Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time line

I've been working with a graphic designer from my uncle's print shop and have zeroed in on the invites. We've been emailing back and forth a bit discussing various small changes and I think we've come to a close. They're pretty much something I would make myself if I had the mad skillz. Everything I make tends to be cute or quaint looking. I'm not edgy or alternative or formal or trendy or frilly.

I'm kind of excited to post them, which I'll do once I have sent them out in the mail. I should have them in hand by August, and out by September.

I'm sort of in the swing of planning, and I'm so far in and so close yet so far that wedding planning has become a sort of sub-lifestyle for me. It's on my mind frequently, as it requires decision-making, appointments, labour and monetary investment, not to mention ideas and creative ones at that to make it fun and affordable.

That said, I'll be much pleased when it's all done and I can re-focus my energies on other things. It'll be nice to not have to block off our income in large chunks for an event. Instead we'll be saving for things like vacations or a house.

And I've been giving home ownership a lot of thought lately. It's the dream for most people. It kind of says "I've made it." And indeed in many ways it does say that. And people invest instead in an asset rather than spending on rent, and they can decorate willy nilly. These things are lovely.

But the more I consider what the Dude and I plan to do and our needs, the more I see we simply can't buy a house until he's a photographer. Not just because we need to buy him equipment and secure him regular studio space, but we can't take the same risks if we're homeowners. We'd have too much to lose. The Dude can't be too tied down by property ownership, not if he's going to embark on a career based entirely on getting clients. Until he develops as a successful photographer, saving up and having regular mortgage/utility/maintenance/insurance/tax costs on hand for a home the size we'd need will be unrealistic for us.

So home ownership is likely five-plus years away, if not more. A number of my friends own property now: my maid of honour, some friends north of the city, and now McPal and his fiance. I also have a friend in Ottawa with two properties. But I can reconcile our differing time lines. I'm happy for friends' milestones and accomplishments. I just also try to remind myself just why we're waiting, and that not everyone needs to do things at the same pace.

As it stands, we're likely going to start a family well in advance of having our own house. And that in itself is kind of exciting. But first thing's first, of course. Gotta get hitched.

Friday, June 24, 2011

No Homemaker

I am not a good housekeeper. I'm not a dirty person or anything, but I'm lax in the tidy department. I'm comfortable with a bit of grime and dirt. And that is the current state of affairs of my home at present. Not gross or unhygienic, but... rustic, let's say.

When left to my own devices I'm merely sloppy, a little unkempt in the living room area, dishevelled in the bedroom and a dish piler in the kitchen. But the spills get cleaned, the bathroom gets scrubbed and garbage goes to live in the trash. Living with the Dude, life's gotten a little messier.

In the face of a messy guy living with them, a lot of women will take on the extra housework themselves and grow agitated. I personally have just lowered my expectations for my home's cleanliness. It's easier.

I tell myself that my children's immune systems one day will be glorious and that mine must already be ready for the plague. Well, maybe not the plague, I mean, my place isn't that bad. But still, this isn't exactly suitable for the delicate.

All of this means that we have to clean this place. We're having a BBQ this Sunday and while I'm comfortable with a certain amount of crust (Ha!), I can't bear the thought of exposing the people I care about to it. It's bad enough when unexpected service people have to poke through my place and I have to say, "Excuse the mess."

I do love entertaining though, and not just because I love seeing my friends (Which I do). It's a delightful way to instigate a massive clean up and get the Dude interested in scouring the apartment with me.

Cleanliness ahoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Garden update

Okay, so the Dude uploaded the pictures! And I took some more today, so here is the chronicles of our gardening venture. I'm really quite pleased, as nothing has died, which is wont to happen when I try to make things grow.

Here are my pumpkin and zucchini plants from, oh, a week or more ago.

And here they are today!

Here is the blossom growing from the zucchini plant.

And in the centre there, the pumpkins are starting to blossom.

Here's the tomato plant from earlier a couple weeks out from planting.

And here it is today. It's really sprouting along.
No tomatoes budding yet, but the plant is really looking pretty happy.

This was the garden before, with the carrots, onions, lettuce, peppers,
green beans and strawberries.

Here's the pepper plants today. I wish they were a little bigger, but they are growing.

The green beans were planted from seed
and they've really jumped out of the ground.

The lettuce is getting big.

And strawberries have started to grow!

Overall, rock on! The carrots and onions have also been thriving, but since all the goodies are underground, their progress will be better recorded once they're harvested.

The one thing that's dead is the grass. Oh, we re-seeded the dead part near the garden, but underneath lush green overgrowth was... dead grass. Go figure. So there's a green patch surrounded by a golden carpet of death. I've been watering it, but it needs more.

Funny, eh? The food is thriving. But the grass? Grass that does nothing? Dead as yesterday's news.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Introvert

It's 3:00 a.m. and I'm awake. The Dude is asleep like a normal person, and Bea has sensibly gone to bed. Sprinkles, generally being devoid of good sense, is also up and circling my laptop and getting in my business, probably because she feels she's due a late-night snack.

I read a little blip on introversion today. Every now and then it's nice to read about others' experiences with being introverted. We're in the minority in a society that values extroversion. I particularly liked reading the comments and felt a sense of camaraderie with people who reported doing things I do:

Staring off into space
Not smiling much
Being quiet unless there's a topic of interest being discussed
Not bothering with small talk
Being given to honest and open discussions to the exclusion of social niceties
Getting drained from companionship quickly
Needing to be left alone for large blocks of time

These things tend to strike people as strange or worse: anti-social. Past friends have come down hard on me for being this way, as though I were rude or unpleasant to be around. I thoroughly enjoy people's company, I just don't initiate conversations with people I don't know because I find it taxing. It usually requires me to do small talk and I hate that. I actually can't do it, not really.

I watch people interact all the time, usually talking about the little things or items of low interest to me. I don't know how to start these conversations, I don't really want to join them most of the time, but I do get a sense of loneliness when I appear to be the only party not conversing. I wonder if I'm avoiding the small talk or if people are avoiding me. Perhaps I appear aloof.

This must seem like a discrepancy, to hate small talk and to also feel left out of it. I suppose I just dislike the realization that my proclivity to be private and quiet means people think I'm unfriendly, or shy. I'm not shy at all. I really enjoy public speaking. It gives me a rush. I like to burst out of my shell at parties. I'll dance solo at weddings. I just also like to dine alone in restaurants, go shopping by myself and spend so much time in my head that I often don't notice what's around me.

I guess I kind of close the door on the world when I really get reflective, and people don't like the feeling of a door slamming in their face. I'm 28 years old and it's only the past few years I've really sort of accepted this about myself and started actively revealing myself as an introvert to people I care about. I spent my childhood and adolescence around friends, classmates and teachers who all thought I was either a jerk for not listening, stupid for not paying attention or a ditz for being unresponsive, when I was only overloaded from social stimuli at school and took many involuntary mental breaks.

I wonder what life would be like if we understood ourselves faster. Children don't know anything about themselves except what colours they like and their favourite foods. They know who their friends are, if they want to do something or don't want to go someplace. But they know jack about their personalities and don't really give it much thought. A self-aware kid would be an anomaly.

Teenagers dive into self-discovery, but often screw it up by doing a sort of self-moulding instead, where they copy other kids, hide their preferences, go with the group and try to be who they want to be instead of who they are. Conformity at all costs. Weirdos like me don't make the cut into acceptance and cool land.

One of the things I imagine sometimes is what sorts of ways I'd have reacted to people if I knew then what I know now, and was less apologetic about who I was. Because I did apologize, a lot.

I kind of hope I have an introverted kid, just so I can show him or her some understanding. I have an uncle who once called me a loner. My mom was unhappy about that, but I really appreciated it, just the acknowledgment that I am the way I am and don't need to always be socializing. It's nice when people really see you.

I suppose if I were a man, I could be considered the strong silent type. Too bad for me, I guess. Introverted women are more likely to be considered snobs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Etsy Wedding

Gonna take the time to get all weddingy.

There's four and a half months to go, so I've started buying things for the decor. I've been having a lot of fun with it. It's kinda nifty to throw a big party and put your own stamp on it. I'm never going to throw an event of this magnitude again.

I find myself on Etsy a lot, and crafting blogs looking for DIY projects. Today, for example, I bought these for the table numbers:

I love shabby chic things. But I also like quirky things, so I picked up this for a guestbook/seating chart:

Guests go through the card catalogue and find their name, which will tell them their table number, and then there's space to write a message a la guestbook.

And shabby chic and quirky are good, but I also enjoy cute. And cows. I love cows, I really do. Not sure why. So, I got these for a cake topper:

It's going to be eclectic. I started out with a Monet theme idea, which inspired me with the cake and the colours. It sort of set the tone, but I started to feel stifled and constrained with a theme, so I let it go and just focused on what I liked and what would be fun. But the theme was good because it gave me a place to start.

I'm really looking forward to it, but not just the party. I'm looking forward to the ceremony and saying my vows and hearing them back. I'm happily thinking about when we can begin reallocating our money to our future instead of to wedding savings. I'm excited to think about saving for a home, trips and starting a family.

And yes, it is 2:00 a.m. Insomnia, man.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

10 years ago.

So, I have been taking photos of my garden with the Dude's spiffy camera, but I don't know how to get the pictures off said camera. So all I can say at present is that the garden is green and growing and you'll have to trust me that I haven't killed everything off brown-thumb style and am covering my tracks.

The other day the Dude and I were talking about what sports our old high schools had and I hadn't thought that we had certain teams and he was sure we did. So, out came the yearbooks and of course this led to browsing them for memories.

And I had forgotten just how much I hadn't enjoyed high school. But not to worry, it all came back to me as I was flipping pages and becoming increasingly sad. Well, perhaps "sad" is the wrong word. It's more of a muted sense of isolation, inadequacy and stress.

In the 10 years since graduation no other place or era of my life has managed to generate the same response from me.

In college I made only a few friends, but they're friends I've not only managed to keep, but have become even closer to over the years. And there was no bullying, no distinct cool people looking down their noses at anyone, and everybody was free from being the person that everyone thought they were based on perceptions formed from five years ago.

There were times then I felt left out or lonely, but I'm introverted and that's my lot in life sometimes. I never felt open contempt for who I was, and that was the stark difference.

When I was in high school, I started out with a group of friends from elementary school. One dropped me completely and the others never truly seemed to want me around by the end of grade 10. Perhaps we'd grown apart, perhaps newcomers to our circle changed the dynamic and I no longer fit in. Maybe both, maybe something else.

Within days of grade 11 starting, I had a whole new set of friends. It had been gradually coming on in grade 10, and after being ignored most of the summer, it seemed our old connection was dead. And my new friends were odd people, so in a sense I was home.

But having some key friends doesn't prevent you from being harassed. Boys started quacking at me, an old teasing tactic from grade 6-8. I'm bow-legged and my knees and feet aren't aligned straight. I walk a little off-kilter with my toes pointed out, like a duck.

So a chunk of grade 11 was spent being quacked at by boys I grew up with, and eventually by boys I didn't even know. Everyone knows this type, a sort who jumps on a bullying bandwagon: they're not terribly intelligent or good-looking, perhaps they come from money and they have a misplaced sense of their own importance which translates into a really snide arrogance.

If not for the fact my mom had cancer at the time and I had to go home each day and see her sick body and try to sleep at night, occasionally listening to her vomit from chemo, I might have had an easier time handling the additional stress of social nonsense. But such as it was, in addition to the teenage angst, it was a troubling time.

I flipped through the pages of my last years of school and reflected on how I was only ever merely there at that school, and never a part of it. I'd show up, sometimes get made fun of, fall asleep in my classes, talk to my friends, do my time and leave. I left for a semester and while I was gone my mom died. And amidst the strangers in my class I felt a sense of community, something that I know I wouldn't have felt at my "real" school, not surrounded mostly by people who looked at me and saw a loser.

I had friends at my old school, but when the people who don't like you seem to outnumber the people who do, or at least when it feels that way, being surrounded by people who either like you or don't know you is a bit more comforting.

I think that's what being taunted by your classmates does to you. And it came back in waves as I turned the pages. And so I closed the book. I immediately felt better. It's amazing how easy it is to go back there, emotionally, but it's thrilling how simple it is to make it go away.

I love getting older. And I guess I'm thankful my glory days weren't in high school because life has only gone up since leaving. So, maybe it was nice to take the time to appreciate that.

Kids are graduating high school right now. It's been 10 years since my grad. The Dude and I were browsing tuxes for the wedding today and I saw a teen looking for a prom suit. Sometimes that sort of thing makes me feel old. This time it made me feel grateful.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Little bit of this, bit of that...

I got somewhere in the neighbourhood of three to four hours of sleep last night. I have never been able to maintain a normal sleep schedule, with the exception of when I worked as a chamber maid in the summers between college years. But even then when I had to wake up at 6:00, I still couldn't sleep till 11:30 or 12:00, and I need eight hours to feel like a human being. I'm an inherent night owl.

I've fallen into a bit of a routine these past few weeks. Now that a garden needs my attention and the days are so beautiful that not stepping out into the sunshine is criminal, I spend a portion of my afternoons in the garden, watering, weeding, admiring the new growth. I took some pictures of the progress over half a week ago, but never got them off the camera and now they're outdated. Which is great because that means things are growing.

I tend to do dishes before my work shift is over, usually when I reheating some lunch. After work, I do some flexibility exercises in the office while listening to music. Bea likes to join me and curls around my legs and crawls into my lap while I'm stretching out my legs.

What a calm state of affairs this is.

There's certain things with the wedding that are yet to be handled, but I'm still ahead of schedule. I usually channel my insomnia into wedding planning, which is likely why I'm so on track. There's a boatload to do with this sort of event, but even more or less solo I seem to find time for it all due to my nocturnal proclivities.

Guest list
Groomsmen wear
Bridesmaid dresses
Booking officiant
Ceremony planning
Out of town hotel blocking
Seating chart/place settings
Booking hotel room
Trial hair and makeup
Booking hair appointments

If there actually was a way to have this all done in advance, I'd have the wedding done already. It's not like I'm this way in all areas of my life, though. There are certain things I like to leave to the last minute, like getting up in the morning. When I was a child, I used to run to the bus with my knapsack open, one shoe on, carrying the other, with my coat in the crook of my elbow, trying to stuff my lunch into my bag. Making a specatacle of myself was worth sleeping in till the last possible second. Wedding planning doesn't really fall under the same category, however. Five months to go until it's a memory.

In other related wedding news, McPal and his boyfriend are no longer boyfriends, but... (drum roll) fiances! How exciting! They'll be getting married in a little over a year, possibly two. They were both going to propose to each other in Paris while they were on vacation, but they got robbed and thus thwarted in London, preventing them from seeing Paris. And in the midst of the ransacked flat, they each revealed their intentions for Paris, and McPal proposed. Romantic!

I love love.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Colonic

I had a colonic yesterday. Yes, I do those. In fact, in addition to a facial and manicure, I plan on getting a colonic before my wedding so I will be comfortable.

So, bearing in mind what I'm going to be talking about, this may not be the post for you.

Continuing on...

I have IBS and I was experiencing a lot of... inactivity lately. This is usually solved with a round or two of magnesium citrate before bed. It comes in a raspberry-citrus flavour and you mix it with hot water and drink it like a tea. It "hydrates" your lower intestine and thus gets the show on the road down there. No pain, no fuss. Very effective.

Well, that wasn't working. When you can two tablespoons of magnesium days in a row and you haven't had a hint of an rear door exit, you know you have to take more drastic measures.

(My friends and I have been laughing lately about how bowel movements have made their way into our regular conversation. Years ago I would have said, "EWW!" Now? Hell, it's a regular part of my life, ironic pun intended, so I'm less skeeved when talking about it now. Guess I'm getting old.)

Anyhoo, I made an appointment at this place near Ossington station. I had a deal and I wanted to give 'er a try. I have a place I trust already, but I wanted to see if this new place, which is closer to my home, would work out.

Well, it didn't. Oh, it worked-worked. But I'm not going back. Why?

1. I like my colonic clinics to be more clinical looking. This place had an indie vibe, the sort that's charming for a boutique or therapist's office, but if I'm having a tube up my butt, I want to feel like I'm at the hospital.

2. There were two session rooms and one bathroom. At D'Avignon they have a toilet in every room. At this place you might get stuck waiting. And for those who haven't done this before, when you have to go during or after a colonic, there's nothing in the entire world more pressing (Yes, I know, but puns are too easy when you're talking about poo). There was a grip on the wall and while the bathroom was being "reserved" for me, I gripped it and twitched. I don't remember what I was thinking about. Everything I was or had ever been had been reduced to the singular need to go to the bathroom. Because a toilet was not in the room, I had to wait twice as long.

3. I had to wait 15 minutes past my appointment and when I came back from the bathroom, she told me to get dressed. So I got about 20-25 minutes instead of 45. At D'Avignon, they get you right back on the horse and give you your time.

4. At D'Avignon, if you're cramping they add peppermint oil to the water. The ladies there are also nicer. I get relaxed enough there to start cracking jokes as I watch god knows what fly out of my body and down the tube. They all seem rather taken with their work, too, and want to know all the details about your digestion. The woman who dealt with me was a quiet-spoken serious person who tried too hard to sell me products. I also got the sense she was not terribly interested in what I had to say.

In the end I got what I needed. An obstruction is gone and my stomach is no longer distended. I'm comfortable, comparatively gas-free and I have that rare sensation of understanding what it must feel like to be normal. When I touch my stomach now, I keep expecting my hand to find my tummy a couple inches out further. It's so lovely to not feel so bogged down and round.

But I left the colonic feeling emotionally disgruntled. I'm not terribly inclined to list this place by name and call them out, but if anyone in TO wants to try this sort of treatment for their digestive issues, I think I've made my recommendation clear.
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