Monthly Archives: January 2011

Marriage is always Sunshine and Rainbows. Duh.

One of my Weddingbee friends wrote yesterday about realizing how damn hard marriage is, and that post went up around the same time other people were discussing how marriage changes your relationship.  Turtle and I were sitting on the couch together, my eyes glued to the screen, my mind deep in thought, so I turned to her and said, “What do you think has changed the most since we got married?”

Trust her to be in the same mental place I am, right?  Um, no, wrong.  She looked at the dog at our feet and the cats, one on either end of the couch, and then at me: “Uh, our animals started getting along better?”

true love/mild tolerance

For us, so far, marriage hasn’t been Super Especially Hard, or at least not harder than we expected.  But I wonder how much of this is because we sort of expected marriage to be really hard.  Several months before we got married, someone on APW (I can’t find the exact post) mentioned that she’s been told marriage isn’t about getting through hard days or hard weeks – marriage can be about getting through hard years.  And at our premarital counseling stuff, our minister sat across from us and laughed and said, “Sometimes you really just don’t even like each other.” She laughed like, you know, she knew what she was talking about, like she’d been there.  “Sometimes,” she said, “You just want your mom.”

moms will help you fight the world, if you need them to.

And then the other part of it is that so much of what sealed our decision to get married was the Hard Stuff.  It was that Turtle could handle my sitting in the kitchen, just sobbing and not being able to stop; it was that I could handle her losing her job and subsequent depression.  It was that we figured out how to talk about the really big stuff or how to say “we need to talk about the really big stuff.”

The third part of it that I’m toying with is that there has also been so much other life stuff happening; if we needed something to be angry or anxious or stressed out about, let’s try job stuff or family stuff or sick and/or neurotic animal stuff.  I think that maybe all of this circumstantial difficulty has given us the option of falling apart or deciding How Our Marriage Is Going To Work.

The answer, again, is goats. Goats help our marriage work. (honey, can I get a goat?)

Guys, I am super duper for sure NOT saying we have it all worked out.  I am not saying we have answers or that our marriage is winning (though, ahem, it is winning for us!).  I am just thinking about why it hasn’t been as hard for us as other people (or as easy for us as some other people).  It sure hasn’t been sunshine and roses… but instead of waking up and being (as we saw on Mad Men yesterday) all, “WOW, someone is making me dinner and it will be waiting for me when I get home! Marriage is awesome!” we’re all, “Wow, this hard thing is happening but there are arms to hold me and ears to listen when I get home because that’s what it means for us that we are married.”  That, and also we are silly a lot.  There is a lot of giggling.

Has marriage been harder than you expected? Easier?  Are you expecting sunshine and roses or big changes or no changes at all? Who had a honeymoon period beyond their honeymoon? ANSWER ALL MY QUESTIONS.  Just kidding, you can answer just four of them.

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Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement

Identity Crisis, but I still love your dog

I have a separate dog blog now, which you may have heard about once or twice, and I do want to talk about dogs right now, but not in the way I do there. I’m not going to talk about how awesome my own dog is or isn’t, or about the training we’re working on; if you’re interested in that, head over there.

What I want to talk about is my identity as a dog person.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is, and what I mean when I say I am a dog person.  I am, for sure, a Dog Person.  I think I have a sixth sense about dogs; I will notice a dog two blocks away and be able to tell you the breed and probably predict the majority of its medical conditions, if applicable.  I can read most dogs’ moods pretty quickly.  I can talk about dogs quite extensively; I started the Flying Dingo so that I can stop talking the ears off of people who don’t especially care about dogs.

But the thing is, I am not a squealer.  I am not a Get Up In Your Dog’s Face and Be Happy That It’s Licking My Face.  Do you know where that tongue has been?  I am not a fan of dogs in costumes, or Cute Overload, or anything where we just sit around oooh-ing and aaaah-ing over the cuteness of these animals.

okay, yeah, so i do let her lick my face sometimes

On Monday I went to an open house for a Master’s program in Animals and Public Policy.  It’s not a professional degree; it’s not like how you go to dentist school and then you’re a dentist, or law school and then you’re a lawyer.  Kids, you don’t go to Animals and Public Policy school and become an Animals and Public Policy-ist.    But the program did sound really exciting, and got me thinking more about what I want to do.  Is it just behavior? I’m not sure that it’s just behavior.  I think it’s bigger parts than that: it’s how do we live with our dogs and our neighbors?  How do we live, happily, with healthy, well-exercised dogs in our society?

I don’t want to hug your dog.  Well, that might be a little bit of a lie: if your dog comes running over, tail wagging and ears happy, I might (read: will definitely) try to find your dog’s favorite scratching spot.  I will enjoy rubbing behind your dog’s ears.  I might talk in a voice reserved for these situations.  But also? I want to talk to you about your dog.  I want to know about what you think of training, about how you live your lives together, about how you ended up with this here dog and what it does for you.

other people's dogs: Macaroni

Um, somehow this can be something I do professionally? Someone please tell me yes.

I’m trying to find a place in blogland where I can be a Dog Person, without the costumes and with the interest.  And I’m also trying to figure out how to write my damn personal essay.

Dog owners, what are your thoughts?  Are you costume-dog people?  Are you dog-people at all, or are you the “I only love my dog and no one else’s” type?  Please discuss.

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Filed under Menagerie

I’m still smitten

I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned how Turtle and I originally got together, but this video reminded me of the whole thing:

Back when we were still just coworkers, we spent several weeks playing Scrabulous and sort of flirting over the little chat box they had there.  I got her to join Facebook (because I wanted to get to know her, sort of – I needed an in! But I told her it was so we could play Scrabulous.  Word games are a good way to snag a spouse?) and then I spent a lot of time looking at this picture and feeling fluttery.

Finally, one Friday night when I was supposed to watch a movie with my mom, she sent me a message; I’d just scored really high on some word and she said, “I’d be mad if I weren’t so smitten.”

Swoon.

From there, it all just sort of started: I saw her two days later, we had a seven hour date, and I didn’t kiss her goodnight.  Don’t worry, I made up for it the next day.  I spent the first month of our relationship not really talking; I was afraid we would run out of things to say to each other and that our relationship would be doomed: maybe we had nothing in common, maybe she was secretly a crazy cat lady, maybe our age difference would be a big deal or my friends wouldn’t like her.

Well, here’s what I have to say to that, Bird-of-the-Past: thanks for giving it a chance and finally opening your mouth.  And Turtle-of-the-Past? Thanks for speaking up, for waiting for me to finally find a voice and words and trusting the whole crazy thing.

 

the first picture of us as a couple, about a month after we started dating

When we first started dating, Turtle would not let me take care of her at all.  She got a cold and banned me from her apartment.  To someone who needs company and someone to make me tea and bring me tissues, this was a completely ridiculous response to getting sick.  When you are sick, you need someone to take care of you, and you let your girlfriend do that.  Turtle’s response to that: Oh HELLS no.  Leave me alone. Seriously, I think she wouldn’t even let me bring her a blanket.

Last week, as she was lying on the couch crying about how we were torturing our dog, she asked me for a box of tissues.

Look how far we’ve come, you guys.  So tell that someone you’re smitten with that you’re smitten, because smitten is a good word and it makes people fluttery and then they’ll wear makeup and those cute jeans the next time they see you and then you’ll have an awesome wedding and a cute-if-high-maintenance menagerie.  If that’s how you want it.

Who spoke up first in your relationship?

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Across the Shoreline: This is my party

After our pictures were taken, we waited anxiously outside the doors until amazing bridal brigadeer/wedding coordinator extraordinaire Laurie told us we could come in, and we were announced “Bird and Turtle TheNewLastName”!

The tables were gorgeous, with all of the beauty and simplicity we wanted.

We sat down, and the toasts began.  I don’t have a copy of everyone’s toast, but I do have my sister’s, along with her permission to share some excerpts from it.  I’ll try to include the parts that make sense even if you don’t really know us.  Let it be known that the other toasts were also amazing and tear inducing and one of the best parts of the day.  Not only do you get to stand up with your partner and hear them tell you how much they love you and how much you mean to them, and not only do you get the blessing of all of these other people who love you… but then you also get some of the other most important people in your life to do essentially the same thing.  This is a pretty powerful thing.

 

Turtle's best friend's toast

My mom's toast

Turtle's mom's toast (here she's describing how Turtle was willing to share fresh peas with me: a sign of her true love for me)

And then, my sister’s toast:

I just want to thank Bird and Turtle for throwing me this big party! Sometimes people get new siblings, and they don’t get a party at all. I’m pretty sure that when I was born—no party. When Alex (our brother) was born—no party. But here, Alex and I both get a new older sister, AND a party, so I’m glad you could all make it to celebrate with us.

In a round-about way, this is my party because I introduced Bird and Turtle. Well, sort of. I got Bird a job at the non-profit where I was interning, and where I had trained with Turtle. I didn’t interact much with Turtle during my internship, but I knew that there was something serious there when Bird called me to tell me about this girl she liked. I was in Russia for the semester, and Bird called me from literally across the world to tell me, in one of the happiest and most excited voices I’ve heard, about Turtle, with whom she was quite smitten.

As many of you may remember, Bird and I have not always gotten along. Like many siblings, we went through a horrible pre-teen to early-teenager phase during which we hated each other, and thereby made everyone around us hate us too. But during high school and college, and especially in the past year, we’ve grown very close, and I think have come to appreciate each other in new, more complex ways than we could have imagined not too many years ago. Bird is very passionate about many things, such as her dog, the idea of getting a new dog (it’s okay, Turtle won’t let her), bicycling, roller derby, her family, her friends, and Turtle, with whom she is creating a new family today.

When Bird sets her heart and mind on something, she will make it happen, and, if you’re lucky, you get to make it happen with her. Which I think means that Turtle has a very lucky life ahead of her.

So first, I’d like to toast Turtle. I want to thank you for the happiness that I heard in Bird’s voice from across the world and for the happiness and excitement that you have brought my sister every day since. And second, to toast Bird, my sister, and one of my best friends, who always paved the way for me strongly, gracefully, and beautifully, and who only got mad a few times that I got to do things that she couldn’t do when she was my age. I couldn’t have asked for a better sister to have asked for me, though of course now you’ll have some competition.

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The winner….

The winner of the Amazing Ellie Leonardsmith Photo Giveaway, chosen using the first thing that came up when I searched for Random Number Generator, was contestant number 4!

Which was this comment:

Key words here are “I wish I could win this.”  Sadly, she can’t, because she is way more than an hour outside of Boston.  Sorry Kristine (and Shiva 😦  ).

So our second pick, via random number generator?  As luck would have it, she’s also several hours away (um, on the other side of the country), but coming to Boston soon.

I suspect this is how she feels about her prize:

Yay Ele! Get in touch with Ellie and have a spectacular photoshoot!

 

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Bookstore Experience: The Angry Lesbian Edition

Okay, so here’s the other thing that totally sucked about our trip to the bookstore on Saturday night (reminder: the first thing that sucked is our whole world telling us we need the damn “perfect” wedding or else we’re Doing It Wrong and there’s no good publication out there to remind us that doing it right For Us means we’re Doing It Right. Anyway.): there was no lesbian fiction.

Okay, let’s back this up a little bit, because that statement needs, like, 500 qualifiers.  Or at least 2.

The thing is that I want some nice, light reading to read.  You know, the printed word and all that.  I want some fiction, even some, ahem, “chick lit” would be acceptable – but I want some lesbian characters.  The lesbian characters I was searching for didn’t have to do anything especially special:  I didn’t need them to have babies or have graphic sex or run around talking about being lesbians.  Unless those are the things lesbians do all the time, in which case, I think I’m Doing It Wrong.

lesbians Doing It Right?

Anyway, I got up in search of said light reading.  First stop: the new fiction table.  I read the back or inside cover of every book on that table, hoping for something as small as the main character’s sister dating a woman, or even a nonchalant “Sarah and her partner Debbie” mentioned in passing.  I don’t need a whole AND THEY’RE LESBIANS TOO storyline – I just want them to appear here or there or even be important characters.  And what did I find? Nothing.

So I headed up to the Lesbian & Gay section of the bookstore, and here’s what they have there: books on the legal papers you should write up because even if your marriage is legal in Massachusetts, if one of you dies, the other still gets nothing if you don’t have legal papers.  Uh, thanks for that relaxing reminder on my relaxing Saturday night, Barnes and Noble (Note to self: find a lawyer, write up the damn papers, wear my helmet while riding by bike. Stay safe, kids.).  Other books included: being straight children of gay parents, being straight parents of gay children, how to come out to your family, how to tell if you’re dating another woman or just spending time together as friends, a book called something like The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping With Chicks (um, not a bad book if you’ve been dating men and just realized you’re gay, but also somewhat offensive. Just in case you were wondering.), and a whole lot of erotica.  Did I mention I just want some light fiction?

Where you go next, if you are me, is to that fancy little Nook area – they have these Kindle-esque things that are actually pretty cool, and you can search for books right on them.  So I search for “Lesbian + Fiction”, and I search for “lesbian fiction”, and I wish you could hear the frustration and near-rage in my voice when I say that besides the Sarah Waters book that came up, every single thing was erotica or porn, and one book about mother-son incest that apparently had some lesbian aspect to it.

Seriously?!

I am just looking to be able to see a reflection of myself somewhere.  Of course it doesn’t have to be me exactly, but something like me.  It’s like all those wedding magazines, showing the wedding you aren’t interested in having. It’s like, if you are a straight couple, finding only books about same sex couples.  Fine for a story or two or even twenty, but don’t you want just one that is a story about someone like you?

So here’s what I’m hoping for: that you will all chime in and tell me I was looking in the wrong places and here are eighteen million books that have same-sex couples in them and are not all about sex or even mostly about sex (and maybe because they’re not about sex they wouldn’t be called lesbian fiction?); or that you will chime in and agree that there is a need for something like this, and I will run off and write a novel.

It’s funny, I think, the things that make me feel marginalized.

Please chime in? Thanks.

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Bookstore Experience: The Wedding Sanity Edition

As it turns out, Barnes & Noble is a pretty hopping place on a Saturday night. According to a friend who works at the cafe there, B&N is really The Place To Be – which makes me feel a pretty good about admitting that our Saturday night date was at a bookstore. Not only are we true to ourselves and owning our nerdiness (yay bookstores!), we’re also the cool kids (I think this is a yay… hm.).

Anyway, I’m not writing to tell you about how awesome we are (pretty awesome). I’m writing to tell you what was supposed to be a story about how I got enraged at the bookstore, but I think that’ll be a post for tomorrow.  Today? Good wedding deeds:

We had our cocoa at the tables in the cafe, read through some magazines. Had to get through some trashy ones to learn about Katie’s Holmes’ apparent drug problem and bratty daughter (but Suri is oh so cute) and then continue on my quest to find a magazine that 1. doesn’t make my brain rot (Katie Holmes already did that; thanks, Katie); 2. Is interesting (sorry Runner magazine, you’ll just never be mine); 3. and doesn’t make me hate everyone (hello, every women’s fitness magazine ever). The quest was largely unsuccessful.

As we got up to leave, we noticed that the girl at the table behind us had a wedding magazine on her table. And next to that, a stack of about 15 wedding magazines. And, you guys, she looked a little stressed out. “Turtle,” I hissed, “should I tell her it’s going to be okay?”

approximate size of *one* of her stacks of magazines. poor girl.

Turtle gave me a look that said, I married you and I bring you out in public and yet I’m still surprised when you ask me these things – why? I should know better by now. You can tell we’re married because I can get all of that from just one look. But she answered, “See if she has a ring – you can only say something if she’s actually engaged.”

So I leaned over to pick up something that I, ahem, dropped (um, a piece of trash on the floor? A cup from someone who’d been sitting there before? You know, something I would have otherwise ignored), and confirmed: a ring! So what did I have to lose? I took a deep breath, leaned over, and said, “Excuse me, I just noticed all of your wedding magazines. If you’re looking for some sanity, you should check out A Practical Wedding. It really is wedding sanity.”

And she looked at me with sort of crazed eyes (I mean, I think? I don’t really know her, so maybe her eyes are always like that. But she did look a little panicked.) and said, “Oh my goodness, thank you so much. I definitely could use some sanity.”

I feel like I’m a happy little wedding fairy.  Why aren’t more people telling people it’s going to be okay?  Instead it’s “YOU NEED THINGS.  YOU NEED MORE THINGS! THEY. MUST. MATCH.”

If I weren’t as shy as I feel and I knew her a little better, or if she’d said, “tell me more!” I then would have listed off every website ever that has the sanity (hi all you readers who also write!).  But I am kind of shy and I didn’t know her and mostly I felt awkward.

What would you do?

Coming soon, the story of my bookstore experience: The Enraged Version.

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