Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Romance

So About This Bucket List

I mentioned this bucket list about a year ago. My friends and I had grand plans to get all this cool stuff done before our 30th birthdays. Well, I’m happy to report I got most of it done. I did a post about the first things I did, but now I’m just going to do a round-up of everything.

That’s what happens when you miss 100+ days of blogging. You gotta summarize.

Just to remind you, my best friend and I made a list of different categories. Each of us then had to choose something within that category and attempt to complete it by our 30th birthdays (give or take as everyone didn’t have a full year to make it happen).

Let’s just say that out of the 10 or so people who liked the idea, not many people actually worked on crossing items off their list.

But a few of us really tried. My best friend did the most, she even completed her task of skydviving! Her mom, who is amazing, scheduled it and went with her.

This is what I came up with when we first settled on the idea. The left column holds the categories, and the right column are my chosen activities. Each thing I chose had to be approved by someone else doing the bucket list.

“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love
Dating Five unique dates with husband
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships
Hobby/Lessons Horseback riding lessons
Physical Appearance Tattoo
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B
Wildcard

I did make some changes over the year. Since I didn’t choose a wildcard, I decided to use my nose piercing to count as that one. It felt quite wild and spontaneous when I did it, plus it was something I ordinarily wouldn’t have done. I decided on a whim to get it done while a friend was visiting from out of town.

I also changed the hobby. I changed from horseback riding lessons to Wine School. Following along with the New York Times’s Eric Asimov and learning a lot about an existing passion (wine), made sense for a good replacement because I simply didn’t have the funds or time to pursue horseback riding right now.

That being said, here’s how I did on the updated categories:

Category Activity Completion
“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club Binge watched all of Season 11. The girls were in Miami. I didn’t enjoy it. At least I confirmed for myself that I really don’t like that type of reality show. ANTM and DWTS, plus a smidge of Chopped and Iron Chef is all I need.
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love Tofu just wasn’t gonna happen. I really tried. But a great suggestion from an online friend led me to chocolate soy milk. I genuinely enjoyed it and it’s currently the only store bought chocolate milk I like to drink.
Dating Five unique dates with husband I had so many rules for this one, I was setup for failure! The date couldn’t include one of Chris’s gigs, couldn’t be a group date, and couldn’t happen at home. We only did one date that was outside of those three categories. Life gets busy and all that… Major Fail.
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar This one I did. When some friends came to town to celebrate a med school graduation, I went out with them. We danced all night, and some of my dancing included a table top at a bar. Good times.
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships Done and done. I’ve made more than 2 friends. I think if I’m being honest, there are 3 total friendships I made that I would continue to pursue even if I (or they) moved away from NYC tomorrow. I had such a hard time making friends when I first moved here, so I’m glad this one worked out.
Hobby/Lessons Wine School I’m months behind, but I’ve done every month up until July. And I have all the bottle up until November, just waiting to try them. This counts as a win for me!
Physical Appearance Tattoo I got the tattoo. I watched the World Cup final, literally watching the second tick away. Probably the tiniest tattoo ever, but I love it so much!
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping Nope. Didn’t even schedule it. Still a punk. I need to get my life.
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B Nope. I even took off a weekend from work to make it happen. But travel costs, and pricing, and trying to find the perfect place on airbnb. Excuses, excuses.
Wildcard Pierce Something Other Than your Ears Yes sir! Because I kinda rolled this one in at the end, it counts! I got my nose pierced. It’s almost healed, and I’m currently shopping for a great nose ring.
2014-07-20 02.37.36

This is my favorite new friend here. Corey is a musician, he plays trombone, and he’s amazing!

wpid-wp-1414194819265.jpeg

These are a good number of my NYC friends and co-workers. This is the surprise 30th birthday party Chris threw me.

2014-07-13 19.40.28

This is the almost-finished glass of chocolate soy milk when I first tried it. Trader Joe’s is the only brand I’ve tried. It’s so yummy!

2014-06-01 01.29.31

The is the best shot I have of me dancing on a table top. There were about 4 of us crammed onto this not very strong table, but we made it work. The girl was shocked that I wanted pictures, which is why she’s making that face. Too bad the random stranger I enlisted to take the photo wasn’t a better cameraman.

2014-09-27 02.07.43

Me right after my nose ring piercing. Hopefully you can see it well. I didn’t get great shots of it that night. Too much darkness, too much alcohol.

wpid-wp-1414194268639.jpg

And the tattoo, last but not least. Libra scales on my ring finger. Love it so much!

 

So I didn’t finish them all, but 7 out of 10 ain’t bad.

There’s good news here. My friend and I decided to extend the list until the end of the year. I don’t know that I’ll get to Maine, but I can at least try to finish the dates with Chris and maybe, maybe, think about possibly looking into the chance of seeking out a schedule for bungee jumping.

At that point, I’ll have 9 out of 10. Not all accomplished by my 30th birthday, but damn close.

We were also talking about doing this again next year. Fewer categories of course. We were just far too ambitious this time around.

We haven’t decided on the categories yet, but they will definitely have the same intention of pushing us outside of our comfort levels.

The only category we’ve decided on so far is “Creative Project”. That’s a working title for now. But the idea is to take something we like to do, and to commit to taking it to the next level creatively.

For me that would be continuing with the video posts. I’ve made more test videos, but I don’t like them enough to post them. I need to just get over myself and go with it. I don’t really have issues with avoiding attention or anything like that. But I do have some hesitancy when it comes to public attention, especially seeking out public attention. But I’m trying to get over that, and I think the video blogs will help.

I had some other ideas for other categories. I was thinking something like “Grown-Up Skill Building”. The idea of this category is to learn something that a fully functioning adult should know, but perhaps you don’t. For me, that might be learning to change my own oil or something. It’s not a very exciting category, so it probably won’t make the cut.

Another idea was to try on someone else’s hobby. I don’t have a title for that yet, but it would be something like picking an interesting friend, finding out their favorite hobby, and then trying it out with them or alone.

And one more is to focus on health/fitness. Really pushing ourselves into something fitness-related that’s outside our normal bounds. For me that might be like committing to do some sort of workout 5 days a week. For my friend, maybe training for a bike marathon maybe?

These are all just ideas. We have another month and a half to sort it out. But I’m loving this bucket list idea because it gives you focus for the year. Having specific fun-or-self-improving-or-meaningful goals gives you a sense of purpose. At least it feels that way to me.

Wish me luck on getting those dates planned an executed. Did I mention Chris is heading to Poland in two days? The life of a musician’s wife.


Doldrums and Listening

I’m starting to notice a trend. When I am not publishing new blog posts, it’s not because I don’t have anything to say. It’s because I don’t like what I have to say.

When I’m writing blog posts, I like them to have an overall positive feel. Even if I fussing about something, there’s still a good-natured me behind it.

But man, I’m feeling something like the winter blues.

Last week, I posted a weather forecast that forecasted weather in the 50s today. Did that happen? Hell no, it didn’t happen.

And now, they are predicting another polar vortex this time next week. Ugh, I can’t take it anymore. Just like the last time I went to visit Chicago, they are predicting temperatures in the single digits. Spring can’t come soon enough.

Beyond the winter blues, For Valentine’s Day, it was up and down. I sent Easy and my best friend Valentine’s Day cards in the mail. And I sent the husband a big ass box of Crunch bars (his favorite) in the mail.

Then I had to watch all of New York figuratively and literally embrace the holiday. People everywhere had teddy bears, flowers, candy, balloons, etc. They were holding hands and sticking their tongues down each other’s throat. It was just all so much.

Then for the next few days, at the soup kitchen and at work, everyone kept asking everyone else how their VDay was. Here’s how my typical conversation went:

Them: Hey CeCe, how was your Valentine’s Day?

Me: Oh, it was uneventful. The husband is in Chicago, so, you know…

Them: Oh, that’s too bad! Well, at least he sent you flowers, right?

[He didn’t do that]

Me: Oh, um… no, well he didn’t do that, but you know…

Them: Ohhhh, um, well… At least he called you, right?

Me: Yes, he did. He called me in the afternoon to wish me happy vday.

Them [looking visibly relieved and eager to move on]: Oh, good! Well, there you go.

So you see, I had to field that question and answer that Easy didn’t send me flowers. I honestly didn’t think anything about the lack of a Valentine’s Day gift until it they pointed it out to me over and over again. At least when I recounted this to him, we got a nice chuckle from the story.

I had all these plans with my maybe new New York friends while Easy is away. And they’ve been cancelling on me left and right.

I still haven’t gone rock climbing. That’s been re-scheduled for–I kid you not– “let’s aim for mid-March-ish.”

I haven’t gone out for drinks to Smalls without Easy. That gets pushed to the next weekend every Friday night.

I haven’t gone to a single restaurant for NYC Restaurant Week. I know we’re only 5 days in, but I already had plans to go to Delmonico’s, which I would never be able to afford under any other circumstances. My friend cancelled those plants and did not reschedule them.

I haven’t gone to kickboxing yet because snow and more snow, and I didn’t want to travel to break a sweat with a ton of snow and ice on the ground.

And the straw that finally broke the camel’s back was yesterday. I was locking my house door behind me when I got a call from my doctor’s office. He stayed at the hospital and they were cancelling my appointment.

They rescheduled it for me. For 28 days from now. It is his first available appointment that allows me to get to work on time and isn’t while I’m already scheduled out-of-town.

After settling on the couch to finally watch this week’s episodes of American Idol (it’s so good this season!), Easy called me. He made a very… culturally insensitive comment that led to a conversation about it that led to a conversation about how difficult it is for us to talk to each other.

Our marriage foundation was setup on three pillars: Love, Trust, and Communication. Without even realizing it, we went a bit off with the communication.

There are things he doesn’t share with me because he doesn’t want to hear my reaction or he knows I’m going to want further explanation that he feels like giving or a number of other reasons that basically means talking to me sucks.

This is the part I’m really feeling conflicted about blogging about. Easy and I never really discuss our problems except for with our closest of friends. The ones who we know love us so much that they aren’t going to turn on our spouse because of one problem, no matter how big. And here I am discussing this on the blog.

I feel a bit better about talking about this because it’s not me complaining about him, it’s his problem with me. I have acknowledged my tendency toward hypercriticism (is that a word?). I just didn’t realize it was affecting Easy’s ability to even have a conversation with me.

Luckily, as he says, we’re solutions people. Just like I was able to get over my hesitancy to talk to him when he wasn’t retaining anything I was saying, he’s going to give me a chance to stop being so critical.

It’s such a fine line to walk. The origin of the criticism is from a lack of understanding.

Half the time he says something to me, I don’t understand. He can say the same phrase twice in a week or even twice in the same conversation, and it will have completely different and unrelated meanings.

Other times, he’ll say something vague and then I’ll ask for an explanation, and he won’t have one. Trying to think of a way to clarify or explain frustrates him, then I get frustrated, and then we’re both just irritated with each other.

None of this is so terrible until we zoom in on the was I convey my frustration or my lack of understanding or my request for an explanation. When I am feeling cognitive dissonance, the gloves come off.

So I’ve got to find a way to make this better. I don’t know if I should just accept the information he gives me with no clarification. I don’t know how that would work. I remember it, for one thing. Or maybe I just think I won’t remember it. Seeing as how it’s the only idea I’ve got, I have to try it.

Because I want to grow into a better wife.

Because I feel awful that it snuck up on us that things had gotten this bad.

And because I love my husband, and he deserves to have a marriage with someone he actually wants to talk to.

And maybe if he can talk to me, he won’t cancel our anniversary next year.


Celebrating A Cross-Country Anniversary

As I mentioned in my last post, the husband is in Chicago, so we weren’t together for our anniversary. But in honor of our anniversary, I’m giving him a request he probably doesn’t even know I paid attention to. The husband doesn’t want the name “the husband” anymore on this blog.

I previously called him Easy (which was a random ass reference to a book by the author of Gossip Girl), and he wants to go back to that. I apologize for the future confusion, but he is now Easy.

You’re welcome Easy.

We couldn’t do dinner or sex or a carriage ride or anything else celebratory for our anniversary, but we could exchange gifts. Seeing as how gift giving is my love language, I was all for this cross-country gift exchange.

Our anniversaries are Feb 8th and Feb 11th (married one day, wedding the other day). I wanted to do something for Easy for both, but I also wanted to get gifts that are the traditional 2nd anniversary gift category.

There just aren’t a lot of options for cotton anniversary gifts.

I settled on getting him a pair of jeans and something else that I can’t reveal yet because for some reason, it has yet to arrive in the mail. But the jeans were a good purchase if I do say so myself. I got the size wrong because I suck.

Easy was nice enough to tell me the jeans weren’t that far off and he even wore them out to his gigs last night. All we’ll have to do is get them shortened when he gets back. I have a pair of pants bought for me as a birthday gift by my mother last year that still need to go to the tailor.

This is a perfect opportunity to finally get a tailor!

Easy says my gift is in the mail. But he said that days ago, so I assume he meant it and I will just have to get a lovely delivery soon. I don’t think he meant, “the gift is in the mail” like an overdue bill. We’ll see.

Just kidding, if he says he sent me something, I know it’s coming.

But enough about yesterday. Let’s back up to Saturday, as that was our first second anniversary.

Originally I wasn’t going to get him anything because like I said, there aren’t a lot of great cotton gift options.

But we spoke on the phone Saturday afternoon and I felt a surge of gift-giving love towards Easy, and I wanted to make it happen.

Plus, when I was at the soup kitchen earlier, my friends told me I should send him something like flowers to one of his gigs for Valentine’s Day. I’m certainly not going to do that, but it did plant the seed for sending something for our anniversary.

After we got off the phone, I checked with Google (who knows my life and loves me) and found a couple of bakeries near where his gig was that were still open.

I picked the one with the best yelp reviews and called them up. They don’t take same day orders and it was past their delivery window, but the girl on the phone worked with me once I told her what I wanted.

They had cupcakes in-house already prepared fresh that day. She said if I could get someone to their location in the next 70 minutes, she would let me pay over the phone and they could pickup the cupcakes of my choice.

I made some calls to some of the hundreds of members of our wedding party. I finally found a friend who came the closest to what I needed (doing nothing, in the city, has a car, wearing pants), and asked if she would do me this huge favor.

She didn’t have on pants, but she quickly rectified that and hopped in her car to race against the clock and the snow to make it to the bakery before closing.

I called back to the bakery, placed my order, paid over the phone and crossed my fingers.

In the meantime, I called our friend who works at the place where the gig was, pleaded her help to get in the outside surprise anniversary food, and secured her assistance.

The whole thing felt like a covert op that could fall apart if you pulled on errant string.

My friend managed to make it to the bakery right on time, and got the cupcakes delivered before Easy arrived for his gig. If she wasn’t already (which I suspect she was), she is now Easy’s favorite of all my friends.

But it worked out!

chris eat cupcakes chris with cupcakes

As Easy was making some sort of speech near the end of the night about how awesome the club was and how happy he was that he was back at a place that always felt like home, our friend brought out the cupcakes.

He got so excited thinking they bought him cupcakes. When she clarified they were from me, he got even more excited. That’s me he’s on the phone with while he’s eating one of the cupcakes.

All I could think when I saw those pictures was how much I wanted a cupcake.

But no cupcakes for me because I’m trying to get healthier. Which is what I’ll discuss in my next post.

Easy liked his anniversary presents, so I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Now I just have to figure out Valentine’s Day. I’m sure Google has a good idea for me.


It’s Our Anniversary

The husband has been gone since the 4th, and I’ve barely talked to him. I forgot how busy he is when he’s in Chicago. But I’m definitely going to talk to him today because it’s our anniversary!

Two years today. And two years on Tuesday too. We got married at my church on Feb 8th, then had a big ass wedding Feb 11th. It’s been an interesting two years.

We made the move to NYC and it’s been amazing here. We had this plan to spend a few years here, then maybe go overseas to Europe for a few years. Then we’d come back to the states and maybe spend some time in Honduras where the husband’s family is from.

But I’m feeling very nest-y and both the husband and I are over moving. Perhaps in a few years we can reassess. But I love New York so much, I could lay down roots here and be happy.

The only problem is the public schools here are not so great. There are charter schools and magnet programs and whatnot, but I have to say as a potential future parent, it has me worried.

The school conversation can wait though because it’s my anniversary.

The traditional US 2nd anniversary gift is cotton. What is that about?

When I searched on Amazon for gift options, they basically showed me a bunch of pillowcases and linen scented candles. Those scented candles are wrong anyway because linen is the gift for another year’s anniversary.

At least cotton is pretty affordable. I should buy him a ream of fabric. Considering the fact that the husband’s creativity is pretty music-centric, that would amount to the worst gift ever for him.

There is also the relatively easy dinner-candles-lingerie option, but he’s out-of-town for a month, so that’s a no go.

Whatever I decide to gift him, I know he’ll appreciate. We agreed no Christmas gifts, then he wrote me beautiful letter as his gift. Then he got upset at me later for not getting him a gift. I don’t know how that happened, but I won’t repeat that mistake for our anniversary.

There is also Valentine’s Day coming up, but we don’t usually make too big of a deal out of. We generally exchange cards and some candy, and maybe do dinner.

I was this person who would go all out for celebrations. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, didn’t matter. If there was a formal reason to celebrate, I was all over it.

The husband isn’t really like that, so my celebration tendencies have decreased a bit. We still do birthdays really well, but everything else, not so much.

One of my best friends decided she and I would be BFF Valentine’s Day buddies. That isn’t a thing, but it is now. She sent me two cards in the mail. One to the husband and me for our anniversary, and the other to me for Valentine’s Day. She also bought me a necklace on Etsy and it’s freaking adorable!

piano necklas

It’s a little tiny piano and a C mini-pendant. It’s like my version of a Carrie necklace.

Getting gifts lately reminded how much I love them. The husband and I did this quiz forever ago to determine our love languages. I am a gifts and acts person, and a bit of a quality time person. I don’t need the words and the touch so much.

Because we live in a sitcom, the husband is a words and touch person, and a bit of a quality time person.

We know we have different languages, so we have to remind ourselves to value stronger what we wouldn’t naturally value for love expressions. And occasionally, we remember to give gifts in the other person’s love language.

I know the husband reads all my blog posts (because he loves me!), so I thought I would include some wonderful loving words for him.

Hey husband, you’re awesome. When I think about our life as it stands, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love New York and I love being in New York with you. The people I’ve met and things I’ve experienced here is all because of you.

I’m proud of who you are as a person. You are someone I can depend on and someone who has helped me grow as a person too.

We’re two years in with hopefully another 50+ years to go. I can’t wait to see what’s next for us. But if stay right where we are now, I’d love that too.

I can’t wait until we see each other again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all of that.


Anatomy Of A Best Man Speech

After I left Chicago, I headed to Atlanta. I left my parents’ house at 4 in the morning, but I didn’t get to Atlanta until after 3pm. There’s a good story behind that one, but that’s a post for another time.

When I got to Atlanta, I called my best friend who was the best man at the wedding I’d gone to Atlanta to attend. He, of all the people I know, is the best at coming off completely unconcerned. So when I inquired about the best way to get to the hotel, all he said was, “I don’t know. I got a ride with his parents, so I’m not sure what to tell you.”

Clearly I was on my own.

So I figured it would be fine to get to the hotel from the airport because the Atlanta airport had all sorts of shuttles back and forth to the area hospitals.

And I was super wrong.

The hotel we were at is in Peachtree City, which is at least a half hour drive from the airport. At least.

So no shuttle.

I was on my own. And I ended up having to take a $55 taxi to get to the hotel.

Then the taxi only took cash, so I had to find an ATM and pay ATM fees to get the money.

But finally I was checked in and in my room, enjoying how plush the bed was. I knew the wedding party had the rehearsal at some point that day, as it was the day before the wedding, so I figured I’d just hang out by myself and do a whole bunch of nothing.

Then my phone rang and it was my best friend asking where I was. He really can turn the concern on and off quite easily. I let him I know I was at the hotel and he came down to my room to hang out for a bit. We went back over the last few days and how crazy they were for him as best man.

The bride of this wedding we were there for is very detail oriented. She didn’t need or want a lot of input about the wedding. As such, my friend ended up only stepping in with best man duties when it was time for the bachelor party. For the party, they took a weekend trip to Vegas. That’s all I’ll say about that.

But things picked up in terms of best man duties right before the wedding. They let him know they wanted him to hold the ring, the marriage license, pick up the tuxes from the groomsmen to return the next day, and come up with fun events for the wedding party and guests who wanted to party extra during the weekend.

They let him know all of this on Wednesday for a Saturday wedding, which wasn’t a lot of notice. But he called me to help iron out some details of his best man speech for the wedding reception. And he called one of the other groomsman who helped with the bachelor party planning.

He and I brainstormed several times over the months on what his speech should say. When it came down to just a few days before the wedding, we finally hammered out the specifics. It made me think back to when we were in college together and we took all our classes together.

We collaborate really well together and it was fun trying to come up with a speech that was true to his current relationship with the groom, funny, heartfelt, and befitting of a wedding for young professionals (half the wedding was doctors).

After the speech was finalized, other issues popped up. I’m not going to put people’s business out there who didn’t give permission first. But I will say that my friend had to deal with an errant groomsman and a guest who’s “invitation got lost in the mail.”

All of that was handled before we got to Atlanta though, thank God.

Back to the day before the wedding. My friend and I were hanging out in my room when the groom called him. When he heard I had arrived, he came down to my room as well. I hadn’t seen him since my wedding last year. And it hadn’t been just the three of us in over five years. So we all laughed and had a nice quick chat like old times for a moment.

Then it was time for hanging. The guys went to a sports bar to watch the game. The ladies went to a spa for mani/pedis. I had a good time getting to know the bride’s friends. I hadn’t met any of them before, but they were very welcoming of my friend-of-the-groom self.

On the day of the wedding, it was raining pretty hard all day. Luckily, it stopped raining about a half hour before the outdoor ceremony was supposed to start and didn’t rain again for the rest of the night. Every detail was gorgeous, showing off the bride’s eye for detail.

I think I’ll put up a couple of pictures, just to give you a taste. It really was that gorgeous.

After the wedding, it was time for the reception. The food was good, the company was good, the music was good. What more could you want?

Then it was time for the speeches. The maid of honor’s speech was first. She talked about when she and the bride first met and it was sweet and kind of funny and very heartfelt. I was so happy about the length and mix of heart and humor in her speech because my friend was worried his speech was too long and too all-over-the-place.

Then it was his turn to talk. The whole room seemed to ripple with anticipation. We laughed about it later because we were like, “um, do these people even know him well enough to be this anticipatory about this speech?”

Is anticipatory a word? I’m much better at math than other things like English and grammar.

Anyway, so he gets up to make his speech to the sounds of laughter as people are already so sure they’re going to laugh, they’re starting it off ahead of time.

And the speech is perfect. The whole room was laughing, including the people who didn’t know him or the groom well. The groom had tears in his eyes. The bride was smiling a very large smile. It was a hit. I was feeling so proud of my friend and also patting myself on the back.

It was hard work getting that speech that perfect. We spent a lot of man hours over the months getting it just right, and it paid off.

So how do you put together the perfect best man speech?

1)      Take account of your personality and don’t pretend to be different.

2)      Think about what both the bride and groom are expecting and keep that in mind.

3)      Think of the main points you want to make (they belong together, I am his best friend deservedly so, and I’m happy to be here), and make sure you stick to the script

4)      Come up with a funny and a heartwarming story to illustrate each point

5)      Choose alternating story types

6)      Out of all your stories, take out the weaker ones and just make the point while only alluding to the stories, the groom will react to the inside joke and everyone else will feel even stronger how close you are

7)      Include wedding guests by name if you can, it just makes everyone feel closer

8)      Don’t forget to say, “to the bride and groom!” at the end of your speech

And probably, get some help from your other best friend to make sure it’s all coming together just right.

After the wedding, my friend needed help assisting the groom, so I went with him. We went to their bridal suite and grabbed up some important items. We took his tux, her dress, and other assorted wedding items that the groom’s parents were going to be responsible for getting safely home. I felt really special to be let in on that moment for them.

It really let me know i’d make a great bridesmaid of matron of honor for one of my friends, should they ever get married. The only two of my friends to get married are two guys, and neither is really the type to have a non-family girl stand up for them at their wedding. Plus, I’d rather have one of my girls get married so all the wedding-related stuff is girly. I guess I’m officially far enough removed from my own wedding to want to be involved in another wedding. So now I wait.

Also after the wedding, we put together a little hang in one of the hotel rooms for the people who wanted the party to continue. We ended up laughing, talking, and hanging out until pretty late. I only got a couple of hours of sleep before I needed to get up to go to the airport to head back to New York City.

And now for the pictures!

A beautiful wooden canopy in front of a stone altar overlooking mountains. You can't get much better than that!

A beautiful wooden canopy in front of a stone altar overlooking mountains. You can’t get much better than that!

The reception was so beautifully decorated, everyone oohed and aahed on sight.

The reception was so beautifully decorated, everyone oohed and aahed on sight.

They named their tables based on places they've traveled. I was at the Illinois table, where they visited for my wedding!

They named their tables based on places they’ve traveled. I was at the Illinois table, where they visited for my wedding!

This is my friend, our teacher/mentor/department head from college, and me.

This is my friend, our teacher/mentor/department head from college, and me.

The toast went off without a hitch!

The toast went off without a hitch!

Hanging out at the wedding after party.

Hanging out at the wedding after party.

 


Couples Therapy

When the husband and I got married, we each had a maid of honor and a best man. We do what we want like that. His people were one of his sisters and one of his oldest friends. My people were two friends who graduated from the same college I did. I met my best man the day I arrived to college, and my maid and honor has been one of best friends since age 9.

The fraternity my best man belongs to throws this amazing party every year. I learned this year it’s only been open to the public outside the frat since 2004, which happens to be the first year I started attending. I’ve only missed two since then.

Last year, the husband went with my best man, and without me, to the party. I couldn’t get off from work after taking off so much time for our wedding. This year, we were all determined to go.

The husband decided to invite some people to join us. The only people who took us up on our offer, and then actually made financial plans to go, were the couple whose wedding I attended when I met the husband. The four of us made plans to drive to Florida and back, meeting my best man and some other college friends there to attend this party.

You may be scratching your head at this point, wondering how old I am. I’m 28. This is just a really great party. The group we were hanging out with were all in college or college age back in 2005. So, yes, we’d be older than most of the people there.

We would be even close to the oldest there though. A lot of people (mostly those associated closely with the fraternity) came back for that party every year. I”m not the type of person to want to go back for Homecoming. Honestly, Homecoming was never fun for me during college. But I like visiting, and this seemed to be as good a reason as any to visit.

So the four of us are in the husband’s car, preparing for a 16-ish hour drive to Florida. We’re laughing, joking, and eating the food the two wives had put together in preparation for the road trip.

Then, as I mentioned in a previous post, the husband of the couple announced we were on a couples’ retreat.

The husband and I looked at each other and said, “we didn’t sign up for this shit. What do you mean a couples’ retreat?”

They laughed at us and explained that as newly married couples (us just over one year, them coming up on three), it was inevitable that we’d discuss some things.

The husband and I were doubtful as we usually handle all of our couple issues in house. Then they explained that they didn’t really have any other couple friends that were  married or even heavily committed, so this was happening.

I looked at the husband and he could tell all I was saying from that glance. I was thinking, “you set this up and invited these people and now we’re on a damn couples retreat!”

He started laughing because he perfectly understood my look. His humor was infectious and then I was laughing too.

And then we spent the next three hours having what felt like a couples’ therapy session. We compared and contrasted some common arguments we had. I’d never done anything like that, and I don’t know that I want to again.

It was certainly interesting to have an outside take on things we did and said. There were definitely a  lot of, “see I told you! I’m not crazy, they both agree with me!”s being said by all four of us, which was hilarious.

Craziness like the first half of that car ride are part of the reason we’d be friends for a very long time. We all grew up in he same circles, but being married drew us together in a different, unexpected way.

I guess that goes to show that relationships grow and change, even complicated ones like a pair of newly married couples.


And We’re Still Together

Does anybody watch the TV show Pysch? I love that show. It’s so hilarious and absolutely ridiculous, but I’ve seen every single episode for all 7 seasons. A very recent episode of Psych made me think more than that show ever intended.

I’ve been following these characters for seasons, so I was feeling very emotionally invested when one of them finally got married to a woman who was perfect for him. No dramedy is complete without a possible breakup at a wedding, so when that happened, I got really introspective.

I began thinking of how much it must hurt for the guy breaking up to watch the people not breaking up. I remembered what it felt like to want to be past dating and just be with the person God intended for me.

I was happy being single because I found things about it I liked, but I have never been the type of person who preferred being single over being in a relationship.

Remembering that feeling made me feel a longing for the safety of a happy relationship. When you are committed, bad things can happen, and it’s okay.

Are there things bad enough to blow up even a very solid relationship? Well, yes, there has to be. Otherwise, the divorce rate wouldn’t be as high as it is.

But in that moment watching a couple ending juxtaposed against one taking a next important relationship step, I was so happy I was couple #2. They were happy and solid. They had quite literally dodged bullets on their way down the aisle to get married.

Luckily, there aren’t any bullets involved with the husband. Just lots of live music. And nothing about his talent is fake, so we’re a step ahead of all the couples on Psych at least.

I’m sure there is something wrong with me to become so thoughtful because of an episode of Psych. James Roday would either be highly offended or complimented.

I’m just thankful I’ve got my solid thing going. I much prefer the comfort of a happy relationship over anything else. For as long as it lasts, this is where I’m staying.

God-willing, it will last forever.


Just Stop Dogging Me Around

If you love Michael Jackson songs like I do, then you know more about his lyrics than the casual music listener. I lump him in with Mariah Carey, Steven Tyler, and Prince. Not because they are mega stars with hordes of fans. They are all lumped together because I never know what the hell they’re saying in their song lyrics.

But being the Michael Jackson fan I am, I know his lyrics. And in his song Leave Me Alone, he only strings together two full sentences in the whole thing. In spite of not saying much, he’s truly expressing how I feel right now.

Sometimes you just wanna be left alone, you know? You get to feeling under-appreciated. And the same people not appreciating you are constantly asking you for things. It’s hard not to let that feeling take over your whole world.

I’m feeling this way right now because of work. If you read this blog a lot, which I still don’t understand because I’m not that interesting, then you know I waffle back and forth on how I feel about my job.

I love my line of work and I love how I’m able to help people without having to directly deal with them. But I also sometimes hate my job and fantasize about winning the lottery and quitting Dave Chapelle style. I’ve recently realized that my love-hate relationship with my job has more to do with the people I work with than the work I do.

When no one needs me to solve an immediate emergency, I’m good. I churn out my reports and hop on the phone with a sparkling personality. I wow folks at meetings and speed through my to-do list. That scenario is the exception unfortunately.

These last few days, it’s been tough. I’m finally starting to understand why my dad was the way he was when I was growing up. He’s got a lot of difficult people at his job; his workplace has a much higher percentage of those type of people than I do. He would come home from work and not want to talk or do anything really. I remember wondering why he brought stress from work home with him.

But now I get it. It’s just so hard to leave work at work. In an effort to maintain a certain level of professionalism at work, I have to suppress my ire toward certain people and situations. The one outlet I had at work to get that shit out and not keep it bottled has been whisked away from me in the sea of changes implemented in the last few months.

So now I have nothing. I have a terrible poker face, so it’s obvious when I’m upset. In spite of my terrible poker face, my words and actions stay professional. All of that professional crap is draining, and by the time I get home, I just want to do nothing. I want to stare mindlessly at some movie I’ve already seen 100 times and go to bed early and wake up late.

My plan to deal with work is fine because it gets me through until things even back out again. But I don’t really have a good plan for being at home after a difficult time at work. I don’t know how the husband is going to deal with it. So far, it hasn’t been going well. He doesn’t understand why I’m upset and he doesn’t get why I don’t want to talk about it. It just takes so much energy to try and not be a monster at work and to try and not be a monster at home.

At work, things are too busy for someone to bother me for too long. Their phone rings or they have another meeting, so they back off eventually. But at home, there is no reprieve. The husband wants to talk about why I’m upset. And then he wants to talk about why I don’t want to talk about being upset. And then he wants to talk about why I seem irritated at the though of talking about why I don’t want to talk about being upset. I wish I were exaggerating, but this happens at least once a week.

The husband is so much better at letting things roll off his back than I am. Sometime I wish I could take on a bit more of his personality because it’s a lot harder to get him down. I admire him because It has to be difficult for him to be with someone like me who’s default is just to shut down. People, I need some advice.

Does anyone have both a demanding job and a spouse who wants all of your attention when you’re at home? How do you find a balance? How do you stay sane?

This weekend is a birthday party for one of my friends. I’m sure I can rally and be in a good mood after work on Saturday for this party. I can always rally for a holiday or birthday, but there won’t be any more of those until the middle of next month. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers and hope things calm down at the job.


Going Down The Aisle And Back Again

Divorce and marriage are swirling all around me now. The husband and I are just fine. We’re better than fine actually. No the divorce and the marriage have nothing to do with us. It’s just all the people around us.

If I’m counting right, I currently know of three separations/divorces in process. And I know of, as of last Saturday, five engaged couples. The reason this stands out to me is that all eight couples were at my wedding, and only one of the couples had their current status at that time.

Engaged Couple #1: Dr. & Dr. They came to our wedding as an engaged couple. They met while in medical school. The guy went to college with me and my best friend/my best man. They have an interesting relation that causes mixed opinions amongst those who knew him before they got together. Their wedding is later this year, and it will be a lot of fun since it’s down in Hotlanta. I’m mostly just waiting to see if I’ll get an invite. I got a save the date-ish, so we’ll see.

Engaged Couple #2: Heading for an Island. On a double date we went on once, they discussed wanting to move to Hawaii, which is where the woman’s family is from. She’s an artist, and an amazing one at that. She designed our wedding invitations and the husband’s CD cover. He’s a teacher and jazz musician. I’m quite sure their kids will be gorgeous, and part of me is already plotting on marrying off one of my kids to one of theirs.

Engaged Couple #3: Might As Well Get Married. I met this couple during my ill-fated years in med school. He was in law school and she was getting some sort of Master’s degree. They ended up breaking up and they ended up back together. Again, mixed opinions. But they seem really happy at the thought marrying each other. And their wedding is also will be a blast.

Engaged Couple #4: Actually Getting Married For Real. The guy was one of my best friends for years. He was one of my bridesmen at my wedding. He and his girl have been off an on since college, and they have been going strong for years now. She has mellowed him in a way it took me a while to get used to. They seem so happy together. And if anyone was going to get him down the aisle, it’s her. They’ll probably get married on an island, which will definitely be fun.

Engaged Couple #5: The Just Right Marriage. The guy was the husband’s best man. They’ve been friends since they were young. They were in a band together in high school and that band has since had reunion concerts. I can’t think of anything clever or snarky to say about it because honestly I just enjoy their music, so someone please crack a joke about it on my behalf. His girl is amazing. Their kids will be gorgeous and she loves him to death. Plus, I think he just really wants to have a wife. How lucky that when he decided he wanted to marry, he had the perfect girl in front of him?

Now on to the divorcing couples. I’ve actually decided to only write about two of them. The third is something that isn’t common knowledge I have no idea if certain people I know read this blog, so I’m not even going there.

Divorce #1: The Joyous End. The man is one of my close friends who I’ve known since we were kids. He was also my other bridesman. That’s right, I had three men standing up with me. His soon-to-be-ex-wife is this chick he met at a party a handful of years back. She was everything he’d always wanted, she just also happened to possess some extra qualities he didn’t want. Things really went downhill after their wedding in April 2012. Yup, their wedding was in early 2012. The only thing all his friends agree on is that since they’ve separated, it’s like getting our friend back. The change was so gradual, we kind of forgot all that happened that took him so far from the person he was. Perhaps he bounced back so quickly because they weren’t married long.

Divorce #2: Why’d You Even Get Married? This couple wed in August 2012. I make a habit of not going to weddings of marriages I can’t in good faith support. I let myself get convinced to go to this one because of the travel time between the ceremony and reception. That meant one thing: party bus. Since it was a cash bar reception, the drinks we bought did supply most everyone in our range at the reception. Good times. But back to this divorce. This man is a walking party, and his bride is so not. There was some cheating, some lack of bill paying, and a thought towards a My Best Friend’s Wedding type intervention in the days before the wedding. Either way, they ended up getting married. She ended up regretting it. I ended up going back to my assertion that I really shouldn’t go to the weddings of the people I don’t think should get married.

It’s weird when we think about all these weddings we may potentially have to go to in the next year. Only one of them is for someone who is one of my close friends. And their wedding will likely take place somewhere the husband and I can’t even afford to travel to. The rest of the people are friends of the husband or the best friend.

But it’s really the divorces that are getting to me. These people all had their weddings the same year I did. There were a bunch of weddings at my church during 2012, so the track record really isn’t all that bad. It still gets to me though.

As a newlywed, I can’t imagine ending my marriage. The husband and I have had some serious ups and downs since we’ve been together. As angry and hurt as I was when it happened, I still can’t imagine separating. If anything, all the strife has only confirmed we’re supposed to stay together. I likely would’ve divorced, maimed, and/or ruined any other man had we gone through the same things.

What makes a marriage fall apart that quickly? I just can’t wrap my head around it. If you suspect your guy is cheating, why still get married? I think one’s parents would prefer losing a deposit and dealing with that over paying out the full $25,000 to pay for a wedding and then having nothing to show for it but a divorced daughter a few months later.

The other thing I’m also thinking of is the fact that none of my girls are getting married. Sure, one of my close guy friends is getting married, but that’s different. I want to plan a bachelorette party and a bridal shower. I want to pass on the bridezilla sash they made me. Statistics swear that black men aren’t getting married. I know five who are getting married. We just haven’t found any to marry my friends yet. They’re working on it though. Kudos to them for not settling because then they’d end up like Divorce #2.


Christmas Recap And A Plan For The Future

The last post I wrote was all about how I wasn’t feeling Christmas this year. I said how I wanted to just fast forward through to 2013. I must admit that feeling hasn’t gone away. But I have found the need to get some more balance in my life. Blogging is one of the ways I manage to feel balanced, and so I’m back to try not to depress the hell out of everyone in the last couple days of 2012. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas in spite of lack of money, a bit too many national tragedies, and a fiscal cliff threatening to pull all the news stations in with it.

On to not depressing you. My Christmas was lovely. We spent Christmas Eve night at the husband’s parents’ house just hanging. We spent Christmas Day early at my parents’ house for brunch. Then we all went up to Evanston for a Christmas dinner at the house of one of the husband’s aunts. Well, not all of us. One of the gifts my parents received for Christmas was Bulls tickets, so they went to the game instead of dinner with the rest of us.

I was so full from their Christmas brunch though, I barely had room for dinner. I mostly just ate the pot roast the husband’s mother made. It’s so good. I ate so much of it at Thanksgiving, my stomach was going through withdrawal. So I had my pot roast fix and my stomach is currently devising ways to get her to make more even though we’re past all the major cooking holidays for now.

If you read my last post, you’re probably wondering if I ended up getting potpourri drawer things for all the women in my world. The answer would be no, I did not. The husband and I ultimately decided to get house gifts for everyone. We got a house gift for my parents, his parents, one of his older sisters, and my grandmother.

We got actual gifts for three of our nieces and our one great-niece. Our lives were made easier because most of the adult siblings etc. still live at home for various reasons (read, not because they are going nowhere in life but because life’s circumstances are kicking them), so they got lumped in with the house gifts.

We still went over budget, which sucks, but we got gifts we really felt everyone could really use and love. My two favorite purchases were the area rug for the husband’s parents and the electric carving knife for my parents. No more big open floor space, though I will miss seeing the great expanse of gorgeous hardwood floors. And for my parents, no more questionably carved… everything. I must admit one of daddy’s strong suits isn’t slicing or carving any meat. Hopefully, that will change now.

Even though I wasn’t feeling Christmas, I still had the Christmas I wanted. I forced my Christmas playlist on myself and really found myself enjoying the tunes in the days leading up to Christmas. How many times can you say Christmas in one paragraph? Anyway, I had good food and good company, which was all I wanted. And neither set of parents had any trees or lights up, so I felt right at home. Maybe we’ll all do better next year.

So about this balance I’ve been saying I needed to find. It’s related to work.  Since I got my promotion at work, it’s just been work. Work. WORK. The job requirements are more than any human can accomplish in a work week. There are things I’m expected to do outside of the hours I’m at the building. Donation is a 24 hour business after all. That being sad, I hate being less than adequate at anything, so I was all about work. Then I realized I was getting no sleep, eating no food, having no sex. It’s a real problem. I have since recommitted myself to finding more of a balance.

In my head, I’ll be blogging more frequently, trying to re-focus my blog on the things I think my readers will actually find interesting. I think my life as a newly married woman in Chicago is pretty interesting. I’ve discovered some great places in this city through hunting for good food and music with the husband. I also really love my job and what I do, though I try not to talk too much about work, but maybe I can find something to share that doesn’t violate HIPAA.

Of course, I’d like to get back on the exercise bandwagon. I’m not a fan of my profile and I shudder to think how difficult it will be to get back in shape after kids if I’m out of shape before we even start. And no, that was not a sideways reveal of a plan to start having kids. It was more of a reveal of the true depth of my vanity. I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t even contemplated doing anything else but sitting on the couch and re-charging after work. But no more! My life will  be more than spreadsheets, and one on one meetings, and auditing phone calls. It will include baking, and exercising, and blogging.The husband has been really patient with this transition. I think I owe it to both of us to turn back into a real person.

I don’t know if I can just wake up tomorrow and be this whole new person, but I’m sure as hell going to try. I know what I need to do, so it’s just a matter of doing it. I’ve tried making new year’s resolutions. I’ve tried scheduling everything in. I’ve tried self-determination. None of that works long-term, so perhaps now I’ll try a combination of them all. I’ve learned I need to gear up slowly.

Have you ever tried to jump in with both feet into something new? Some people can do it, but not me. When I do it, I go strong for a bit, but eventually I fatigue. Whoever said three weeks was enough time to train people to new activity and habit was a liar and a fraud. It takes waaay longer. All I know is I need decompression time if I’m going to sustain an activity that sucks all my energy.

So what’s first up in my plan to re-gain balance? Well, duh, it was blogging. That’s why you’re reading this post. Once I’ve got blogging consistently back in my life, then I’ll add something else. My work out DVDs are calling, but I don’t know if they’ll be it. We’ll see. But you’ll get no new year’s resolution list from me, so stop asking. Oh, well, since you twisted my arm, I’ll at least let you know how I did on my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions.

Just over a year ago, I wrote my new year’s resolutions post. It was full of wonderful things I wanted to focus on for 2012.

1) Cook dinner for the fiancé at least once a week. This is one I came pretty close to accomplishing. On average, I definitely did accomplish this one. Some weeks, I didn’t cook at all. Others, I cooked several times. I’d say this was a mission accomplished.

2) Go to some sort of production/media thingee once a month. This can be as extravagant as the opera, or as simple as a movie theater. Fail. I think I’ve seen three or four movies this year. I’ve been to no plays, no musicals, no orchestra performances, no ballets. It seems now the only live performance I see is when the husband has a gig. Thank God his music is good.

3) Exercise an average of 3 times a week. This can be going jogging or yoga. Fail again. And to think I thought I’d still have time for yoga, or a desire for jogging. I hate running! I did find Tracy Anderson though. She’d be good to me if I ever popped her DVD into the player. But it’s on my to-do list for 2013. I will get back on track.

4) Improve my diet to a point where I’m only eating fried foods once a week. This one is in between. I rarely eat fried foods. I’ve even managed to get more vegetables on the table at big family dinners. But my intake of potato chips and things like that undermines my lessened consumption of fries, fried fish, and fried chicken.

5) Finish unpacking my apartment by April. Major Fail. I just really want to get out of Hyde Park, and I think not unpacking is a symptom of that. Some part of me never wanted this place to feel too home-y because then we’d never fucking leave. I realize that’s irrational now (though we are still here when we should reside in New York by now…), and I plan to ge it done. I have to actually unpack, so I can re-pack whenever we move the hell away from here.

6) Get another cat. This one I actually did! Jazz is a crazy cat, but she fits in perfectly with our family.

7) Use one of my bridal shower gifts at least once a week. Giggity. Eh, except for when I got my promotion, I guess we sort of made this work. There are still a couple of things I haven’t used yet. But I just can’t imagine the cleaning afterward if I put on the candy underwear. I’m not ready for it yet.

So, I didn’t do so hot on my list. I did better than I thought I did though. I’ve learned setting firm deadlines means nothing if you don’t have the time or motivation to make it happen. Maybe I’ll look up motivation techniques to do things you hate the idea of. I’m not referring to exercise, I’m referring to unpacking this apartment. I just really don’t want to do it. This is the only place I’ve ever lived that never felt like home to me. Perhaps we’ll get it right next time, and we’ll live in a place I can’t wait to make home.

How was your Christmas?Any great plans for self-improvement in the new year?


Watching The Clouds Clear

Things are back on track at home. The husband and I have come up with a plan to response our issue. My urge to kick him in the head has resolved.

It wasn’t fixed  overnight, like these back to back posts probably suggest. But it was fixed in one weekend. From Friday night to Monday morning, we fumed and fought. The conclusion we reached isn’t even really one we both love, but it’s a solution that should work.

I used to think there needed to be a readjustment period after a disagreement. But being married to the man I am, there is no adjustment period. We just dive right back into happy couplehood.

It used to cause a little bit of whiplash, but now I appreciate it. I’ve learned how not to sulk once an argument is finished. And believe me, I know how to sulk. So now once an issue is resolved, we just go back to sweet texts and kind words. It’s very nice.

I hope the next argument is far off. And I hope we handle it as well as we have been learning to.

Now that I think about it, I know what the next fight is going to be about. It’s going to concern whose job it is to vacuum the 4 square feet of carpet we have in our living room. Ahem–it’s the husband.


Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

Right now, I am angry with the husband. In fact, I’m furious. He has a presumptive and judgy side that I hate having turned on me. The details aren’t important, and if I’m lucky, this will be one of those fights I can’t even remember the cause of when I think back on it.

It’s time like this– when I feel frustrated at the differences between the husband and I– that I really start to assess my marriage. We’re only 8 months in at this point, but I just honestly feel so good about it.

Weren’t expecting that last sentence, were you? Even when I want to wring his neck, the husband it’s still the first person I want to see when I wake up. Even if it is just to glare at him.

I’m sure it’s a newlywed thing, but the angry version of me spends a lot of time thinking of how much I love the husband. We weren’t together long when we got married, but it feels like we’ve had years worth of relationship events.

In each thing that’s good, I confirm that I’m with a man who truly makes me so happy. In each thing that’s bad, I’m even more convinced of how we’re supposed to be with each other. Because no one else could understand either of us as well as we understand each other, no one else is as uniquely suited to how we heal from fights. We don’t forgive and forget, we forgive and grow.

So I may be angry with the husband right now, but it’s not a permanent anger. We’ll talk it out soon enough. I’m just grateful that even when l kinda want to kick him in the head to the lovely sounds of Dean Martin, a bigger part of me is just glad I have a husband I like damn near all the time.


Filling Up Two Days Off

You ever stare at an empty post template and wonder what to write? That’s happening to me write now. Unfortunately for you, that means you get to read my stream of consciousness until I stumble upon something I want to write about.

I could write about how the husband and I don’t see eye to eye on what makes us upset. I think people are allowed to be upset about different things. He thinks everyone in the world should only be upset about things that also make him upset.

I could write about how I miss my family because I haven’t seen them since our lovely trip to Ikea last weekend. My brother got into a car accident and I haven’t even been able to look him over to assure myself he’s got no internal bleeding.

I could write about how we really need two cars until we move to NYC, but we’ve really only got the one reliable car and one I doubt will make it through the winter. Everyone seems to want me to pick up a car note, which is insane because we’re about to move to New York!

I could write about how the exercise/diet program is going. Tracy Anderson says no substitutions, but I am the substitution queen, and I’m okay with that.

I could write about how hard it is to stick to our budget. Two months into a firm budget and I’m seeing how tough things get right around the 16th of each month.

It’s pretty obvious that I’m feeling scatterbrained right now. What do you do when you’re scatterbrained? When in doubt, do a diary entry? Eh, why not.

I’m working this whole weekend, but I had two days off before that. I’m starting to get used to having multiple productive days in a row. It suits me I think.

I feel like an asshole for not being more productive before. It’s like, what the hell have you been doing with the last couple years, girl? It turns out there are enough hours in the day to clean up, cook, exercise, sleep, etc. I have learned that I can’t do everything every day. I’m still mystified by people who can. My mother has a friend who washes a load of clothes every day. EVERY DAY. How does she do it?

I’ll never be a person who can wash clothes every day, or mop the floor every day, or cook every day. But I can mop the floor at least once a week. And I can wash clothes as least once a week, just not the same day I’m mopping. And I’ve finally mastered the art of cooking for more than one day at a time.

When you have to juggle making meals for your diet plan and making meals that fill up your husband, you get better at maximizing your time in the kitchen. It helps that I love to cook; I don’t think someone who loathes being in the kitchen could handle it.

The best part about my new productiveness is that I can schedule in time for mindless activities too. Like blogging. Nah, I’m just kidding. I mean like watching television. I love the TV show Leverage. There are a couple others as well, like Burn Notice and White Collar I try to keep up with. I love my summer television, what can I say? I finally had a few free hours yesterday to head over to my parents and reconnected with their DVR. I don’t remember what life was like before DVRs, and I never want to go back.

As much as I love summer television, I’m looking forward to the fall lineups. For one thing, the money I pay for HuluPlus  is worth it because I can watch all my episodes, which I can’t do during the summer because USA and TNT are so Hulu stingy. There are still a few more weeks before that happens, but I’m excited nonetheless.

To wrap up this diary entry with a TMI moment, I will list, in no particular order, my five favorite moments in my day. 1) My drive to work where it’s just me and either a friend on the phone or my music. 2) When the husband puts  lingerie on the back of the bathroom door during my workout for me to change into once I’ve showered. 3) Eating cookie batter from batches of cookies I make about once a week. 4) Curling up in the bed with the husband, Jazz, and Belle for our afternoon nap. 5) Looking in the mirror and seeing that while my thighs are getting smaller, thankfully my boobs are not (yet!).


Where Did All This Energy Come From?

I fully intend to keep my blog as is and not make it suddenly dedicated only to my journey to get back in shape.

So, in that spirit, I will now talk about the super short term effects of the diet and exercise plan I’ve started on the rest of my life.

I have had this unexpected surge of energy, and I love it! I’ve been getting less sleep than my normal 9-12 because of my schedule for this last week or so. Normally, that would turn me into a zombie bitch, but not this week.

Thursday, I paused my workout to create a iPod playlist to replace the music on the DVD and fell right asleep in front of the TV. Next thing I know, I wake up on the floor three hours later and drag myself into bed so I don’t sleep on the floor. I got up a few hours later feeling like I could sleep even more hours.

But then I had this surge of energy. With my job, I never feel like there are enough hours in the day because I’m a person who’s always needed a lot of sleep. So things that need to get done (i.e., laundry, mopping the floor, sex with my husband) will get pushed to the next day I’m off work or even later.

Not this time though.

[TMI Pause: the husband and I recently decided we’d do everything in our power to have sex everyday. We just weren’t making it a priority. And though daily sex is a crazy lifelong goal, it’s a great goal for newlyweds with no kids. With the daily sex, we’ll reset ourselves as a couple, and then when other things invariably get in the way, it will still be a priority. Let’s face it, couples who have more sex on top of love and trust, they just have a more solid relationship. All the psychologists agree. I agree too because I’ve seen how it worked previously when we had more time. Now we MAKE time. Okay, TMI moment over.]

This time, I got up, washed two loads of clothes, cooked my husband and I dinner, spent some time with the husband, cleaned the kitchen (except the dishes), and did my hair for the weddings we’re going to this weekend. That was so many activities that I never used to feel enough energy to accomplish. I didn’t do dishes because I never do dishes, that’s the husband’s thing. And I made two different dinners since I’m on a diet plan and the husband is not. Cooking is my thing. If he “cooks” his own dinner, he’s making a sandwich, salad, or bowl of canned soup.
When I finally got back in the bed, I slept well. It was some of the best sleep I’d gotten in a long time. It’s hard to jump back and forth from sleeping during the day when I work and sleeping during the night when I’m off. Perhaps I can look forward to things improving if I stay active.

I have no idea how things will be for me in what I consider the short term, which is about 2 weeks to a month from now. But in the super short term, things are great!

How do you feel when you’ve found an exercise plan that seems to work for you?


Bringing Back Date Night

The last six weeks or so have been difficult on the husband and me. We haven’t had a lot of mutual free time. We used to make Tuesdays special and that was great. But then we never were free on Tuesday, so we did date night when we were free. Then we looked up and weeks had passed without any time spent just the two of us.

Instead of trying to come up with some big solution that required him cancelling a gig or something. So we’re trying spontaneity. I decided to make a pie Thursday night while the husband was at a gig. He got home right when I was putting the pie in the oven. Instead of cooking a late dinner, we decided to go out to Bijon.

Bijon is this great restaurant we love. It’s our late night spot, though we did have a couple meals there during the Chicago leg of our honeymoon.

On the way to Bijon, we stumbled onto a movie set. As in, a guy was explaining that we were in the way and at the same time a motorcycle flew past while and SUV with a mounted camera chased it. It was awesome and also disconcerting. As we drove away, I had so many questions. 1) Why didn’t they block off the street? 2) Will the director mention us being in the way on the commentary? 3) What movie is this for? 4) Are they using Chicago as Chicago, or will they pretend it’s another city?

We finally got Bijon after driving several blocks out of our way. That place was jumping. There was only one available table and it was all ours. After 10 minutes, we both agreed it felt like it did when we were first dating. I don’t know that we had officially lost that feeling, but it had definitely gotten muddled in everything else we had to do.

With work, music, family, friends, vacations, making budgets, there are just so many things to juggle. It was nice to get back to the reason we chose to spend our lives together. We just have a good ass time together. Laughing, sharing dreams, flirting, enjoying good food. That’s our bread and butter, pun intended.

The husband and I were reminded to keep our “us time” a priority. It keeps things light and fun and makes sure we can handle everything else. Trying to make the most of the time we do have can only help us.

For instance, the next day, we only had about 90 from me waking to up to leaving for work. So I made us a quick lunch with burgers and a salad. And then we watched an episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix. Doing stuff together is great; we don’t have to sit there staring into each other’s eyes by candlelight to feel connected.

Now I’m back to being filled with hope for feeling like a newlywed forever. Or at least until we have kids.

How do you keep the flame going in your relationship?


Do You Miss Being Single?

Since the husband reads my blog, I will answer this question before moving on. NO, I DON’T MISS BEING SINGLE.

I just wonder if people do. When people ask how I like being married, I feel so closely watched. It’s like they’re looking to catch me in a lie, or they want to read between the lines. When I respond, “it’s great,” matter-of-factly, that’s never good enough.

It’s even worse when I say, “it’s the same as before we got married.” But it really is. The husband and I decided we were going to get married right around7-8 months from the day we met. It was 3-4 months from when we started exclusively dating. And if I remember correctly, it was either right before or right after we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend.

The way it happened was this: It was Mardi Gras 2011. We were in St. Louis, having an amazing time.

Me: This is so amazing. We have to spend Mardi Gras together next year. I don’t care if it’s in Chicago, St. Louis, or New Orleans. Just promise me we’ll have this much fun together next year.

Him: Of course. I’m mean, hell, we’ll probably be married by then anyway.

Me: Um, that’s like a year away.

Him: I know.

Me: Okay, you’re drunk.

Him: So are you. What’s your point?

Me: You do know that if we are married by Mardi Gras of next year that means we’d need at least 6 months to plan the big ass wedding we’ll unfortunately have to have to accommodate your big ass family. In fact, we may need 9 months. At least. That would mean you’d be proposing by your birthday this year. I don’t think you’re thinking about what you’re saying.

Him: Propose by my birthday. Got it.

Me: You’re drunk.

Him: Yeah, but you know it’s a good idea. This is the plan now. Are we ordering dessert?

That’s basically how it happened. Most of our major relationship decisions have been made while drunk on the holidays. When we met, when we started dating, when we got engaged, etc. And I wouldn’t change anything about it.

So when people ask do I miss being single, hell no I don’t. I haven’t felt like a completely unattached girl for almost five times as long as I’ve been married.

I still do everything I was doing before I got in this relationship. Some things I do more now than before. I think kids will make me miss being single before the husband ever will, ha ha.

I’m just speaking about my experience though. For you people out there who are married, engaged, or heavily attached, do you miss being single?


Making Time For Romance

Making time for romance used to be a no-brainer. As in, the husband and I didn’t even have to think about it. But not even five months into our marriage, we’ve forgotten how to make time for each other.

We spend time together, but only in a very narrow set of circumstances. 1) right before or after I get off work and so I’m rushed and tired and not very present. 2) when we’re with our friends or family, so we’re still us, just not “alone us”. 3) when we’re doing something for his music, which I’m super supportive of, but it means he’s not present.

There isn’t much time left in a given week for just us. I don’t remember the last time he and I just fell asleep watching a movie on TV. The last time we went out to dinner just us, we were searching in Greek town for any restaurant with a kitchen open past 11 because his sister duped us on when she’d be back while we were babysitting her kids, so we only had 40 minutes at the restaurant. And since the husband is a morning person, he was sleep as soon as we got back home.

Even trying to make plans to spend time generally doesn’t work out because something pops up with our family, or my work, or his music, or with the pressing need for one/both of us to take a nap.

We had a big talk about it right at the end of June. And the first day we could think of to schedule “us time” was a whole week after the conversation. I was working 4 days out of 5, he was playing at and out of town jazz festival, and then for the 4th of July, we both had different plans.

I have to remind myself that this is the life we signed up for. We knew we’d be busy and we knew that we were never gonna be one of those couples that spend 10-24 hrs out of every day together. But making sure we keep making our relationship a priority is harder than it seems.

It’s so easy for me to think, “Oh, I’ll see him when I get home from work, or we’ll grab dinner when I wake up from my nap. It’s so easy for him to think, “Oh, she can come to my gig, and then we’ll spend time there. Mission accomplished.”

But it’s not so easy to truly set aside time that both of us keep free. Something always comes up. Neither of us are even firmly established in our careers yet, so I can’t imagine how hard it will be once kids and more career stability comes along.

At least we were smart enough to decide to not have kids for a few years. We’ll get to enjoy what little time we have left over to ourselves before it all disappears.

Maybe I should plan a picnic. Back when we were first “dating,” I took the husband on a romantic picnic to show him how life would be if he picked me over the other girl he was dating <—– long story, another time. That picnic was so much fun. Anytime you involve good food and public drinking, I’m in.

Today is actually the day we are supposed to me making time to spend together. This post will go up before we wake up, so we’ll see…

Any suggestions for how I could make some time for romance?


Florida For One, Then For Two

I’ve been talking a lot recently about the plan the husband and I have for visiting 50 countries plus every state and American territory by age 50. Even places we’ve visited before alone are getting hit up with us as a couple. Coming up next is our trip to Florida.

Well, actually before that is the husband’s trip to Florida. At my alma mater, there is this amazing party thrown by one of my best friend’s (and my best man) fraternity. I never missed this party during college, and I’ve only missed it once since graduation.

This year makes the second year I’ll have missed it out of 9. This party is that great. It’s a lot of fun for undergrads and a bit of a reunion for graduates who had any tie to the fraternity. I was really looking forward to going this year with the husband, but I didn’t have enough time off left after the wedding and honeymoon.

But the husband is on Spring Break, so he’s going without me. I think I’ll be so sad about that. He was going to go with me last year and I ended up there without him, so I suppose this is okay. We’ll see if we can get both of us there next year. That really depends on whether or not he enjoys himself this year.

After the husband returns from Spring Break in Florida (as if he’s not damn near 30, ha), we’ll be heading back to Florida at the end of the month.

One of my bridesmen is getting married to his wife on a cruise the Bahamas, and I’m very much looking forward to going. The last cruise I went on was terribly depressing for a quick moment because I felt like I needed some romance. I’ve been on like 5 cruises, so that feeling took me by surprise.

I’m just glad I don’t have to see if the feeling will still be there because Iwillhave romance on this cruise. Food 24 hrs a day, unlimited ice cream, fun in the sun, a likely bar crawl in the Bahamas. Sounds amazing. Plus we have one of those fancy rooms with a jacuzzi and a balcony.

Let’s just say we’re checking Florida off our list with flair. And the Bahamas. Go us. I’ll really really try to take pictures this time.


Trying To Stop Drooling

As an 80’s baby, I entered my adolescent/teenage years addicted to TGIF. Step by Step, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, I loved it all. I remember Corey and Topanga getting married on Boy Meets World. I remember Alex growing boobs on Step by Step. Most importantly, I remember when Steve Urkel became Stefan Urkel.

As a young girl, I damn near melted. Drooling in front of my TV set was a regular occurrence, and I was flabbergasted when Laura ultimately ended up with Steve while Stefan became a model in Paris. Seriously, to this day, I’m like what the fuck?!

But this is not about my childhood, this is about my adulthood. And as an adult, my lust for the character Stefan Urkel has been transferred to Jaleel White the adult. He’s on Dancing with the Stars this season and I can’t get enough.

Every time he comes on screen, I’m thankful that the husband isn’t nearby so he can’t see my face. I know when he sees this post, he’ll be able to imagine. He’ll just imagine the face I usually reserve only for Will Smith. But I had forgotten how much I love me some Jaleel White.

He’s no conventionally attractive, at least all my friends keep telling me I’m alone in finding him so damn irresistible. But I don’t give a damn. I likes what I likes. And when I finally got around to watching Monday’s episode of DTWS online, I melted again.

He danced with his partners to Babyface’s For The Cool In You. Everything I loved about the 90s was personified on my computer screen. And what’s more, it was all grown up.

It actually reminded me of one of my favorite things about the husband. He was some random boy I had a crush on when we were kids at the same music conservatory. I didn’t know him then and didn’t care too. I just liked watching the cute boy with the big afro play his saxophone. And now he’s all grown and sexy and everything I might’ve imagined he would be all grown up, if I’d cared to imagine such things as a child.

Jaleel White is all grown up. And I will be so sad if/when he leaves DWTS this season. There’s no Olympic athlete, the football player is just so-so, and there’s not a standout dancer that’s got enough fans prior to the start of the season to be ahead with no chance of catchup. That bodes well for his chances. We’ll have to see.

Now, please excuse me while I watch this dance on repeat for the thirtieth time.


A Refreshing Story, Part Two

I wrote a post not too long about about a story a friend told me. This story was refreshing because it was about a man who was persuing her without all the bullshit. He was just interested and didn’t make her guess how he felt. So many of my friends deal with men who are at varying levels of full of shit, so it’s nice to hear about a man who’s not full of shit.

Well, she’s given me an update about her situation. Turns out this man has raised the bar on being not full of shit. He knows what he’s looking for in a wife, and he’s decided my friend is it. He told her he’s very interested in getting to know her further specifically for the purpose of making her his wife one day.

He told her “you’re on the fast track. Expect a proposal in 6-12 months.” Who does that? Certainly not any of the men my friends date. The husband kind of pulled that with me. But his declarations of intentions of marriage were mixed with a lot of bullshit, so it’s not quite the same thing.

The only response I could give her was that when the husband told me that, we were engaged three months later, so she better be thinking about engagement rings and wedding dresses sooner than later.

I hope this man who seems to not be full of shit is actually not full of shit. Then I can help a new friend with wedding planning. I thought I was so over wedding planning because I don’t care to discuss it with anyone I know who’s engaged. But I guess I just didn’t care about it with those people. I’m excited for my friend.

She’s decided she doesn’t necessarily want a diamond engagement ring. I’m all for the colored stone. My engagement ring has a pink sapphire as the main stone.

I wonder what would happen if all the women in the world decided to stop dating until they found a man who was honest and upfront about his intentions. Some men are so confused they don’t ever know what they want. So I doubt a shortage of legitmate women to date would make men get it together. Or maybe it would work.

Oh well, no way to know for sure because I can guarantee that all the women in the world will not stop dating men who send mixed signals and don’t know what they want.


His And Hers: At The Doctor

The husband and I can make a group activity out of anything it seems. He wanted to me to make an appointment for him to go to the doctor once I added him to my insurance. I decided to go with him because it was a family doctor and the guy would be a doctor for both of us.

I never thought I’d be in one of those relationships where I had to go to the doctor with my husband so he didn’t leave anything out, but whatever, that was where I was. Plus my birth control pill prescription was about to run out and I knew a family medicine doctor could give me an updated prescription without me having to bug my lady parts doctor.

So there we were at the doctor’s office, as a couple. There were lots of hijinks with the front office. My husband’s insurance card hadn’t come yet and my insurance card and ID said something different that the name associated with my SSN. I haven’t got all my documents changed over yet, it’s a process you know?

When we got the paperwork sorted out, we sat to wait for our appointment. The nurse asked if we wanted to see the doctor together or apart. I said together, the husband said apart. He was just joking, but the nurse looked confused.

Then a series of jokes about what we had to hide ensued. Then we started joking about how we’ll turn anything into a double date. The nurse was very nice, but she didn’t seem charmed by us at all. I kind of love how, as a couple, we tend to draw people into our wackiness and jokes. But this nurse wasn’t going.

Finally, when she was taking our medical history, she jumped on the bandwagon. Trying to figure out how much we drank started a bonding session in which we all admitted to wishing we had a drink right at that moment. The husband and I will go through a bottle of wine or half a bottle of vodka in one night, but then that will be all we drink in a two week period. Other times, we’ll have half a glass of wine three days straight.

After quantifying how much we drank, and patting ourselves on the back for having absolutely nothing else wrong with us health-wise, the doctor came in. He dealt with the issue with the husband’s eye. If you remember, he had an eye infection a couple weeks back. There’s still some inflammation that’s there that’s unrelated to the infection that the doctor told us how to deal with.

Then he dealt with me and my prescription. He had the Android tablet thingee that he used to electronically send my prescription to the Walgreens by my house. The husband and I agreed we were both impressed, then our doctor joked that we must be easily impressed and therefore he wasn’t impressed. Ouch.

The whole thing took just over an hour. I may never go to the doctor alone again. They moved quicker because they had two people to work with and we got done together in 1 hr what would’ve taken 2 hrs separately. He gave the husband a recommendation for a nutritionist (which just means more work for me), and both of us instructions to go get a routine blood test to check adult things like diabetes and hypertension.

They kept calling us Mr. & Mrs. [insert last name here]. It was so crazy, since we don’t get called that a lot. I’m still not quite used to it. I use my new last name at work hundreds of times each shift, but never had it been used with him. The last time we were called that was at our wedding. It was nice. We’ll have to do more couples’ stuff with strangers so we get called that again.

I wonder what we’ll turn into a double date next.


Having An Equitable Marriage

This is not some insightful post guaranteed to bring peace in your marriage. If you’ve ever read any previous post, you know I don’t go that deep. I would never give advice to the masses like that.

Nope, this post is just a story about the husband and I trying to help each other out. Give and take is kind of our thing. We keep things equal. not 50/50, but equal in terms of our efforts and what we try to give to each other.

Cleaning the kitchen is mostly his responsibility. But the cooking is mine. When I woke up for work Wednesday, I realized the kitchen was in a special place of disarray.

I could only imagine the husband coming home for the evening, ready to clean the kitchen, and finally taking in just how bad it looked. I couldn’t do that to him. So I loaded up the dishwasher, cleaned the counters, swept and mopped the floor, and took out the garbage. Well, I took the garbage to the back porch, but at least it was out of the kitchen.

I was so proud of myself for getting off my ass and helping out with something that was actually his job. I waited to tell him about though. The husband was off being amazing and running errands so I’d have a car to drive back and forth to work. To top it off, after those errands, he was going to go grocery shopping. The husband hates grocery shopping.

I had pretty much decided that grocery shopping should just be my job since I could do it quicker, more efficiently, and hated it less than he did. I had my special menu and shopping list template that I’d setup for myself. But the husband insisted that I let him go, so I did.

I handed over my special list that covered some staples we needed to replenish and some menu items for the rest of the week. When I was going to let him know about how I helped him out, he beat me to the punch to tell me how on top of things he was with his errands for the day.

While we were patting ourselves on the back, the husband arrived at the grocery store. He realized he didn’t have my list I’d given him the day before. He said he had it, but he’d lost it. Well, he didn’t lose it. He knew exactly where it was, it was just no longer accessible to him.

So what happened to that grocery list? It went something like this:

“I knew when I got in the car, I needed to keep it close, so I stuck it in the cup holder. I knew that probably wasn’t the best place to put it, but I figured it would be okay. But then it fell behind the cup holder. You know the cup holder in the front of the car, like right under the radio? Yeah, so I can see it, but I can’t reach it.”

I decided to not help him. I was driving and couldn’t exactly write out a new list for him right then. And the husband seems to do careless things a lot when it comes to things that someone else can step in and save him. So I gave him advice. I told him to get a bendy straw and gum and retrieve the list he already had. He was already at the store, so I figured it was a good a plan as any.

I sat there while he thought aloud about how to make it work. Then I got off the phone because I didn’t want to help. Somehow he retrieved the list and completed the shopping. I’m not sure how he did it, but he did. I like it when he solves his self-inflicted problems for himself. That may be a given with some people, but not my husband. So that afternoon was a good one.

Every time he fixes one of these situations, I get less concerned about leaving him alone with our future children. And to thank him, I’ll make him a great dinner before I go to work tomorrow. I’m thinking baked chicken, homemade biscuits, rice and gravy, and roasted broccoli.


Fifty by Age 50: Kansas

In a continuing saga about my lack of geographical knowledge, I was wrong about our trip this past weekend. I thought we were only going to Kansas City, MO. I also thought that city was a distance away from Kansas City, KS. I was wrong.

I thought it was like Springfield. Every damn state has a Springfield. That’s why no one knows where the Simpsons live (though the nuclear power plant really ought to narrow it down, ya know?). But every state doesn’t have a Kansas City, just two. And the two that do have their cities three miles apart from each other.

Big oops on my part. Another oops is thinking we’d only done Illinois and Missouri. A commenter reminded me we also did Louisiana. Honeymoon, remember? That’s another big oops!

Our hotel was right outside of Kansas City, KS. We were in Overland, KS. If you’re looking for a random ass weekend away, I would totally recommend this town. They have a plaza that has everything and I mean everything. They had a movie theater, several restaurants, department stores, fancy boutiques, random mall stores, parking garage, hotel, and office building. There was so much. We could’ve spent all day there.

We only left Overland to take a 20 min drive to Kansas City, MO. The first time we went for a jam session at a historical location that Charlie Parker cut his teeth at. I suck because I don’t remember what it was called. Sorry. And I suck even worse because I didn’t take pictures like I intended. I guess I just really don’t like taking pictures on vacation. Such a bad blogger am I.

The second time we went to KCMO was for a Sunday evening. We went and got what was considered the best BBQ in the place. I wanted ribs, not pulled pork, so that directed our choice. I got pork ribs and the husband got lamb ribs. Both were so delicious. Falling off the bone with a spicy BBQ sauce I could add to it (gotta love that dry rub though).

After the ribs, we drove toward this big ass movie theater that only had 4 movies showing. We moved on. For the first time since well before we were even ring shopping, the husband and I just strolled. We walked into a market and just looked around. We window shopped at restaurants and bars, trying to figure out where we’d go if I wasn’t falling asleep in a couple hours.

We just held hands and strolled. I was like being on vacation. We didn’t even do that on our honeymoon. I think I was too busy de-stressing from all the pre-wedding crap to just unwind. But this past weekend, we definitely wound down.

The whole weekend wasn’t perfect, but overall, it was. We got to just be us, uninterrupted. Our life has a bunch of interruptions, and I think sometimes we prefer it that way. But it’s nice to take a break from it from time to time.

And next month, we’re going to cross Florida off our list. Oh, and the Bahamas. Yay for cruises that help us accomplish our goals!

Places Visited So Far:

Kansas; Illinois; Louisiana; Missouri


Fifty by Age 50: Nowhere New

In a previous post, I wrote about how the husband and I had picked out fifty countries we’d visit by age 50. We also decided we’d visit every state and territory in the United States of America. We even decided to take a weekend off this month to start our plans.

At first we thought about going to Canada, but the travel time didn’t really pan out. Then we thought maybe we’d stay in the central time zone, but head south. So I came up with a bed & breakfast in Mississippi, right outside of Memphis. That way, we’d knock out Mississippi and Tennessee all in one weekend. Again, there was a travel time issue because the husband didn’t want to drive that far.

Next we thought about Kentucky, and we figured we’d stick with the B&B idea. But the weather there will suck this weekend. So we landed on Kansas City. I think the husband picked there because of a concert he wanted to take me to.

But the concert is sold out. So we will not be crossing a new state off the list. Having spent our entire relationship in Illinois and Missouri, we’re just staying in that range for this weekend. I’m not thrilled about that, but I am thrilled to finally take a trip with my husband. And it’s not about his music or our wedding. It’s just us, travelling.

And next month, we’re going to Florida, possibly twice. So we will start branching out from IL/MO. And because I’ve gone and talked about this trip on this blog, I will do something I never do. I’ll take pictures on our weekend trip so I can do a blog post about it when we get back.

If you could get away for the weekend, where would you go?