard feel that ours does. When they ask, I can just say, “Oh, we are getting married at ______!” and change the conversation. Which… is pretty effing silly. But it nearly seems worth it just to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Meh. Whatever.

Have you run into any bridal shop snafus? Are these shopkeepers’ reactions typical, or am I just experiencing a string of bad luck? And how have you dealt with wedding dress sales pressure?

senses fail, indeed

Source: woodstock.com

So. I was supposed to be out sailing the seas of the internet, looking for a wedding dress. I have not done this. Oh sure, I’ve “looked” at wedding dresses online, in the sense that my retinas have perceived reflected light from photos of wedding dresses featured in the numerous blog posts and wedding sites I read. But yeah, overall, complete fail. Not only have I not stumbled across anything I like, I have not even tried to find anything I like. I am flunking dresses, here.

You may wonder why I haven’t just hauled my happy ass into a store to look at dresses. Or perhaps you are just daydreaming about cheese.* Well, madam, I can’t help you out there (personally, just between us, I’m currently enamored of gouda), but I can tell you there’s a good reason I haven’t actually physically gone to a store yet.** See, Santa Barbara is kind of isolated, here on the elbow of California. We don’t have a Target. We don’t have a Wal-mart.*** We don’t have Olive Garden, or Kohl’s, or Lowe’s. We don’t even have billboard advertisements on the sides of the freeway, because that would cheapen the city’s image. I know, like GASP, right?

It’s nice, in many ways: The fact that I don’t live in just another box-store suburbia. But while strict zoning policies help maintain Santa Barbara’s image as an exclusive vacation town, it also means high-end retail chains are favored over affordable or independent shops. Walk up and down our main street and all you’ll see is Coach, Juicy, Banana Republic, Bebe, Betsey Johnson, Michael Stars, Saks, you get the picture. You’ll also pass a ludicrous number of frozen yogurt stores,**** but that’s beside the point. All this fancypants-ness helps make Santa Barbara a “destination wedding” mecca, replete with all the pricey trappings that industry brings. Accordingly, all the bridal shops I’ve seen here are of the overpriced, poofy ball-gown variety. What’s a fairly sensible girl to do? Where’s a fairly sensible girl to go?

At the start of this whole wedding planning thing, when I asked my mom how she’d like to be involved, she said all she really wanted was to go dress shopping with me. Good deal. Difficult to pull off, however, when your mom lives on the opposite coast. But next week. Next week. I will be in northern Virginia, with the beau, visiting my parents for Christmas. My mom and I have set aside a day to go out dress shopping together.

I’m not really sure what my mother has in mind, here. I’m kind of picturing us going to, you know, bridal salons. Or boutiques. Which is not necessarily what I want, but then again I’m not sure what I want. Are they called by a certain name? Do certain types have certain names? Do I have to make appointments in advance at most of them? How can I differentiate between the crappy ones and the cool ones? How can I know which shops are super spendy and which are budget-friendly? And oh god, wait. What do I even want? I need to look at things to know what I want, but how am I supposed to know what I want without looking first? I don’t want to waste the saleslady’s time, you know? Which is why I need to research ahead of time, if only I would ACTUALLY DO IT instead of just fretting about it and sweet Jesus I don’t even know which stores to go to in the Washington D.C. area, there has got to be about five million so how can I even choose among them, and maybe they will throw me out when they find out I don’t actually live there since I’m less likely to buy a dress there, but what the hell, I could always buy a dress there and then have it altered somewhere else, like hello, I’m a potential customer after all, why do they have to be so rude.

*deep breathing*

I just feel completely lost. I have no clue how this works. What I need is someone to take my hand and say, “Come with me, this is what we’re going to do.” But I have no sisters. Well, I have no siblings at all, really. I have no family nearby. I am the first of my closest friends to get married. There’s no one I know who’s done this before, you feel me?

That’s OK. I can figure it out. I will figure it out. And the bright side of knowing no one who’s been through this before, of course, is that no one can push their opinion on me of how exactly it ought to be done. Which means I can go my own way, unimpeded.

Not that I will be going anywhere without this cheese.

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* Come on. Spill it. Which one? Brie? Rochefort? Perhaps a nice gruyere?

** Outside of the fact that I hate going to stores, even.

*** Not that I’m complaining about this.

**** L.A. people: Pinkberry?? Yeah, we have one of those here now. But anyway, what’s with this froyo trend? People are acting like it’s the first one, evar, but I seem to recall there was a wave of froyo sometime around the start of the nineties. Right? Am I making this up? R.I.P. Penguins.

it’s a whole nother world out there

Source: discovery.com

Last Friday I came across Say Yes To The Dress on television. I laughed, I cried, I was horrified, etc. You know the drill. The hands-down freakiest moment was this episode-capping voiceover by the narrator:

“There’s a special bond between a bride and her father. It’s a bond built on years of trust, which begins just after she’s born. He’ll always be the one who protects his little girl — and makes all of her dreams come true.”

OK. WEIRD. Not to mention CREEPY. Not to mention that this ties right back into the aforementioned hero pathos, in which the marriage ceremony symbolizes the bride’s transfer of adulation from her father to her new prince. Presumably.

You know, if my father is supposed to make all of my dreams come true,* then why am I not living an independently wealthy life replete with a charming old urban rustic home and a travel itinerary that would elicit envy from even the most globetrotting trust funder?

Sigh. Sometimes I feel like I get insulated out here in “alternative” weddingland. I troll around the blogs and websites I like and that’s it, that’s my whole universe. Then I see something like Say Yes and it’s like a revelation: Oh my god, there are belief systems out there which are entirely different from my own. It boggles the mind.

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* Am I not supposed to be the one who makes my dreams come true? Is that not my responsibility and mine alone?

and the cake was from safeway

The cake in question

I can’t get this Offbeat Bride post out of my mind.

More specifically, I can’t get this quote out of my mind: “And the cake was from SAFEWAY.” Yes, the bride wrote the name of the grocery store in all caps, and rightfully so. Because who does that?

This couple does that. And they rocked it, too.

A grocery-store cake takes some chutzpah. Because I’m pretty sure the Indie DIY Wedding Club would have revoked their membership after a move like that. “It has come to our attention that the bride neglected to hand-craft her cake from organic fair-trade ingredients. Your wedding is made of FAIL.”

On a completely different note: Has anybody ever pulled Steve Perry aside and quietly pointed out that OH HAI, THERE IS NO SOUTH DETROIT. There is just water. City boy must have been born and raised a fish? Next time you make a fist-pumping, guitar-soloing sing-a-long bar anthem you should double check a map, sir.

Steve Perry: “HEY YOU GUYS I FOUND SOUTH DETROIT, IT IS REALLY NICE HERE.” (image source: Wikipedia)

bits and bobs

The other night I was standing in line at the post office, waiting to pick up a package. A woman wearing baggy pants, a deeply creased face, and bright red lips shuffled up behind me. She tapped me on the shoulder.

“Is that for text?” she asked, gesturing toward the iPod in my hand.

“Oh no, it’s an iPod,” I explained. Then, to clarify: “It’s for, uh, music.”

She squinted at me. “You got your earphones in?”

“Yep!” I said brightly.

“You better watch out, you’re gonna brainwash yourself,” she muttered.

Thanks for the tip?

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It’s been cold in Santa Barbara. I know, I know. “Boo hoo,” you’re thinking, snowbound. But while there is no snow here, granted, Monday it was stormy and blustery and the last couple of nights it got down to 34 degrees. I finally resorted to turning the heat on.*

The heat in our house comes from a ancient gas unit that lives under the floor of the living room. The warm air rises up through a vent near the far wall of the room, next to the drafty, boarded-up fireplace.** That’s all we get in the house, is this one vent. Needless to say, this is a highly efficient heating system, provided you are standing directly on top of it.

You cannot actually stand on the vent, because the metal grate is kind of flimsy, and besides, it would only be a matter of seconds before the soles of your footwear started to melt. So you have to kind of straddle the vent, legs akimbo, and balance there with your arm braced against the wall. There is, unfortunately, room for only one person on the vent at any given time. Which means that on Monday night the beau and I got to revive one of our most cherished and sacred winter traditions: vying for vent space.

Vent space invariably causes us to revert to second grade.

“Get off of my vent,” I say.

“This is my vent,” he insists.

“Yeah? Well, I was here first,” I whine.

“Oh yeah, well your mom called, she said to GET OFF MY VENT,” he demands.

“My mom doesn’t even know your phone number!” I shout.*** A brief struggle ensues.

Which is all well and good, because by this point I’ve usually reached the maximum length of time one can tolerate hovering over the vent before one’s clothes feel like they are on the verge of bursting into flames. “Ow ow ow ow ow,” I say, hopping over to the couch, where it’s always drastically colder.

You don’t stay warm for long after an interlude with the heating vent. Luckily, the hot/cold cycle roughly corresponds to football broadcasts: one and a half minutes of play, five minutes of commercials. So I can watch football from the vent where it’s toasty, then retreat to the couch to cool down during the commercial break, which I spend intermittently shouting at the television screen (“WHO BUYS SOMEONE A LEXUS FOR CHRISTMAS??”) and silently cursing the fact that we are actually watching a live broadcast instead of just DVR’ing the damn thing.

******************************************

At the very least, this cold weather has put me in the mood for the holidays. Ah, holidays. I love this time of year, despite the stress of gift shopping and the running to the post office and the persistent chill and the mock fighting over the heater.****

I keep thinking we should feel more stressed out about the wedding planning. It seems like that is what everyone talks about: oh, the stress and the hair-tearing and the sobbing on the floor. I realize that we are still have a great deal of time left; distance makes the heart fonder and all. I also realize that if you were to talk to me seven months from now I might be singing a different song. Like a song that sounds like sobbing, while lying on the floor.

But here’s the thing: I am actively trying to avoid that. I don’t want the last several weeks before the wedding to be one long blur of sleeplessness and worry and tears. There is a two-pronged system at work, here: perspective and planning. Planning is obvious. Deep in my blackest of hearts I am a tried-and-true procrastinator, and I know that not falling into that trap will save me a lot of heartache at the end. But the perspective is just as important, too. What I mean by this is giving a matter attention that is proportionate to its actual importance. Is the color of the tablecloths one of the memories I will hold dear in the coming years? No? OK then, just pick the cheapest option and forget about it.

I want to research a wedding item, make a decision, move on. And repeat that ’til all of it’s done. That can’t be so hard, can it?

I’m tagging this post “things I might regret saying later.” And I’m coming back to it later, when I have some months of perspective under my belt. Just you watch. We’ll see then. We’ll see.

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* Every year I see how long I can hold out. I did fairly well; last year I wussed out in November.

** Our house is about to fall down, pretty much. Next big earthquake, boom. I will be under a pile of rubble for sure.

*** Actually, I’m pretty sure she has it written down somewhere.

**** This is actually really fun. You should try it sometime. With your own heater.