Archive | November, 2013

Home For Christmas?

27 Nov
Q and I, Christmas 2012. If you notice, she's choking me by pulling my new necklace, but I'm pretending not to notice. I did, btw.

Q and I, Christmas 2012. If you notice, she’s choking me by pulling my new necklace, but I’m pretending not to notice. I did, btw.

I hate missing out. The last couple weeks have been kind of mopey for me, as I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back to Iowa for the traditional holiday celebrations. As much as I have been acclimating to the area, I haven’t missed a Thanksgiving or Christmas back home before. But flights at this time of year are crazy expensive. Of course, I don’t have much to complain about as I have racked up quite a few frequent flier miles this year with weddings, a bridal shower, and my own nuptials. But the family traditions, that is something I have a hard time with missing. Turkey Day isn’t as big of a deal for me, even though the Black Friday shopping with my mom and sister is something I always looked forward to. It’s Christmas, well Christmas Eve to be exact. We attend Mass, have a big oyster stew dinner, open a few gifts and play games. This has been our tradition since I was a small child, and it hasn’t changed. Sure I could Skype, but that would probably make me more homesick.

I spent days scouring sites for plane ticket costs. My favored non-stop route started at $900, which made me pretty sick to my stomach. It did not fit at all in with my short-term budgeting. But I had used up all my time off at work for the wedding, and I didn’t have many other options. Come another time, my mom said, we can make it Christmas any time of the year. And as much as I wanted to believe her, I grumbled and groaned about how it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t.

New York is amazing at this time of year – with the lights, the shopping, the excitement, it’s hard to find another place that feels as … magical. But it’s not home. All it takes is for me to hear “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” or one of those similar tunes, and I just crumble.

Finally, in all my complaining, my husband offered that I just go home for the holidays. To buy my expensive ticket and get back to Iowa. He wanted me to know that if it meant that much to me, he could stay and spend Christmas alone. It’s odd how a statement like that will change how you feel about the situation. I mean, I love my family and want to be with them, but this guy is my family and I couldn’t imagine spending the holiday without him. And the fact that he made such a generous offer at his expense, well, yeah he’s a pretty good guy. So we decided to stay put unless flights got a little cheaper. I wasn’t blissful, but I knew I could manage to have a really great Christmas with new traditions with him.

And then I found out I had miscalculated how much time off I still had left, which left me with a few days of wiggle room. And then all of a sudden, an airline had a crazy sale, and we realized that we could go back – with some strict budgeting and tighter gift spending. We will be flying back to NYC on Christmas morning, but that is okay with me.

I’m so happy that I will be able to go back to Iowa, but now, I’m more psyched about this whole marriage deal I have. I got lucky and snagged a really great person to be my partner. He’s willing to sacrifice his own happiness for me, and I’m pretty grateful. So while everyone is having their turkey celebrations, we will be heading off on a tiny honeymoon celebration together, which I’m pretty stoked about. So, I must say, the holidays are turning out to be pretty great after all. 🙂

Gift Card Extravaganza

11 Nov

Gifts-Cards-Galore

For our wedding, we received a lot of gift cards. A LOT (which I am extremely grateful for). We did receive a few gifts (and all of them were wonderful, none that I wanted to exchange or take back), but we have a baseball card binder full of cards to use at our fancy. I love gift cards. So much. A card might only have $5 on it, but it feels like so much more. I can do anything with it, buy anything with it (well, within reason and at the store.) I like to flip through the pages and pretend that I’m really rich with loads of expendable cash. Ha!

Well, actually we plan on using them more for when we eventually move and have more room for things we might want and need. It’s tempting to get them out, but it’s kind of like when you have a bunch of cash in your wallet – I don’t want them to disappear. I made a promise not to buy groceries or everyday kinds of items – which I am planning to abide by. But we did spend a few of the gift cards this weekend, I was pretty giddy, and now I feel like more of a grown-up then ever. Here’s a few:

• Plastic under-the-bed and stacking organizational boxes. I absolutely hate spending money on these things. If I have an extra $5-20, the first thing that comes to my mind is not Rubbermaid. But I sure do appreciate them when I have received them as gifts. With a teeny apartment and very minimal storage, plastic boxes are kind of our thing right now. I spent a good majority of my weekend reorganizing my apartment and getting rid of cardboard boxes that I had been storing things in.

• Electric toothbrushes. Nothing makes me feel like an adult more than spending money on my oral hygiene. Seriously. If I had to pay cash for those things, wow, okay I probably never would unless they were seriously discounted. But man, after just a few brushings, I feel like I have had my teeth cleaned recently (and not six months ago, oops need to schedule that appointment!) Great, great purchase.

• Printer. We had a really cheap printer that was eh, okay, but pretty much only useful for the college student/instructor in the apartment. We bought one of those fancy ones that can be used to print photos, scans things, double-side prints things – basically a robot for the apartment.

• A TV tray. Yes, I used $8.88 of a card for a cheap tray, so that we no longer have to eat sitting on the floor at our coffee table each night for dinner (we already had one). Why don’t you have a kitchen table, you may ask? You see, friends, when you live in this area, you pay a lot for very little. Someday, maybe we will move to an area that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and we can purchase a fancy kitchen table. And have room for it. A girl can dream.

And I didn’t use my gift cards foolishly. Everything I bought was on sale or clearance.  Not only that, but I applied my 5 percent from my Target card plus some online coupons toward them. I also argued with salespeople over the toothbrushes, brandishing my ad in their face. $40 back to me. I even bought some Fiestaware that we didn’t receive from another gift registry for 75 percent off with a $10 coupon (but I can’t count it, because I actually spent cash on this purchase. Again, so afraid of my gift cards leaving my sight.)

Last night before we fell asleep, we talked excitedly about other purchases that might be in our near future – all the while worrying about diminishing our gift card stash. Our top two? A humidifier and a white noise fan. We think big, people. We think big.

The ‘M’ Word

8 Nov

tiredThis week has been … um, interesting. A mix of pure exhaustion, irritability, weird humor, and feeling eh.

I knew the five workdays after my wedding wouldn’t be easy, but man, it’s been tough. From making up hours toward my 40-hour schedule from my early flight on Monday to unpacking and trying to get back to a normal schedule – getting back into the swing of things, wow. Yes, I know, I know – parenthood will be a completely different level of crazy, but still.

There has been at least one night this week where my teeth didn’t get brushed and a few nights where my face didn’t get washed  – something that hasn’t happened since partying during college. After I get home from work and Nate gets home from class, we end up eating something easy to cook and curl up on the couch to watch a few of our favorite television shows that we have missed. Most of the time, we pay attention to just a few minutes, while catching up on grading midterms and writing grocery lists, or just completely zonk out. So those moments have been a wash.

A couple nights ago, we ended up lugging our canvas sacks to some grocery stores in the area to try and round up some things to stock up our empty shelves. We ended up at one of those really fancy stores, paying what we would normally pay for a cart full of groceries for just one sack. Seven bucks for string cheese? I’m not even joking. But we were so tired, we ended up paying the exorbitant amount.

Yesterday, I let a girl on the train really get to me when she basically sat on my lap trying to get my seat. Over something that is normally just  irritating, I was enraged over the ordeal. I kept shaking my head and ending up moving to a different train car.

And lunch. I usually pack one, rather than pay 10 bucks for a meal around Battery Park, but I guess the budget is out the window this week – I just can’t wake up early enough to pack one.

So what I am trying to say through this long diatribe is this: I wasn’t planning on using the “I just got married” sentence as an excuse, but I am. I’m tired. I’m so, so tired. I was so looking forward to the big day and spending time in Iowa, and now that has passed, I’m just trying to get in a routine. Yes, I’m super “in love” and am enjoying this “honeymoon phase,” but damn. I’m so glad we aren’t taking a trip until the end of the month. I’d probably just sleep through the time period rather than sitesee and do the things that we so enjoy on a vacation.

So this weekend, rather than cross off more of our NYC bucket list or watch a band play or go to a reading – I’m invoking my “I just got married” status. I’m going to gorge myself on undercooked pizza, nachos, and cookie dough and watch every single Harry Potter movie in my collection. I might not even change out of my pajamas. It’s going to be decadent and glorious, and then come Monday, I can go back to being a responsible adult with the whole bill paying and ya-di-ya-di-ya.

Jeez, I just got married, people.

So Blessed

5 Nov
This photo was taken by my now sister-in-law Nicole.

This photo was taken by my now sister-in-law Nicole.

Wonderful. Absolutely, spectacularly wonderful. On my flight back to New York City, I can’t think of anything I would change about my weekend in Iowa (except for it to have been longer). I saw many of the people that I love all in one place. I spent time in a beautiful place at a gorgeous time of year. And I married the love of my life.

And while a majority of my time was devoted to the wedding, I was able to savor the pace of life back in Webster City. Trick-or-treating with my one-year-old niece, all dressed up in a donkey costume. Having family meals at my childhood home. Cuddling with my anxiety-ridden kitty Suki. Hiking through Briggs Woods and stopping by the local library.

The wedding was beautiful – at a winery near Ames, with decorations to go with the season. The backdrop to the ceremony was perfect with the ever-changing colors of the tree leaves peering through the glass wall of the reception hall as the sun set.

What I take back from this experience is how truly blessed I am. The amount of love and generosity shown to me by everyone we encountered was astounding. Dear family and friends worked tirelessly to make sure that each detail was accounted for. Tiny snags were quickly mended and everything went seamlessly. My wedding party was everything that I could possibly ask for. If I needed anything at any time during the process, each of my attendants were completely willing to perform each and every task. My matron of honor (also sister) made sure that there was nothing I could even think of that needed to happen that hadn’t already took place. And while each one of us live in different areas of the country, we all shared so much laughter and conversations – it was like nothing had changed between my childhood friends. Our families were just … awesome. My parents, dear lord I tear up thinking of what they had done for me. And seeing all of my family and friends – old and new – all in one place … wow. Even though I wish I could stop at each table and have endless conversations with all that attended, just seeing people, some that I haven’t seen in years, was so great.

And last, but definitely not least, my beautiful husband. From the love poem he read at the ceremony to the laughter we shared over cheap take out in our hotel room near the airport last night – I can’t imagine anyone else that I would want to spend my life with. In all the planning, we spent a lot of time apart. But when we put our wedding clothes on – taking pictures and saying our vows, I kept thinking, “Oh yeah, you. I’m here to marry you. And I am so happy at this very moment.”

The last two days have been exhausting, yet I smile at the thought of all that hoopla and excitement that we were able to share with people we deeply care about. Hopefully someday in the near future, we can be closer to quite a few of them and spend more day-to-day time in their presence. But for now, I am just completely happy and so unbelievably blessed.

Contemplation

2 Nov

Night_in_the_corn_field_by_balazsroby

I’m in my tiny childhood bedroom in the middle of Iowa. I’m laying exactly in the same place I did as a small child, as a pre-teen, as someone home on a weekend from college. I’d stare out my window at the sky above and ponder dramatically about my future life. I’d write in my journal with my legs crossed and think of all the wondrous things that lay before me. The room has changed – from ballerina pink to a burnt orange. While neon star stickers used to shine on the ceiling above, a pack-n-play now sits in the corner for my one-year-old niece. This was the place where I’d play, imagine, and dream.

Now, I’m a visitor, yet today feels similar to the night before my high school graduation. Losing a bit of myself to gain a greater identity, a shinier one. I’m full of hope, wonder, and insecurity. In the past few days I have visited my old haunts – the library, the woods, the cemetery. Places I would go to contemplate, run from the here and now, and while tinges of old memories carry on – everything feels a bit different.

I went through some of my old computer documents, in search of something, anything. I found poems that I had written for various people in my life almost a decade prior. This one was composed to my future husband:

Watching the stars,
One, two, three constellations, no four.
The radiance of those twinkling lights.
You stare straight up, and I look straight at
You.
We lay on this hill forever looking at the great beyond.
Stars never stop glowing, but sometimes go unseen.
Those cloudy nights cover up the beauty, and you can forget that immeasurable sky.
You don’t lie on cloudy nights staring out at the blue.
I wrote it at a time of confusion, a time when I wasn’t sure what was in store for our relationship.  When we were teenagers, we would spend hours at the local cemetery, looking out at the night sky. Sometimes we would lay on the hillside, talking of our futures, of what we wanted. Others, we would try to steal a moment’s kiss before authority figures would run us out. We were young, we were in love, and we tried to grasp on to that feeling with an intensity that I had never felt before.

Our time together was never linear with breakups, makeups and constant arguing. We fell for other people, back in love with each other, and sometimes we ended up despising one another.

It has now come full circle. On the night before my wedding, I am still me but connected to another individual in no way I had ever been before. When he hurts, I ache inside. When I experience joy in my life, he beams with pride. And while nothing is perfect, I want it to be him to tell my hopes and dreams to. I no longer need to keep those thoughts locked deep inside. I don’t have to just look at the sky with hope and longing.

Tonight before my wedding, I remember what it was like to reach all those milestones in life. And I am ready to reach out for one more.

 

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