Monthly Archives: May 2010

Would you say no…? Well, yes.

Alright, friends, I have alluded to this little story before, but only now have I the energy to sit down and actually write it. This long-time-coming tale is one of almost-engagement, non-engagement, and pre-engagement. This is an anecdote of detail and “what is an engagement, really?” And onto it:

Turtle totally did not want to marry me.

Okay, I’m way exaggerating.  I think she made it quite clear that a part of her did want to marry me.  But another, larger part of her was clinging desperately to her single-dom, her independence, and the sense of self that she had spent several years fostering.  I think that sometimes a relationship can threaten a sense of self – if it’s a good relationship, you can get past that and hopefully both people help foster each other’s sense of self, but in a less-than-awesome relationship, you can really lose yourself.  Which, on a side note, is something I am very familiar with.

I think it was about five weeks into our relationship that I started thinking about marriage.  I remember, actually, the first time it crossed my mind, because it crossed my mind totally uninvited and I actually startled a little bit.  I was like, “Hey, marriage-thought, how the hell did you get here? Make yourself comfortable.”  We were walking near Harvard Square, and we were holding hands, and we probably weren’t talking because I remember thinking about us and our age difference (we’re 11 years apart – surprise?) and whether that would affect our relationship.  And that’s when the thought crossed my mind: “It’ll probably only come up when we get married.”


  1. What the f kind of thought is that, to randomly cross one’s mind?
  2. We had been dating – have I said this already? – for approximately a month. A month! Enough said.
  3. Really, the logic is flawed.  How would an age difference really affect our wedding?  It didn’t occur to me that it would affect our relationship or our marriage – just our wedding.  Where does that come from?

I spent the next few months discussing with my roller derby carpool buddy whether I was crazy (answer: no) and whether to actually say anything (answer: hell no).  We talked about really, really loving someone and how sometimes you can’t say more than “I love you,” but that “Will you marry me?” is like saying, “No, I really really love you,” and that sometimes you should wait until you’ve been together at least 6 months and try to find other ways to express that in the meantime.  In retrospect, this is not the case for everyone… but I think it’s pretty good advice.  Thanks, Estrogeena Davis.

Fast forward a few months: it’s December, we are at Turtle’s friend’s house for dinner, and we have both had a bit too much wine (another side note: that means approximately one glass each. We are very small people.). We go to wait in line for the bathroom, and we are all lovey and sweet and happy together.  At this point, we have been together about 8 months.  That’s a reasonable amount of time.  And I, in my drunken lack-of-inhibition-ness, say, “If I asked you to marry me, would you say no?”

She looks at me and says, “No.” And then she goes into the bathroom.

So I am all fluttery and twittering and don’t remember much else until that night, when I say, “If I asked you to marry me, would you say yes?” And she says something like, “I think so,” or “probably,” or maybe she even said “yes,” but if she did she said it evasively.

What do you do with that, people?  Does that mean yes? Are we talking about marriage here?  Are we way, way ahead of schedule?

Well, what I did with that was I bought her a ring.  I bought her a ring that I knew she liked and that I could afford and here it is:

image by bloom studios; click for source

A funny note: I was so nervous when I bought it.  I had been eyeing it on Etsy for a month and my hands were shaking as I clicked through to order it – and then as soon as it was done, I felt calm.  I felt like this was the right thing – of course it was the right thing.

And then I carried it around with me everywhere.  And I started acting funny.  We started bickering and picking at each other, just a little; it was like we were both testing out whether this was something we really wanted to do.  And I don’t remember when I told her I had a ring, but she knew, and every time it came up in any way at all, she freaked out a little and wouldn’t even agree to look at it.  So finally we agreed to stop talking about it, and I just hid the ring away and tried to stop thinking about it.

In the next few months, we moved in together, got a kitten, I quit my job, I got a new job, I started medication for depression, I quit the new job and started a newer job, she got a new job, I had a hard time at work, and one of our closest friends prepared for her move from Boston to the stupid west coast.  In other words, we went through a lot together. One day, we were supposed to go away for the weekend and her workday was totally kicking her butt.  I decided to pick her up at the train station and when she came up the stairs, she was crying.  She’s cried, like, three times in our entire relationship, so you know it’s a big deal when it happens. And she got into the car and cried and I told her that everything was going to be alright.  I sat there, hugging her and rubbing her back, and when she stopped crying she sat up and looked at me and said, “I would like to marry you.”

This was not our proposal.  There was no ring here, there was no huge thing, and to be perfectly honest I was afraid to say anything about it in case she took it back or got scared or jumped out of the car and ran away.  I was pretty much like, “I can never change my clothes or bathe again because I can’t change anything.”  Don’t worry, I totally bathed and changed within a reasonable time frame.

Anyway, we went away for the weekend, and we got back home, and at this point it was clear that we had agreed to marry each other.  So I asked if she wanted to see the ring, and she said no.  She said she didn’t want to see it until it was real, until this was it.  And I said that I needed her to see the ring, I needed her to make sure she liked it, I needed to know if it was the right thing.  She agreed, and I dug it out of my pants drawer (underwear or sock drawer is way too obvious, you guys) and I gave it to her.  And I could tell right away that it was not what she wanted from an engagement ring.

And you know what?  That was totally, completely okay.  Because this ring, this pretty little chocolate diamond ring, was about so many things that were not about our agreement to marry each other.  It was about my realizing I wanted to be with her in this big important way.  It was about my willingness to wait until she was ready, and about her willingness and ability to know herself and recognize where she was in her process. It was about the eight months in between my buying it and our decision together.  It was about our knowing where we ourselves were in this process and knowing where the other one of us was.

I asked her to take it and to wear it for all of the things it meant to us.  We agreed that it would be our “pre-engagement ring” even as we laughed about how dorky and ridiculous it is to be pre-engaged.  And you know what?  It was the absolute perfect pre-engagement ring.  She wore it on her right hand, and still does now.

oooh pretty secret ring no one else notices cause it's on the other hand!

Which side were/are you on in your relationship? How many engagement rings is too many?  Why do you think an 11 year age difference would affect our wedding? Do you think I am completely crazy? At least the dog didn’t eat the ring, right?

that weeked: thumbs up for love.



Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, Relationships

Understanding Topanga

Hi Blogland.

Here is a thought that I had: The blogs that I most enjoy reading are the ones in which the writer opens up a little, shares enough personal information to be interesting, and is candid about things. So – deep breath – here is some information that is personal, hopefully interesting, and feels candid.

Last month, my parents separated.

This is not a place for me to talk about what happened for them or their reasons or what is happening now between them or even between each of them and me. But this is a place, I think, for me to say that this is something that is happening, and that it is hard.

My senior year of college, I lived with my roommate from freshman year (she’s now in Africa and is bringing me a lion cub as a wedding present, of course) and two friends who had been in a long-distance relationship for two years and were now moving in together – with us.  This was a huge adjustment for all of us.  Their relationship had its ups and downs and its occasionally audible sex (sorry!), and it was the first relationship that I saw from this perspective besides my parents.  It’s not often that you get to see couples in their nice clothes and their pajamas, at their good points and bad points and boring old “you clean up dinner while I do my homework” points.

There are some “do”s and “don’t”s that you take from different relationships that you see, and I took a lot of “don’t”s from that one, and a “do” or two. One thing that’s really hard right now is that I took from my parents’ relationship pretty much all “do”s and only one or two “don’t”s.  Their relationship has been one I admired and even, to some extent, idolized.

When my parents stopped living together, my sister called me* and said, “Remember that episode of Boy Meets World, when Topanga’s (omg, remember Topanga??) parents come to visit her at college and tell her they’re getting a divorce and then she calls off the engagement with Cory and leaves for awhile?  I never understood that.  But now I do.”

And I do, too, though please don’t think that that is what is going to happen.  But I get that the relationship between her parents was one that probably many of her other relationships were based on in some way, and that now it has ended, and she had no control and no say and no way to know what really happened and ensure that whatever it was wasn’t going to happen in her relationship.  Of course she had to take a break.

I’ve pretty much reverted to being sixteen years old, all the time.  Angsty teenage Bird, here I am.  I am getting mad because Turtle didn’t make dinner, or because she made the wrong thing for dinner, or because she did make dinner, or because she did or didn’t walk the dog or did or didn’t call me.  She pretty much can’t do anything right by me right now.  And despite my fairly constant frustration and snippyness, she is still here.  She is still making dinner and walking the dog – or not – and she is doing a damn good job walking away from me when I am trying to engage her in some argument over something completely, absolutely not worth arguing about.  She is keeping our sanity in this move, and she is making sure that I am okay all the time.  Even when I’m being a big old jerk.  She is even helping me carry my crazy heavy kayak all the way down our road to the water and then hanging out with our poorly behaved dog for half an hour so I can paddle around before she helps me carry it home.

I don’t think I will ever know exactly what is happening between my parents, because how can anyone know the intimacy and intricacies of someone else’s relationship?  It has certainly been here for my whole life, but I have definitely not been here for its whole life.

What I’m trying to focus on are the things I do know are issues, and how they might affect me, and if I might have similar habits or tendencies, and how to avoid or deal with those things before they become problems in my relationship.  I am trying to talk to Turtle about what is happening and how she feels about it, when I’m feeling like I’m at least a little older than 16.  And I am trusting that if we can get through all of this together, we are starting things the right way.

Words of advice, blogland?

*Having a sister is absolutely amazing when hard family things happen.  Thanks, sister.

my sister and me, age 4 and 6 (?)


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My Fiancee is (an) Amazing (painter)

… and family helped too!

Here, dear readers, is some before and after:

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Obviously we didn’t totally fix up the view out our bedroom window, but I did put plants there! The grass just cooperated.  Turtle and I painted the pantry together and I think it is lovely, if I do say so myself.

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Excuses, excuses

Dear Blogland –

I know, I know, I have disappeared. And excuses are ridiculous, but I’m sort of a Frozen Brain these days and can’t think of productive things to say beyond the loop of “keep it together, Bird! No, really, keep it together, it’s going to be alright,” so I figure at the very least I can entertain you with thoughts of my stress-inducing life.

So here’s what’s what:

  1. We moved.  You may have heard about this in, oh, a million other posts.  We have had to do all the normal moving things, like acquiring a method of getting all of our stuff from one apartment to the other, and as it turns out movers are really expensive.  Then we had to do a lot of cleaning and some painting, and yes these are all still the normal moving things – the hard part has been the relationship part, where we are both on edge and are like, “What do you mean you want to move/paint that before we paint/move that?! You have to clean/unpack before we unpack/clean?”  You may think I’m writing the same thing over and over again but if you read closely you’ll see that we exactly disagree on the order in which we should do things, and this, my friends, is hard when you’re already stressed out because you can’t find the tea and you don’t know where your clean underwear is.
  2. Painting is hard: I painted this entire wall a color we both ended up hating. Oops.

  3. Piper got sick. Again.  The week before we moved, she started vomiting everywhere; at first we thought it was Jake, cause he vomits everywhere all the time, so we were just like, “Jake, please stop vomiting, it’s gross.”  But then Piper didn’t want to eat and we went into kitty panic mode, because Piper is never sick.  Bloodwork, xrays, medications, and an abdominal ultrasound later, she seemed fine… until a couple of days ago when she curled up into a ball and  didn’t move. And was open-mouth breathing.  Um, another few xrays later she’s fine again.  We have no idea what happened.
  4. My family is sort of in crisis.  Not really appropriate to write about here, but something that is definitely affecting stress levels and decision-making skills.  On a related note: my therapist is pretty much awesome.  If you don’t have one, get one – you never know when you’ll need it, and when you do it’s pretty great to already have one you know and like.
  5. We’re poor.
  6. Wedding? What? Oh yeah, we’re getting married! We should probably be planning the whole wedding thing, and I should probably be blogging about it, since now I’m a Bee.  But the wedding has totally taken a backseat to all this other stuff.  I mean, we’re getting married, we know where and when, and these other details sometimes have to wait until I know where our wedding stuff even is (answer: in our apartment. At least I have it nailed down to “somewhere in an area of 1100 square feet*”).

Here are some things, though, that are good:

  1. Our current abode is twice the size of our old abode.  This will mean big quality of life improvements once we have everything painted, cleaned, and unpacked. And did I mention we have a yard?
  2. So big!

  3. Getting through all this chaos and hard stuff together is such – such! – a good preview to whatever else is going to come our way.  If we can handle all of this at the same time, I think there’s not much we can’t handle.  Plus I know Turtle can still be way supportive when I’m being a huge jerk and I’m crying a lot (snot is gross) and I keep making her walk the dog.  She’s kind of awesome.
  4. We’re still making time to get out, together.  We went on a hike on my day off, and we went and explored the lake at the end of our street (um, yeah, did I mention there’s a lake at the end of our street? There’s a lake at the end of our street.).
  5. I get lots of supportive comments on my WeddingBee posts about how cute we are and how my writing is nice and how I even inspired someone to comment for the first time.  It’s a huge ego boost, and it makes me happy.

I’m sure there’s more than that that is good, and there are more things that are not good, but there you go – a brief overview of where I have been and a little reminder that everything doesn’t suck.  Sorry this is so long – points for you if you read the whole thing!

Now, tell me what is happening in your life and what you are doing to balance out the hard stuff.  And then come over and help us paint the bedroom.

Love always,


*omg our new apartment is so big!

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Don’t freak out!

Four months to go!

Also, six years ago yesterday, Massachusetts legalized gay marriage.  Before I was even admitting to being into this whole “gay thing.”

Thanks, Massachusetts.

(Note to self: Here is a reminder: all you need is you, your lady, and your people to be all in the same place at the same time in four months.  The rest is just details.)

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I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like

Dear everyone –

I’m sorry I have disappeared. I think that moving is a mild, mild insight into what it must be like to have a baby: it’s your one priority, you lose track of what day it is, and you don’t call your friends except to say, “Come see my new ____,” (fill in “baby” or “house”) or “Can you come over and help with ______?” (fill in “holding the baby so I can shower,” or “holding up this fixture so I can repair the shower”). Anyway, the rest of the world has pretty much disappeared since my vision has narrowed and all I can see is our apartment and all of the boxes.

As you might imagine, wedding stuff and/or planning anything that doesn’t involved cleaning, painting, or sorting boxes feels quite overwhelming, so I will deviate from my usual wedding discussion and talk about something else I feel very passionately about:


Here are two recent updates from facebook friends of mine:

(oops, I spelled Acquaintance wrong, sorry)

(but I did not spell “hardcore” or “friend” wrong! stupid computer.)

Please excuse my crappy screenshots.

Here are my thoughts:

First, Acquaintance who I’m not still in touch with enough to say this to for real (sorry!): I “liked” your status because I was really, really happy that you got a ticket for breaking the law.  Yes, it may have seemed harmless to you, and in a lot of cases it probably is harmless to just roll on through a red light.  In fact, in a lot of cases it would be harmless for cars to roll through a red light – but you wouldn’t be nearly as surprised or angry about getting a ticket running a light in a car as you would on your bicycle.  And that is frustrating to me.

I am a bicyclist, and I stop at red lights.

I have been riding the streets of Boston for almost three years, and I have ridden most parts of Boston and several surrounding towns.  I have been nearly hit by many cars, and even hit one car myself when it turned left and stopped suddenly in front of me while I was riding at a nice clip down the street in the bicycle lane.  She did not look down the bicycle lane before making the turn.  Anyway, one time that I got in a fight of sorts with a driver was when he pulled into the bicycle lane, cutting me off.  “HEY!” I yelled – this is often the most clever thing I can think of to yell when some giant metal machine nearly runs into me – “WATCH OUT!”

To which he responded, “Well, you run stop signs and red lights, why should I watch out for you?!”

And here’s the thing – I get his point.  If I’m not going to follow the rules, why should he?

But here’s the other thing. I do follow the rules.  It’s you, Facebook Friend/Acquaintance of mine, who don’t follow the rules, and it’s people like you that friendly Guy Who Almost Ran Into Me sees every day when he is out driving his car, and it is seeing people blatantly ignore the laws that makes him feel okay about more subtly ignoring other laws, like the one where drivers should not stop in the bicycle lane.

I used to consider starting a blog just to rant about bicycling in Boston.  Thank you, Acquaintance, for reminding me to finally talk about this.

I used to say to myself that bicycling on the road is like falling in love: you try to keep your eyes open for whatever might jump out at you, but you pretty much just have to take a deep breath and trust that you won’t get hurt.

And sometimes you will.  Sometimes it will be a driver who doesn’t look when they open their door, and then your face looks like this:

photo by ellie leonardsmith

even though normally it should look like this:

photo by ellie leonardsmith

Sometimes it will be a pothole that throws you off of your bicycle, and then you look like Hardcore Friend up there.

But look, people: until bicyclists start following the rules, drivers are going to feel like they have as much of a right to ignore/disrespect bicyclists as the bicyclists feel they have a right to ignore the rules.

Stopping at a stoplight takes about thirty seconds.  Really, and often it takes less than that.  You can still break ahead of those cars after waiting, and not only do you lessen your chance of getting hit, you way lessen your chance of someone seeing you and instantly hating you.  And while I would never honestly wish pain on anyone, I do find myself thinking, “maybe a car will come screeching out and really scare that bicyclist who’s running the red light that I am stopped at.” Inevitably, this does not happen.  But the light changes, and I ride on, and I almost always pass the rider who ran the light.  Seriously, guys, you’re not saving yourselves much time.

If you are riding in Boston, and you run a light, and someone yells, “Bicyclists have a red light, too,” it might be me.  When I started riding around here, I ran lights for about a week after I’d seen lots of other riders do it, and I thought, “It can’t be that bad, everyone’s doing it.” And then I almost hit some little girl (who should have been using the crosswalk, but wasn’t – but it still would have been my fault) when she was crossing the street with her mother and passed through some cars stopped at the light.  And her mother said, “You had a red light! Bicycles have red lights, too.” And I have not run a single light since then. That one sentence changed the way I ride.  Do you want to hit some little girl in front of her mother?  Gosh, that would ruin your day. Not to mention hers.

Tell me what you think.  Do you ride? Are you afraid to ride? I could say a whole lot more about this, and maybe I will.  Do you drive and hate bicyclists?  Will you join me in reminding them that there are laws they should follow, too?  And is anyone interested in hearing more about this, or about how I have pulled over and had a conversation with every driver who has hit me?  Tell me, please.

me being way hardcore at my first bicycle race


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Pretending it’s home makes it home

Moving is hard.

Every single obligation I have has fallen by the wayside and making this apartment *home* has become my sole purpose in life. This, as you can imagine, might be stressful, since people still expect me to show up for work, the dog still expects to be fed and walked, and my affianced still expects me to be present in our relationship. The demands! Oh the demands.

This morning – Saturday morning! – I woke up at 5:40 thinking “I need to put up lights in the kitchen.”  It was even in italics in my head.  I have this huge sense of urgency that I have to get all of these things done now, or else it won’t be home, and then how will we function?!  So I spent an hour and a half lining our new, fairly dark kitchen with strings of white lights.  My fingers hurt from pushing so many thumbtacks into the walls.  And then Turtle got up and said (read this in a very ambivalent tone), “Well… I like it.  It’s a little… well, it’s nice sweetie.”

Moving in with someone is hard.

When we first moved in together, we rented a very small, brand new apartment.  They had just gutted it all the way to the studs and redone the whole thing.  Every single thing in the unit was new except for the fridge and the toilet.  And it was beautiful.  We did some minor cleaning, and focused more on how to move in together, how to live together, how to balance this new portion of our relationship.  As we settled in and got some more things and Mr. One-Eyed Jake moved in with us, the apartment started to feel too small, and that is why we moved.

This place is enormous.  We have an entryway larger than the second bedroom in our old apartment, a living room, kitchen, and dining room! and pantry!! AND two large bedrooms, AAAAND a front deck and back deck.  And a small but very real, very sunny and grassy yard.  Last night we spent our last “walk” running around and tossing the ball for Daphne in our yard. This is good stuff, people.

Anyway, back to what is hard: what is hard is having two people who have very different approaches to packing and unpacking.  I was to get all the boxes empty, put the pictures up, and make it look like our space in as little time as possible.  I don’t care if the couch is not in the ideal place – it rarely is on the first go.  I don’t care if the pictures aren’t centered, just get them up!  Turtle, on the other hand, wants to make sure everything is in its right place before we put it there.

We are doing a good job compromising on things, and I think, two days in, we are doing a good job settling in as well.  Which is not to say that there are not boxes everywhere.

For your entertainment, two pictures of the process: one of the corner that I look at when I want to pretend we are happily living here, and the other of what the rest of the apartment looks like:

We totally live here, and it's clean and relaxed.

um, living here for real.

Suggestions? Comments? Tell me your magical moving tips, please.


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