Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer of My (Joyous) Discontent

This being the 31st, I am gladly waving good-bye to August and to summer. It's not that I haven't enjoyed my summer at all, it's just felt like more of a transitional time to me the past several years because summer has always been when I move or relocate. Summer has felt restless.

End of summer also signals the significant slow-down of wedding season.

Emailing my RSVP for SR's wedding rehearsal dinner a few weeks ago, I tried to word it to sound non- depressing, but somewhere in the short email I had to convey that I would not be opting for the "and guest" portion of my invitation.

"I won't be bringing a date- it's just me!"

Never has there been a less enthusiastic use of an exclamation point.

I doubt that I will ever bring a date to a wedding, unless: a.) it's someone I am actually dating and comfortable with asking that of him and I'm positive that it does not coincide with an important sporting event, or b.) in finding that I am the only one of my friends not in a relationship and seriously need a plus one. Luckily, I don't have to worry about that yet.

Operative word being yet

As a result of my friends marrying loving and wonderful guys, I find it hard not to look around at the increasing number of husbands showing up to social events with my friends (their wives), and hear myself think: "I want one too!"

Part of me loves this stage of my life. I like the freedom I enjoy with my schedule and my budget (or lack thereof). I am figuring out the real world for myself. I got to live in New York, I work with good people, I live near my family, I have hilarious roommates in a cute little rental house with a dog who LOVES IT when one of us walks in the door and I am in a Community Group with new and old friends who encourage me in my faith. Life is great.

And yet.

And yet marriage seems to be where real adult life happens. Sometimes, as a Single, you feel like you are still in your track suit, warming up for a big race; stretching your quads and doing jumping jacks in your Adidas gear while others were somehow afforded an inexplicable head-start. Marriage grounds people, makes them more established with the house thing, the kid thing, the 30-isn't-actually-that-far-away thing in general. And you know what the great part is? They get to do all of it with the person they love most in the world.

I look at my married friends and I'm envious of the pair; the team dynamic. I'm not delusional enough to think that marriage is all love letters and weekend getaways- I know that you have to work for what you have and that, like anything else, you have good days and not so good days. The better and the worse.

I feel like it's normal to want that, right? Something in me is annoyed with myself for admitting it, because I'm at a place in life where dating someone you actually like, who actually likes you back is an audacious enough aspiration in itself; making marriage seem distant, unattainable and something everyone else gets to do.   

And yet.

And yet in the midst of feeling discontented, I try to look at what God could be teaching me through this. Patience? Peace? Gentleness? Joy? Joy has taken on a new meaning to me because I spent a great deal of my discontented summer searching for it constantly. Joy is not found in perfectionism. Joy is not found in things. Joy IS found when spending time with my family, realizing for the thousandth time that I could not possibly ask for better friends, focusing on the things I do well and finding satisfaction in my relationship with God as opposed to seeking it in a relationship with another person.

At the end of the day, I know that I often forget I am a mere 24-years-old, a whippersnapper by most calculations, and I'll probably look back on this phase of my life and realize that I didn't always appreciate it enough for what it was. After work today I got to go to the gym without needing to be home at a certain time, I cooked a late dinner; a new recipe I had been eyeing, I got to sample all four of the different flavors of sherbet that MG brought home and then finished my second novel of the week undisturbed on the couch. Everything was at my leisure; my whim. I feel certain that many moms of toddlers would have killed for a night like mine.

Watching friends get married makes you realize that from now on, timing is not the same. Whereas everything was on the same clock for the first 22 years of life, it doesn't work that way any more, but it's actually okay. You embrace it. It's just important to see that there's also nothing holding you back. Not marital status, not a job or school or geographical location or anything else.
Nothing is holding me back, either.

Scatter joy.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Friday, August 28, 2009

Brick Wall

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Too much "going" and not enough slowing down.

It started Wednesday, with a scratchy throat. I thought I was just thirsty, so I kept drinking water all day to ease the pain. Yesterday evening, my nose started getting stopped up. I can still smell, I can still taste food and I haven't started coughing, so to me that means I'm still functioning.

Today, I'm just tired. I called my mom this morning and told her my symptoms- I'll be visiting my family this evening for dinner and staying the night while both of my roommates are out of town. Sometimes it's nice to just stay at home- you get rest, food and pity in the same place.

It seems like this always happens. I go and go and go and the minute everything slows down my body decides to relinquish responsibility for my health, citing lack of sleep (too many good books read late into weeknight hours) and too much fun-having (weekend trips, weddings, the lake, etc.) as reasons for slowing me down. Let's not forget that I work full-time in the middle of everything else.

Seems as though I finally hit this season's brick wall.

There's lots of people who spend so much time watching their health, they haven't got time to enjoy it.
-Josh Billings

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anniversary of Sorts

All photos were taken by my friend HM, a talented photographer in The Woodlands, Texas.

This time six years ago, we met.
After sorority Rush at our university- a sweltering August in Texas week of whirlwind parties, cuts and favorites or "prefs" were established, the dust settled and we had each other.
This time six years ago, these girls and I were in a room, looking at each other and thinking:
These are the girls who are supposed to be my best friends.

It's strange to look at someone and know that you were somehow intended to meet. I entered college thinking I had plenty of great girl friends and left four years later wondering how in the world I would have managed without the girls I met there.
This weekend we were united again. Just like last year (our first reunion, making this one our second *annual*), girls are flew in from all over the country and drove from Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas to be together for two days. Some girls I had not seen in a day, some I had not seen in over a year. We were missing others, to be sure, but when 18 or so of your favorite people are in the same place, you manage quite well.

I rode down Friday night with my roommate KS and our friend EM. For a while it looked like it might be a guy's reunion, what with the Cowboy's game on, Rock Band blaring from another room and people playing ping-pong. Someone finally found Toll House cookie dough to get things back on track.
Many of us spent the night in bunk beds- my friends CC, EM and KS stayed in the same room both nights and KS was distraught to find her bunk mates up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on a Saturday morning. Rubbing her eyes and hair all over her pillow, she threw her arm over her face when we turned on a lamp and said "I forgot I was staying with superheroes who wake up at 7 on Saturdays and make their beds."
Superhero is a new one- I'll take it though.

(And for the record, it was 7:45.)

The landscape of the group had changed a bit since last year, there were a few more married girls and our friend KM was there, who is expecting her first child with her husband around Valentine's Day. Since our life stages currently span everything from awkward first dates to first babies, we discussed both and all in between while lounging on the dock, in the sun and the shade. A few ambitious souls took spins on the Jet-Skis, pulling a tube and two other girls along as well.
A price was paid- any and everyone who took a spin on the tube, bouncing over the lake at speeds of 35 mph had difficulty with arm function the next day. Monday even, come to think of it.
Dinner Saturday night was fajitas and margaritas. No make-up or hair-dryers; just hammocks, a sunset and star-gazing by the lake.
I'm trying to think of how to describe my friends in a way that doesn't sound cliche. I hope I never take for-granted the fact that I have these wonderful people in my life. People who will talk and listen and share and encourage, as they have for the six years I have been fortunate to know them.

We left tired and smiling from staying in the sun for hours and staying up late crammed into hammocks while chatting into the early hours of the morning. I think we all needed it- a respite from a busy summer of work, for many of us, and gearing up for the beginning of school yesterday for the teachers among us. We spent Sunday drinking coffee and getting on the road to the many cities we call home. Trips were made to both major Dallas airports on our end, and KB joined KS and I for brunch at La Duni before hopping on a plane herself.

Next August's weekends... will be kept open.

She is hard to impress because she has already seen the sun rise today, and it doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Perfect Imperfection

I returned to an empty house this Wednesday evening after dinner with family; my father's 52nd birthday celebration. One roommate was on a date, the other at a concert. 

I did minimal tidying up in the kitchen, the sugar at the bottom of my morning coffee cup was crystallized by the heat of a day spent in my car. I walked upstairs to my room, kicked off my heels and sat down at my vanity, where my Mac camps out most of the time. I enjoyed the quiet, so I chose to leave my T.V. and music off. 

I put my hair up and clicked on a lamp; starting to browse blogs and think about sleep, when I looked up and caught my reflection in the mirror. 

You look pretty right now, I thought to myself as I went back to reading. 

My immediate next reaction was: When was the last time I told myself that? 

Honestly? It's been a while. 

For some reason I've been focusing solely on my flaws recently. I haven't looked at myself without mentally assessing imperfections: you need more sun, you need to take care of that blemish, you need to exercise tomorrow, etc. I now feel exhausted by it. I'm better than this. I won't say that I don't care about appearance at all, because that would be a untrue, but in no way should I find myself so preoccupied with it. There are too many things about myself to like to get hung up on what I consider shortcomings. 

Perfection is not in the cards, but I find that realization kind of perfect in and of itself.

I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I'd invented it, because it is very true.
-Audrey Hepburn 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wedding in Pictures

Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
-Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Like I Waited My Whole Life

**Editor's note: I was total paparazzi at the blessed event in which SR became SC this weekend, but since I wrote a novel below, pictures will come next... or maybe tomorrow.**

When a bride's only requests of her DJ are to play "Disturbia," "Glamourous" and "Poker Face," you should have an idea of what kind of wedding you're in for.
Friday I made it up to the hotel and hopped in the car with AS, KR and RM to get SR to the church for the rehearsal. SR and I grew up going to the same church, where I have been going to weddings for years. Everyone found their places, practiced the requisite processional and left for dinner. 
Dinner was held at a steak restaurant and everyone was packed into rectangular, candlelit tables bordering a private room on three sides. Glasses of wine were practically brimming, and a solid hour of drinking before eating made for lively conversation.
Back at the hotel, our neighboring rooms piled into one big bed with the bride in our new white monogrammed robes for one last night of being ridiculous. AV had a new application called QuadCam on her phone that kept us entertained for a solid hour. Easily.
Saturday came and we were awake with the sun, or at least prior to 8:00 AM. AS, MK and I set out downstairs in our robes in hopes of Starbucks, and while ordering our lattes, found that we were very near the pro shop for the resort's golf course. Since we were still in the 8:00 AM range, which is prime for a Saturday tee-time, we did not escape the notice of the men wandering through while grabbing packets of Splenda in the full windows of the hotel coffee bar. 
We all got ready and drove to a nearby family friend's house, where SR's bridal luncheon was hosted. After eating off delicate china and crystal, we walked outside to admire the backyard and discovered the in-ground trampoline. KR, AV and I headed back to the hotel while the other girls went to the salon with SR. We steamed our dresses, re-did makeup and tangled with our not-always-cooperative brunette hair. We made it to the church and changed, touching up mascara and lip gloss, then camped out with SR for pictures and the lifetime that brides have to endure on the afternoon of their wedding.
Afterward, at the hotel for the reception, everyone was buzzing around after a solid 45 minutes of cocktails, and all of us in the wedding party were corraled to the side of the ballroom to await introductions. The hotel staffer trying to keep us in line found that herding cats would have been more productive. Everyone was too busy making bar runs, chasing people with plates of hors de'ouvres, taking pictures and generally acting a fool.
We got our act together when the DJ started playing "Forever" by Chris Brown and fell into single-file like a shushed kindergarten class. The ushers decided to run in for their introductions, arms in the air, basketball-team style, but MK and I were wearing four-inch heels, so we opted for the walk-and-wave.
The reception was lovely and after the bride and groom's departure (which was actually back to the hotel lobby, via golf cart), the remaining 20-somethings headed to the hotel bar. Green apples, which had been used as decor in the reception, were being eaten by groomsmen in leather chairs by the time I arrived. 
RM had supplied us with a box of pizza rolls earlier in the day, and returning to the hotel room, MK had no problem waking up and joining us when we grabbed them from the fridge. KR had mentioned our stash to a few of the ushers, so they found their way to our room as well. 
Sunday morning, MK and I enjoyed a leisurely brunch, though all copies of the Times had been confiscated by earlier risers, and then made our way out to the pool. RM and his girlfriend joined us, so I gave up the idea of finishing my book and stayed outside a bit too long without wearing sunscreen. I visited my parents for a few hours, two of which were spent napping, then headed back to Dallas, where it felt like I had been gone a week.
SC and husband got to enjoy this Monday beach-side in Mexico... back to work for the rest of us!

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I am nothing. 
Love is patient, love is kind...
-1 Corinthians 13:1-4, NIV Bible

Friday, August 14, 2009

Starts With a "W", Ends With a "G"...

It's still summer, I still live in Texas and it is still wedding season, kids.

I feel like I should possibly apologize for all the posts about wedding and exercise but that's kind of my life right now... along with sleeping, working and trying to make my bed every day. But you know what? Never apologize... take no prisoners! Okay, confession, that was butchered hybrid of movie quotes, but there is truth in that statement (just ignore the part about the prisoners unless you are a gecko in my house, in which case prepare to die).

There are enough apologies owed in life, blog content should not be one of them. Soon enough I'll be talking about football season and you'll say, Wait! What happened to the pretty people in dresses?!

I'll be splitting from work today to head straight to a nearby hotel in the Dallas area for SR's wedding. My friends have had receptions in a variety of places, but a hotel is a new one; distinct differences being soft bathrobes and no need for designated drivers. Any wedding that wants to monopolize my weekend via hotel resort, no matter how close in proximity to my parents house (10 minutes), will get some kind of purple highlighted recognition in my Outlook calendar.

This weekend will also mark the first time since college (2+ years, otherwise known as a lifetime), that my roommates AS, KB and JP and I have been in the same place at the same time.

I'm excited for SR; she and her fiance have been together for nearly three years and have finally reached the wedding's eve. She and I have known each other since elementary school; our brothers are the same age and also friends and we spent many Saturday hours together keeping score in the sand at their little league games. In high school we were in rival cliques but mine won her over after a few years on the tennis team.

Beyond the standard busy wedding-weekend schedule, I'm hoping for some quality time in the sun on Sunday afternoon. I need some color before heading to the lake for a reunion with my college friends next weekend and I also want to finish The Time Traveler's Wife.

If there is such a thing as too much fun, I'm about to find out.

Happy wedding, SR!

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate...
-Shakespeare, Sonnet #18

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Old Habits

In an effort to support my training/exercise efforts and also dispel the weight-gain tendencies of the Pill (which I still take and overall has been fine), I'm giving up diet sodas for a six-week trial to see if it makes a difference.

After reading several online articles and self-diagnosing, I have learned that the Pill can make you retain more water and fat because of increased levels of estrogen in your body. To alleviate this, you can maintain an active lifestyle and watch your sodium, carb and trans-fat intake. They should have also mentioned to beware Googling anything medical on the Internet- WebMD is a downward spiral that feeds even a hint of hypochondria.

The fact of the matter is that my love for diet drinks is unrequited. They're not doing anything good for me. I do love a good Arnold Palmer (half iced tea, half Crystal Light lemonade), so I'll be drinking those instead.

If I could succeed as a vegetarian for Lent, I can forsake diet drinks for six weeks. If it makes a difference, I'll probably forfeit them altogether, as much as in pains me to say.

You will be missed, cold cans of delicious refreshment.

Good-bye my lover,
Good-bye my friend...

-James Blunt, Goodbye My Lover

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Isolated Quote

I'm going to have to start a random feature on here to credit my friends and their unfailing hilarity...

Hey, what's that up dog joke?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Weak Week

Trainer: "What are your fitness goals?"

Me: To be mistaken for a swimsuit model. "Overall toning, more core strength, weight loss..."

Trainer: "Okay great- bring your book next week and we'll do your measurements."

Me: You'll pinch my fat? Lovely. "Okay, will do!"

For my first training session this week, we worked legs until they felt like Jell-O. My subsequent soreness/agony led me to discover that most everything I own can be thrown to the top of the stairs, as opposed to me actually having to walk them up to my room.

For my second session on Wednesday we worked on arms, where my triceps were pushed to the point of muscle failure. Trainer was pleased by this; I was just happy to move onto abs and core work until I was commanded to do Mountain Climbers. If you've never done these before, there's a legitimate reason, because no one looks attractive while doing a them. MG was nearby, waiting for a Core Fusion class to begin and humoring herself because seriously- have you seen yourself hop around on all fours? It's kind of entertaining.

I'm wondering when all of the pain will subside, but Trainer says we're building the foundation. This foundation of sorts is making it difficult to raise my arms above my head at present. I had no idea I was so weak but that's what we're working on.

I had a well-timed haircut yesterday evening and wanted to stay in the massage chair forever; the assistant with great hands became my favorite person for about ten minutes while he wrapped my neck in a warm towel and washed my hair.

It felt like pure luxury when your body sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies after the milk is poured over it...

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

A path with no obstacles doesn't lead anywhere.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Come and Get It

The early bird gets the blueberry pine nut coffee cake.

The late bird who came in after midnight last night (KS) even found some leftover white pizza with chicken and basil in the refrigerator.

In keeping with the culinary prowess, we made pan-seared chicken breast, salad and baked tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese for dinner this evening.

Since I enjoy cooking and food brings people together, I get the best of both worlds. It's relaxing to chop and stir and watch things bubble, and feeding people makes me happy. MG and KS are so obliging that I like to use them as a captive audience, both to help cook and to try everything. I  even got to be the apprentice to KS, baker extraordinaire, while she whipped up some homemade s'more brownies last week.

We're getting in plenty of practice for the day when a table and chairs will make it possible for real live guests to eat with us, but until then I think our invisible friends will take care of the leftover coffee cake. 

Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.
-Julia Child

Monday, August 3, 2009


I got a bloody nose after a blow to the face this weekend. That's how my weekend began.
Friday night there was a going-away party for our friend from college OH and her husband, who are moving to Boston for law school and business school. There was a room rented at Monica's, a Mexican food restaurant in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas, and about 40 or so people there to celebrate and say their farewells.
We ended up staying for a while because it started raining like there was no tomorrow outside, and obviously none of us had brought umbrellas. We camped out until the rain subsided; drinking margaritas and Pacifico and taking pictures until people started bleeding. I'm joking, It takes more than a facial injury to keep me down.
HA and I got in fights with EM's elbows as she was posing for a picture Friday night; she got a hit to the jaw and I to the right side of my nose. EM's husband is a doctor, currently doing his residency in orthopedic surgery, so she motioned him over saying "I'm so sorry! It's okay- W is a doctor, he'll fix it!"
So after tequila consumption in the form of three-dollar margs, everyone decided that it was time to go "out". BF and I hopped in her boyfriend's truck and met up with everyone at a bar in the Uptown area of Dallas. It was ridiculously crammed full of people, but we stayed and the night was basically a game of "what sounds good to drink, BF?" who requested a vodka soda with two lemons and one lime, then a Bloody Mary and wanted neither.
The bar in this place was a huge square and so we all basically made a game of trying to find each other the whole night. We would find three people here, but five would be on the complete opposite corner, and by the time you shimmied over to try and meet up, that group had already migrated.
At one point BF (now with a Coors Light) and I were trying to locate her boyrfriend and his friends and were halted by some old guys who struck up a conversation. I never know what to think of these people, the vibe they give off is so ambiguous. Are you hitting on me or are you gay? You are in the vicinity of my parents' age, you're wearing a graphic t-shirt and lots of product in your hair, so it's really unclear.
Friday night (Saturday morning) ended around the 2 AM mark, eating taquitos in our kitchen and wishing EM a happy 24th birthday. You know you're in a new phase of life when your first overnight guests are a married couple and their dog.  
Saturday was largely unproductive- MG and KS made a birthday breakfast for EM and after chatting and eating I was ready for an A.M. nap. I somehow made it to the gym and upon arriving home, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and was shocked that I had allowed myself to stir out of doors with such an appearance.
I took my sweet time getting ready and met friends at Cuba Libre for mojotos and dinner to celebrate my friend RD's birthday. We spent some quality time arguing which tacos were the best on the menu and when dinner wrapped up, I had planned to go home.
Planned, being the key word.
I was conned into going out, for the second night in a row, this time to a bar that's more like three bars in one, and boasting a room with its own D.J. lots of antique chairs. BF was riding with me, and while in the valet line she decided she didn't want to wear pants. You heard me- she was wearing a dress in the first place, but had paired it with some slim-fitting jeans underneath to wear to dinner. For the dancing portion of the evening, she decided to ditch the jeans and shimmied them off just as the valet guys were opening our doors, none-the-wiser.
It took her boyfriend about an hour to notice... par for the weekend, if you ask me. 
Usually when there is anticipation of an event, it ends up less fun that expected, whereas unplanned evenings have more of an opportunity to pleasantly surprise you. You may get hit in the nose every once in a while, but it's nothing tequila can't fix.

Show me a girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground and I'll show you a girl who can't put her pants on.
-Annik Marchand