Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Heavy

This weekend south Florida felt like fall! And thank goodness, because after attempting to squeeze into my skinny jeans for date night on Friday, and seriously failing to do so, my sweatpants and I became best friends without too much discomfort (at least due to the weather).

It’s official. I have fallen prey to the relationship weight gain. Not only did I add a husband to my life, I added a pants size. And while to most people that isn’t a lot, I am only 5’2” so a few pounds really screws up my wardrobe. But it’s not just my wardrobe. I stopped wearing my heels, I’ve slack on make up, my nails have been chipped for the past week and we have not gone out past dinner since …. well I can’t even remember.

I’m blaming Mark. In the three days leading up to the wedding, I slept a total of 6 hours, took one shower and had put make up on zero times. My sweet soon-to-be-husband came in from running errands, hugged me, kissed me and then stepped back to look at me.

“I really like this look,” he said in all seriousness.

“The dirty-hobo-bride look?” I joked.

“Yeah. Well I mean the no make up and sweats. It’s cute.”

When Mark and I began dating, we lived like rockstars. It was expensive, but we flew around the world to see each other, dressed up and when out to eat and party every night. I worked my ass out at the gym and suffered through meals of green beans and brown rice, so I could party it up on the weekends. I would go shopping for cute dresses and new shoes. I can’t count the number of times I would drive to the airport, hands out the window, in order to dry my nails before I had to hit up the security checkpoint.

But living in a tropical climate, where the heat is obnoxious and rain is unpredictable and tsunami-like, and not having anywhere to go on a regular basis, I have relaxed a bit. Sandals have become my staple footwear; I can’t even remember the last pair of new shoes I bought. Shopping is the enemy, especially since our gym has been under renovation for the past two weeks. And working out to a Jillian Michaels video has become a chore, since I now have two dogs sitting standby, just waiting to lick the salty-sweat off my face right about the time as I am trying to come up from a push up.

I know Mark is feeling the weight as well. We both are uncomfortable. We both like to watch TV on a Friday nights, because we both are usually asleep before ten o’clock. We both turned 85-years-old in just a few short months. (Scratch that, my 92-year-old grandmother has more energy that us).

By no means do I want to be high-maintenance. As much fun as a fancy dinner and cocktails are, I really do love sitting on the couch watching a movie with Mark. And because up until a few months ago our relationship has really been anything but routine, it is nice to be a little mundane when Mark finally comes back home.

So, this weekend, after my second peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks, I declared war. The gym re-opened, so I hit up the Elliptical (promptly followed by a sushi dinner and an ice cream sandwich … and a Reese’s cup … okay, two. But they are the really small bite-sized ones.). … Hey, it’s a start.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

After the White Dress, Do Things Change?


Yesterday was our one-month anniversary. I thought I’d get a post in before the wedding, and at least right after the wedding, but c’est la vie.

Not a lot has happened since married life began. We did get a puppy … while on our “mini-moon.” She is a 2-month-old Border Collie mix, named Morgan. She’s a handful, but oh-so-cute. Martini, my Chihuahua-mix has gotten somewhat use to the idea that Morgan is here to stay, and I even caught them playing a few times.

So, how did Mark and I celebrate being not-so-newlywedded? I believe Mark scoured Charleston, SC for Chinese takeout for his boss. I celebrated by cleaning up after a certain puppy and making my muscle, nerve, action chart for my musculoskeletal anatomy class. See, just two weeks after we were wed, Mark had to go back to work and has been gone for two-and-a-half weeks. That means we have spent more time apart as newlyweds than we have together. Which pretty much 1. defines our relationship and that should mean that 2. I didn’t expect much to change once we got married.

… But maybe I did.

Mark and I had a talk on our drive to Naples for our mini-moon. He had the rest of the month off, so while I was running around trying to catch up with school and clinic, he spent all day alone in our shoebox of an apartment. Those four walls are enough to drive anyone crazy (I know!), and they ended up frustrating Mark a bit. He expected something different than waiting for me to come home from school everyday. I laughed and asked what he expected to change. He said he wasn’t sure, but he just expected something different. I told him a majority of my married friends said really not much changed after the tux was returned and the white dress preserved.

But now I have the same feeling as Mark. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. Now it’s my turn to sit at home alone. Mark comes home on Thursday, and while I can’t wait to see him, it’s hard knowing his time here is short-spent. And it’s even harder to start a life with constant interruptions.

I am not bitter or upset about Mark being away or his job. It has to happen. I’m in school for another two years. Mark makes good money and he likes his job … at least most of the time. And we’ve spent a majority of our relationship apart. But something in me is ready to move on to the next step … and no, not babies. (I think a 2-month-old puppy is great birth control.)

No, I want to make friends, buy a couch, graduate from pouring a bowl of Lucky Charms for dinner to actually cooking for someone. And while Morgan and Martini would love my cooking, they aren’t great conversationalist. I guess I just didn’t expect to be single and alone after getting married.

I’ve heard that brides often go through a bit of a depression after the wedding is over. For the most part, I believe it’s a loss of such a major part of someone’s day-to-day life over the past year. But I think for me it is the realization that, after almost a year of being here, I don’t have a life in Florida. My family and my friends are up north. And the one person who I care about more than anything isn’t here consistently. When he does return, it’s hurry up and hang out. There’s little appreciation for just being together because there is little time.

Where are future leads us is obviously up to God, and I just pray that Mark and I finally end up someplace together.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Cost & The Important Things

Two weeks. That’s it. Only 13 days until I receive my MRS. It’s so strange that it’s literally around the corner, and it hasn’t hit me just yet. Granted I have to get through a week of school, clinic, a Junior League meeting, a quiz and a plane ride home before I can really think about the walking down the aisle.

Not to mention a family emergency this past week caused me to consider postponing the already too-long engagement. It also caused me to consider a lot of other things: the importance of family and God and the lack of importance of centerpieces and chair covers (though, if budget allows, I’d still really love chair covers). In a blink of an eye, the dress dislike and my fear of crappy centerpieces disappeared. God, love, and the strength of family took their places.

And I have to say, that I have the best fiancé in the entire world. Though a few states away, he sat silently through my crazy crying spells and made sure to end every conversation on a positive note. He never questioned what was happening, but instead gave me support and encouragement.

Through this I have discovered what is really important in this wedding, and much to my mom’s disagreement, it’s not the cake. It’s the relationships that are being strengthened (with my parents, with my brothers and with Mark) and those being formed (between our parents, between our brothers, with our in-laws).

Okay, well with all the sentimental and learning experiences out of the way, I will get right down to my chief complaint: the freaking cost of “wedding.” I wasn’t ignorant enough to believe I could actually stay on budget. However, I do not believe in paying for $75 for three orchids on a cake. Yes. $75. I can pick up two orchid plants for $20 on any corner of US 1 in Miami. And wedding cake. It’s flour, butter, water and some flavoring. Hopefully it’s infused with gold for the amount we are paying for it. We don’t have an elaborate design either (though there will be edible glitter involved).

It’s like as soon as you add the word “wedding” or “bridal” to anything, the cost triples. I realized I am in the wrong line of work. However, I thought with the whole green, eco-, natural, holistic way of thinking, I might be able to find my niche in the wedding industry. Pre-Wedding Acupuncture: Only $300 a needle. J

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Whew! It’s been a while, but after the adventures in stationary I really haven’t wanted to do anything wedding-realted. Plus, Mark came in town for a week and a half and spending time with him, as well as studying for my three finals and packing for month-long trip back to Ohio, took priority over anything wedding related.

I finally made it back to Ohio today, but it wasn’t with out one more bridal freak-out: The dress.

Here’s the thing: I bought the dress in February 2009; more than a year and a half before the wedding.

The day we (my mom and I) bought the dress I had received an email that a little couture dress shop down the street from my parent’s house was having a 50% off off-the-rack sale.

In the twenty-some-odd years we’d lived down the street from it, we’d never been in the store. More than wanting to dress shop, we were curious. And knowing one, it’s a bit strange walking into a bridal shop unless you are getting married and two, I wouldn’t be able to afford the dresses unless they were a hugely discounted, my mom and I decided to brave the cold, wet February Sunday “just to see.”

At this point, I had already pre-purchased one dress, but looking at photos of me in it, the dress looked more lounge singer than virginal bride. I quickly canceled the order and asked the store I had purchased it from if they couldn’t have a lace gown shipped in from the trunk show where I had originally tried it on. They agreed, but it would be another month or so. With my wedding more a year and a half away I thought shopping around couldn’t hurt.

We walked into the hidden dress shop. Being in a pre-Civil War house it was tiny and dark and stuffed to the walls with white, fluffy tulle and silky satin. I pulled a few dresses, tried them on and wasn’t really impressed. I wasn’t in a buying mood either.

It was near closing time and the sales lady pulled a beautiful, sparkly dress. It was a little too much sparkle for me, but my mom and the sales lady begged me to try it on. I obliged, walked out, stepped on the platform and looked in the mirror. The way the jeweled design was set out, the sparkles met at my belly button, converging at one giant jewel. I rubbed it and made a joke about my Troll tummy, only to look up and see my mom crying.

“Really mom?” I sighed. Of the 30 plus dresses I had pulled and/or tried on, I barely got so much as a smile, let alone tears.

“T, this is it!”

“No. … I don’t think it is,” I said, studying the dress in the mirror. Then looking at my mom again. “Really?”

My mom’s crying was only encouraged by the Indian-accented sales lady. “Yes, yes! You buy! This is on magazines!”

I frowned. I’ve never saw this dress in any magazines. As a journalist, I always thought of myself as a super-researcher. Anything I buy, I not only read reviews from multiple sources, I study them and I make sure others have used it. I never saw this dress or this designer ever mentioned. And trust me, I am a bridal blog fanatic.

To skip ahead, my mom bought the dress much to my protest (well, as much protest as I could, well, protest without throwing a tantrum … looking back I probably should have stomped my feet. It might have saved me from this blog post). When we drove the short mile and a half home, I promptly called my fiancé and told him I found a dress. Then I cried. I hated it. It was terrible experience. I was on the platform telling my mom and the sales lady I didn’t like it, but nobody listened. It was as if I was in a dream; literally an outer-body experience.

From then on, when my mom would bring up the dress, I wouldn’t talk about it.

“Tara, tell so-and-so about the dress!” my mom would say.

“Why don’t you tell them since you picked it out?” I would respond, usually followed by silently sulking out of the room.

I figured I would like it some day. It is a beautiful dress. But as the rest of my life and other wedding plans unfolded around me, I forgot about the dress (or I tried to black out the experience).

I did eventually have to get fitted, which happened in April. But a few weeks ago I asked my mom to send me photos she took during the fitting. When I opened the email, I burst out crying. I looked terrible! It just wasn’t me. I couldn’t look more uncomfortable. It was as if someone forced me it in. At the very least, it didn’t look like my wedding dress.

In the last year and a half, a lot has happened in my life. I quit a job where I was content being relatively unhappy, I took a Caribbean adventure working on a yacht, I moved to Florida all by myself and started on a new (and very intense) career path. Slowly I am growing up and coming into my own. I am learning what I want and learning to speak up. Being apart from my family (and mainly my mom) has given me a freedom to just be me. And me isn’t a Troll belly or super sparkle.

I feel stupid. It is just fabric. But I also know that it’s the outfit I will wearing when I become Mark’s wife. When I become bound to him for the rest of our lives in front of hundreds of our friends and family. When I start the next chapter in my life. Marriage is a rite of passage. And in most cultures rites of passage require much preparation, a ceremony and, usually, ceremonial clothes. So, yes, I feel as if I need to give this wedding dress another shot.

Thankfully, God is looking out for me. The day after I gathered the courage to tell my mom I was thinking of getting another dress, I received an email about a 75% off sale at a bridal store in town. I quickly RSVPed to the event.

There is also some pretty cool Web sites, like preownedweddingdresses.com, where, I learned I’m not the only person who has had a change of heart. (Why don’t other brides talk about this?!)

I don’t know if I will find another dress. It would be easier to keep the one hanging in the tailor’s basement and just go with it. After all it is just a dress, and this is just one day. But perhaps this dress represents more than just September 18, 2010. Perhaps it represents taking a stand, growing up, admitting to mistakes, swallowing pride, and ultimately learning that sometimes you just have to do what is right for you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Notorious Monarch Butterfly

So, I was going to write about how the invitations are almost done, and how I am feeling a little more at ease after my “bridal breakdown” last Wednesday. Then I was going to tell you that unfortunately Mark bore the grunt of the breakdown, but luckily we survived and he still wants to married me. But none of that would be quite as interesting as the fact that in the ENTIRE city of Miami, Florida there are no $0.64 butterfly stamps!

I drove around for two and a half hours today, visiting three United States Post Offices trying to purchase 130 $0.64 Monarch butterfly stamps. The same stamp that the Post office notes on their Web site that many cards that require additional postage will even have a generic outline of a butterfly on the card envelope to signify that you should go into your local United States Post Office and request a $0.64 butterfly stamp. … Unless of course you live in the Devil’s Armpit aka Miami, Fla.

My journey started out around 2 p.m. this afternoon when I stopped in the Coral Gables post office. I pulled into the park lot, put two quarters in the meter and … Are you kidding me?!

The meter is broken. I growl, get back into my car and drive around the parking lot … again … looking for a spot. I wait for an old man in a scooter chair to (slowly) cross my path. I push on the gas, only to be stopped by a father with a newborn in a sling, slowly walking in front of my car as to not wake the sleeping baby.

I finally screech into a space, throw my quarters into the machine and race into the post office, only to be foiled by a line and a one-eyed postal worker, who seems to be the only postal worker working. I sigh and take my spot in line. The lady two in front of me is finally called up. She wants stamps. One-eyed Jack hands her a sheet of cartoon stamps.

“They are for work. Do you have anything less ridiculous? Nothing like these pansies in a basket. Yuck!” She complains. Pick some freaking stamps lady! I scream … in my head.

“Do you have the Forever stamps?” she asks.

“We are sold out.”

“Sold out?”

“A guy came in earlier and bought 10,000 stamps.”

“Ten-thousand dollars worth of stamps?”

“Ten-thousand stamps,” he corrects her.

She buys one sheet of some “awareness” themed stamp. Finally it’s my turn.

“Can I help you?” asked the one-eyed worker.

“Maybe. Do you have the $0.64 butterfly stamps?”

“$0.64 stamps …” he says turning around toward the bin with the stamp packets in them.

“ … Butterfly stamps,” I add.

He comes back with cartoon dolphins. “Here’s $0.64 stamps.”

“No. I need butterflies.”

“We don’t have those,” he says.

“Okay. Well what about $0.44 stamps?” He turns around again and comes back with the stupid cartoon “Weekend Funnies” themed stamps. “That’s it?”

“Forty-four cents.”

“Okay. Well this is for my wedding, so this isn’t going to work.”

“Okay,” he says, staring at me with one eye.

“Okay. … Bye,” I hesitate then turn to run out of the post office.

I know there is a post office downtown, near my apartment. But of course the $400 GPS my wonderful fiancé bought me for Christmas died three weeks after I moved here in January. I have no clue where this post office is and there are some parts of Miami I am not going to just wandering about. So I call my mom, and ask her to look up post office locations.

She finds the one on NW 2nd Avenue. I ask her to look up direction from my apartment, hoping to stop on my way home.

“All it says is 220th Avenue,” she tells me.

“That’s the directions?”

“Yes. Well, it’s not really working.”

“Yeah! There’s no 220th Avenue downtown.” I tell her thanks and hang up, figuring I’ll just drive around looking for it. I drive up NE 2nd Avenue, figuring perhaps the north turns a bit away from the bay and will turn into NW. Right? That makes sense that a NE would turn into NW and vise versa.

But we’re in Miami. After driving around for a bit, I pull out the map application on my phone. Of course, NW 2nd Avenue is an ENTIRELY different street.

I drive around looking for a post office. You know, a place that has a red and blue sign that says “United States Post Office?” Or maybe one with an eagle? Apparently this post office is a windowless concrete building, with United States Post Office carved into a rock.

I enter the dark building, and take my place in a longer line. Though this one seems to be moving faster and the post office is bigger. It’s promising.

“Next!” The postal worker calls.

I scramble to the open counter. “Hi! Do you happen to have the $0.64 butterfly stamp?”

“No,” she says, without even looking at me.

“Do you know who would? I mean do you even have them in the stores or just online?” I ask.

“Do you know where the downtown post office is?”

“I thought this was downtown.”

She gives me directions to the Biscayne Boulevard post office, promising they have everything. I drive around looking for the building and a parking space. I find the building but realize there is no parking. I decided to go back to my apartment, take in my groceries and then walk to the post office. As I get out of my car, I start sobbing uncontrollably.

Yes, I still have my health, a roof over my head, my family and my dog. But really? How difficult is it to buy stamps? It’s unexplainable. And that’s what is upsetting and unnerving. I pull myself together enough to get through my building’s lobby. Once I step into the elevator, the tears are released again.

When I walked into my apartment, my dog, who, like most men, doesn’t do crying girls very well, takes one look at me and runs back into his cage. Once again I pull myself together and walk to the post office.

I walk into an office building where it’s supposedly located. There’s no directory. I spot two blonde girls hoping one of them speaks English.

“Excuse? Is there a post office in here?” I ask.

“Uh, no ...” she says with a French accent. Close enough. She gives me directions. On the side of the building, in a little storefront sits a post office. Way tiny. Like shoe box tiny. My hopes sink.

A postal work comes up behind me. I asked for the stamps. She looks for them. All they have are the dolphin, she tells me. I ask for $0.44 lighthouse-themed stamps. She looks at a makeshift stand with sheets of various stamps hanging on it. Then she looks in the back. No, she tells me. I ask if this stand represents the stamps they do have. She says yes. I sigh and grab the ones that that sort of look like the king and queen on playing cards.

“130, please.”

She counts out booklets. “It will either be 120 or 140.”

“140,” I say. I don’t even care.

I walk back home. I’ll be able to finish the invitations, and hope to stop by the post office near my school tomorrow to pick up the outer envelope stamps. As proud as I am on how the invites turned out, I can honestly say I will be ESTATIC to send them on their way. And maybe having “green” invites (those that are emailed), are not only environmentally friendly, but also psychologically friendly. Perhaps that’s why hippies are so happy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

You may not be invited ...

... not because I don't like you, but because I might not be able to get them done.

Mark was in town for about two weeks. … And we got NO wedding stuff done. Oh, wait. Actually Mark was sick for about four days, so I was able to corner him on the couch one night and make him listen to the list of first dance songs I compiled. And we chose his ring, but have yet to order it. Mark doesn't know his ring size and his idea of sizing a ring means taking off the ring that he usually wears on his middle finger and placing it on his ring finger.

“Smaller than this,” he says twirling the too-big ring around his finger.

“Okay. Well what size is that one?” I ask.

“I’m not sure.” I stare at him blankly.

“I’ll just go to a jeweler and get it sized,” he says.

However, I know Mark. And going to the jeweler won’t happen. Not because it’s his fault, but between driving back and forth from Miami to Fort Lauderdale on his jet-pack of a motorcycle, dealing with the boat issues, contractors and the boss, on top of trying to plan the trip to Croatia, stopping by a jeweler was at the bottom of his list.

Once Mark left for his month-long charter in Croatia, and my wedding honey-do list was left unfulfilled, my mom came into town.

Now, I decided to do my own invitations. Why? Well at the time I was still in Cincinnati with my mom and grandma at the kitchen table, hole punching, stuffing and stamping save-the-dates. I also have three brothers, a dad and local bridesmaids. I figured with all this slave labor getting 170 invites done will be a fun, pizza and beer-filled afternoon with the fam.

Since that decision, I quit my job, moved on a boat for three months, finished that job and moved to Miami to start an intense three-year Oriental Medicine Master’s program. The invitations were set aside.

I finally was able to design some, bought the paper and forwarded the design to my mom for a final spell check, only to have her write back that she totally hated them (they weren’t formal enough).

I know some of you reading this will say, “So what? It’s your wedding.” But as any girl knows, most girls look to their mothers for approval, no matter how strain the relationship is. I hadn’t allocated a budget for professional invites, and even though my parents agreed to pay for professional invitations, there was something about spending over $1,000 on a piece a paper that I had issues with. So I was back to the drawing board, and succeeded with a mom-approved invite.

And now here I sit with boxes of cardstock and paper cutters in front of me. Mom my promised to help me when she came to visit, but between a final exams, beach trips and fireworks, there was no time. It’s now nearly 6 p.m., 75 days before the wedding and I am in invitation hell!

Elopement is sounding like a really good idea right now. Not only would I save paper and money, I’d save much more time just updating my Facebook page with a “Tara is now married” than tying ribbons on all this RSVP cards.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Mark came home last week. Both of the boats are literally falling apart, one of them while en-route to Annapolis, so let’s just say the homecoming was not entirely joyous the first few days. And, of course, in the midst of all this chaos I decided to pick the perfect time to comment about maybe not wanting to change my last name … at least not right away. Maybe it was the timing, but I had no idea it was it would become an issue.

Mark has a really beautiful last name. It’s English and Scottish (Side note: I’ve been begging him to wear a kilt at the wedding and he refuses. I tell him Gerard Butler probably would. That argument doesn’t seem to make the kilt any more appealing … to him at least).

However, his surname has one thorn. The beloved, and often missed and misused hyphen. So, unless I want the world to explode or, at the very least, have every airline ticket counter worker want to shoot me in the head, I will not be hyphening my maiden name with his already hyphenated last name.

I’ve always assumed I’d take my husband’s last name. Never a doubt. However, when it comes to actually, legally changing it, I hesitate.

For 26 years, I have been signing it. It was on my high school research paper that I proudly aced. It’s accompanied my first name on bylines of article and short stories I’ve written. It was on the back of sports jersey and sweatshirts. Friends called me it in college. It’s on my diploma. It’s been attached to honors and awards. It’s me!

I use to hate it because it was more alpha than zeta. I was almost always seated at the front of the class. I would be “volunteered” to give my book report first. I had to spell and, immediately, got out first in the seventh grade spelling bee (a perfect hell for the dyslexic.). But the shy kid inside me had to take a back seat to my last name. I learned to be a bit fearless. I learned to always be prepared or at least learned to think on my toes. People almost never spell it or pronounce it correctly, and most often I am mistaken for being Jewish (which now living in Miami, isn’t a terrible a thing.)

I am a very traditional person, and I have no problem with the traditional husband and wife roles. I don’t really care if Mark trades his goats for my hand in marriage. I really don’t want to take care of the goats anyway. But it seems like losing my last name would mean losing my identity. Maybe I am reading too much into it or being too sensitive or too prideful. After all, a lot of my friends changed their middle name to their maiden name in order to take their husband’s surname. And I’m not against people calling me by the new name. I’m just more concerned about legally losing it.

I love Mark, and it’s not about him. I know it’s about surrendering myself to the idea that I am no longer an individual in the sense that once September 18 roles around, Mark and I are officially a team – with the same last name on the back of the jerseys.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

100 days ...

In 100 days I will become a newlywed. I know, I know. It happens to thousands, if not millions, of couples weekly. However my situation is a bit different.

See, in 100 days I also become a yacht-widow. Though the term a bit morbid and confusing, I am basically one of a number of land-loving women whose husbands work in the yacht (or boating) industry.

As a journalism major, I always thought I would be writing about other people, never my own life. However, not many people understand my situation or can even relate. And for lack of people to talk to (did I mention I recently moved to a new city (Miami, Fla.) thousands of miles from friends and family back in Ohio?), I figured the once writer in me, could use this blog as a catharsis. And perhaps it will keep me going when I am reminded that although my FH and I get the to play house on occasion, its less often than we play phone tag.

I will chronicle planning a wedding from afar, with a fiancé often M.I.A., will also be working in Croatia two months before the wedding … oh and did I mention I am in school again? I wish I had started this blog earlier so I could describe the drama that occurred when my class schedule changed and the two-week honeymoon we were planning has since turned into a long-weekend at a resort in Naples, Fla. (Exotic, right?) I hope to follow our first year newly wed, navigating the waters of a long-distance marriage as well as learning a bit about life along the way.