Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “girly stuff

On Hanging With My Family

My family is pretty great. I say this referring to both my parents, etc. and also my in-laws. I genuinely enjoy the company of most people I am related to by blood or marriage.

But since we’ve moved to New York City, I just don’t get to spend time with them. Obviously, I don’t see them as much, but also my work schedule makes speaking with them hard.

When everyone else is getting off of work, I’m just going in to work, and who would want to chat and catch up when I get off and get home at 1 o’clock in the morning?

Because we’re not having dinner and hanging out watching tv together in the evenings anymore, we spend our time planning visits. Easy and I are going to the Midwest for a wedding at the end of the month, so we’ll squeeze a lot of visits in there.

This weekend, my parents, grandfather, and I are all descending on North Carolina for my cousin’s college graduation. This particular combination of family includes my father, his sister, his father, his wife, his niece, and his daughter. So far, Easy and my brother aren’t usually there.

We get together every couple of years for graduations, weddings, and funerals. It’s because we’re spread all across the country, but I know it’s going to be so great once we get together.

There will be good food, an inevitable debate about the state of black America, and a nice amount of drinking. I’m looking forward to having a nice drink with my cousin because I haven’t hung out with her where she could legally drink yet. It’s kind of a rite of passage in my family.

My parents offered to get me my own hotel room for the purposes of freedom to wildly party with my college graduating cousin, but I kind of chuckled at the idea. I turn 30 this year, and while that’s nowhere near being old, it might be too old to hang with the coeds.

I love hanging out with my people, no matter their age. My mom was at my bachelorette party, and I would’ve been pissed had she been unable to make it. But I know that I am in the minority compared to others my age.

If my cousin wants me to go party with her, I’ll grab a cup of coffee and join in, which means I have to take some sort of club-y outfit I guess. But I didn’t think I needed an extra room for it.

I’ll just bunk with my parents like I did when we all went to South Carolina for this same cousin’s high school graduation.

I do wish Easy were coming with me. We’ve never been one of those couples who can’t go anywhere alone, but we’re usually there for the big family things. This is likely the last first cousin graduating from college for a while, so it sucks that he is unable to come.

That makes me think of another post that I’m going to call, “On Being A Musician’s Wife” where I will discuss how awesome it is to hang out with artsy types all the time now. But it will also talk about how Easy cancels our anniversary every year.

But back to my family. My cousin and I have something pretty cool planned for our moms since we’ll be together on Mother’s Day. I have no idea if my parents read this blog, so I’m not going to talk about what we’re doing. I’ll gladly talk about it after Sunday though.

When I get back from North Carolina. Where it is warmer that New York. Which is really what’s most important–the weather.

Eh, it is second most important. Most important is having a weekend-long slumber party with my parents.


Emerging From The Concrete Jungle

Hello!

Did you miss me?

I’ve been gone quite a while. I didn’t take a break from blogging on purpose, but I did take a break. Settling into New York City living has been… interesting, to say the least.

But I’m pretty much all settled in now. A trip to Chicago last weekend where it was cold as hell (Polar Vortex, anyone?) convinced me that I really am A Chicago-Style Girl in NYC. The husband says I’m a New Yorker, and he feels very proud of himself for getting me home.

I have to admit, I love it here.

Manhattan is lovely, Brooklyn is lovely. And the other boroughs… well I don’t know too much about them. We have family in Staten Island, but we don’t get over there that often.

I have judged New Yorkers for years for never leaving their island(s), but now I totally get it. The idea of traveling anywhere else feels overwhelming. I have some traveling to do for my 30th birthday bucket list, which I’ll happily explain in a later post. But other than that, I won’t do any more travel outside of New York except to two (so far!) weddings I have to attend this year.

So what have I been up to in the four months since my last post? A bunch of the same ole same ole.

I still work in organ and tissue donation, pretty much doing the same thing in New York that I was doing in Chicago.

I’m still doing my volunteer work at the home for new mothers. I also volunteer at a soup kitchen in Greenwich Village on Saturdays.

I finally got my box cutter, and I carry it and my pepper spray everywhere I go. Makes me feel safe, you know?

I still have issues with laundry. I pray for the day that we’ll be able to afford an apartment with laundry in the building.

I still suck at making friends, but I have been hanging out with folks from the soup kitchen, so that’s a start. I’m also pretty friendly with some people from work, but I’m slow-playing that because it’s new for me make friends with co-workers.

As I mentioned before, my trip home was this past weekend. I went home because of one of my girl’s baby shower. Six of my bridesmaids plus myself have this little crew and we take care of each other.

They, along with my mother, threw my bridal shower. And this six of us who are not pregnant planned this baby shower.

I made the centerpieces, which was a fun craft project. Hand-painting zebra print is not for the faint of heart.

Taking 7 solid wood bases through airport security is also not for the faint of heart. But I got through it and now each of my girls has a memento from the baby shower.

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I’m glad I’m back blogging and I look forward to catching up on all the blogs I haven’t been reading for the last few months. Can’t wait to see what you people have been up to. Happy New Year! Happy Holidays! and all 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.

 


I’m Done Paying People To Torture Me

Yesterday, I mentioned heading down to Greenwich Village in Manhattan. I promised I’d explain why I went down there, and I’m trying to keep my promise to you people. I went because of the horrible hair experience I had a few weeks ago.

In Chicago, this lovely woman did my hair. She kept my locs well-groomed and maintained. My hair smelled nice, looked clean, and stayed strong. She also worked hard to make sure it was dyed a color I loved. That’s no easy feat because my hair doesn’t take color well.

If you read this blog regularly, which I super duper appreciate, then you remember my first attempt to get my hair done here in NYC.

It didn’t go well.

I reached out to my Chicago hair lady for suggestions for shops here, but she didn’t get back to me because she was on her honeymoon. I could understand that, but I was in a bit of a crisis. I had to go to Chicago for the Chicago Jazz Fest, in which the husband was playing with his band. And I had to go to Atlanta for a wedding with friends from college I hadn’t seen since my wedding.

There was no way I was going out-of-state with my hair looking the way it was last week. It was fine for everyday, but not nearly groomed enough for special occasions.

Enter Google. You all may have noticed once or twice that I have a very personal relationship with Google I don’t even remember the world before Google. My brain has blocked it out because it’s like trying to remember a time before I had my best friend.

So Google and I got really comfortable as I sought to discover what to do about my hair. At a family barbeque back in July, one of my cousin’s cousins told me that I was wasting my money paying someone else to do my locs and I should do it myself.

I thought about the hours it would take and decided against it.

But when I’m on a tight budget and I’m gun-shy from my previous bad experience, I tend to see things differently.

Just like when I began doing my own nails, I was apprehensive, but ready to try it and accept the consequences.

Google told me I should get some loc butter. Most products have a ton of ingredients and scents I wasn’t really a fan of. So then Google told me how I could make my own loc butter. That’s how I ended up at the essential oils store. I found two scents that my Chicago hair lady used and I wanted to keep using: juniper and frankincense.

Then I had to go to two different beauty supply store, but I got everything I needed.

When I finally got home, I setup my stuff. I put together the loc butter, which sounds odd if you’re not familiar with the term. Basically, it’s just shea butter, jojoba oil, and mango butter. I added the essential oils and a couple other things to make it my own. It smelled wonderful and worked great.

I haven’t washed my hair since it was much shorter, I’m talking above my ears. I wasn’t at all prepared for how heavy it was. I’m used to having my neck supported in the sink in the shop. Standing up in the shower was painful. I definitely needed a neck rub after I was done.

After I towel-dried my hair, I set about hand-rolling my locs. I was nervous about how long it would take, but I was feeling a bit excited because I was equipped with knowledge from a few different YouTube videos.

I did the hair in small sections, then braided the locs so they would dry in a wavy/crinkle-y style. The whole thing took me about 2.5-3 hours. That’s not bad at all. It took longer than it would at the shop, but less time overall because I wasn’t sitting under a dryer, I just got in bed.

It turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. It’s been a week since I did my hair and it’s holding up well. I’m so excited to know that I can now perform maintenance on my hair. I’m not destroying the parts my Chicago hair lady put in place, and I am saving a ton of money. I can go from spending about $1100 a year to $300-400 a year. That’s a lot of savings!

Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, I’m going into worry mode. I do want my locks to have color other than my natural hair color, and I’m a bit apprehensive about doing the color all on my own.

I’ve been wanting to switch up the color to either a rich brown or a can’t-believe-that’s-your-every-day-hair red. It’s so difficult to decide, which means I won’t be doing anything to it yet. I can only wait about 12 weeks between colorings before I start to get angry at the new growth. So I have another few weeks to make a decision. Any suggestions?