Friday, March 26, 2010

Katherine Heigl Wants To Be Me. (Part II)

Let's continue this little journey down the memory-aisle together.
[I got a lot of positive feedback on the graphic inclusions yesterday, so, there are more where that came from].

First, a look at the dresses in wedding numbers 4-6 as rendered in Microsoft Paint:

It's actually a little disheartening how accurate these depictions are. Also, don't forget, they're not flattering floor length sweepers: you have to actually picture them hitting me mid-shin. You know, the most flattering place for a dress to hit on anyone, let alone a shapeless pre-teen.

#4 Aunt Ann + Uncle
Junior bridesmaid: 3rd grade. This dress portrayed the awkwardness of the Junior Bridesmaid better than any other dress before or since. A tea-length version of the bridesmaids’ floor-length gowns, and constructed of navy blue raw silk, this dress was a monster. Not a monstrosity, necessarily, just, a lot for an 8 year old in June. Full shoulder puff, cubic zirconia buttons, full skirt. My brother wouldn’t eat anything at the reception and the chef at the Portland University Club decided from then on to always serve crustless peanut-butter & jelly finger sandwiches at event buffets.

#5 Aunt Angela + Uncle
Junior bridesmaid: 4th grade. This dress took first runner up in the Awkward Junior Bridesmaid category.
“What, do you think you’re going to come slinking out in some number with a slit up to here?” my mom asks impatiently as I make a face in the mirror at the alterations place. As a matter of fact, yes. Yes, I did. What I ended up with was appropriate, and actually quite cute, for the round-bellied, flat chested body I was stuck in.

My brother was in this wedding, too, and ended up tearing his all-white tuxedo nearly off by the time he got down the aisle, cummerbund and bowtie in hand.

I taught myself how to fashion dice out of candle wax at the rehearsal dinner, which was also where I learned to give a proper handshake.

This was also the reception at which I was caught in the crosshairs of the wedding photographer's lens as the first in line at the dinner buffet. Not a lot has changed.

#6 MaryAnn + Matthew – Mom’s cousin
PROMOTED: Candle lighter: 6th grade. This was, at the time, the best dress I’d worn yet (still a version of white and floofy, but had a little off-the shoulder action and I got to wear my hair down). The highlight of this wedding was that it was in Houston, and we got to go to Six Flags.

#7 Kim + Greg – Mom’s cousin (I told you there were a lot)

Candle lighter: I don’t even remember how old I was for this…somewhere between 7th grade and freshman year of high school? Too old to be lighting candles at a wedding in a floor-length, gauzy, silver cupcake. The groom’s mother actually made myself and her granddaughter matching dresses and I don’t remember being entirely displeased with it. This marked my first “big girl” hair updo; still too young to sneak wine at the reception, though. A groomsman sang an inebriated rendition of Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.”

#8 – Urban Cowgirl + Groom
PROMOTED: Bridesmaid. Age 22. We spent most of the school year helping our housemate, the bride, plan the wedding, and had a great time figuring out how to do all of our bridesmaidenly duties while still in college. We tried to throw her an engagement party, but her fiancĂ© couldn’t make it, so it ended up consisting of a bunch of drunk sorority girls and a cardboard cut out of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

We tried to throw her a shower, but we didn’t have any money. Our sorority advisor graciously offered to host it, so it consisted of a bunch of drunk sorority girls.

We did, however, have a fantastic time at her bachelorette party at a resort in Central Oregon, partly because we ran into a rogue bachelor party at at karaoke bar.  The wedding was also a blast: I actually sang during the ceremony, made slightly difficult as we each had a can of Natural Light in our hands from waking to aisle-walking.  I just looked at it like tipsy karaoke, but, in a Catholic church.
The bride's talented aunt made our lime green raw-silk halter dresses and we all ended up looking like fierce Stepford Wives. I managed to rip my dress on the dancefloor while fist-pumping to a Meatloaf song.

#9 – Ba + Groom

Bridesmaid: Age 22. A dramatic production from start (proposal in the South of France) to finish (a winery in Napa, CA) and an absolute treat to be a part of. It ended up being a mostly paid-for vacation and I spent a week away from work lounging by the pool of a private estate in wine country, getting my nails did. And eating… a lot- thanks to our Private Chef. The Redhead and I recently saw the wedding DVD and were really impressed that the camera caught two things that perfectly portrayed just how single we both were:
1. Our food-babies, trying to bust out the front panels of our floor length, fuchsia satin, Melissa Sweet gowns.
2. Our total obliviousness to the bridal bouquet toss, opting instead to direct our attentions to an aggressive sampling of the event’s dessert bar.
Oh, and it was 108 degrees that day.

Our home for the week:

Predictions about weddings #10 + #11 to follow in Part III...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Katherine Heigl Wants To Be Me.

In 2008 a movie came out called 27 Dresses.

It stars Katherine Heigl and the annoying girl who always plays the somewhat crazy slut (see: 13 Going on 30, Arrested Development, Modern Family) and Lon from The Notebook. It’s about the protagonist’s inability to say no to being in other people’s weddings and then coping with her “always the bridesmaid: never the bride” complex.

On the one hand, I am grateful for this film as it basically maps out what my life will be like if I continue in this dangerous vein of bridesmaidery.

On the other hand, I kind of hate this film as it basically maps out what my life will be like if I continue in this dangerous vein of bridesmaidery.

Ladies and gentlemen, I will be in my 11th wedding this summer.

I will admit that I haven’t been a bridesmaid that many times, necessarily, but at 23, it’s still kind of ridiculous. I would much rather my life be based on this wedding film.

Kidding - it is always such a touching gesture to be included in someone's wedding: they are making a commitment to LOVE someone. That is so hard, and so noble, and so life-altering that it is a real gift to be present in someone's life for that, let alone stand at the front with them in support and encouragement (or itchy formal ankle socks, or in satin, or in whatever else they've got you wearing).

Another cool thing is that despite their common components, no two weddings are ever alike, and are in fact, as unique as the people they celebrate.

Let's move to the statistical breakdown.

And these are only the weddings I've been IN. I know some people who have only ever attended three or four weddings in their whole lives. If I had to estimate, I'd say I've been a guest at around thirty total.

Some anecdotal supplements to go with the numbers (Part I):

#1. Heidi + Andy – Mom’s cousin

Flower girl: Three years old. I wore a pastel pink be-bowed frock with poofy sleeves, poofy socks, and poofy underpants. I spent most of the ceremony outside with my dad, pretending to paint the potted plants with a feather I found. One of the other bridesmaids passed out. My mother was actually in this wedding too in the most hilarious light peach bridesmaid dress and some raw silk heels dyed to match (which, of course, I thought were the most beautiful shoes on the planet, as a child, and would tromp around the house in them, watching the light catch in the rhinestone brooch at the toe).

#2 Geoff + Ursula – Mom’s cousin
Flower girl: Four years old. I wore the same ensemble, and since the guest list was basically the same, I suffered the indignity of the “Oh God you saw me in this outfit the last time you saw me” feeling. I think I walked down the aisle to a Kenny G song, was jealous of Cousin Pat’s date Miki, and was awarded a wedding-party-gift at the rehearsal dinner: a stuffed animal rabbit that, when switched on, would wriggle its nose, raise its ears slowly, and, with a mechanical whirring of gears, lurch around the room haphazardly. It was, in retrospect, one of the more terrifying things I owned as a child. Bunnicula come to life.

#3 Uncle John + AuntFlower girl: Second grade. At their engagement announcement I hugged my aunt to be and, with my arms around her waist, asked, “Do I get to be in the wedding?” She laughed and said, “Oh honey, I think you were in this wedding before I was.” I remember my great-grandfather gallantly fending off a swan with his cane before the ceremony, the pastor having the precursor of a heart-attack during the vows (whose violent coughing fit prompted my aunt to wonder if they had actually been legally wed?), and my brother stealing the show during my father’s toast by mimicking the last few words of every line.  It reminded my dad of this famous showstealing son:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mostly Healthy March

I figured a follow-up on my health kick would be appropriate, for the sake of personal posterity.

And speaking of personal posteriors, mine truly did benefit from Healthy February.

I was pretty disciplined:

- I drank no coffee for the whole month! I have since, slowly, allowed myself back on the caffeine train, mostly because it is the one thing I look forward to in my work day. THE ONE. THING.

- I made sure to exercise 3-4 times a week. I am currently operating on a 2-3 times a week basis in March, but with the weather improving, am doing more outdoorsy things, like, playing tennis with The Redhead for a few hours on Saturday (it still counts as exercise if you're drinking vodka Slurpees right? Whatever. Sounds about right for "Mostly Healthy" March).

- I never got enough sleep. Still don't.

- I was much better about drinking lots of water. Still am!

- I refrained from drinking for (most) of the whole month. Even socially, and no wine with dinner. Except, I quit a weekend early. 3 1/2 weeks was the longest I'd gone without drinking since before college, I believe, so, that was totally overdue.

- I actually lost about 6 pounds. So, all in all: worth it. The most lasting effect, I believe, is the craving my body has for exercise when I don't get enough. Or, relearning how to eat smaller portions of healthier food.

That being said, tonight is another eating competition for people from work. I'm not sure I ever told You Guys this, but I was in one of these in November. The contest was who could finish the 2 LB cheeseburger (6 patties in all) at the Old Market Pub and Brewery. This is what it looked like, before it got owned:

I was the only girl to finish. But three big men went on to win, as they each ordered an extra patty.

The sad part? Not the most full I had ever been. Thanks, college.

The contest tonight is who can eat the most hot-wings in 10 minutes. Tempting as it sounds (I could totally kill it), I think it would be best to continue in the vein of being mostly-healthy, and I will simply be a spectator.

Don't look now...but, I think our little girl is growing up.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Stuff White People Like"

AKA, "Stuff I Like".

What started as a blog back in 2008 by a guy named Christian Lander and his friend has now evolved into a book, speaking tours, and most awesomely, a 365-day desk calendar that my favorite Platonic Boyfriend got me for Christmas.

If you aren't familiar, it's a satirical take on what your typical affluent, educated, left-leaning, environmentally and socially conscious white North Americans are into. Examples include: Asian Girls, Being Offended, Taking a Year Off, Wes Anderson films, Farmer's Markets, etc.

So every day at work I get to learn about something I typically already know about myself (i.e. "Girls With Bangs" or, "Locally Roasted Coffee" as I set my cup down and brush my bangs out of my eyes in a defensive huff) and then I always email it to the Platonic Bf. This is a nice little ritual we have and is a good excuse to look like I'm typing something important every morning when I get in.

This weekend I couldn't help but realize just how WHITE I am. It started to dawn on me Saturday morning, as I squinted past all the strollers at the Portland Farmer's Market, holding, again, my locally roasted coffee, having just left brunch at a trendy spot with a line out the door on the East side; having eaten at a really new trendy spot the night before ("shared small plates"at a place that butchers their own meat) and planning the rest of the afternoon around a trip to the driving range, so I could spend some time in the great outdoors.

There are like, six things in there I should be embarrassed about. But, I am deciding to embrace it and share with you all that places I went and dined at so you too, can eat at them, and who knows, shake things up with a little diversity

Dinner at Olympic Provisions - 107 SE Washington St.Portland, OR 97214

Small, but unique, beer selection, large bottled wine selection; lively but intimate atmosphere; reasonable menu of diverse game and meats...until you are told by the server that they are "small plates, meant to be shared. For a group of this size (6) you could probably order the whole menu." She left, and we rolled our eyes, since each dish ran around $12. I ordered the roasted carrots ($5) which were delicious, of course, and sampled the braised rabbit leg, as well as the brussel sprouts, kielbasa, and some polenta.

Brunch at Pine State Biscuits - 3640 Southeast Belmont StreetPortland, OR 97214

For $8-$10 you can get a great breakfast sandwich involving some combination of fried chicken, cheese, gravy, bacon, eggs, pork, sausage, more cheese, and apple butter. They serve Stumptown coffee, and the side of hashbrowns looked like a nice addition. There's very little seating indoors, and depending on what time you go, there is a line out the door, but if the weather's nice, it's a pleasant wait, and the line moves quickly (10-15 minutes or less, I'd say). You can also order the food to go.

The Portland Farmers' Market - Portland Park Blocks

On the first day of spring there were babies and puppies EVERYWHERE. If this freaks you out, best go to Whole Foods instead. But if you are okay with small things that frolic or are carried in marsupial pouches by fresh-faced owners (parents?) then you should check out the lovely produce, gorgeous bursts of cut flowers, and edible delectables here. The people-watching is pretty top-notch, too.

(Photo credits are from each of the venue's respective websites).


No, this is not about that show you all love.
(And I'm sure I'd love, too, but we all know I need another show to watch like I need a mouthful of broken teeth).

It's about that feeling when you realize you have totally, eternally lost something.
Not someone, not an intangible or metaphorical kind of loss, but the kind of sinking dread you experience when the truth becomes apparent that you are never going to see/touch/smell/use that THING again.
It is always jarring to me that despite my constant revelations about "what a small world it really is" the world can seem so vast and overwhelming when it contains a lost object.

We have important relationships with objects, especially the ones that become our possessions. They either perform actions, or record our own actions, or are there with us when we make memories, and thus, they become more than just Things.

When I was a kid I was utterly terrified of house fires. My parents had just bought one of those "Safety Ladder" contraptions and placed it in my brother's room, under his Thomas the Tank Engine bed: in the event of a fire, we would all run to his room, unfurl the 10 ft plastic ladder out his window, and then drop from the fiery blaze of our beloved home another twenty feet into a pile of inevitable broken bones. The recent discussions of our Fire Plan had really freaked me out, and so before I fell asleep at night, I would make mental lists of all the things in my room I would try to toss out the window ahead of me, saving them from loss-by-conflagration (a word I did actually know at the time, thanks to my Uncle John).

On this list was, first and foremost, my rainbow-crocheted baby blanket (which, despite my reverence and adoration of it, was not actually made of rainbows, but was simply rainbow colored). Winnie-the-Pooh, my first stuffed animal, who had long since lost his one and only possession (a red shirt) would follow close behind.

As I got older, the list morphed. There were more things I simply could not imagine living without.

Pooh was released in favor of adding hefty photo albums. Then, spiral-bound journals, autographs from celebrities, and my cell phone. Next, notes from my boyfriend, my passport, my grandmother's pearls, and a few precious books.

Now, if I had to think about it, I'd probably have to say most of my boots, my Michael Kors handbag, and my laptop.

Which brings me to my main point: it didn't take a house fire, but my laptop is gone.

After that start-up incident last week, I didn't panic, but decided to just go with it and take the outcome as it was handed to me. The guys at the Apple Genius Bar were very friendly and helpful (though not as sympathetic when I admitted I didn't have everything backed up). I expressed my loyalty to Apple products, and my frustration that this is the second Mac laptop I've had that's crashed, and this one wasn't even three years old. I am a stock holder, and a devoted user, and despite my frustrations, would likely buy another Macbook.

Alex, the guy behind the Genius Bar, did his best, but deemed it a crashed hard drive. All data declared gone. I still didn't panic, but rationalized calmly that most of my music was on my iPod, photos on Facebook, all my important documents (undergrad thesis, resume, college journal) were in my Gmail Inbox or on a thumb drive, as well as my study-abroad pictures and important work documents. He was nice enough to replace and install the hard drive for free (something about an Apple Quality Care program? WIN) and then sent me on my way.

It was actually kind of freeing, in a way. When else would I have actually taken the time- and had the guts- to delete all those pictures of me and the ex? What was I saving all those college syllabi for? I didn't need all those things after all, it seemed.

The hard part didn't come until today, when the first actual loss registered:
All photos from my trip to Amman, Jordan in 2008 for a cousin's wedding - gone. Totally, and utterly gone from this good earth.

I never put them on Facebook, because they were mostly of me and family, and never got them onto another drive for whatever reason (stupidity, namely).
It was a fabulous and fun 14 days of parties, celebration, site-seeing, eating, drinking, dancing, laughing and extended family that I will never get to relive through pictures again.

I also, just this minute, came to the flattening realization that a big piece I'd been working on- a raw personal account that was hopefully going to function as the working basis of my first book - was not saved to my thumb drive as I could have sworn it was.

So, we lose things. Sometimes we know where we left them, but still can't get them back: a language dictionary in an airplane seat-back pocket; favorite sunglasses at a restaurant; cell phones in bar bathrooms; countless earrings and contact lenses and softball mitts and Nalgene bottles. Other times, we have "no IDEA where" we could have possibly left them and our houses are "only so big and those keys can only be so many places."

And now with the advent of technology, things that mean the most to us can vanish into thin air.

But you know? I'll take it in stride. I still have my health. And my family. And the ability to re-write that book.

And you know what else?
I've still got Blanky and Pooh.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ides of March


From our friends at Wikipedia:

"The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martiae) is the name of March 15 in the Roman calendar. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months.[1] The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 709 AUC or 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other co-conspirators.
According to Plutarch, Caesar was warned by a seer to be on his guard against a great peril on the Ides of March. On his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar saw the seer and joked "Well, the Ides of March have come," to which the seer replied "Ay, they have come, but they are not gone."[2] This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned to "beware the Ides of March".

On this day, in 2010, so far I have a 2007 Macbook that is refusing to start up properly, and one flat tire repair turned-$288-three-tire-purchase at Les Schwab (and you know how much I love it there).

So while we're being suspicious, I'm going with the bad things happen in threes theory. E=MC posited today that perhaps I've just had a bad week with The Machine.

Exactly 7 days ago now marks the Blender Incident (wherein, already late for work, my beloved morning protein smoothie routine backfired- nay, exploded- in the kitchen...EVERYWHERE. Counters, floors, window, cupboards, faces, ceiling! BERRY MAYHEM).

So here's hoping three is the limit. It's about all my cold little heart- and bank account- can take.

Waiting in the wings on the ailing laptop, by the way:

- New CellarDoor 24 Jewelry designs

- Two essays for this here blog

- About a billion Podcasts I am dying to get transferred to my iPod. This American Life, The Moth, and Battleship Pretension, mainly. Do you listen to Podcasts? If so, which ones?