Four Years

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CW and I celebrated our fourth anniversary today, and we decided to take advantage of the sweet spot allowed to us by the fact that we both work from home on Thursdays and we went out for a fun lunch.

I love fun lunches. And unlike Don and Roger on Mad Men, we did not have to climb up several flights of stairs to return to our offices afterward, so really, we are winning at life. [You’re welcome for not including that gif.]

I’ve now got to catch up on the afternoon’s worth of work, though, so this will have to be a short post and I’ll skip most of the sappy sentiments. I will say, though, that after four years, there is no one else I’d rather have on my team than this guy.

One Year Later: Us, The Cake

This time last year, we were in the midst of taking our wedding photos just before the ceremony. The weather was perfect — about 60 degrees and sunny, with leaves just starting to turn — and we had plenty of time to mill around the small chapel and find the best places to shoot. All of the planning and list-making was done; it was time to just let the day unfold.

In the year since then, CW and I have had it pretty easy. I’ve heard people say the first year of marriage is the hardest, and I can certainly see that adjusting to living with another person can have its tough moments. (However, because we did live together for a few months before the actual wedding, I don’t really associate the necessary adjustments of cohabitation with marriage itself.) Otherwise, I’d have to say that we haven’t really experienced that difficulty I’ve heard others talk about. It’s just been such a good year.

I think if you asked either of us, we’d both say that getting married was the best thing we’ve done. Life has just gotten better and better since we’ve been together. We’re our own little family (us and the dog and the cat, I guess), we’re a team, we’re best friends and partners. Whatever tough questions either or both of us might face, we’re in it together, no matter what. Knowing you can count on someone like that is one of life’s great boons.

Thinking about all the good that’s come along with being married to CW made me, I think, that much happier and sappier at my BFF’s wedding last week. I just feel so lucky to have CW in my life, and it made me so happy for her to have found her someone, too.

But enough sappiness. How was that cake, you ask?

Cutting the Cake

It was basically just as delicious as I remember it being a year ago. Here’s what we did (in case anyone is wondering):

The day after the wedding, chill the cake in the fridge to firm up the frosting. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, trying to keep all the air out. I did three layers of plastic wrap. Place the wrapped cake in its box and wrap the box in 1-2 layers of plastic wrap plus a layer of foil. Freeze.

A year later: the day before you plan to eat the cake, remove from the freezer and remove all the plastic wrap. Place a loose layer of wrap back over the cake (but don’t press it down onto the frosting because you don’t want it to stick to the softened, thawed frosting when you remove it). Refrigerate overnight. Put on the counter a couple of hours before serving.

Our cake and frosting held up really nicely in the freezer and they tasted just as good as I remembered. The lemon filling wasn’t as moist as it had been originally — I think some of it may have soaked into the cake prior to freezing, or something. But it was still great. YAY, CAKE.

On Changing my Name

I’ve meant to write a post about changing my last name after the wedding, especially since Rose-Anne asked about it, but I’ve been holding off because I felt like it was a somewhat, well, important (and usually controversial) subject and I wanted to do it justice. This post got long. I wound up writing not only about how I feel about the decision, but also what it’s been like to change my name in various places and settings, and how it feels and so on. Apparently I have a lot of feelings on the matter.

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I know a lot of women out there who have made the decision to keep their last names after marriage, sometimes as a professional decision (like writers/academics who have a career built on work they’ve already published), sometimes simply as a feminist decision — they don’t believe in keeping up the old, patriarchal practice of a husband giving his wife his last name as a signifier of his ownership over her. And right on!

I certainly identify as a feminist (even tough my academic work isn’t in this area) and I firmly disagree with the view that women who marry a man can be passed on from their fathers to their husbands as property. To say I find this notion offensive and distasteful would be an understatement.

But nonetheless, I still decided to take my husband’s last name after marrying, which seems to be a choice that doesn’t reflect the above statement.

The professional and career concerns weren’t a factor for me: I have published and presented academic work under my maiden name, but I’ve taken the teaching-based path in my work (as opposed to the research-and-publication-based path), so publications aren’t my focus anyway. If there’s ever any confusion in the future about the work I’ve put out with my maiden name on it, I can’t imagine it would be too difficult to resolve. It certainly isn’t an issue in my workplace.

When it comes to the (what I perceive as) more important issue, the feminist issue, it might be more complicated.

(And, if I may be allowed an aside, I really feel like I ought to be calling it The Feminist Issue, don’t you? It feels like it needs title caps. And maybe a colon and a subtitle after it. “The Feminist Issue: Unraveling the Patriarchal Naming System.”)

I’m certainly not okay with feeling like or being treated as property. But would changing my name make me feel like that? Would it allow me to be treated like that? The first question is easier to answer: no, I don’t feel like that. I considered it early on and I didn’t think I would feel as if I were being transferred over to my husband’s “ownership.” And after the fact, I still don’t feel that way. I do feel like sharing the same last name supports our vision of ourselves as a family unit. I (we!) like that we share it and that any future children we might have will share the name, too. And, you know, these are just usual feelings women cite when discussing why they made the same choice I did. I don’t have any new or earth-shattering ideas here, I’m afraid.

The second question, would changing my name lead to me being treated like my husband’s property, is a little different. Living where we do, we are bound to run into no small number of people who have fairly antiquated or downright sexist ideas about marriage. The people who call us “Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast,” for example, seem to betray a little of this attitude. (Technically, we’re Drs. Hisfirst and Herfirst Hislast, thankyouverymuch.) For the portion of the population who still thinks of wives as their husband’s property, I don’t think my last name would make much difference. Even if I’d kept it, I’d probably still be referred to as Mrs. Hislast, whether correct or not. How others treat me wouldn’t, I suspect, suddenly be more egalitarian if I’d kept my old last name.

(Another aside here: It sounds like I’m saying, “Hey, people are idiots and continue sexist practices no matter what we do, so why bother trying to change things?” I don’t like that attitude and I hope I’m not guilty of it.)

I don’t want to make some kind of blanket claim that names don’t affect how people think of, respond to, or treat me. That clearly isn’t the case. People do respond to these decisions in noticeable ways. Colleagues might respond with a brief-but-palpable pause, for example. In-laws might be more overtly pleased with the news. My friends and family haven’t voiced any opinions on the matter, so are either being tactful or just don’t care. The opinions I care most about, of course, are my own, CW’s, and our families’.

I feel like some of this post reads too much like an apologia — like a response to some imagined accusation. That really shouldn’t be the point here, and the world hardly needs me to sit at my keyboard defending myself. So I’ll move on to some other issues:

How was the process of changing my name? How did I feel about it?

[23/365] New IDs

Online: Changing your name on social media is the easiest and somehow most fun thing to do. The day after the wedding: boom goes the dynamite.

The Legal Name Change: I kept hearing (rumors of) nightmares people had with changing their names legally. Long lines, inscrutable paperwork, confusing procedures, lengthy bureaucratic processes, and plenty of hoops through which to jump. In my case, at least, it wound up being really simple. I had one afternoon off work, and I had my IDs and a certified copy of my marriage license on hand, and I quickly went to the Social Security office and then the DMV. By the time I was done, I had my new driver’s license in hand and the promise of receiving a new Social Security card by mail in 10 business days. Once armed with my new IDs, it was easy to change my name at my bank and my workplace and to get a new faculty ID card. Ordering a new Passport was simple, too — once I realized that because I was both renewing the passport AND changing my name, I had to mail in an application rather than stop by an office. Fine. I’m a pretty organized person who often enjoys filling out forms, sure, but honestly, I don’t know what people were complaining about.

At Work: I’ve had some awkward moments at work. Academia is the one place in my life where I feel like an oddball for changing my name. One weird moment happened as a result of it’s being almost too easy for me to change my name in the university records. I assumed it would be one of those typical bureaucratic things that just took a long time “in the system,” so I started the procedure during the last week of fall semester, hoping to have everything fully changed over before spring semester started. I didn’t want to have any confusion in January with my new students who would just be getting to know me. So. I walked over to HR on my lunch break, let them photocopy my new Social Security card, and then walked back to my office. By the time I sat down at my desk and logged into our course management system, my new name showed up. Oh. That was fast. This led to me having to tell my classes about the change during our last week together. (I’d imagined it happening between semesters, thereby avoiding awkward in-class announcements.) I was all, “So, um, if you get an email from someone named Dr. W____, you should still read it. It’s really just me!” My students took this as an opportunity to go “Awwww” and …clap a little. Well, if they insist, I s’pose.

On another occasion, just before classes started, I attended a teaching workshop with people from all across the university — some from my department and a lot of strangers. On the way down to the room, in the elevator, I ran into a lady I recognized from previous workshops and we both re-introduced ourselves — except I forgot and automatically said my old last name. D’oh! I was too embarrassed to correct myself. Then, in the workshop, during the go-around-the-room-and-introduce-yourselves segment (which, as an introvert, I already hate), I thought about the awkwardness that would ensue: not only would I be introducing myself by a new last name in front of people who knew me mainly by my old last name, but I’d also be introducing myself by a different name than I’d just given to this woman in the elevator ten minutes prior. Some people would not let this situation produce anxiety, but I am not some people. Ugh.

Email: For the 14 years I have been teaching, I’ve been signing my work emails with my initials: KO. I’ve mentioned this here before, but I really love(d) those initials. KO. How cool, right? Anyway. I’ve switched over to signing KOW (I moved my maiden name to my middle name slot and ditched my former, unused middle name — adieu, Elizabeth.) KOW doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I will adjust. I GUESS.

In General: It’s weird. I’ll just say that straight out. It’s disconcerting. Seeing and hearing it, remembering to use it, introducing yourself. Not having the same name you’ve had for 35 years of life — it’s a strange feeling and although I like (LOVE) my new last name and everything it signifies, I still think of myself as Kate O______. That name feels like me. Kate W______ doesn’t — not 100%, not yet. But it’s starting to feel more me-like as time goes by.

One way I’m starting to get used to it is changing my name in all sorts of places: all kinds of online accounts, for example. Not just Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram and Flickr, Amazon and Goodreads and Ipsy and Hulu and such. (It occurs to me that I haven’t yet changed it at LinkedIn, but let’s face it: LinkedIn is a joke.) Getting my Amazon packages addressed to my new last name, seeing it when I log in, that sort of thing — it all adds up and reinforces. I buy personalized day planners every year, and this year I went ahead and ordered my new one to start in November, after the wedding, with my new name on it. I think I’d like something monogrammed with my new initials, too. (Necklace? Tote bag?) I had lovely monogrammed stationery with my old initials. Surely it’s time to replace that, too. Fully embracing the change and seeing the new name everywhere seems to help the transition.

Zoë asked me on Twitter how long it takes to get used to it, and the short answer is, I guess, “longer than three months.” I’ll let you know!

Big Fat Little Wedding Post

Our wedding photos are finally here, which means I get to share some of my favorites and write a little more about the day. Fair warning: I have far too many photos I love and this post is guaranteed to be photo-heavy without my even sharing half of my favorites. So. Ahoy!

On our wedding day, CW and I woke up in our own house alone after having spent the previous couple of days with our friends and family who had come into town for the wedding. The rehearsal and dinner the night before had gone perfectly and we’d had a wonderful time getting ready for the wedding, but I really appreciated waking up in a quiet house, just the two of us, and having a little coffee and breakfast and such before heading out for the day.

I packed up all my things and headed to the hotel where we’d be holding the reception (and then spending the night). Claire and Melissa, my two BFFs and bridesmaids, were staying there already, and we took care of a couple of odds and ends and then headed around the corner to my hair salon where Lyndsay, who has been doing my hair for 6 years, was going to do all of our hair for the day. We drank mimosas. Mel’s BF, Mike, brought us bagels from a nearby downtown shop. We took turns getting our hair done by Lyndsay and doing our own makeup. It was a really nice morning.

Mimosas at the Salon
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Above photos are by Claire — thanks, Claire!

(Makeup Sidebar: I decided I’d do it myself rather than having someone else do it, and, because I was saving money in that way, I allowed myself to buy a few higher-end items: Tarte clay foundation, Benefit Fake-Up and Gimme Brow, and a couple of other things. I am so glad that’s what I decided to do, because not only was I happy with my makeup for the wedding, but now I can keep using my new products, which I love.)

After we were done at the salon, the girls and I had a little more time than we probably needed to get dressed back at the hotel, so we got into our dresses and just chilled out a bit. I was thankful to have some nice time with them, relaxing and just hanging out before everything got going.

We had to get to the chapel (our university’s non-denominational chapel and the oldest standing building in our town) about an hour and a half before the ceremony to start doing photos. Originally we’d thought we wouldn’t see each other until the 3:00 ceremony, and we’d do photos after, but with the 4:45 pm sunset we thought better of it and decided to get some time with the photographer in beforehand so we wouldn’t have to be racing the sun afterward. It was a good decision.

One of my favorite moments of the day, actually, was when I was standing around on the chapel steps with the girls and some of my other friends and family and I saw CW across the street, waiting for the light to change. I had a good minute or two to just watch him and wait. There he was!

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Actually, with all the family and wedding party — everyone who needed to be in photos — almost everyone was there early.

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We did family and group photos and some couple photos all before the ceremony started, and at about 2:45 I made Claire and Mel come inside with me to hang out in the bathroom while the rest of our people (a whopping total of 32) showed up and got seated. CW might have already seen me in my dress before the wedding started, but I would be damned if everyone else got the same chance.

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Soon enough, it was 3:00, and the wedding party folks gathered at the back of the church to await our music. Our officiant and friend, Derek, was standing at the front of the church and gave the cue to CW’s nephew who was manning the music in the wings. The Proclaimers’ “Let’s Get Married” started playing, and it was time.

This was the first moment I really felt nervous butterflies in my stomach. Even though CW and I had already seen each other beforehand, this was the moment things started to feel really real. It was happening! RIght now!

CW’s mom and dad walked him down the aisle to the front of the church, then his brother Connor and Melissa came in, then Jason and Claire, then my dad and my brother Peter walked me down the aisle. I really loved the way we did it. It wasn’t as if my dad was “giving me away” to become someone else’s property, but rather as if the people who raised us — our closest family — were walking us into the next phase of life.

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Our friend Derek had helped us put together a really lovely ceremony and we’d asked my brother, CW’s friend Troy, and our mutual friend Becky to read selections: an excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII, and Robert Fulghum’s “Union.” It was really moving to have each of these people involved and to hear their voices during the ceremony.

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Then we read each other our vows, which we’d written ourselves. We’d agreed to write a series of promises, the first promise being the same from each of us and the others being individual. This was probably my favorite part of the ceremony. I hope I never forget how it felt to read mine and to hear CW read his.

An exchange of rings, a kiss, a pronouncement, and we were done! Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes sang us out of the church.

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A few more photos, and we were ready to head to the reception at the hotel across the street — but we were about forty minutes early. The ceremony and even the photos afterward hadn’t quite taken as long as we thought, so we wound up stopping in the hotel’s cocktail lounge for a glass of champagne. Like my first view of CW waiting on the other side of the street, this was one of those funny, unplanned moments of the day that we both think were so lovely.

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The reception was just tons of fun. The food turned out well, the seating charts worked and people enjoyed talking to ther neighbors (or so we think!). Our dads and the other members of the wedding party made their toasts, which were so sweet and maybe made some people cry just a little. I admit nothing.

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We had our first dance to Tom Waits’ “Little Trip to Heaven,” which was the first song we picked for any aspect of the wedding. Months ahead of time, we just knew we wanted to use that song. I loved it because it is the sweetest, prettiest song — and also it is Tom Waits, which I think is such an us thing to do.

We had plenty to eat and drink and good music. We had made playlists for the night, and occasionally we just went over to the computer (which was connected to the built-in sound system in the event room where we were — so easy) and swapped between the chill playlist and the more dancey one. At one point I even bought a song from iTunes because it was apparently needed. This worked out fine, in spite of my many pre-wedding music-related worries.

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People shook their asses a sufficiant amount, the children were adorable on the dance floor, and there was really good cake.

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Publix, you guys. White cake, vanilla buttercream, and a layer of lemon filling. SO GOOD. And of course we kept it clean with our eating and did not smush cake in each other’s faces. (He would never have done it. He’s too sweet to me to smush cake in my face.)

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Claire bought us the coolest present: a Fuji Instax 8 and a bunch of film to use during the reception, plus a little keepsake box for the photos. It was so fun, seeing all the fun candid photos people snapped all night and reading the little messages they wrote on them. By the end of the night, a few folks had to go, and the crowd was small enough to fit around just one table, so we all sat around and had one more drink before we said goodnight. That little circle was one of my favorite times of the night.

Another of my favorite memories was the next morning, when we got the chance to read through the guest book and flip through the Fuji prints while eating leftover cake in bed. If I could somehow arrange to do that with CW every Sunday morning, I feel certain I’d have a very happy life indeed.

Wedding Bits and Bobs

During the week or so before the wedding, I was ready to swear that the one thing I would change if I could would be to turn back time and hire a DJ. We had decided to save money and trouble by making our own playlists, but as the wedding date approached I was convinced it would have been better to pay someone else to handle it. I was fixated on making our playlists (the only big task that really remained) and I was sick of worrying about whether we would have the right songs. After CW and I finally had the chance to sit down together and work on it all, I felt somewhat better, but I didn’t really feel satisfied about that element of wedding planning until after the night was over and we had all gotten the chance to dance. Of course it turned out fine. Of course.

Chapel.

Everything turned out fine. It was perfect. One of those situations where there was really no reason to worry about anything. And of course, it wasn’t that I was terribly worried about it; rather, I just had so many thoughts circulating in my head (logistics! emotions! decisions!). I barely had any room in my mind for the rest of my life.

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As it turned out, we were so happy with everything. We loved the readings we chose and the processional and recessional songs. Our readers and our officiant were all wonderful. I was happy with how my vows turned out (and his were SO lovely). I loved my dress, CW looked handsome in his suit, my fascinator stayed put. The flowers arrived without incident and were easy to make into bouquets. All the little details went smoothly. Everyone got into town easily; people got along and had fun; the food was tasty and the wine was plentiful. It was all perfect.

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That said, I am happy the planning part is done. I won’t miss making the endless lists, having to call and email people all the time about various tasks, and worrying about budget.

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My favorite part of the planning, really, was getting to sit and talk with CW about so many things — I really loved thinking together about what we wanted from our ceremony, how we would write our vows, the kind of sentiment we wanted the music and the readings to convey. We shared our favorite love songs and poems with each other and talked about what we wanted our marriage and our life to be like. The beauty of all that is, we don’t need to be planning a wedding to do that stuff. We can send each other love poems any time we want.

Claire, Me, Mel.This photo sums up my feelings pretty accurately. Thanks, @brilliantone!

I also felt so lucky to be around my family, my close friends, and CW’s family (now mine too) and friends. We had so many people we love around us that every moment was full.

In other news, I am changing my last name, pending paperwork, and I won’t have any guff about it. I already made the change on Facebook, of course, because 1) that is what you do, and 2) I want to start getting used to it. So, it’s all new and different on there and it’s kind of weird but awesome.

In still other news, now I am married. More on that as the situation develops, but early reports say that it’s pretty effing great.

I want to write a real recap of the day sometime soon, when I have the professional photos to post along with it, so I won’t say too much more at the moment. I’ll share more of the details and such then. Just thank you all for the kind words over the past few days (and months). I appreciate the sentiment and encouragement and excitement so much!

Bachelorette Weekend Fun

Last weekend was what we’ll agree to call my bachelorette party. It’s hard to articulate why, but I do feel a bit silly calling it a “bachelorette party.” I mean, for the love of dog, I am thirty-five years old. I have lived. I also hardly feel that these are the last fun days of my youthful single life, or anything.

But you know what? I will happily embrace the chance to spend some time with my girlfriends wearing a fun dress and drinking champagne and bourbon and eating great food and laughing and being silly. THAT is exactly my speed. So no, nothing terribly scandalous went down, but we did have a fantastic time.

My two BFFs — we just realized we’ve known each other for about 17 years by now, having met our freshman year of college — came into town from their neighboring states and stayed for the weekend, so we got plenty of concentrated hanging-out time. It was fabulous. The three of us try to have a get-together at least once a year, but we realized it had been a good while since we last made it happen. Our trip to visit Mel in Asheville was our last big weekend together, so this was long overdue.

Saturday night, we joined up with a bunch of my local girlfriends and went out for cocktails and a really nice dinner at a new local restaurant. I ate some “hen of the woods” mushrooms, which were a strange surprise, and tried about four different fantastic desserts. And my friends, they…they may have made me wear a tiara. And a sash, and a blinking ring. It was fun.

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Laughing Ladies.This was the less rowdy side of the table

In the meanwhile, CW had his brother in town for the weekend and they got to have a guys’ weekend along with a bunch of his friends here in town, so now we’ve both had our “last night of fun” and “freedom” as single people. It’s all downhill form here! Heh.

Actually, having had the bachelorette weekend just makes me feel now that the wedding is really approaching. In fact, as I write this, it is only 22 days away. That’s, um, three weeks. EEEEEEP!

Busy & Breathless, Wedding Questions

Shhh. I am hiding in my office for a quiet hour in between classes and meetings and I thought I’d take a moment to write a bit. Don’t tell anyone. I am surely supposed to be grading tests, grading papers, writing lectures, or reading any one of the 87 different reports/meeting minutes/announcements sitting in my inbox. Let’s just pretend I am actually doing that.

The past couple of weeks, this week in particular, have felt absolutely insane to me in terms of work and busyness. I don’t really know why: my work responsibilities are roughly the same as they were last fall and last spring, but for some reason I am finding it necessary to spend more time on them. CW thinks I’m just putting in more work because I’m more invested and am improving the way I do things. I wish I were improving things to be more efficient, but I guess I’ll take it.

Wedding planning continues to be mostly low stress, but the number of small errands and tasks keeps mounting. I enjoy things like addressing envelopes and deciding how a cake should be iced and choosing gifts for the wedding party, but running all over town placing orders and picking things up and dropping things off and waiting in line at the post office just takes time, you know?

Recently, we have: booked our photographer, booked our rehearsal dinner, ordered our cake, sent out invitations, bought rings. I have: picked up my dress from the tailor, ordered bridesmaid gifts, got some new makeup (obviously a necessity!), and found but not yet ordered a potential cake topper. We’re working on: choosing readings and music. We’ll be tasting the reception food and finalizing the menu next week.

Relatedly, two questions for you, if you care to opine or suggest: 1) what do you think about flowers in hair vs a feathery fascinator? 2) can you think of any unexpected pop songs that would make for good processionals or recessionals?

So, anyway. There’s school work (I’m in the midst of creating, giving, and grading midterms right now) and wedding planning and just general life business. Like for example, why are we always running out of almond milk and olive oil? And when is the landlord coming to replace our other broken smoke detector?

My to do lists are not only multiplying but are also starting to glare at me reproachfully from the corner of the desk where they sit, feeling neglected. My supply of candy corn is both too large and too small. Also, we’re out of bourbon.

In spite of all this, life continues to be good. The busyness of work and wedding planning are happy things with which to be occupied (I have a job in which I’m invested! We’re planning an exciting life event and celebration!). I just feel like I might need to stop and catch my breath soon.

 

Moles, Clothes, and More Wedding Planning

School is officially back in session as of this week, and let me assure you, I am feeling it. This fall is going to be an incredibly busy semester, but a good one, I think. After all, I’ve got a lovely view from my now-private office (!) and I’ve got Marcel Proust keeping me company on my desktop.

...depending on where you look..I would like to welcome M. Marcel Proust to my office. BIENVENUE!

In other news, I recently had my first visit to a dermatologist for a check up. Have any of you ever done that? The phrase “full-body skin exam” was invoked and I did not anticipate it with pleasure. I envisioned someone inspecting every inch of my naked body with, like, a jeweler’s loupe while I stood in awkward positions and laughed nervously, apologizing for my cellulite. In reality, it was very quick and not too embarrassing at all. The doctor did find a suspicious mole on the back of my shoulder, in a spot I can’t really see. It was two-tone, which is a sign it could be a malignant melanoma, so she removed it and sent it off for testing. She numbed the skin with an injection of local anesthetic and then just cut the offending mark right off. I didn’t even feel a thing, even though I now have what my fiancé refers to as “a crater” in the spot where the mole once was.

I will admit that while I was waiting for the results of the biopsy to come back, I allowed some worry and fear to enter my mind. I imagined hearing that it was cancer, that it had spread, that I’d get sick and have to go through treatment and basically ruin our lives right before the wedding. Or, you know, die. I’m sure that sounds like a dramatic overreaction, but tell me you wouldn’t have some similar worries if you were in my shoes. I think anyone would. At any rate, the results turned out to be normal, so there’s now nothing to fret about. Sigh of relief, I tell you.

I do wear sunscreen and I do keep track of my (many, many) moles for signs of change, but it’s impossible to see all of them myself. So if you, like me, spend any time outdoors (hello, fellow runners and cyclists, I am looking at you!), even if you wear sunscreen, you may want to get your skin checked. It’s really not as scary as you might think. Quick and painless, even the mole removal.

Hmm, what else? Oh, I started posting work outfit photos on my tumblr again, if you are interested. And frankly, why wouldn’t you be? This is gripping stuff. Really, though, I think tumblr is a good little place for me to tuck those away so that my Twitter/Instagram/blog doesn’t get too full of selfies. Not that I’m opposed to selfies — au contraire. I love them. Everyone’s selfies, not just mine. (I like to see pictures of people! I find get to like people even more online when I see their smiling faces more often.) But at any rate, I just don’t feel like this blog is the place for daily outfit selfies. I might post a favorite here every now and then, but if you want the full spectrum of my pilly old Target wardrobe, you’ll have to head to tumblr. Deal? Deal.

In wedding planning news, there isn’t a lot of wedding planning news. During the time when CW and I were moving and then traveling, we let it sit on the back burner for a while and just didn’t worry about doing much of anything related to the wedding. Now, though, we’ve got to get back on it. We just placed our order for invitations, and I am so excited to get them and send them out! They’re fabulous. Did I tell you I got a dress? I can’t remember if I did. Well, I got a dress! I fell in love with one at Ann Taylor (yes, that Ann Taylor, go figure!), but it was on final sale and they didn’t have my size. Tragedy. But! I wound up finding an incredibly similar one elsewhere, even less expensive, and it fits me almost perfectly right off the rack. Can you believe the luck? I just have to get it shortened by about 1-2 inches, which I can do at my local tailor. I also found a pair of shoes (ivory ballet flats) and I think I’ve decided on a hair doohickey instead of a veil, but we’ll see.

Regarding flowers: did anyone out there make your own bouquets? That’s what I’m going to do, but I’m waffling between ordering the flowers online or buying bouquets from Kroger the day before. In both cases, I’d have to trim, assemble, and wrap them myself. The difference is, Kroger flowers would be half the price of ordering in bulk, BUT you never know what exactly they’ll have in their bouquets on any given day, so there would be less control over colors and flower types. Thoughts? Should I trust it to Kroger to save myself $75-100?

Still to do: arrange with our potential photographer, order the cake, order boutonnieres/corsages, do a food tasting, confirm with my hairstylist, make playlists, buy rings, meet with our officiant, write vows, choose readings, make seating chart, remember the things I’m forgetting, and oh my dog not freak out because the wedding is only 79 days away. Pas de problème.

Seven Quick Takes: Summer School Edition

I am in my office before class and I have two dilemmas: 1) I have barely any prep work to do to get ready for today’s class, and 2) I have two dozen oatmeal-cranberry-almond cookies sitting here on my desk and I baked them for my students so I don’t want to eat any before class but they are so good and they’re RIGHT HERE.

Hence, I shall distract myself from the cookies by writing a blog post. I have a bunch of small updates and minor observations, so let’s go list form with seven quick takes:

1. In our workplace bathroom, we have toilet paper dispensers that have two rolls side by side, so they don’t need to be replaced as often. The problem: one of the rolls has been stuck all summer and won’t turn. Thus, the other roll gets used up twice as fast and replaced twice as often, while the stuck roll always stays full and therefore never gets any attention from the staff. The careful observer, however, may notice the increasingly frantic claw marks on the top layer of paper where people keep trying to get the roll to turn. It’s been this way all summer; I’m wondering how long the situation can go on.

2. I just wrote an entire list item about a stuck toilet paper roll in my bathroom at work. Never say I didn’t give you anything.

3. I got a migraine aura in Target the other day while CW and I were looking at rugs and dish towels. It was just one of the sparkly, psychedelic, kaleidoscope auras that makes it hard to look directly at anything, but then dissipates in 20-30 minutes. It was followed only by a dull shadow of pain in my temple, not a full-on pounding migraine headache. I thought I escaped mostly unscathed. Two days later (yesterday), I woke up with a mild headache that got progressively worse throughout the workday until I finally went home after class with a head-splitting, eye-watering, nauseating, full-on migraine. So that was fun. The nausea is gone this morning but my head still hurts. It feels bruised, like someone kicked me in the temple. What the hell is this, a week-long, multi-stage migraine? I do not accept this. JE REFUSE.

Earlier, in the hammock..Towels
Another great moment from the trip: sneaking off and watching the sunset over the lake with my guy.

4. I never got around to posting a recap of our trip up to Illinois for CW’s family reunion / Fourth of July extravaganza — oops! Suffice it to say, we had a wonderful time and his family is delightful. I got to meet a lot of his relatives for the first time and they were all very sweet and welcoming to me. It’s so nice to think of the fact that soon I will be officially joining the family! We spent the entire weekend hanging around at the pool and lake, eating, drinking, and playing various games. I am not much of a gamer, but I tried my hand at a little cornhole and then mostly just hung around and chatted. The entire time, I barely thought about work, moving, or any other stressful topics. It was lovely.

5. Speaking of family, we have decided to make our wedding a very small one — immediate family and close friends, and that’s about it. Fielding questions and comments from relatives we aren’t planning to invite, well, there’s a fun aspect of wedding planning I did not anticipate. Can I hire a planner-type person who does not actually plan the wedding, but whose job it is simply to deal with these inquiries? We can call him/her the Nonvitation Coordinator? The Official Rejection Administrator? The Not-Even-B-List Notifier? (Any of you looking for a part-time job?) Here I am just joking about this on my stupid blog and even here I suddenly feel like I have to explain/apologize for the size of the wedding and the limitations of the small guest list. Oof.

6. It’s Friday, and not only that, but it’s also the LAST day of my summer class! I have had a really nice teaching experience this summer and it has flown right by. It feels like the class just started, but early next week I’ll receive final papers and turn in final grades, then I’m out of school until fall semester starts on August 21st. I’ll have a lot of prep, planning, and meetings before then, but I’ll also have a little down time. I’m looking forward to it.

7. This weekend I think CW and I are finally going to get the rest of our things unpacked and organized. I am ready to be done with boxes! It’s been hard for me to get much done this week because I’ve been so tired after work every day, but right now I feel the fever: I want my dressers organized and my books shelved and my art hung up. Let’s do this thing! But not today. Tomorrow.

Stick with me; the link at the end is worth it.

Thank you all so much for all your sweet comments on my engagement post last week! You all know how to make a gal feel special. I have spent the time since then gazing happily at my own left hand and occasionally squeezing in some work.

Planning

The summer class I’m teaching started on Monday and with it all my free time went right out the window. I am writing this post from my office, where I am supposed to be prepping for Monday’s class so I can relax this weekend, but I’ve made a devil’s bargain with myself: slack a little bit now, work more on Sunday. Isn’t that always the way?

This is going to be a busy weekend, actually — as is every weekend for the next month. Of course, all the busy weekends of the summer had to line up right in a bossy little row between late June and late July, just exactly at the time I am teaching. This weekend, CW’s college BFF is visiting us and we’re all going to see Bob Dylan (with Wilco and My Morning Jacket) in Atlanta. I am psyched, to say the least, and I’ll happily exchange some of my would-be couch vegetation time in order to see one of my all-time favorite musicians. Bob and I go way back, see, but I’ve never seen him perform live. It’s going to be fabulous. I’ll just be chillin’ like a villain with Bob Dylan, the good lord willin’.

Next weekend CW and I head up to Illinois for a W. family reunion, the weekend after that will be my last chance to pack up big things in my apartment and the weekend after that we move into our new house. The weekend after that? Grading final papers. In between all these weekends of course I’m teaching five days a week, with 100+ pages of reading to discuss every day and essays to grade each week. It’s all going so fast I won’t know what to do with myself and in the blink of an eye the class I’ve just begun will be over and I’ll be living in a new house with my fiancé (!) and we’ll be getting ready to start the fall semester. Can you tell I’m feeling the slightest bit overwhelmed?

It’s all great things that are happening, of course, and I’m certainly not complaining, except that I kind of am complaining. I think you can deal with it. This time tomorrow, though, I’ll be having an afternoon beer in Atlanta before the concert, and this time next week I’ll be sitting by a pool or lake or something, probably also having an afternoon beer, and hanging out with my soon-to-be in-laws. Life is still good.

In other news, I have been trying not to let the prospect of planning a wedding stress me out too much. While I usually very much enjoy the eye candy that is Pinterest, I am finding that the Weddings section is a haven for two types of women: 1) sorority types whose dads are paying for everything and therefore can afford the kind of invitations where live butterflies fly out, a bottle of fancy champagne and a Kate Spade bracelet for every bridesmaid, and a $5000 budget for photography; and 2) the crafty hipster who has unlimited time, access to hundreds of mason jars, a beautiful outdoor venue surrounded by redwoods, and a groom who likes to wear vests and suspenders sans jacket. I both despise and long to be each of these women. Simultaneously. It is a little trip to Crazy Town every time I log in. Here in the land of reality and teacher-appropriate budgets, however, there will be no live butterflies or mason jar centerpieces or professional photographers. We do have a date and a venue (this fall, here in town) and a wedding party, so that is a start.

I promise I won’t turn this blog into wedding-planning central, but it’ll probably come up every now and then. I do tend to write about whatever is going on with my life and that’s one thing that’s going on right now. Also, I have a question for you, if you all know —  Other than David’s, Nordstrom’s, and Macy’s, what are some good places to look at wedding dresses online? Ideas? I’m not trying to break the bank, so places with less expensive options are preferred.

FInally, please appreciate this woman I found in the Pinterest Wedding section, who may or may not be marrying a horse.