The Wedding Dress

When my husband and I got engaged on Christmas, the year before last, the first thing my sister-in-law, Anastasia, said (after all the hugging and squealing) was, “Let’s go to David’s!!” So, four days later, we did.

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Nic and I had been talking about marriage (both jokingly and sincerely) since before we started dating, so it wasn’t a completely new idea, but still, the reality of actually, finally, growing up, finding true love, and getting hitched still felt like a total made up dream. And so, trying on wedding dresses was a weird and exciting prospect.

From the start I knew I didn’t want a ballgown (This has baffled me about formal occasions generally for years. How do you dance to pop music in a long floofy dress? I mean, really!) and I really didn’t want to wear white. I wanted a red dress. I knew that much. And I really loved the idea of a tea length dress. But I also knew that what you think you like might still not be the best match when you actually get close enough to it.

(Take note: This is a true statement about relationships, too.)

So, I tried on EVERYTHING. Every style they had available, I put one on. Anastasia picked out some of them and we agreed on a few and I picked out most and our amazing attendant Maria picked the rest with my requested parameters and a few surprises.

Some of them were so ridiculous that we couldn’t stop laughing, because, OMG How does anyone walk in these things????

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I couldn’t even bend over to fix the hem! (I do admit that this dress made my ass look fabulous.)

I tried on a fully red dress, and was insanely disappointed. I think it’s mostly the awful bodice design, but again, I just didn’t feel perfect. The skirt I love, but it had to be the whole package.

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A gorgeous mixture of white and red was at the forefront of my options and even though I had said, No veils!, Maria placed one behind the tiara, comb tucked into my brown locks, and I turned to look in the mirror, and burst into tears. Anastasia did too. And that is when I realized that I was actually going to be a bride. I was really getting married. This gown became my top pick.

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I call the dress that flipped the YOU’RE A BRIDE switch my Russian Disney Princess dress. I mean, seriously.

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During my two initial visits to David’s, I tried it on twice more, but ended up dropping the idea when I realized that it would be too much work to make the train lay right as I walked down the aisle and up to the stage, and then to fix the bustle and also to be able to move like I really wanted to be able to at the reception. So, I went back to trying on other dresses.

It’s kind of a shame we nixed this one, not just because it was so beautiful, but mainly because we immediately found a bridesmaids’ dress that fit perfectly with its lines – a prospect that would become horrifyingly difficult with all the favoured options. I actually tried on the black one for myself first, but that’s when I realized that finding the perfect dress would be signified by the bizarrely profound sense of Feeling Like a Bride. I could wear that black dress (in the gorgeously perfect apple red) all day long every day. It was that comfortable. But feeling like the co-star of the show of my lifetime did not happen.

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There were other perfectly wonderful gowns. The prices were hard to swallow, but it truly is really hard to not feel amazing when you are dressed like Princess Grace:
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I felt ridiculously awesome.

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Apart from the cost, I kept going back to the reception. It would be weird to rock out to Bon Jovi while dressed like Grace Kelly. I would do my best if I had to, but it did feel a bit strange.

On the day I tried it on, this next dress did not Wow me, but looking back, if I ever had to go through the horrendous task of planning our wedding again, I think I might choose this dress. There was no train to fuss with. It had gorgeous accents already part of it. And it was very comfortable to move it. It was silly and floofy. But it was very Cinderella, and that was my favourite childhood fairy tale.

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I didn’t find the gown I wore for our wedding until our second trip to David’s Bridal, when my Mother-in-Law, Grandmother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law/Maid of Honor, Bridesmaid/Oldest Friend, and Honorary Bridesmaid were all with me. It was both overwhelming and reassuring to have that many opinions in one place. Because, when the entire room full of women start crying at the same time, I’ll tell you what, you know you’ve found The One. It’s like that moment in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry meets the Phoenix and Holly Wand for the first time, and there’s a warm glow and everything just feels right. (Again, this is what finding the right partner feels like, too.) On this latter trip, I continued trying a variety of styles before I finally found My Gown.

Some of the gowns I tried were so beautiful that I felt like I was on a 1930s film set. I felt like I’d stolen this dress from some starlet and was wearing it illicitly. It was awfully fun to wear for a short time, but I didn’t feel like myself in the least.

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I also vehemently objected to spending $1300 on a dress I was going to wear once. Even if it was Vera Wang!! (Paris Opera here I come!)

Other dresses were just plain silly on me. Soap Opera Night Gown, anyone?

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I was starting to feel like I might as well just wear the undergarments they give you to fill out the dresses properly!

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After trying on another dozen dresses, I finally put on this adorable tea dress, jumping around like I was dancing a role in Giselle, Act II, because, seriously, Total (50s) Myrtha:

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I think it shows that I was really close. I loved it. Almost entirely. I was about to say it was the one, when one very smart friend said, “I don’t want to ask too many questions and confuse you, but are you sure you love this one? It is wonderful! But, is it the style of the dress, or the actual dress that you love?”

I stopped and thought. She was absolutely right to question it. So, I turned to Maria and asked what else she had that was similar. She brought two. I never tried on the second one.

 

Somethings don’t need to be questioned.

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This is a very sweet tradition at David’s for when a bride finds the perfect match. Ringing the bell gave me the elation of something real and beautiful happening.

 

Finding the perfect match is kind of a big deal.

Image(photo by Rachel Peace)

Finding a beautiful dress isn’t bad, either.

DSC00984(photo by Steve Badgley)

 

 

 

Portrait of a Transfer

When I arrived on campus in August 2001, the first thing the administration told me was that I wasn’t supposed to be there.

ImageThe Sycamore, Fall 2001

“O! You weren’t supposed to arrive until next week!” the woman under the welcome tent told me. “We put the wrong date on your letter.” But of course, they’d never corrected it, so there I was, along with a dozen other transfer students, who were not supposed to be there. There were no Transfer Welcome Activities. Only Freshwoman Welcome Activities.

So, we figured out a few of our own, the bunch of us who would be living somewhat together in Main Building. We named ourselves The Main Transfers From the Future ™. We joked about getting t-shirts, which we never did, regrettably.

Scan11284Main Transfers From the Future ™ and Friends, Ithaca Commons, 8 March 2002

 

Wells College is almost famous for its traditions. It’s known for them. And most of these traditions start your very first day on campus. Provided it is your first day of college Ever.

421275_10150823442053761_208371865_nFail. I can’t even do Sophomore Year right.

 

I didn’t get a Freshman Sign.

I wasn’t a Christmas Elf.

And I didn’t get to dance around the May Pole or be named the Queen of the May.

ImageClass of 2005. Suckers.

 

As a transfer student at the four year liberal arts college, there were, in fact, very few traditions that I was able to participate in at all. Primarily only those that made the school what it then was: A shining haven for extraordinary women.

ImageGraduation Day. May 2004.

 

I was a PART (Performing Arts) major, concentrating my energies between the theatre and the dance studio. The traditions that my years at Wells encompassed were mostly department traditions, not school traditions.
As a transfer, there were a lot of things that I wasn’t allowed to do. But as a theatre major, the clouds weren’t even the limit.

ImageBuilding the Raked Stage for our production of Moliere’s The Schemings of Scapin, directed by Susan Forbes. 2001-2002 Production.

102_0224Goofing off at the American College Dance Festival in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, with members of the Wells College Dance Collective. Spring 2004.

 

As a PART major my traditions were more appropriately focused. And perhaps almost entirely self-made.

ImageWe also made Pies. (with Lau at thankgiving. we did not throw it at anyone. because you do not waste pumpkin pie in real life.)

 

I might as well have lived in the theatre for all the time I spent there in rehearsal, doing my work study, and taking classes.

I think Theatre was my Wells tradition.

And I believe my fellow students and even my professors from various departments might tell you that I tended to have a flair for the dramatic.

Image (In the Poetry Room, waiting for rehearsal or performance of the Student Dance Concert my senior year, demonstrating my Love/Hate relationship with Pointe Shoes.)

Scan11287(In the dressing room post-makeup/pre-costume for Scapin. 2001/2002.)

 

Senior year, at the awards ceremony, I stood and walked across the stage to accept the dance performance award wearing a pair of white sparkly fairy’s wings. At opening convocation, senior year, when we were supposed to wear hats, for whatever traditional reason, I wore a large piece of red lace fabric as a veil. I usually made my way down to these sorts of events from the stage-house, wearing whatever I had recently discovered in a box, or under the cutting table in the Costume Shop.

Image(photo courtesy of Rebecca Miles-Steiner. The PART department gave that jacket to me as a graduation present after I asked if I could buy it, since I hadn’t taken it off since I found it while cleaning.)

 

One afternoon while organizing the CS, I moved a box from the top shelf, only to lift it away from the shelf trailing a wild spray of bright glitter from an upturned open jar inside the box. I carefully climbed down the ladder, grabbed fistfuls of the stuff from where it had landed on the floor, ran down the three flights of stairs, shouting, THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS!!! and throwing handfuls of the stuff at anyone I met. I’m pretty sure our tech director, Joe, still curses me over the pool of fairy dust I left near the apron just outside the stage-to-house door where I met Miles-Steiner as she started in horror at my jubilant pronouncement, getting a faceful of glitter.

Image(the infamous ladder, several days post fairy dust explosion. by Miles-Steiner.)

If you have ever heard whispers of the CS Faerie . . . that was me.

Perhaps cursing the CS Faerie became a Wells tech tradition.

I hope not.

AmeliaCourtyardTHINK HAPPY THOUGHTS!!
(Paris courtyard in the snow, January 2003.)

 

Our PART professors’ encouragement to birth guerrilla theatre found us infiltrating the dining hall at lunch time, standing on tables reading monologues, and fencing in front of the fireplace. One rainy night found a few of us running about campus having an impromptu costumed photo shoot and another occurred in the middle of a brightly lit day two years later (which later turned into the greatest prank in the history of my entire life but that story must be told separately as it deserves a lot more than a paragraph).

 

Image(Becca Cooper & me, looking out over Cayuga Lake. Photo by Bella Tschinkel. 2004.)

 

 

 

Our experience wasn’t necessarily the experience of the rest of the college. I’m sure other majors could say the same about their experiences. But as a transfer, I think this is especially true. Where there wasn’t a tradition to fit our circumstances, we built our own. I guess that’s an important life lesson, and I think that’s what college is really supposed to be about. I don’t use my Bachelor’s Degree professionally. I only use the experiences I had in getting it. And I think, maybe, that’s the way life is supposed to work. It’s all built on experiences.

 

 

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Minerva. A Wells tradition we can all agree on.

 

Harry Potter and the Ten Year Redo

A couple years ago, my brother-in-law and I were musing about all the remakes of popular movies hitting the theatres just 5 or 10 years after the original (although I think these days we’re getting some in as few as 2). The topic, as it usually does with me, turned to Harry Potter.

 

I love Harry Potter. If you weren’t aware of this, you are obviously new here. Let me give you the low-down: I LOVE HARRY POTTER.

 

But more importantly, I love the Harry Potter BOOKS.

 

The movies ranged from mediocre to brilliant, but lacked so many wonderful connecting elements, and included others that had little or no impact on the totality of the movie. And while some actors gave the characters a depth I could not imagine, even reading the books a dozen times, others were forgettable, or bland, or just good enough but could have been better. The actors who were perfect might be too old, or not around anymore, for our hypothetical remake, so we decided we would have to recast with people who would, or might be, appropriately aged by the time our films came into production. We also decided it would have to be a mini series, as there just isn’t time in a Hollywood feature for all the important parts. Mini series can be savored for much longer, too.

So Will and I, with my sister, Annika, set out to recast our new version. I present to you, my notes from said conversation, found yesterday in a box while looking for my husband’s W2s. I cracked myself up reading them to Nic this morning while he was getting out of the shower, because, I’m helpful like that.

I’d like to note, also, that I only just realized this morning who some of these people are, and now I understand more why they were named. Others, I still need to look up. There will likely be a follow up to this entry in which I give some up to date consideration of today’s theatrical society and provide a cast including my more recent findings.

 

Philosopher’s Stone II: Live Forever – AGAIN!

Petunia Dursley – Kristen Scott-Thomas

Dumbledore – Ian Mckellen (it’s always been Ian McKellen) or Geoffrey Rush

Prof. M. McGonagal – Emma Thompson, Tilda Swinton, Suzanna Harker

Hagrid – Nick Frost

Mrs Weasley – Kate Winslet

Snape – Tom Hardy or James MacAvoy

Filch – Ewan Bremner or Liam Cunningham

Nearly Headless Nick – Michael York

 

Chamber of Secrets II

Gilderoy Lockhard – Hugh Grant, Bruce Campbell, Ewan McGregor, Tim Roth, Rik Mayall, Orlando Bloom, Russell Brand, Karl Urban

Mr. Weasley – Jason Fleming

Lucius Malfoy – Liam Cunningham or Jude Law

Fudge – Simon Pegg

 

Prisoner of Azkaban II: Get Sirius!

Sirius Black – Jamie Bell (The kid from Billy Elliot, not my ex-boyfriend)

Remus Lupin – James McAvoy, Tom Hardy, Andrew-Lee Potts

Prof. Trelawney – Jennifer Saunders

 

Goblet of Fire II: Get Siriuser!

Mad-Eye Moody – Ray Winstone

Bagman – Nick Frost or John Hannah

Karkaroff – Dolph Lundgren

M. Delacour – Jean Reno

Mme. Delacour – Nicole Kidman

Lord Voldy-thing – Geoffrey Rush or Tim Roth

 

Order of the Phoenix II: Up in Flames!

Kingsley Shaklebolt – and I quote, ‘the dude from GI Joe’. (I can only assume I was referring to Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. I admit it, I am a bad human being.)

 

Half Blood Prince II

Greyback – Ray Stevenson

Scrimjour – Sean Bean (you were all thinking it)

 

And this must have been prior to the release of Deathly Hallows. I’ll get to that in my next update.

Also, all them titles need subtitles, cuz, let’s get sirius here. Siriusly.

The Procreation Question

We probably all know someone who has asked it. We have probably, most of us, been the one asking. It is a seemingly polite question that holds in its core the potential for horribly painful reactions, whether or not the asker ever sees the result.

 

“You just got married! When are you having kids????”

 

This happened to us at Sam’s Club just this afternoon. A well meaning relative, who hasn’t been up to date on our situation, as he is from a section of the family we simply don’t see very often, congratulated us on our recent marriage and followed it up with, “So when are the babies due? How many months??”

 

I spent the next fifteen minutes balling in the car before I could breathe enough for us to get back on the road and go to Wegmans, my eyes red and puffy, and the ache rising in my head.

 

He didn’t know. He meant well. But that one simple question is like a knife right in the heart. Even when I think I am finally going to be okay. 

 

I want children. I want them very much. And I was going to have one. And then that opportunity vanished in the space of a breath.

 

And I cannot hear the question of “When are you going to have children?” without at the very least a spasm of misery. Because I was going to have a child. I was going to be his mother. I was going to love him unconditionally. For all the days of our lives and more.

 

All we can say when people ask us is, “Not right now. We have a lot going on. O yes, in the future. Yes, we want them.”

 

And I know each questioner is trying to be polite. Okay, some are just being unbearably nosy and selfish. But for the most part, it is a simple, common question, intended to be kind.

 

I am sure I have inquired. I am sorry if I offended or upset you. I had no idea what you might have been struggling with, or what you wanted or didn’t want. That’s probably why I asked.

 

I can’t tell you not to ever ask. Someday, maybe I’ll be ready to respond without choking on my words. Right now, though, it’s impossible. Either I’ll blurt out “Well, after I ‘get over’ the loss of my first pregnancy,” or more likely, I’ll politely say, “O, not right now,” and wish I had a better, more truthful answer, that won’t feel like an attack. 

 

Just, right now, I can not handle it.

Finding Me

Don’t give me excuses. I’ve given myself plenty, and I know their danger.

 

Over the past two and a half years I have gained a lot of weight. Some people refer to this gain as Contentment. Which is partially true. And partially a crock of shit.

We as a culture can be a little too forgiving when it comes to the supportive indulgence and the enabling of unhealthy habits. For me, it started out with second helpings. It continued into third helpings, late night snacks, poor food choices, unbalanced meals, and a sedentary lifestyle.

For two months, earlier this winter, I was pregnant. During that time, I lamented my inability to feel comfortable in my changing body. I lamented at how I now couldn’t make the major physical changes I wanted to until after the baby was born. And I thought of the tales of other women, crying out, “Ugh, pregnancy Ruined my body!” and I ruminated and whined or perhaps cried and apologized to myself that I didn’t need the pregnancy to ruin my body, because I had already done so. My body was unrecognizable to me. The pudge, the folds, the enormity, the lack of definition – any vestiges of trimness disappearing regularly from across my body.

I am in the process of finding My Body. It is not exactly about weight loss, seeing as I can’t break 140 lbs more than one day in a row. But it is a part of the goal. The quest, as a whole, is more so Finding Myself underneath the padding.

After years of encouragement to do what boils down to overeating, by people who could perhaps take better care of themselves, I had grown bigger and less defined. And I compared myself to my younger, svelter friends, who managed a perpetual petiteness, even during their prenatal period. And I hated myself more. And I apologized to myself and our baby, that I had taken such lousy care of myself for so long.

I missed my body. The one I knew to be me. The one in which I felt safe and healthy.

I questioned myself out of health with the words of people who try to be inclusive by excluding the possibility that I was already happy in my body when I was smaller.

Being inclusive and respectful and supportive of bigger women should not mean any sort of negative judgment towards anyone who is not and has no wish to be plus size.

In people’s attempts to cull the warning signs I gave myself, the attempts to keep me happy “in my own body,” these others convinced me that my own idea of my own body didn’t matter.

So I ate more.

And I never exercised.

And I snacked.

And I sat about.

And I forgot myself. I forgot how to feel right. Knowing that I should always love my body. No matter the size.

But Loving requires Caring For. And I did not do that.

So I grew and grew and fell swiftly outside the acceptable zone of the BMI chart. But I was told those charts don’t measure the right things. Don’t worry! But I did. Because I still didn’t feel like myself.

So when we lost the pregnancy and nothing made any sense I clung to the only things that I could. And I threw myself into creating a better me, a healthy me, because there was nothing left to hold me back, and no one and no thing could get in my way.

We checked and cut our portion sizes. We started planning and balancing our meals again.

And I started exercising almost daily. Nothing major, but the one thing that had always worked before and that could be done in any weather (walks and runs are excluded from the options during an Upstate New York winter). My Pilates mat workout routine has not altered in twelve years, because it has always worked so well for my body.

[Ana Caban’s Beginner Mat Workout, for anyone who is interested in giving it a try.]

It is the only exercise I really get. And I am feeling a difference. Even just with 30m a day, 5-6 days a week.

I also searched Pinterest for inspirational posters, recipes, exercise programs, and the Pinboards answered my call. A favourite pseudo quote that I found states: “I really regret that workout! -said no one, ever.” I got a lot of arguments when I copied that simple statement onto Facebook. But I hold to it. I regret much more the discomfort of being in a body I stopped caring for. I regret much more the lethargy that became a daily part of my life. I regret that I lost my ability to feel confident enough to exist at my preferred weight and size.

The difference is slow, but it is coming. My newer, bigger clothing is getting looser. My older, smaller clothing is slowly, slowly making its way back into my drawers and to the front of my closet. The pounds may not be coming off that swiftly, but they are coming off. And some are even converting into tighter leaner muscles.

I feel it everyday – the changes, the improvements, the returning to the body I belong in.

For the longest time I tried to live as one who cherished her body no matter the size. But I now realize that you have to Cherish YOUR body. Take care of yourself. Don’t let yourself go just to disprove misconstrued societal norms. Be You. Find Yourself. Be comfortable in Your body whether you feel the best at size 22 or size 4. Just make sure you feel Your Best.

I love my body, so I am taking better care of it. I love the actual physical sensation and feeling of finding my body again. I love placing my hands on my hips and feeling the shape that belongs there.

Along with my ‘skinny jeans’ and my Skinny jeans, there are other items I am longing to more than just squeeze back into. Jeans. Tops. Dresses. Bras and panties, for goodness sakes! Other items, too. For instance, I made a gorgeous historic period dress three years ago and it stopped fitting properly about two years ago. I can’t wait to try it on and see if I am any closer to being able to wear it again. Comfortably. By which I mean not hurting myself when I try to get it on or off. You can read about my process of making the gown on my SCA blog, The C is for Creative.

I have a goal. TO BE HEALTHY. If you are healthy at 147 lbs and pushing steadily past size 8, go You! I was not. I was very much not healthy. And I did not recognize myself. I could not feel right in my body. So I am trying to fix that. By being true to Myself.

[Body shaming can go all ways: all bodies are real bodies. Take care of the one you have that belongs to you.]

 

The Art of Believing in Happiness

These past few years have been an astonishing jumble of happiness and quite mad events.

So many misadventures preceded this time in which I have* loved Nic, that, primarily, I am often quite confused at the fact that I’m actually getting out of life exactly what I want. I still expect, almost daily, although to a lesser extent than I used to, that I will wake up one day and find that all this has been a dream. That is how it has seemed for these years in which I have finally found my happiness.

How did all this happen? How did I get all this? All this . . . ‘stuff’ that I actually want??? How did I find my joy?

It seems like a miracle some days. I worked for it, but that makes it no less miraculous. Sometimes, things just don’t work out no matter how hard you try. But here we are, day after day, creating this beautiful life, together, with a common vision, and a lot of laughter. When so many things have gone wrong in my past, it is a surprise when I get what I have really always wanted, but perhaps forgot I was eligible for:

A loving, caring, and hilarious husband. A fluffy, loving, caring, and hilarious dog. A home to share with them both. A career – not just a string of jobs. The potential for motherhood.

As you know, not all the past three years’ events have been made of happiness, but overall – despite depression, and difficult times, and heartbreak – overall, I am certainly on the Throne of All My Happiest Days So Far ™. And as with all adventures, the greatest Life Adventures do not, and cannot, exist if there is not some goal that is yet insurmountable. With all this joy, we’re going to keep making more of it. We’re going to keep on adventuring. 

I am going to believe in miracles. I am going to believe in hard earned joy. I am going to believe in happiness. 

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*have Known that I did. we’d been friends for years, but a courtship never really occurred to me until one day, out of nowhere, life shouted at me clear as day, You love this man! I’ll tell you about that another time. it’s a pretty cool story. And involves books and continents and adventure.

Fragile

At some moments I am happy and normal and everything seems so perfectly ok. But a tiny scratch on the surface breaks apart that shell, and all I see is the grey chasm of my sadness. 

 

Today was a good day. I read. I got a massage. I grocery shopped. I baked. I . . . suddenly cracked.

After an entire day of ‘Yes, I think I am ok right now!’

It’s a dumb thing, too. I can’t remember what I wanted to watch on Netflix. And now I feel like the world is falling into darkness. Because I can’t do that one thing I meant to do. A trivial thing. But sometimes a plan is all I have.

 

This is sometimes what depression feels like. It isn’t always some great big horrible event (not a current one, anyway). Sometimes it is a simple disappointment. An imbalance. A wrong turn. An unexpected change. 

 

Depression is stupid. But it’s real. And it’s really really hard sometimes. But there is pizza and banana bread and a dog who loves me curled up on the couch and my wonderful husband who loves us both will be home soon. So I’ll get through it. It’s just . . . that I’m in it at the moment.

TCA – Rules of Engagement

Rules.

1. Never trust a man who dresses like a giant bat.

2. If you are an intelligent, self confident, and adventurous woman, someone is going to try to turn you into a victim when they hear the story of your own inventiveness.

3. Never fall for a friend’s sibling. IT ALWAYS ENDS BAD.

4. Just because you want something badly enough doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.

This was written following my amazing cross country adventure in Jan-Feb 2011. I had a really fascinating time that I think about frequently. It was an amazing journey. But some things got complicated. I intended to post this, or something of its nature (a shortened version did appear), quite a long time ago. There was so much to say about the trip, but I was overwhelmed with life and never finished sharing. I wrote this on June 1st, 2011, during a very difficult time, several months after my Transcontinental Adventure. While some of it is factual, I should also like to mention that:

I am now happily married to the friend’s sibling mentioned above. My despair, while thorough, might have been preemptive.

I still hold, quite strongly, however, to Rule #1. We are much, much better than this. 🙂

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