Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Displaced Person...

It's holiday card season! I love holiday cards, and our recent marriage means that the Grige and I have gotten a LOT of them for the first time on our own. It's very exciting. However, I have an observation to make:

There is a thing, with addresses, where people send things to us as "Mr. and Mrs. Grige E. Fisk". I would really like someone to explain this to me. Is it just a convention that has hung on for no real reason? Is there a good reason that we can't just abolish it? Why do sane and reasonable people whom I love still do this?

It doesn't make any sense. I'm perfectly comfortable receiving mail as "Mr. and Mrs. Fisk", that is a good way to shorten us to our married titles. I'm not going to get up on my high horse and complain about the fact that no one cares that I would prefer to use Ms. instead of Mrs. But, if there is room for the Grige's middle initial, there is sure as hell room for my first name.

I'm sure the people who address things this way don't mean to upset me. But if no one ever says anything about the passive subversion of women's worth - my worth - that it implies, they'll never know how much it offends me. Choosing to take the Grige's last name was a hard enough decision for me, and one I'm still not wholly comfortable with. Receiving mail addressed to me as "Mrs. Grige" is like getting slapped in the face. It makes me feel like I no longer exist.

At first, I wanted to justify my anger by saying that I am and always have been the higher earner in our household. Paired with the Grige's debt and my lack thereof, higher earner has been equivalent to "breadwinner" for the last few years, way before we were married. Ergo, I deserve to have my name on the envelope, and maybe people should just start sending things to us as "Mrs. and Mr. Emily Fisk"

However vindicated that argument might make me feel, it's just another layer on the problem cake. Any wife, no matter what form her contributions to the household come in, deserves to have her name on her mail. The end.

So, I'll be spending the remainder of my funemployment contemplating a good way to address (ha! pun.) this with my loved ones. You know, feminist baby steps. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Song

Because it's been a sad weekend, and I don't have a kid to hug.

This is Tiger Mountain Peasant Song. Originally done by Fleet Foxes, and covered beautifully by First Aid Kit and less beautifully by me. But, you know, self esteem! and stuff.

Also, I kind of wanted an excuse to try uploading video via blogger. It's a total miracle that my dinosaur of a computer will do this at all, but pardon the quality anyhow. 

I could have...

Flown to the east coast myself and delivered my gifts personally for what I just spent on shipping. Sorry friends, you'll be receiving gifts that can be sent with Amazon Prime from here on out. Otherwise, UPS costs will make us ho-ho-homeless.

In other news, the Brentwood Target is sold out of Pandora One gift cards (Hey Pandora! Sell those at more than one retailer next year, OKAY?). They are also sold out of wrapping paper and Christmas themed gift cards (I had to buy Valentines day ones) and people in the toy section will literally ram you with their carts to get the last pink iPod shuffle. To top it all off, as I was leaving (rather disgruntled, as you might imagine) two people literally got out of their cars to fight over my parking spot.

Game, set, match. You win, Target. I am staying safely inside for the duration of the holiday season and praising the lord for Amazon Prime.

God Bless Us, Every One.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On the 16th Day of Christmas...

I realized that my true love might need a little help with ideas about what to get me.

The Grige is still knee deep in grad school, so I'm mostly just hoping that he remembers to get me anything at all at this point. In any case, here's what's on my list this year:

1. New boots: In DC, improper footwear was like my winter calling card. After living in Michigan my whole life, I never really felt like the weather in DC merited more than a pair of ballet flats or rubber flip-flops (you know, when it rained). I was wrong then, and it would be wrong now. I need some winter boots that are both warm and hip, and these two fit the bill.

The Sperry Hikerfish boots
The North Face Snowtropolis series boots

Pro-tip - I chose lace-up boots because my calves are huge. If you're buying for someone else, knowing this can be helpful. North Face makes some beautiful lace-less boots in this same style, but I'm sure they'd never fit around my tree-trunk calves. Laces also make it easier to fit your jeans into your boots, if that's your style.

2. Jewels. I always love to get "fun" jewelry for the holidays. I like pieces that aren't too expensive but really make a statement. Anthropologie has some beautiful necklaces which are uncharacteristically reasonably priced this season. I'd suggest checking them out. Of course, the one I'm in love with is priced right around $250. Tears of an emily :-(


3. New Skis. I've been riding a pair of men's Fischer race tune giant slalom skis the last 7 years. They're in excellent condition because I've been tuning them myself before and after each outing, but the fact remains that they are extremely aggressive, rigid, really, really long men's skis. They're fast as heck but not much fun outside of a race course. Since I haven't really raced in at least 5 years, they're not really a great ski for me anymore.  

Here they are!
So picking a new ski is something I should really do for myself, but volkl has a few models I'm quite fond of. Mostly, I need something that's flexible, built for a woman's center of gravity, wide enough to handle powder but mostly focused on shredding somewhere between 160 and 166 cm long.  I'm not going to speculate on what skis I should buy, but it would be nice if someone took me out for a demo day...

So that's my list! What's on yours?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On the 6th Day of Christmas

The Internets gave to me....

This amazing tumblr and a partridge in a pear tree. Thanks, McV.

I don't think that the Grige is going to build me a table this holiday season, but I am attempting to get him some fun gifts. Here's a little round up of some fun things I'm wanting to buy my bearded man.

1. A plaid shirt, to make him look like a lumberjack.

2. This way cool drafting chair in mint green by Humanscale. The architect needs somewhere comfy to rest his buns during those late nights in studio.

3. A beard comb, like this mansome handmade tortoise one from Swissco. His beard has gotten very long, and while I love running my fingers through it's multi-colored luxuriousness, he needs something more professional to deal with it.
4. Clark's Desert Boots. These are the original, and I adore this pebbled suede. Warm tootsies are definitely the key to a happy Grige

5. Cool, new prescription sunglasses from Warby Parker. Their prices can't be beat, and my be-spectacled gentleman will love some extra protection from the sun. Their virtual try-on feature will help me find the perfect pair.

6. A little something to help him relax...

So what's on your list this year?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Note On Style

You will rarely hear me say much about personal style. I have a few opinions, but they're generally safe, oft-shared opinions that I parrot like the proper woman-blogger that I am. But today, I have a general style note, specifically aimed at PBS. Hold on to your hems, because it's a three-parter.

I'm presently watching (mostly because I'm so horrified that I can't look away) Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration on PBS.

1. It's not only un-flattering, but actually just completely in bad taste to put 20-30+ year-old talented female vocalists in pastel colored prom dresses for a Christmas special. I understand that you may be trying to get away from "the little black dress", but you're undermining their talent by making their appearance not only un-seasonable, but also laughable. it looks like a high school prom. Which usually only takes place in May.

They are not wearing those wraps right now...
2. If you insist on the bevy of strapless pastel prom dresses, learn to properly film such a dress. I understand that you're trying to avoid the inherent sexy-ness of the vocalists' heaving bosoms, but by avoiding the bust line, you're making them all look naked. So please, at least attempt to get the top of the dress in the shot. You're making an already bad style situation far worse.

Imagine this if you cut them all off above the bust line...
3. Is that the front-woman from the Dixie Chicks? If so... how the mighty have fallen. I think it's not though... at least the internet doesn't think so. I was truly frightened for a moment.

Color me horrified. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Walter the Turkey

You can brine if you want to
You can leave your friends behind
Because your friends don't brine and if they don't brine
Well they're no friends of mine.

I say, we can brine where we want to
a place where they will never find
and we can act like we come from a pre-grocery store world
leave the real one far behind
and we can brine...

Happy two days before Thanksgiving! I'm filled with joy and excitement, because I picked up Walter, our fresh, organic, free range turkey earlier today. I strapped him lovingly into the backseat of the car and we sang along to Men Without Hats the whole way home. He's now resting peacefully in his brine, with visions of my roasting pan and all the joy he will bring dancing in his head.

Walter. Obscured by brine and intoxicated by instagram filters.

I freaking love Thanksgiving, but I won't expand on our menu because I have too much cooking to get back to. Suffice it to say that at our house, the November issue of Bon Appetit is met with more squeals than a Justin Beiber concert. My table-scape is set, Walter is brining, anything that can be pre-made has been, and I have a two page schedule taped to my cupboards to make sure everything runs smoothly on Thursday. I can't freaking wait.

As an aside, I want to say a few words about Walter, since he's already met his maker, and will be meeting our tummies in a few days. Walter is from Whole Foods, where, until today, I felt confident that I could buy a reasonably local turkey, pre-ordered for convenience and never frozen. While the convenience and un-frozen requirements were certainly met, I discovered that Walter is from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I am also from that area of Michigan, and four of the people who will soon be noshing on Walter are coming from there too, increasing Walter's carbon footprint to a size I'm uncomfortable with. I live in Missouri! This is about as farm-y as it gets, and I really can't understand why I couldn't get a turkey from a farm around here. Instead, my family and Walter travelled separately from the same place to get to my table, and that upsets me. If I had known this was the best option, I would have had my family pick him up and drive him down themselves. Or, I would have just gone to the farmers market and braved the crowds to get a local Tom. Ugh. Frustrating.

Anyhow, Walter is a special bird, and I'm glad he's with us. I just with he could have travelled with family instead of in a truck.

Off to add my stinky hippie tears to the brine....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Mystery Solved: Women's Health

Last weekend, I burst into tears over the fact that network TV (we use an antenna) was airing Notre Dame instead of Michigan for the second week in a row. Not, like a few frustrated sniffles. This was like full-on toddler tantrum tears. I also haven't worn real pants in 5 days, which has to be some kind of record. The waistbands were just not happening for me, which I couldn't figure out.

And then, this morning in a red flash of clarity, I realized what the problem was - I just started my first natural period in over 6 years. After the Grige and I got married, I decided that it was a good time to take a little hiatus from birth control. Mostly, I wanted to give my body a chance to function without hormones. Birth control has always been a little challenging for me, It impacts my appetite, usually resulting in weight gain, it gives me nasty migraines, and it obliterates my sex drive (no wonder it's so effective). All of which I can live with, if I must. I can't help wondering if there isn't a better way. I especially wanted to go au natural for a while to make sure that I am healthy - ovulating regularly and not showing any weird patterns or signs that might be early indicators of fertility problems.

The Grige and I definitely want a child, but we aren't planning to have him or her until I'm in my early to mid-thirties. Since fertility problems run in my family, I want to be actively involved in tracking and understanding my fertility as early as possible. If it seems likely that we might have problems, we want to avoid unknowingly waiting until the graceful evening of my primary childbearing years to start trying. Enter: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, a book on the fertility awareness method (FAM) of birth control. 

When I was in college, we had a guest speaker in one of my women's studies classes who said something that blew my mind: "Don't we all deserve the pleasure of unprotected sex without the woman having to deal with all of these complications? Shouldn't science be working on a better way??" It had never occurred to me that I deserved something more than migraines, a non-existent sex drive and weight gain in order to have the kind of sex I wanted with a trustworthy, monogamous partner. Which is stupid, because of course there is a better way. I still think that science owes us a contraceptive that allows skin-to-skin contact and protection from sexually transmitted infections, and FAM is not the answer to that. However, it's an ideal solution for someone like me - in a monogamous, trusting marriage. 

It was a little intimidating to purchase the book. Amazon now totally thinks that I'm trying to get knocked up and keeps suggesting all manner of baby crap for me to buy. However, it's not worse then the deluge of crap that was recommended after I bought The Hunger Games for my Kindle, and it will stop eventually, probably when I buy a bunch of hiking gear or beer brewing supplies. It was absolutely worth the ads for boppy pillows and breast pumps, because let me tell you - the female body is fascinating.

This is what a chart looks like - borrowed from www.tcoyf.com, check out the website for more cool tools and discussions.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility  and the FAM method offer an easy, 3-factor system to track your cycles and identify times when it is safe to have sex without a barrier method, like a condom. It hinges primarily on taking your temperature before you get out of bed in the morning and checking your cervical fluid several times a day and keeping track of everything on a chart. It's definitely something you need to get in the habit of, but it's pretty easy to just keep the thermometer next to your alarm and grab it after you hit snooze each morning. Checking your cervical fluid is very easy and becomes a habit quickly. The charting part is fun and easy to remember, because it's amazing and exciting to watch patterns emerge.

In short, I think this method is going to work great for the Grige and me, and I think it's worth a look for anyone who is also in a monogamous relationship and looking to get hormones and latex out of their daily diet. It's very empowering to know so much about what's going on with my body. It's also practical and useful to know exactly when to expect my period, when I'm at risk for pregnancy and why I'm in such a crabby mood sometimes. Knowledge is power.

The flip side of all that knowledge is that once we start charting, there will never be any uncertainty about getting pregnant for us, if and when we decide to try. I think it's really hard to definitively decide that you are "ready" to have kids, and I think a lot of couples dodge that certainty of readiness by simply stopping the use of contraceptives and "seeing what happens". Then you can assume that it's a sign from the universe that you're ready if you get pregnant.

Any couple who uses FAM won't be able to avoid knowing that they are fertile on a certain day. They will have a strong grasp of the likelihood of a pregnancy resulting from sex before they even get their pants off. Scary. Of course, it's not a guarantee or anything, but the decision to have unprotected sex on a fertile day is a conscious and deliberate one. Couples using FAM can even make an estimation based on some moderately controversial research as to the likelihood of conceiving a boy or a girl based on the day they have sex.

That is way more control than we're sensitized to having over the process of having a child. It's actually a great thing, but it's hard to get used to all that power and control when the myth of conception that we're all taught is so wrapped in mystery and fate instead of patterns and science. Luckily, starting now means that the Grige and I will have lots of time to get used to it before we start exercising our knowledge in order to have a child.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Kitchen-ween!

Since my amazing wedding guests (mostly my second cousins and beloved friends) blessed me with "flame" (read: bright orange) le creuset cookware for our wedding, I decided to celebrate halloween by using ALL OF IT. On one meal. Challenge: accepted!

As a side note, this burst of kitchen productivity is mostly due to the impact of getting a part time job. For one, I hate to cook after I've been on my feet at a retail job all day, so I save cooking for days off and then re-heat, re-heat, re-heat. The Grige doesn't do anything but re-heat at school these days anyhow, so it's no harm, no foul.  I like to make big dishes like stew, soup, pot-pie and casseroles. Then we can take them easily for lunch as well.  Secondly, having days that are "on" at a job, makes me appreciate off days so much more, and motivates me to take on big projects, in and out of the kitchen. This is one of my top arguments for getting a part time job in retail or at a restaurant while you're looking for something full time. It gives you a ridiculous amount of clarity on how to spend your down-time.

Pot Pie Filling... If I told you I don't lick the bowl after this goes into the casserole dish, I would be lying. 
So, back to my orange cookware challenge. Just one Halloween challenge wasn't enough, so I took on a second one from my life list: make the Grige a layer cake. It's a midterm cake - he's swamped right now and feeling pretty down, so hopefully this will pep him up. For those of you who know me well, I'm sure you're aware that desserts are not my thing. I gladly leave them out of event menus, I would have happily gotten married without cake or pie, if I ran the zoo. However, the Grige loves dessert, and one of my outside goals for our marriage was to make myself more "in tune" with his meal preferences, therefore learning to cook for both of us, instead of just myself +1. Since he hasn't been cooking at all lately, it's probably an opportune moment to work on dessert.

I chose the cake for "beginners" from the October 2012 Bon Appetit Mag. It's a chocolate-banana cake with peanut butter frosting. it has 2 layers, is square and involved way more cake-pertise than I personally possess. All things considered, I think it turned out pretty well, though I had to hide my uneven layers with frosting. If you want the recipe, either go buy the magazine or visit their website www.bonappetit.com. One of my biggest qualms with desserts is that I don't want to be tempted to eat food that is bad for me. This idea is brilliant, because the Grige is at studio all night with his classmates, so I can just bring the cake up there and be a hero while not having to deal with leftovers. BOOM! I listened to Cake (the band) while I made it and felt very cool. Even better, I listened to "I bombed Korea" off of Motorcade of Generosity while I bombed the cake with chocolate chips. Appropriate, no?

Frosting was definitely the major challenge for me, considering my lack of coordination. I highly recommend putting your frosting in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before attempting to put it on a cake. Also, definitely let your cakes cool for as long as you can leave them alone before stacking and frosting them. I'm sure these are basics for most people, but following those rules really made my life easier today.

In order to use the rest of my cookware, I tackled our favorite chicken pot pie, and switched the playlist to some vintage, angry Ben Fold Five. This recipe was in the October 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, and I took it on as a cooking challenge last winter. Every time I make it, I tell myself that I'm never making it again because it is so hard, and yet, I can't resist, because it is so freaking delicious. So good, that if I smelled it from a neighboring apartment, I would totally go knock on the door and invite myself to dinner. I prepared it using a skillet, a dutch oven, a large sauce pan, a tea kettle, a rubber scraper a ridiculous amount of mixing bowls. I get faster at making it every time, but it was still a four hour endeavor. I have to say that it was totally worth it - it's a one crust wonder and was absolutely delicious. It will also serve up about 5-6 meals for me and 3-4 meals for the Grige, so it's a lot of bang for your buck. I would post the recipe, but I don't want to violate the copyright, and it's very long, and I've spent a lot of time looking at it today already. If you'd like it, shoot me a message and I'll send it your way.

Cake & Pie
I'm hoping that my kitchen challenges will culminate in some killer additions to my Thanksgiving meal spreadsheet. Today's work taught me that I'm going to ask someone else to bring pie and gave me a brilliant plan for beefing up my gravy. We're hosting my parents and grandparents this year, which will be a blast. I already have a 3-sheet, color-coded excel document outlining what-when-where's of the meal. I can't wait!

So what does everyone else do with their days off? Tomorrow, I think I'm going to tackle homemade bagels, hanging the mirror over our dresser and cleaning out the front room to get ready for our new couch.

Friday, October 26, 2012

From Unemployed to FUNemployed

I am pleased to announce that this morning I accepted a position as a seasonal sales associate at my interior decoration one-stop-shop, Crate & Barrel. Hurrah! The crowd of people who now know where their holiday gifts are coming from goes wild!

Today, I've been unemployed for exactly one month. This means that it's time to start the funemployment stage of my job search. There comes a time in the job search where focusing all of your energy on applications and cover letters is no longer productive or healthy. I hit that point last Wednesday. So it was time to look for "fun" jobs, like retail, waiting tables etc... to bring in some cash and keep me busy while the search continues.

If you're going to be unemployed, mid-late October is the best time to do it. Pretty much every retail store is pushing out the low hanging fruit of the job market - part-time seasonal sales associates. The pay is not high and the work is not glamorous, but a paycheck is a paycheck, it's a great way to make new friends, the discounts are great, and working sales gets your mind off unemployment while polishing your interview skills.

I'm one of those strange people who actually kind of likes retail. I enjoy talking to people about products I like. I enjoy helping them find what they're looking for. I like being on my feet, moving around and generally feeling productive. So I'm excited. The timing was right and I'm looking forward to having a paycheck again, and finally making some friends of my own in St. Louis.

I've also been interviewing for a few full-time gigs in my field this week, which is exciting. It is scary to have so many irons in the fire, but I'm hoping to keep things balanced and end up in the right place. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Question

Today, internets, I have just one question. But first, some background:

I had a job interview yesterday, which I think went pretty well. Yay. The next step in applying for this job was to fill out an online "psychological" evaluation. The evaluation consisted of 2 sections of about 100 multiple (a or b) choice questions and 1 section of short answer questions. I don't generally mind doing these things... they are more tedious than difficult and certainly a good indication that the employer cares about their company culture.

So in this particular evaluation, there were a number of questions that really surprised me. Namely: questions about excessive drinking. Now, I can absolutely understand why an employer would want to screen for potential drinking problems. You can give a drug test to find evidence of illegal drugs, but a confession would be the best way to find out about alcohol use.

What I can't figure out, is what person in their right mind would ever, ever answer a question (honestly) about their personal drinking habits in an evaluation for a potential employer. That question cannot possibly have ever done anything useful for them in identifying a person whose alcohol habits might negatively impact their work performance, so why ask? Unless of course, the person was drunk while taking the evaluation.... Perhaps I've answered my own question.

In any case, I stuck with peppermint tea while I took the evaluation. Boy did I need a drink afterwards though!

Monday, October 22, 2012

What If I Had Grown Up Without Sex and the City?

What if? Oh, the horror. I know we're supposed to turn to role models, like our parents, movie stars, political figures ect... to model our lives upon. My Mom went out of her way to make sure that I was never over-exposed to the corruption that HBO TV shows could provide, and that I had strong parental role-models for a loving marriage.

But she missed something. Something I think that a lot of mothers miss. It's gross to think about your parents having sex, same sign for most politicians. And often the only message available is that sex is a bad thing. Porn is bad. Sex before marriage is bad. Sex in general is bad.

So then, we have no model for sex. No model for good sex, no model for bad sex, no model for abusive sex, no model for deviant sex, and even more importantly than all that, no model for saying no to sex. No model at all. Models are important. We use models to learn math, and we use models to learn fashion. We use them to learn how to prepare a chicken, to build a house, to assess patent claims and to write papers. Models are IMPORTANT.

If, in the ideal situation, our parents are modeling an ideal for marriage and thus sex, there is a tremendous disconnect in how we view sex. No one wants to have the talk, and it's challenging, in the context of most parental relationships, to translate just how amazing/important/empowering/joyful sex can be. We get hung up on "the right person at the right time" and forget to mention that the act itself should be nice. I'm not suggesting that parents shouldn't talk to their kids about sex. They should, early and often. If they're brave, they'll even discuss how a healthy sex life (or lack thereof) impacts their marriage. However, there's just no way the fundamental and accessible model for a healthy sex life can come from our parents. This issue is especially challenging for women. Where it's expected that men be interested in porn, and sex, it's considered taboo and "dirty" for a woman to be interested in the same things. Also, the porn model problem creates all kinds of confusion about acceptable sexual behavior and etiquette for men, which young women then have to find a way to deal with when their high school boyfriends think they should be up for totally unspeakable acts in the backseat of the car. "You want to put that WHERE? You sick SHIT!".

Enter: Sex and the City. I know I'm not the first person to cheer the brilliant strides this show took - taking chick lit that would have been otherwise unavailable to those of us mired in Jane Austen and preparing it for witty consumption by women the world over. But I really can't imagine where I'd be without it. The idea that there is no "wrong" sexual relationship, so long as you feel comfortable, safe and empowered was one that had never occurred to me. Which is a good thing, because knowing it's okay to want sex is the best way to feel like you can take control of your body and the situation.

Thanks Ladies.
Photo: HBO
Not only did the show offer models of empowered women having sex safely (both emotionally and physically) but it also showed them making (and dealing with) mistakes, something that would be hard for even the most humble and enlightened parent to model. It modeled marriage, both failed and flawed but successful, it modeled the impact of low self-esteem, lesbian experimentation, power roles - you name it. And suddenly, being a confused, young woman started to feel a lot more normal.

My hearty thanks to Candace Bushnell, Michael Patrick King, Darren Star, and the talented cast of six un-paralleled seasons, for finally giving me a model for sex that allowed me to be confused, make mistakes, find answers and take control of my body. I owe you a great deal.

Maybe my Mom, like many other moms, was worried that at the impressionable age of 14 or 15, I would start saving for Manolo Blahniks and giving blow jobs in the girls room during lunch. Maybe she was right to save the show for when I was in college, on my own. However, I think that many parents don't give their kids enough credit. I think a high school girl can watch Carrie and co. cavorting around NYC and understand that they're looking at 30+ year-old women who have a completely different life from them. Like any other model, what they learn from the slow is only useful when applied situationally. In the world of many teenage girls, I think this would mean more respect for the power of their bodies, less embarrassment at the discovery of the pleasure of masturbation, less focus on marriage as the ultimate goal of their young womanhood (hello, midwest!) and a much lower tolerance for the porn-infused sexual fantasies of boys their age.

Because, you know, knowledge is power. And given the current political climate, I think that young women everywhere really deserve a chance to know what's at stake and form their own opinions, before all of their choices are gone. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1 Wedding, 1 Funeral, and The Office Space Conundrum

Sorry for the brief pause, I was out of town all last week running the gamut of human experience. I attended the wedding of my childhood best friend to a wonderful man, organized and attended a memorial service for my Grandfather and got hit in the head with a lot of black walnuts tossed by a vengeful tree in West Michigan that is trying to ruin my Dad's life.

Imagine these bastards flying at your face while you are trying to rake! EEK!

The Grige is working his little behind off on a project right now, so I came home to an apartment in what can only be described as total and utter chaos. We brought home some more wedding stuff, so there were boxes everywhere, unpacked suitcases overflowing with dirty clothes blocking my side of the bed, dishes in the sink, and a week.5's worth of trash in the trash closet. Ick. Also, nothing but rotted casserole in the fridge. I've just about dealt with the mess, but it took me all. damn. day. It doesn't help that our trash deposit is in siberia (read: about 0.15 miles from our door, up a big hill).

While I was cleaning and organizing and discovering evidence of termites in our window seat I realized a few important things:

1. Keeping house by yourself is a lot of mother flipping work.

Honestly, I could stay unemployed and still be busy every second of my day making dinners, cleaning, buying groceries and doing laundry. I really could. And if we were to add kids to that equation some day? Holy Hell Raisers. I wouldn't even be able to break for lunch. I'm kind of missing our tiny apartment in new and different ways.

2. I like being busy.

There is a scene in Office Space where Lawrence asks Peter what he would do if he had a million dollars. Peter says he would do nothing. I didn't say it to my guidance counselor, but I always sort of felt like I was in the same boat. I like to read, I enjoy sporadically writing this blog, and I like to be outside, but I can't really tell how all of that fits into a career (hint: it doesn't). I can tell you this for sure: doing nothing is not equal to not being busy. I'm a very busy unemployed person. When work doesn't give me projects, I make them for myself. Sometimes that includes applying for jobs, and sometimes it doesn't. So I think I get the point now, and I wish I could apply for construction jobs.

3. Dear Mario Batali: Your recipes cannot be considered "simple" if half the ingredients are not available in a midwestern grocery store.

I had to look up pretty much everything for one recipe on the cook's thesaurus before I could complete my grocery list. I'm all for authenticity, but don't tell me it's "simple" when it's going to take me 2 hours to find acceptable ingredients.

I'll be back with more on last week once my black walnut induced concussion heals.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

That's Not Very Zen...

We have a little bit of a spider problem in our new home. The Grige insists that it's not really a problem so much as a really aggressive "other bug" solution. So far, I've only seen one or two on the floor of our bedroom, which is okay, but the rest of the house is a freaking spider free-for-all. They're not too nasty - just mid-size, bug-eating, brown guys - and I'm learning to deal with them.

I do wish that Toby Maguire could come hang out with us instead.
Photo: http://www.meltingpotinternational.com/news6.html 

Earlier this week, I was in the bathroom doing my business (like you do) and one came flying out from under the tub like a bat out of hell and kept coming straight at me despite screeching, bath mat kicking, and what can only be described as "leg flailing". I ended up killing it with my bare foot, and thus began the "always wear shoes" rule. I hope you're laughing, because I'm banking on the comedic value of this story being greater than my humiliation at sharing it. The Grige thinks this was the funniest thing that has ever happened.

After that, I have been (understandably) a little bit jumpy. I was taking the trash out (filled with the dripping remains of soaked hops and wort - homebrewing is not really winning my heart this week), and a bottle cap rolled out from under it. I screamed bloody murder, jumped a mile and spilled a combination of coffee grounds, nectarine pits and beer soaked brewing remains all over the kitchen floor. So, you know, improvement! At least it wasn't bodily fluids this time, though I did still have to change my pants afterwards - there are few things more disgusting than running shorts drenched in sweat and beer. Luckily, I had just returned from a run and needed to shower anyway.

The front sun room, my yoga mats are in the corner, the Grige's crap is everywhere else
The worst infestation of spiders thus far has been in the front sun-room. This is mostly because it has been neglected, filled with boxes and random musical equipment since we moved in. We are planning to use it as a guest bedroom/reading room once our new couch arrives and we can move the evil futon of decoration death in there. However, that won't be until early November. Filled with the determination-that only unemployment and spending a year in a 500 square foot apartment- could inspire to use every square foot in our apartment, I decided to turn the front sun room into a yoga room.

One of the things the Grige and I agreed not to compromise on as we planned for our new, depleted financial condition was fitness expenses. We're both much happier people when we get our exercise, so a yoga membership for me and gym membership for him were non-negotiable. However, I've been reluctant to actually get started at a studio before I've figured out some income, so I've been writing my own practice in addition to running. Using a kitchen timer and a notebook, I have to say it's going pretty well.
Another sunroom shot, so you can understand the extent of spider dwelling area
So back to the spiders. It's not that it didn't occur to me that I was trying to set up a zen space in a place that was filled with spiders and messy things for them to hide behind. I brought a few pairs of shoes and a roll of paper towels in with me and hoped the scent of my incense would deter them. What I didn't expect is that one with a rotund body the size of my thumb nail would crawl torpidly, like Shelob out of her lair, across my mat while I was in headstand. No shoe or paper towel could save me, frankly, I think that even a sledgehammer would have been unequal to the task.

Luckily, the beast's worst was to stroll across my mat like she owned it while I lost my shit, grabbed a shoe and waited, heart pounding, for her to vacate my mat and meet her doom. Which she did, with much squelching on her part and screaming on mine. Not very zen.

So instead of Shavasana, I killed a box of wine and tried to recover for the rest of the evening. I don't yet know what the lesson here is, only that St. Louis is finding new ways to challenge my sanity every day, and I'm probably going to just go ahead and get that yoga studio membership. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I am...

A lonely 25-year-old woman with 1 empty box of wine and 300 flash cards who is trying to learn her multiplication tables while watching the debate.

I don't think you need to hear any more from me tonight, but I'll follow up on the results of that deadly combination tomorrow.

Don't worry too much though, every time I think I've hit the bottom, I can now think of Jim Lehrer and feel so very much better about my life. At least for tonight.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fashion Win

Yesterday, I bought a black wrap dress to wear to.... everything.  Now, I am not what you would call a fashion expert, though I do often get complimented on my clothes. This is because I am willing to pay full price to replicate the looks on j.Crew's "looks we love" page and can tell when pants don't fit me right. Granted, those are pretty mad skills... there are lots of ladies out there who can't tell when pants don't fit them, it's practically an epidemic, even in the finely-coiffed capitol city. But I am far from what you might call a guru in the fashion department.

I've written about fashion and basics before, and we covered how paying a little more and taking care of your clothes, like getting them tailored and dry-cleaned is actually a really good investment. But I didn't really dive in to specifics. Today, that changes! Get ready for the top 10 reasons that a black wrap dress is the best wardrobe decision you can possibly make.

Photo: Old Navy's website.
1. Black always works. Don't even try to tell me that you can't wear it to a wedding, because you totally can. It looks good on all skin types, can be accessorized any way you want and looks good with all of your shoes. Yes, even the brown boots.

2. The size is adjustable. Worried about the zipper on your favorite sheath not quite making it around the killer tush you've acquired from eating too much unemployment cheese? Fear not - the wrap dress both grows and shrinks with you. The wrap style is also a super-cute maternity look, in my opinion.

3. The wrap is flattering. It always cinches at the smallest part of your waist, always highlights the exquisite curvature of your bust and always a-lines out to hide the food baby. It then goes on to suggest a front leg slit that just screams Jessica Rabbit. However, use caution in the wind and possibly wear a slip.

Here is one from polyvore.com. At first I didn't event think this was a plus size dress, that's how flattering  it is.

4. The wrap is truly an all-occasion look. You can put a blazer over it for work, a cardigan and boots for a casual dinner out, a plunging necklace and heels for parties and it's practically a bathrobe at home. There is nothing I love more than a hot dress that doubles as loafing loons, which leads me to...

5. The wrap is comfortable. Adjustable size aside, most wrap dresses are made from the kind of cotton-poly blend that handles warm and cool temperatures well, doesn't show sweat marks easily and falls to a length that means you don't have to think too hard when you sit down on the metro.

6. The wrap is cheap. I don't think I've ever seen a black wrap dress listed for more than $100.00, and most of them are more in the neighborhood of $50. That is not very much money for a dress you can probably wear twice a week. I just retired my first black wrap, which was a jersey knit number purchased from Old Navy for the low, low sale price of $15 back in 2005. The Grige told me that it was getting see-through from over-use, so I tossed it in the move. The replacement is a $48 find from Nordstrom Rack. The fabric is much nicer and I'm very excited to wear it to a rehearsal dinner this weekend. Banana Republic and Gap also do them well and sell them for reasonable prices.

7. The wrap is easy. Like, machine wash cold, tumble dry low, cool iron if needed easy. Being unemployed and no longer having 10 dry-cleaners within a 2 block radius has made me realize just how important this part is.

8. The wrap is sexy. It's kind of like the string bikini phenomenon (pull here and...), but less racy, more 1950's and infinitely more flattering. Also, if someone does "pull there", they'll likely only see half your bra because any good wrap dress has an internal tie to help keep everything in place.

9. The wrap let's your accessories be the star. If you want someone to notice your beautiful, new, jewel toned necklace, wear it with a black wrap dress. Or if you want to show off those elaborate chandelier earrings that you purchased ill-advisedly from express, wear them with a black wrap dress and you'll stay demure.

Like this necklace that I can't stop lusting after from j.Crew...
10. The wrap looks awesome with an apron over it. I know this is a reach, but I just adore fun aprons and the clothes that look good with them... like wide collared button-down shirts. Maybe this doesn't really count as a reason for you, but it is for me, and isn't 9 good reasons enough to go out and buy a dress you can wear everywhere? I thought so.

Don't worry, I'll be back with a picture of me, looking fly in my new dress this weekend.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Around the Wedding Corner

Things change after your wedding. Maybe not to you, but to other people, more specifically to the way they view you. I'm astounded by how people's perception of me, as a woman, has changed since I donned my wedding band.

Us, with our truly adorable niece, Audrey, last Christmas. Before people started telling me how natural I looked with children.
I always thought that the madonna and the whore complex was reserved for the couches of psychotherapists and Sex and the City episodes. But the moment I said "I do", in the eyes of the world, I aged 10 years and went from a person for whom pregnancy would be a career-ruining disaster to a person whose sole purpose in life should be to procreate. With my husband. Of course.

The curious thing, is that I'm not sure he's experiencing anything similar, and by Caitlin Moran's strategy for detecting sexism (is it happening to the dudes?), I'm smelling a rat.  While I get unsolicited pamphlets on conception from my OBGYN and comments on how natural I look with other people's babies - did I not look natural with babies before? Is there something awkward about an unwed woman bonding with a small child? Good heavens! What have teen-aged baby-sitters been doing all this time? And most importantly, how did they miss the terror in my eyes? - the Grige is just sort of rolling along with business as usual, as far as I can tell.

Me with my niece Emma, perhaps we look comfortable because I've been living with her for six weeks?
Now, I was somewhat prepared for the baby thing. For people of a certain generation, I believe it's even excusable to assume that I must have family on the brain. I don't need those people to know that I actually know more about the best aeration process for boxed wine than my ovaries right now, they're not prepared for that information. But it's more than just the baby thing, and it's more than just the elderly among us.

Being introduced as someone's "wife' is a lot more loaded than you would think, especially when those people are 23 years old. I know that's not that much younger than me, but if you had told me at 23 where I would be at 25, I probably would have fainted on the spot. The good news it that it still means something important, socially, to be someone's wife. However, I get the impression that everyone was expecting a harried looking woman in her mid-30's wearing mom-jeans and waxing on about her last ovulation when they met me. I'm proud to say that I did not deliver, but all the "newness" does sort of make me feel like I should buy a whole new wardrobe, cut my hair off and start speaking in a British accent.

How can I be old? I still drink too much boxed wine and play the  Crocodile Hunter  board game!
I think the most confusing and challenging part of my situation is that I actually want all the things I'm supposed to want. The idea of having a baby does not terrify me. And eating dinner that I cooked every night with the Grige at our real dining room table in our fully furnished home like "adults" makes me happy. I am following the "perfect" blueprint for a woman's life - married by 25 to a smart, handsome man, first baby most likely around the time I'm 30 - life is on track by conventional standards. But that doesn't mean that I let someone else make those choices for me, or that they're anyone's business but the Grige's and mine (and now yours, of course).

It's challenging to feel like a feminist when my well-reasoned life choices are so in line with conventional standards. I could just let it all go and let people tell me how good I look with a baby in my arms and ask when the Grige and I are planning to start a family... But I don't think that I can. Because what if we were trying for a baby and it wasn't going so well? Or what if we decided that kids aren't the right choice for us because we'd rather travel? Of what if, god forbid, we have a baby and decide to do a bunch of traveling anyway? I don't want to spend every minute between now and menopause talking about my body with people who don't know me well enough to get the answers to those questions unsolicited.

Photo: Summer Jean Photography
As it turns out, I really, really like being a wife.

So I'm asking, since when did the window into our private family decisions become open for viewing and since when did marriage make me old? I'm thinking that having a giant wedding where we did a bunch of conventional stuff is probably buried in the answer, but I'm going to unpack that another time. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Awesome Un-Job

I came to two startling realizations last night:

1. Grad school parties are exactly the same as undergrad parties, only nerdy-er and more selective. But not in a bad way! We went to a CMYK party last night, everyone was very welcoming, fun and dressed colorfully. Maybe it's because the Grige is endearing and did a good job of getting people excited to meet me, but I felt very welcome.

Cool-ass graphic via Tough Little Spider blog

2. I am way more comfortable talking about being unemployed than I ever was talking about my last job. Where are you in your career when you feel more confident and in control talking about how you sit on your couch and blog all day than you feel talking about your very well paid work as a legal recruiter?

I think I felt so much better talking about my plans for unemployment because I have a plan. In my job, I just sort of let things happen to me. My boss was generally in charge of my work flow, and every time I tried to invest and make myself essential to the completion of some facet of our work, I was told to "not worry about it" and just go home on time and that someone else would deal with the nitty gritty.

I'm not saying that wasn't nice. It was! I worked decent hours, didn't spend much time worrying about work and was very well paid. However, at this stage in my career, it really started to get to me to not feel "needed". While I was constantly thanked for my "hard work" and knew that what I did was helpful, I still had little to no control over how my work got done and felt like any one of the thousands of jobless recent grads out there could walk in and do exactly what I was doing.

That is a really good lesson to take into the job hunt with me: I'm not going to do my best work or enjoy my job if I don't feel "needed": Like I offer something important and unique to my work that is useful in the overall function of the company. It also re-affirms my decision to hold out for a job I really want. I don't feel like I'm wasting my time at all on my shorter-term unemployment goals.

What can you take away from this? If you're having a hard time talking about your job (and in a city like DC, I had to do this A LOT), something probably is wrong, and it may be worth your time to stop what you are doing and figure out what it is. Because even unemployment can have a positive spin. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's Fall! And Architects are Crazy.

It's fall! Guess how I know: It's not because the weather is cooler. It's not because all of my favorite stores keep sending me updates about sweater sales. It's not even because the main feature of my days is being reminded that school is in session.

I know, because in the last week, I have made 2 batches of pumpkin muffins and a batch of the most complicated (but also the most delicious) chicken pot pie recipe in the world (bon appetit, October 2011 issue - THANK YOU).

So. Much. Pumpkin.
I am also very excited for pumpkin beer, which is apparently going to happen in my kitchen this weekend. I couldn't really wait.. so I might have maybe, perhaps purchased some already...

Also, I would like to start a stereotype. After working in a law firm for 2 years, and in international disaster relief for 2 years, I can comfortably say that the stereotypes about those types of jobs are mostly true. Perhaps not in the greatest extremes that they are sometimes portrayed in, but lawyers do work extremely hard, almost always wear suits and are generally enslaved to the billable hour in some fashion or another. And international disaster relief attracts the rag-tag bunch of mostly cynical, insanely dedicated booze swilling nutcases that you might imagine.

However, the sterotypes about architects are not getting the story right. And as someone who has been deeply let down in the preparedness department by that missing cultural narrative, I would like to set the record straight. Architects are crazy. They. Work. So. Ridiculously. Hard. Do you remember those people were on campus who walked around like zombies who subsisted on panda express instead of human flesh and didn't sleep all semester? I always assumed they were law students or engineers or med students or homeless people who were trying to stay warm in the library. But no, they were future architects. 

They possess crazy of an artist with the attention to detail of an engineer and the work ethic of a junior lawyer at a Biglaw firm. I always imagined them walking around their buildings, wearing all black with a colorful scarf and saying things like "the columns are so very ethereal, don't you think, hmmmmm?". Instead it's more like my husband just slammed the door and face-planted in to bed with his clothes on a mere 20 minutes before my chicken pot pie that I spent six hours cooking him for dinner was done because he hasn't slept in 2 days. And then asks me if I'd like to attend an optional guest lecture with him the next day. 

And that's the last time we were ever awake in the same room  until the Grige graduated from school.
Photo: Summer Jean Photography
I'm sure I don't have to tell you other liberal arts flunkies the laundry list of things I would be doing instead of attending an optional guest lecture if I hadn't slept in 2 days, had barely seen my new wife in 8 weeks and could smell that amazing pie wafting from the kitchen. Duh.

But no, I married an architect. So here it is ladies - these dudes deserve the same warning stickers that lawyers, doctors and future presidents receive: Do not date unless you love spending time alone and being supportive in the face of the sheer madness that is expected of them at work.* 

*note - I aimed this at the ladies, or gentlemen, considering dating an architect instead of aspiring architects themselves, because I'm sure they already know how hard it will be. The rest of us need to catch up.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hey Midwest - it's time to hand over the keys.

I've mentioned that I hate driving, it is one of the biggest transitions I'm going to have to adjust to now that we live in Saint Louis. It's not so much that I'm bad at driving, I'm actually a pretty good driver, which is mostly due to my level of caution which is a direct by-product of my terror. I find traveling at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour in a large metal object surrounded by other large metal objects controlled by people who don't always have "safety first" on the brain, absolutely harrowing.

My first night back in St. Louis, our neighbor had a party. She invited us, and apologized in advance for the noise, which was very sweet. We honestly didn't hear a thing, until around 3:00 am when we heard everyone piling into their cars and driving home. I can't say for sure, because I didn't go down and pass out breath tests, but it didn't sound like good decision making.

Metro Opens Doors... The Grige and I met on the metro
Photo: Jeanine Finch

One of the wonderful things about living in DC is that public transportation was both affordable, easily available and goes pretty much anywhere you want to go. Most of the country is not like that, which is a hard realization to come to at an age where a great deal of your social life revolves around "grabbing a cocktail".  

I look back at so many close friends in my hometown and am shocked at how many have already racked up a DUI. I couldn't be more thankful that I had the opportunity to become so terrified of cars that I actually take driving seriously. I also couldn't be happier to have spent my most reckless years safely sloshing around a metro train. Perhaps "safely" is a bit of an overstatement here, but rape and assault rank slightly below death in a fiery car crash on my list of stuff to avoid.

The Grige certainly gets exasperated with me for constantly stressing out about driving, but the thing is, I take it very seriously. I refuse to use GPS while driving, opting to look up my route beforehand and using GPS only as a backup to be used when pulled over. And I would never dream of having a drink before driving somewhere, even just up the street. Obviously, that's a little overboard. One drink is probably not going to impair a fairly regular drinker like myself to the point that I can't safely and legally operate a motor vehicle. But it's kind of like trying to get pregnant - just because I can doesn't mean that I want to

This is waiting for me AFTER I pick the Grige up from school tonight

I don't know what the solution is for the really obvious and terrifying drunk driving problem that I'm witnessing en masse out here, away from the amazing public transport on the east coast. Obviously it's unfair that there aren't affordable, convenient and socially acceptable solutions easily available. But it shocks me that all the educated people, who I assume value their lives, out here are just shrugging their shoulders and revving the engine anyway.

It's not that I'm not fun... I am! It's just that I can't understand how anyone can party like this and then drive home. I could barely walk home the night this was taken...

For heaven's sake, midwest. Please, oh please, just spend the night on your friend's sofa, go for a long walk home or call a cab. Pay a broke friend to stay sober and drive, start a drunk shuttle business, anything! You are smart and young and if you are as passionate about the observance of happy hour as I am, you should be motivated enough to find a better solution. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Never mess with a feminist with a power drill

That means you, exterior brick wall. Watch your mother flipping back.

Yesterday was not great. I started the day with a little run and then directed myself firmly to drive to the bank, because if I don't make myself drive the car, I will continue to be terrified of driving the car. Well, I had to parallel park, and I don't do well under pressure and there were tears, and honking. I did better with the rest of my errands, driving without GPS and enjoying the blessed joy of parking lots as opposed to street parking.

I came home and made my first ever attempt at hanging pictures that required more than a finishing nail.  And then I learned something very valuable about exterior walls: Don't hang anything on them. Ever. Especially if the screw hole you are trying to make is slightly above eye level when you are standing on the nightstand. I am so sore, all the yoga in the world cannot fix the muscles that ache right now.

Evil exterior walls

I went to be a little upset, not least because the Grige was in studio until 3:00 am and I am oh, so very lonely. So I finished reading How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, went to sleep, and got up this morning ready for another try. A successful try, if you will...

It's odd, when the Grige and I first moved in together, I was a little sad that I never really had the chance to live on my own. I had lived with roommates, housemates, in dorms, on pull-out couches, but never truly by myself. It's not really a feasible option in a city like DC, and only ever regretted that opportunity a little bit.  But now, in my first year of marriage, I get my chance. No Grige to hang things, or hang out with me, and I am 100% in charge of dealing with the apartment.

So I fired up the old computer, and downloaded sketchup, took the first few tutorials and drew a mock-up of our kitchen wall. Three hours later I turned four crumbling nail holes into actual hanging pictures in our bedroom and our kitchen wall in to a montage of art that doesn't really work anywhere else. I'll share a better picture once I get one more frame delivered.

Fun Wall!
The thing is, I never expected to be dancing around to The Boss alone in my apartment with a bandana on my head, a beer in my hand and a hammer and a drill hanging off my belt. I thought my chance for this experience had passed my by when the Grige popped a ring on my finger. So yes, things aren't ideal right now. But so far, our marriage is the gift that keeps on giving, just so long as you can sort through the frustration to find them. 

Monday, September 24, 2012


So here I am, on our futon, ready to take my Netflix experience to the next level. Just kidding. Kind of. It's a scary thing to leave your job in this economy, and it's further complicated by the fact that I don't really know what career I want. It's hard to look for a job when you don't know what you are looking for.

What I do need, is maybe not a job, but is a series of non-loafing related goals to start moving me in the right direction. So, let's take a look at EFF's strategy for a productive unemployment:

  • 1 blog post every week day. Writing every day will give me a physical accomplishment to show for my time. It is very satisfying to see each new post pop up, and that is validation that will keep me motivated
  • Start studying for the GRE. This won't be an everyday endeavor, but it will sharpen my math skills and get me thinking about what's next. Pick a test date by December
  • Get the house into shape - hang our photos, break down the boxes, get the closet working functionally.
  • Cook dinner each night. Eating in is not only financially sustainable, but it will give me a schedule to stick to. Dinner takes place around the same time each day, which means I have to get off my behind and be productive on a schedule. It will also give me a chance to use all my fancy new kitchen tools. 
  • Run 15 miles a week
  • Contribute financially to our household in some fashion by mid-October.
I think that the rut a lot of people get into is making their goal list too focused on finding a job. Yes, that's important, and you should work on it. But tying a goal that you, ultimately, have no control over to your self-esteem is a dangerous thing. I've done it before, and it can make you feel pretty terrible when things don't work out for whatever reason. So, keep your goals focused on things you can control, keep applying for jobs, and things will fall into place. 

Another point to remember is that you don't have to find your ideal job to have a job. It doesn't always look like you thought, but bringing in a paycheck and having the structure of a schedule can do a lot for you. If I haven't landed on anything good in a few weeks, I'll be walking my behind right down to the nearest Crate & Barrel or j.Crew to apply for sales jobs. 

So stay tuned, You'll be hearing from me a lot moving forward. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Marriage and the Six Week Pause

The Grige and I lived apart for the first 6 weeks of our marriage, and tomorrow I am finally going to St. Louis, to him, to the life that we’re going to have. For us, living apart absolutely sucked. It was like taking the huge plunge of our wedding, which was filled with joy, and then being forced to hold our collective breath for 6 weeks while we tried to figure out what the marriage would be. Well, it is impossible to figure out what your marriage is going to be while one of you is living on a sleeper sofa with a newborn and a renegade pooping cat while working 15 hour days and the other one is diving into his first semester of graduate school 1000 miles away. And so, we held our breath.

I have learned something, from living with my tiny, brand-new niece for the last few weeks. Breathing for the first time is really scary, and upsetting and best dealt with by being swaddled up in a burrito wrap so you can’t flail around too much. And that is how I feel about moving into our new, married life. I’m terrified.
Ms. Emma, my housemate
Of course, I’m frustrated by all the normal challenges of moving – I have to find a new job, get used to a new city where I have to (gulp) drive a car sometimes, decorate and organize a new house, make new friends, find new running routes, introduce myself to the animals at the new zoo… But that’s not scary; it could potentially even be exciting. What I am afraid of is what our relationship is going to look like after all these changes. It’s not clear how much time the Grige will have for me, and six weeks of video chatting when we are both too exhausted to form full sentences has not made things any clearer.
So I get to sit here and listen to everyone tell me how excited I must be to finally see my husband again and get settled in our married life while I hold my breath and worry. the Grige is already so busy with school that he’s not even sure he can spend the whole evening with me when I arrive on Saturday, and that makes me feel so rejected and alone that I just want to scream, which does not make me feel like the good, supportive wife that I want to be. There aren’t many ways to express those feelings to a busy man over the phone, and I know he’s scared about what it will be like too, and how we’re going to manage our time. He’s also terrified that I’m never going to forgive him for picking up our east coast lives and moving them to the mid-west and then leaving my poor, introverted self alone all the time to figure out our lives – like getting food on the table - while he works his butt off at school.

This is what a perfect DC morning run looks like

Meg Keene has written beautifully about how no one asked us to be martyrs, over at A Practical Wedding and that will be my mantra in our new life. I’m giving up a lot, but think of what I’m gaining! I chose to marry him and I am so very proud of him. But I am sad to leave my job, and my friends, and my city that I love. I’ve spent the last six weeks in this terrible limbo where the end is looming and the vibrant color seems to have drained out of everything, even on perfect DC morning runs and at delicious dinners with best friends. So while I’m scared, I also feel like anything is better than the half-way place where I’m living without the piece that makes it all worth it – the Grige. Perhaps that is the greatest affirmation of our marriage I’ll ever get, and all before it’s even really started.
Photo: Summer Jean Photography
Now we are two, even if we had to wait six weeks after our wedding to get all the way here. I’m packing up my bags, my old name, and I’ll land in about 24 hours as EFF: Wife. And maybe we’ll only have an hour or two together before he has to go back to studio, and maybe I’ll cry and yell about that, but I’m hopeful that I can swaddle myself up in our love to keep from breaking anything while I flail around and learn to deal with it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From Double E to Double F: Name Changing De-coded, Part II

Since I've hashed out the emotional side to changing your name (or not changing your name), I think it's time to talk about logistics. Because navigating this much paperwork is never fun, and I felt like there were next to zero resources out there spelling out the logistics of name-changing. Also, many of us struggle so much with the emotional debate that we never even confront the logistical issues.

If you only take one thing away from this whole post, let it be that you should just carry your marriage license (laminated, perhaps) around with you for the first couple of months that you are married. You will need it for EVERYTHING.

So first, a step by step tutorial for changing your name, if you so choose:

1. Social Security card. Once you have your marriage license, it can be tempting to skip this part, since it's the most fraught with beaurocracy and all the lines that go with that. Don't be lured in - you need to do this first (I didn't, and it's making my life miserable). To avoid the mess, I would recommend sending everything in via mail. No lines = less hassle. I will make it easy for you: http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/315/~/change-a-name-on-a-social-security-card Go to this web page, and follow the instructions.

2. Driver's license or state ID. Once you get your documents back from the social security office, head to the DMV and get your new license. This is pretty painless, and especially easy if it coincides with an address change.

3. Banks and Credit Cards. For your banking, just go into the bank's local branch with your original marriage license and ask them to make the changes. Credit card companies will often ask you to send in a copy of your marriage license and can be a hassle about the whole thing. My experience was very easy, but I do all of my banking through Bank of 'merica and don't use any outside credit card. Hands down, if everything is linked, this will be easier.

4. Open a joint account. Since you are already at the bank.... Even if you are not planning to merge your finances, I highly recommend opening a joint account. Use it for bills, vacation savings, whatever. The key reason you need this is because people will make out checks to both of you, as Mr. and Mrs., no matter what you chose to do with your name. These are a pain in the ass to deposit (at least they were for us), if you don't have a joint account. You can always split the dough and close it after you've deposited everything.

5. Passport. It's very important to do this last, because the DMV will confiscate your old license, and it's good to hold on to at least one piece of government issued ID with your old last name on it to verify credit cards (before the changes go through), to take flights that you booked before you changed, etc.. It's very nice to have a back-up, and passports tend not to get as much daily use as other forms of ID, so it's okay to wait on updating it. Unless you are an international super-spy, in which case reverse this step with step 2.

While there is no "to-do"list for not changing your name, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Someone will definitely write a very well-intentioned check made out to "Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname" or "Mr. and Mrs. Hislastname". To deposit these, having a joint account will help a BUNCH. Then you can go to the bank alone with your marriage license and politely explain that Mrs. Hislastname does not exist, but that you can prove that you are his wife and would like to deposit this check in your joint account. If you don't have a joint account, you do the same thing, only agree beforehand whose account the money is going into and bring him with you (with government issued ID and the marriage license).

2. Tell people about your decision, because most people are nice and want to address you properly. I have been told a story where a mother found out her daughter was not changing her name at the bridal shower, and it did not go over well.

3. Keep lots of copies (and maybe get some notarized) of your marriage license. Order official extras from the county clerk's office where you got it. Since lots of jerks out there expect that all married people share a last name, you will save yourself lots of hassles by having proof of your union handy most of the time. Get it laminated. Make it a joke. It's okay to be angry about the fact that this is even an issue (why would you say you were married if you weren't?), but if your partner is in a coma and you want to get into the emergency room, arguments about what's fair will go out the window and you'll be really glad you have that silly little laminated sheet. You can cuss out the backwards idiot guarding the door later.

So hopefully this gives some practical insight to the whole, messy process of name changing. I know was looking for this and lots of other information under the heading "So You're Married, Now What?". I look forward to filling the void. Also, why can't I hire a planner to do the paperwork part for me?