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May 2006

Graduation day

This morning as I drove to work in a jet-lagged Dramamine-induced fog, I listened to the sappiest most miserable my-heart-is-broken song EVER, and I LOVED IT. I even sang along, in the embarrassing way that you sing along to a song you've never heard before. Then the DJ told me the boy singing this song was Nick Effing Lachey and I had to thwack myself in the head with my kitten-heeled shoe.

I am back from my ninety-degree-I-am-REALLY-tired-of-playing-with-trucks vacation and while there are about 487 precious moments to upload to Flickr, I won't bother giving you the play by play. Because is there anything more boring than sitting through someone's excited synopsis of their vacation? A vacation in CINCINNATI? Maybe golf, I don't know. Golf is really boring.

No, here at mighty maggie we are on to Bigger and Better things, those being the fact that I am having houseguests from Thursday to Sunday and today is WEDNESDAY and there are bits and pieces of Vacation Items all over every horizontal surface in my house AND I can't clean it up because tonight I am going to my sister's graduation. And this is not like my graduation, in which I accepted my completely useless Bachelor of Arts in English Degree with a Highly UnLucrative Emphasis in Creative Writing (the university gods were doubled over with laughter). This is a Here, Let Us Give You A Piece Of Paper That Declares You Are Qualified For an Honest To God Actual Profession. That profession being Elementary School Teacher. Like my dad says, there is a poverty gene in my family.

My sister is a smartie, because unlike her cocky everything-should-fall-into-my-lap older sister, she took her Political Science degree and went straight to the teaching certificate program. But she's not THAT smart, because 1) she has dealt with crazypsycho boy all year, the bane of her existence 2) Washington State treats public school teachers like the school lunch leftovers and 3) we are from a FAMILY of public school teachers and SHE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

However, I can see how it would have been hard to know better. My parents have been elementary school teachers their entire lives. I heard something about working in offices in college, a bread factory, food service, but I don't believe them because I AM SERIOUS. My parents were pretty much born hollering at fourth graders and singing songs about President's Day and knowing how to tell if an excuse note is forged. My mother, in particular, has had many a difficult coworker, bratty student and unsupportive principal, but I have never EVER heard her say she would rather be doing something else. My dad sends us emails about the "twerps" in his class, how irritated he is that he has not yet learned his lesson and is doing another end-of-school musical, how relieved he will be once this round of "twits" graduates to the sixth grade, but it's lies, all lies. I honestly believe that they were made to work with kids (and then had five of their own because, according to my father, they had to have someone to take care of them in their old age.)

Ever since it occurred to me that I would have to find something to do with myself and earn my own living, I've been envious of my parents. They have always known what they wanted to be.

I'm envious of my sister too. Not only does she know what she wants to be, she's really good at it. All year I've been getting distraught phone calls about What Happened At School That Day, but they end with This Is What I Want To Do With Them Tomorrow! Her kids are poor and disadvantaged and mouthy and difficult and threatening, their parents are addicts and disinterested. Her mentor teacher has no concept of discipline and my five-foot sister is dealing with uncontrollable five-foot-three fourth graders and their social workers. "They ruin everything!" she complains. "We can't do anything FUN because they're always BAD!" I tell her that soon she'll have her own classroom and she'll be in control and she'll kick the bad ones out, no excuses.

About a year and a half ago, when I was despairing that I would EVER find anything I wanted to do, I considered teaching. No way was I going to teach little kids, I was going to be just like my high school English teacher and impart my scads of wisdom to punk 11th graders. I would daydream about how they'd leave my classroom with a newfound love of the apostrophe, able to hold an intelligent conversation about existentialism, with a developing appreciation for twentieth century poets, Shakespeare, and Strunk & White. Obviously I had lost my mind.

I've got a bunch of teacher friends and half of them want to quit. You spend most of your time trying to keep them AWAKE. You have to deal with parents, principals, standards, and annoying people who have never been teachers trying to tell you how to do your job. I was fairly certain that if some big 11th grade jock tried to intimidate me, instead of telling him to take a hike to the principal's office, I would probably start crying and ask if I could use his phone to call my dad. Sometime after I'd taken the entrance exam, I realized I just didn't like kids enough to make up for all of that.

I think my sister does. She likes kids. REALLY likes them. She has a million ideas for what to do with them and how to teach them. This excites my mom to no end- last summer they were always trying out a science experiment or math project for Becca to write up for class. She doesn't sentimentalize them. She expects them to act their age and behave. She doesn't put up with brats. And when a brat leaves his brattiness behind for a day, she celebrates him. She is going to be an awesome teacher. You are totally going to want your kids in her class. Me too. (And you have no idea how many times my family has had to have the "What do I call you when I'm in school" conversation.)

The Powers That Be recommended closing eleven schools in Seattle next year. It has to do with money, of course, but also the fact that there are more dogs than children in this city. Becca will probably end up teaching in Podunk, Washington, hours away from the sister who supplies her with television and Chinese cakes. Weep. This state requires a teaching certificate which means an extra year of tuition for my sister, who went to a four-year university that didn't offer an Education major. You earn a little more money if you get a master's degree, but some of us have enough debt with a bachelor's degree, thank you. You can't just apply for a job, you have to deposit your information into the district system and pray to every god you know that someone notices your application. You have to endure group interviews, phone interviews, stupid questions from administrators. You're strung along until oh, August, when they figure out if they have a place for you or not. And if you get a job, you're not guaranteed to have it next year. The whole school system stinks. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Everyone complains about the schools- how are they supposed to get better when the teachers are treated like that? I make more than a first-year teacher and I do a hell of lot less work. No one in their right minds should become a teacher!

Unless they love kids. Unless they love teaching them how to do new things. Unless they love watching some twerp light up when he figures out a math problem by himself, when he can read a sentence, when he says his memorized lines in the school play. Unless he thinks it'd be really cool, if years and years from now, when his five kids are sitting impatiently in the van and he's filling up the tank, some twenty-something marches over to him and says, "Hey! Are you Mr. So and So? You were my sixth grade teacher!"

So, in honor of my sister and my parents and my dozens of teacher relatives, I shall fondly remember Mrs. Haskey, the woman who taught me my multiplication tables; Mrs. Bryant, who gave me a starring role in the play; Mrs. O'Neill, who was my Confirmation sponsor in addition to making me read poetry, even if I thought it was stupid; Mrs. Hillestad, who told me I really could be a writer; and Mr. Quinn, who never let this cocky know-it-all rest on her laurels and forced to me to work harder than anyone had ever required. Mr. Quinn, especially, was biding his time until he could retire with his Italian wife in his Italian villa and never have to deal with another dumb American teenager again, but under the many-layered cantankerous exterior was, I SWEAR, someone whose heart swelled, even just a tiny bit, when a  thick-headed senior found something to say about The Heart of Darkness.

Happy graduation to my sister, future wearer of wooden necklaces and jumpers, future singer of all those songs our mother drilled into us, future writer of D'Nealian, future giver of bathroom breaks, future receiver of heaps of horrid holiday gifts, all given with love to their best teacher ever.

Vacation, and it's not over yet

Today I saw lions, tigers and bears, I avoided all carbs until the evening when I ate nearly an entire pint of Grater's Black Raspberry Chip ice cream, I wore sunglasses, I saw the X-Men movie, I read a Dr. Suess book to my 2-year-old nephew, I taught a new song to my 5-year-old nephew, I finished my mystery novel and the Caitlin Flanagan article in the June Atlantic, I danced to the Wiggles and I think my shoulders got a little too much sun.

It's good.

So wise, so brilliant, so completely terrible at public speaking

So I bet you guys are all DYING to know how it went being Experts at the pre-marriage class last night. Well, unfortunately I can't give you a transcript to prove how wise and eloquent we were, so suffice to say that any such transcript would be smothered in "um", "...", "anyway", "like" and one instance of "Crap I totally lost my train of thought. Craaaap." The almost-marrieds were BEGGING for our autographs and the class leaders already scheduled us for the next session.

I'm the sort of person who practices how I'm going to order a pizza, so Phillip's "I'm sure they'll ask us a question and we'll just answer it" style of Imparting Wisdom didn't really work for me. Especially because they didn't ASK us a question, they merely said, "Now Phillip and Maggie are going to share about spirituality in their marriage!" and we looked at each other like dumb fools. You go first, no you go first!

I guess it was okay. Once my panicky insecure self stopped counting up all the couples I knew who are infinitely more "spiritual" than we are and realized we were just being trotted out as the Young Couple Who Stuck Around And Got Involved, it went all right. Father was particularly interested in having us brag about how we are on the pastoral council (Phillip) and worship and spiritual life commission (me) and to say many many things along the lines of: look! People our age can participate! Please don't leave! Please don't get married in our pretty pretty church and disappear! Register and become a eucharistic minister and give us money to build the parish center in Zambia!

But no one is going to make me the poster girl for Getting Involved (and haaaa! actually, the fact that I just wrote that phrase makes me giggle hysterically) if I don't get to tell them that it WAS NOT EASY. Sure we talked it up and got excited and one of us may have been a little more emotionally enthusiastic than the other in wanting the almost-marrieds to know HOW great it is (why- WHY- do I turn into an incomprehensible jabbering idiot whenever I am excited about something?), but we didn't sugarcoat how long it took or how frustrating it was to get where we are, not to mention that we've barely started. I guess we are a good example of commitment. We did our share of church shopping, but we came back and decided: this is it.

Anyway, the best part of the whole night was sitting up at the front and thinking to myself: THANK GOD I DON'T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS STUFF. I was sitting on three years of "gee, this worked out after all!" and totally not caring about readings and processions and who will sing what. Which is funny, because lately I've been in kind of a nostalgic funk, where I keep asking Phillip if he remembers what it was like when we first knew each other, when we started dating, how it felt. Like I want some of that excitement back. And then last night, to be so relieved and comfortable in my own not-much-of-a-newlywed-anymore place... it was so nice.

Tomorrow we leave for that hotbed of thrills and excitement, Cincinnati, Ohio, whereupon we will spoil our nephews, eat our weight in Graeter's ice cream and spend three paychecks in two days. Oh wait, that last one is just me. And my sister-in-law. We will probably spend each of our evenings at the dining room table in front of our respective laptops. Phillip and his brother will be dorking out over something dorky, I will be checking up on my blogs and my sister-in-law will be shopping at fourteen different stores while simultaneously selling her handbags on ebay. THAT is how fun we are! I hear we are going to the zoo, the X-men movie and swimming lessons. Also? IT IS GOING TO BE SUNNY AND WARM AND HOT AND TOASTY AND SUNDRESS WEATHER AND BRIGHT AND NOT RAINING. If all goes as planned, I may have to change my opinion of Cincinnati, Ohio. Especially if the Aveda salon up the street from the house can make me look like this. I've got the long hair going for me, but my bone structure is going to need some work. (Also House would totally be my new favorite show if it wasn't so GROSS. Why so gross, Hugh Laurie?)

Happy long weekend everybody!


I wrote a GIANT post today about the state of The Job and what is happening with The Job and how it is going to (knock on wood) CHANGE and how I am (knock on enormous centuries-old redwood tree) liking the new stuff I'm doing. Yes, I wrote that. I am liking what I do to earn a living. Shocking! Incredible!

And I'm just going to take the fact that Typepad completely IGNORED my giant The-Job-Is-Potentially-Awesome post as a merciful sign that I should not be writing about The Job on my personal website. Why I persist in doing so is a mystery to all. I may have had some unconscious wish to get fired in months past, but now? Now that I am transitioning out of the Crap Job into a Potentially Awesome Job? Now that I am doing things that require more than a modicum of brain cells? Now that I only have to do the stuff I hate until JULY when I will start doing ONLY COOL STUFF and not on Fridays because I WILL NOT BE WORKING ON FRIDAYS?

I must be crazy to be writing about The Job.

Instead, here are a list of things that are really harshing my mellow:

  • The Indigo Girls show AND the Dar Williams show are sold out. SOLD OUT. The IG show sold out in ONE FRIGGIN DAY. This has to do with the fact that:
  1. The concerts on the pier are no more, due to the fact that someone smart realized that four bazillion people should not be dancing around to fuzzy folk music on an unsound unstable old-as-hell waterfront pier.
  2. The pier concert series' move to some made up place on South Lake Union was fraught with drama, including awful acoustics, nightmarish parking and a citywide stinkeye for Paul Allen.
  3. Zootunes took over but for some reason Zootunes concerts are ALWAYS SOLD OUT and people, I have been to many an Indigo Girls show and they have NEVER sold out, even the show at the friggin CROCODILE. (Okay, maybe they have sold out, but only when it was perfectly acceptable to do so, ie: after I have bought my ticket. What is all this selling out on the FIRST DAY?)

Anyway, Dar is also sold out which is almost worse, because my sisters were going to go to this one with me and it was going to be the first time in the history of the universe that the three of us would be in complete and utter harmony over our choice of music. Must troll craigslist for horribly overpriced tickets. Gah. Can't believe this is happening.

  • The Lost season finale is tonight, but our Lost friends had the gall to schedule their wedding anniversary today so WHATEVER. Phillip and I will be wearing our  t-shirts and playing our made up Lost drinking game by ourselves. Whenever Jack gets all squinty-eyed and pathetically pensive, DRINK! (Which ensures you'll be drinking the ENTIRE TIME.)
  • The American Idol finale is tonight too. WHO CARES. It's between some dude with gray hair and some girl who looks like Barbie's brunette friend come alive which, frankly, freaks me right out.
  • I cannot figure out when I'm going to get my butt over to the mall to pick up a box o' chocolates for my sister-in-law. This is important. There is no See's Candy in Cincinnati! How do you people get by? I've purchased adorably illustrated books for the nephews, we've got Seahawks paraphernalia for my brother-in-law but my sister-in-law, the woman who sent me FOUR magazine subscriptions for Christmas because she is THAT AWESOME, deserves some candy. Must find spare moments for the mall. Must also purchase more drastically overpriced moisturizer at Macy's.
  • It is going to cost me TWICE as much to fly to Italy this year as it would have last year. God. I hate this whole JOB thing and having to plan your life around your stupid JOB and your stupid VACATION DAYS. Wah. Also hate the airlines.
  • I need a haircut. My stringy grungy hair is even stringier and grungier than normal. What am I going to do about this? I can't just cut off a couple inches, because the stringy and grungy remains. I can't hack it all off a'la sophomore year of college because that requires getting it cut every month instead of every year, like I do now, and also because Phillip is not especially fond of the little boy look and YES of COURSE I let my husband dictate my grooming choices! I'm leaning toward a bob a'la Kelly Kapowski the College Years or the Rachel circa 1996 (which, oh God, I just told the Internet I want a ten-year-old hairstyle). But I have the flattest straightest most boring hair in the universe and SOMETHING MUST BE DONE. However! My last favorite haircut was at the Aveda salon up the street from my sister-in-law's house so hey hey hey! You know what else they do there? Eyebrow waxing. Looooove eyebrow waxing.
  • But back to the Suckitude. I paid $50 to fill up my beloved automobile this morning. I might have cried. I might have vowed to purchase the automobile of my heart's desire, until I saw that it cost oh so much more than $50. Yeesh.

Funny how my Absolutely Fantastically Brilliant post about The Job turned into a plethora of whiny muck. But I can't mess with The Job, people. It's that good.

*knock on enormous stack of soon-to-be-a-townhouse plywood stacked perilously close to my house*

After the game of love, baby!*

Okay so you know how yesterday I said I had Thursday free? HA. Thursday the husband and I will be the Resident Experts at the pre-marriage class at church. We have been married BARELY three years, we were the youngest in our marriage class, we hate getting up in front of people (okay, maybe one of us enjoys it more than the other) and we have to talk about Spirituality and Marriage. What are we going to say? I have no idea. NO IDEA.

The priest said, "I don't care what you say, as long as you tell them why you go to church every Sunday and why it's important for your marriage." Little does he know that the amount of information Phillip and I have to impart on this subject amounts to "Um" and "Every Sunday?"

So, if you don't mind, I'm just going to practice on you.

First of all, let's get out of the way the things we won't share with the almost-marrieds. Namely, that until the last year or so, it was terrifically hard to go to church every Sunday. And don't tell my mom, but some Sundays we didn't go! Eek! We were faithful participants in the College Fellowship all through school, but once we were graduates with our own apartments and actual jobs, it was really hard to get up on Sundays. It got even harder once we were married, because let's face it- when you're dating, it's soooo romantic to have your boyfriend pick you up for church on Sunday mornings. But when you're married, you don't have to actually go anywhere to see each other, so why bother? I KNOW! WE ARE HEATHENS! We can't tell the priest we thought of church as a DATE!

The reason why it's not so hard to go anymore is because (gasp) we have FRIENDS at church. People know us. We know them. We look forward to seeing them. Also, the priest totally knows who we are and keeps attendance in a little black book in the sacristy.

I am absolutely positively certain those are not the answers they're looking for.

In the interest of appeasing the powers that be, I've found it easier to think about this from the perspective of: What it would be like if we didn't go to church? And I have all kinds of answers for that.

When we didn't go to church we felt guilty (we are Catholic after all) and lazy and self-indulgent. We usually only bought ourselves an hour or two of extra sleep, and our Sunday was shot. How are you supposed to know when to go to Costco when you don't have Mass in the morning? Church gets us started. It's a good start. And while that in itself is a completely un-spiritual answer, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I NEED that good start. When we don't go to church, I feel a little less grounded. I haven't 'started over'. I haven't renewed anything. I haven't reconnected with anything important.

I also thought about the people we see at church. Some of them are our age, the other married couples we've befriended over the last year. Some of them are the older people who recognize us as one of the young couples who's there every Sunday. We hardly know all the parishioners, but we recognize their faces. We sit near the same people, we all take communion together, and slowly we're learning names and stories. These are the people who know me as a person of faith, and I need that too. A handful of people at work know I go to church, but they don't know why. Most of my friends are Christians going to their own churches, but it's not the focal point of our friendship. My family is mostly Catholic, but when we get together we're not talking about our faith. I need my faith community. I need a place where that part of my identity is forefront.

I don't think I'm aware of that need on a daily or weekly basis. Most Sundays I go to church for the reason most Catholics go: we're supposed to. We know it's good for us. We're not special or saintly- we just know that somewhere inside us, we need to worship with other believers. Also, we have no interest in breaking our mothers' hearts.

And all of those things are the reasons why it's good for our marriage. We said our vows in front of a whole lot of people and sometimes I wonder, if we hadn't made those vows so public, one of us might have had it up to HERE with the dirty socks on the floor and rented an apartment in Venice for the rest of the year because holy crap ENOUGH WITH THE DIRTY SOCKS! We are very much aware that it would be well near impossible to do this by ourselves. The more support, the more prayer, the more connected to God, the better off we are. We need a place where that part of our marriage is forefront. While I occasionally roll my eyes at the sappy togetherness of the older couples who receive communion together and venerate the cross at the same time, I'm secretly wishing for that kind of confidence, their mutual adoration for each other and their God. I'm not at that point. I'm still figuring out how much of me gets sucked into marriage, how much of me I want to give to "us" and how much I want to keep for myself. I see these other married couples and feel optimistic that I'll figure it out eventually. And I'll figure it out through the faithful part of me- not at work or with my friends, but probably at church.

I'm not sure what Phillip will say. We'll probably hash it out on the ride over Thursday night. We'll stand uncertainly in front of people who most likely have gobs more life experience than we do and hope that we're not coming off like total self-righteous jerks. We might tell them how hard it's been to find our place in church, to find friends and our own way to participate. If we do, we'll tell them how struggling with that was incredibly worth it, and how amazed we are at where God has placed us. We'll tell them that we still can't quite believe we're actually a part of things, and that the rest of the congregation hopes they'll stick around and find their own place. Blah blah blah.

And they will all look at us and be like, "Gah, there's still a half hour left before we can go home." Because THAT, Internet, is how fabulously interesting Phillip and I are in person. WHY ARE THEY HAVING US DO THIS? ACK.

*Today's title comes to us from Dance Dance Revolution for Xbox, which was played AD NAUSEAM last night at the birthday party, as a result of which, the D-list techno music is NEVER GOING TO LEAVE MY BRAIN.

Can you still find some space for yourself?*

I feel like I am running on empty lately. It's not completely true, because I bucked up Saturday for the church lady tea party, packing my entire kitchen and hauling it over to the school for the afternoon, then hauling it all back and washing it all by hand, AGAIN. And Sunday I debriefed my brother, recently returned from his undisclosed Middle East location (Maggie: "How come you didn't blog it! You should have blogged it!" Alex: "Blogs are for narcissisists." Maggie: "Your point being?"), and stayed awake long enough to throw a temper tantrum worthy of any two-year-old over the state of our messy disorganized upstairs closets. Said temper tantrum included throwing EVERYTHING in ALL the closets on to the bed, stamping feet in frustration, accusing the husband of not caring and throwing 99% of everything into fourteen Banana Republic bags for express delivery to Goodwill. Who will actually carry the bags down to the car and transport them to Goodwill, I have no idea.

AND after a week of glorious eighty degree weather, it's now back to sixty degrees and gray rain and I WANT OUT.

I like to be busy. For a long time, busy was how I coped with anxiety. I had no time to think about being anxious if I was also doing a half million other things. But I haven't been anxious in a while (unless I just jinxed myself) and I just don't need to be this busy.

So how do you de-busy-fy your life? I have tried several times. I've instituted "date nights" with my husband, to make it absolutely positively certain that we will have at least one meaningful conversation during the week. I've tried to say "no" a few times. I've even tried to block out whole days- keeping a Sabbath was highly recommended when I was in the College Fellowship. It's a COMMANDMENT for goodness sake.

But whatever. All the things that keep me busy are things I definitely totally without-a-doubt want to do. Tonight we are birthday partying. (And I made a truly awesome three-layer three-kinds-of-chocolate cheesecake for which they should give me a diamond-studded tiara.) Tomorrow night I am going to the NICU where I will visit my friend's tiny new baby. Wait, did I say "visit"? I meant "HOLD". Jealous much? Wednesday night I've promised Phillip eggplant parmesan for "date night dinner" and Friday we have to pack because WEAREGOINGONVACATIONYIPPEE! Thursday night is open, but I guarantee you it will be filled by tomorrow. We are not terribly popular social butterflies, we just... I don't know. Stuff happens. And we are usually having it at our house.

In my ongoing job-transitioning process, I hope to be working only four days a week by mid-summer. I want that fifth day to shut myself in the little yellow bedroom to work on my own projects. But I'm totally afraid that that fifth day will become Laundry Day or Grocery Shopping Day or Running Errands Day because I'll want to free up my weekends for even more STUFF. Gah. And now? NOW we are on CHURCH COUNCILS. Which means many many meetings. I haven't told you that, have I? Oh yes, just part of our master plan to dethrone the priest and RULE GREATER WALLINGFORD.

Anyway, I'm open to suggestions! I seriously have no idea how to be less busy, especially when I am having a blast. It's the afterwards that gets me, the exhausted, cranky, throwing-tantrums-over-messy-closets part that makes me think I need a week in a fabulously expensive spa. Does anyone want to send me to one of those? (Hey, it worked for flowers!)

In other pink, gold and exceptionally gaudy news, I have the church lady tea party pix up on Flickr...

*K's Choice is one of my absolute favorite bands ever. Get thee to iTunes, stat!

Manners, gesture and consent

Since you people seem to be interested in the wedding stuff, here's a random question for you: what sayest thou on the potential groom asking the potential bride's father for her hand? Or, as it works out more often today, having your boyfriend "ask" your dad for his "permission" to ask you to marry him? Is this a formality done before or after the actual engagement? Is it a formality? Did your parents expect it?

I hope by my odd fascination with this subject that it's obvious I didn't do this. But really, I'm very interested in it!

Before we got married I knew nothing about weddings. NOTHING. I had been to a few and they had either been grand fantastic parties or deadly dull events swathed in acres of tulle and silk flowers. I did not dream about my wedding when I was growing up, maybe because they just didn't seem to be a big deal in my family. At least, I knew my own parents pretty much just showed up to their own wedding a few days before the date and left just as quickly. I was the flower girl in my uncle's wedding, but GOD I hated those dress fittings and all I remember is my mother giving me the stinkeye from the pews whenever I bent to scratch my leg.

Anyway. The point is: Many "wedding things" I was either not aware of or had no clue about their supposed importance. Like engagement rings. I swear to you Internet, I had no interest in engagement rings until AFTER we got engaged and everyone started demanding to see my ring. There is no awkwardness quite like the priest not believing you are serious about getting married because there is no ring. (Phillip gave me a ring about two months later and I have worn it ever since because, well, I don't know if you know this, but engagement rings are UNBREAKABLE PROOF of HOW MUCH YOUR HUSBAND LOVES YOU.)

So after the fight about whether or not to get married engagement happened, Phillip said somewhat sullenly, "I guess I should probably ask your dad, huh?" And after a moment or two of did-he-really-say-that silence, I said, "What? NO! Ick!" And that was that.

I have thought about this a lot since then. Well, not a LOT. I honestly have better things to think about. Most of the time. But I have wondered to myself if my dad would have appreciated some gesture of "I'd like to marry your daughter, sir" and then he could have given Phillip a firm fatherly nod and, secretly relieved, retreated to his library, much like the father in Pride and Prejudice. (Which my dad loves, incidentally, for he is awesome.) Did I deprive my dad of participating in a Grand Traditional Gesture? Did I cheat Phillip of an opportunity to charm the socks off my parents? (Not that he needed another opportunity, for heaven's sake, they already think he walks on water.)

Even though I am gobs more appreciative of tradition and gesture and things being the way things are for probably good reasons, this is one Old World leftover that I have never quite grasped. I live in the twenty-first century. I am no one's property. I am no one's to "give away". This is not Victorian England etc. etc. I will decide for myself who I am going to marry, thank you, and if my parents hadn't approved of Phillip, I hope I would have shrugged my shoulders, quickly forgiven their horrific blindness to the walking-on-water and eloped. (Except, I probably wouldn't have, because I am timid and racked-with-guilt and embarrassingly desperate for the parental stamp of approval. Thankfully I had no reason to worry!)

I don't know. Being my own person is kind of a big deal to me. And my parents are like that too. My whole life I heard over and over again that at 18 I could do whatever I pleased. "I don't care if you don't like green beans. Once you leave this house you can eat whatever you want. For now, you are eating green beans." "No, you may not get in that car with that boy. Once you turn 18 you can drive to China with that boy, but don't think you are getting anywhere near that car NOW." Oh, how I longed to turn 18! And once I did, I swear I never heard them tell me what I could and could not do ever again. (It was actually very very weird. Like, where did my REAL parents go? I was still living their house. When I did not return home from my 18th birthday until the next afternoon, they said NOTHING. I about fell over in shock.) And every time I DID want their opinion on something, like any approval-seeking perfectionist oldest child worth her salt, they demurred and hemmed and hawed and told me I could do whatever I wanted. Which: I KNOW. JEEZ. At the time, I honestly thought that if Phillip asked my dad for permission to marry me, my dad would have probably choked on his cappuccino.

And yes, I KNOW IT IS A GESTURE. Obviously. I hope there aren't many girls who are sitting in the next room with their fingers crossed while their boyfriends are asking Dad for permission. But still, it is a gesture that bothers me on a very subtle level. Having declared the whole idea of ownership to be ridiculous, why would I want my fiance to act like it isn't? This goes for having your father walk you down the aisle too. It's pretty, I love it just as much as anyone else, I am right there bawling with the rest of the congregation, but I did not want to be a thing handed off from one man to another. I assumed it would be that way, because that's what happens at weddings, right? But we have a very forward-thinking priest (well, once he got beyond the whole ring thing) who not-so-subtly suggested we change it up a bit. So Phillip walked down the aisle with both of his parents in the procession and so did I. In essence, we were both given away by both of the people who raised us. I liked that.

Anyway, for someone who is as increasingly amazed at her old-fashionedness as I am, it's kind of a silly bee to still be hanging around in one's bonnet. I did, after all, force my guests through an entire wedding MASS and had cake smeared on my face at the perfectly average wedding reception. I'm just curious. How did it work for all of you?

When do I get mine?

It was eighty degrees yesterday so my coworker and I stole borrowed our boss's Miata and drove ourselves to the park near the Ballard Locks to eat lunch. My coworker likes to watch the seagulls and the odd representative of the wildlife faction (she swears she saw a water rat and really, I don't want to know), but as you know, I am anti-Nature and all that, so I prefer to people watch. The people watching is not so good at this park, mostly because it's a bit out of the way and not many people seem to drop by around lunchtime. But I couldn't take my eyes off one family playing nearby- a Caucasian couple in their mid to late thirties and their three (THREE!) Asian babies.

Okay, it's true that I am just assuming that the babies were theirs. They seemed crazy in love with the three-, two- and one-year-old (I swear they were that close together), taking pictures and rolling in the grass and walking up and down the steps and taunting seagulls. My coworker and I smiled the big-wattage smiles you give to little kids who have just walked up fourteen very large steps by themselves, and then my coworker started telling me all about her friend's two adopted children, from Vietnam and Korea. We talked about what my kids might look like (Hispanic! South American!) and the dumb things people ask about adopted children. Quoth coworker's dumb friend to her friend with an adopted 9-month-old, "Is he having problems with the language?"

Sometimes I think I should ditch the whole let's-get-pregnant idea and go straight to the adoption agency. This has no basis in reason, of course. Not sound reason, anyway. I have never particularly wanted to experience pregnancy (childbirth, I hear, is quite painful) and to be honest, the adoption process, with all the paperwork and red tape is, to my lopsided control-freak mindset, much more sensical and emotionally bearable than attempting to force Nature to produce what only has barely a 25% chance of occuring each month anyway. I am not fond of Nature (have I mentioned that?) while I'm excellent at paperwork. However, I'm not fool enough to think that all adoption entails is going back to my Chinese orphanage and picking out my girl. People, I read the Internet, I know few statements are un-true-er than "adoption is easy".

Even so, if it were an easier (and less expensive) process, I'm not sure I'd be waiting to adopt. For a while Phillip and I have thought that we will have the babies we can make by ourselves first, and then when they're older and we're a little better off, we'll adopt a couple more. We talked a lot about the when and the how, but not so much about the why. The why feels like a given. I don't think it's a misplaced sense of charity, or doing our part for population control or even worried that we might not be able to have biological kids- it's more like we just want them. It's like one day we thought it might be cool and God was all "Right on!" and then we met our orphanage babies and it was a sealed deal. Something like that.

Whenever I see adoptive families I can't help thinking about what my own family is going to look like. I know that God has been trying to teach me patience about this kind of thing all year. Even more than patience, I am supposed to be surrendering these dreams, letting go of my control over Nature and timing and all that stuff I don't like to acknowledge, much less give up. I see these families and feel a little sad, because GOD I want to be holding my two-year-old's hand while he climbs stairs. But then sometimes all I see is my own kid and I'm so incredibly excited.

For some reason playing dress up is more fun NOW

Something that is awesome: Veronica Mars and I share the same birthday.
Something that is not: Logan is a Scientologist. Sob.

Tis the season of television finales, always a bittersweet time. YAY- (close your eyes, Lee) Jim kissed Pam! BOO- they won't be back till the FALL. Gah. It's enough to make me wish for winter. Almost. November sweeps is really the only good thing about winter, in my opinion.

So anyway. Yesterday in between the griping and the moaning, I happened to mention the Church Tea Party. Let me tell you how I got suckered into the whole tea party thing.
*phone rings*


May I speak to Maggie please?

It's for you. I think it's that lady from church.

MAGGIE: I'm not here.

PHILLIP: Yes, you are.

MAGGIE: Why do you always have to answer the phone?

PHILLIP: Because you never answer the phone.


PHILLIP: You know, people answer their phones every day. Hardly any of them catch a terminable illness.


MAGGIE: Hello?

Church tea party blah blah blah host a table blah blah blah we'd LOVE to have some YOUNG PEOPLE INVOLVED blah blah blah you can get some other girls to help blah blah blah you can all use your wedding china blah blah blah it'll be fun!

MAGGIE: Except-

Oh, and each table should have a THEME. One of the ladies will be using her Raggedy Ann collection and another lady is going to use her bell collection- her whole table is going to look like a BELL!

MAGGIE: Oh, how lovely.

Won't it be! I just think you'll have a great time!

MAGGIE: Well, I-

And we could use Phillip to help with the serving. Thanks! *Click!*

PHILLIP: I'm going to help do WHAT?


Okay, so it wasn't going to be horrible. I was going to ask my handful of Actual Honest-To-God Church Friends to help out. It was going to be a big girly quasi-fun production and we would be INVOLVED and HELPFUL and make the old ladies hearts swell with pride and excitement in their Young People. Except, my church friends are both in weddings that day. "We're SO SORRY" they said, snickering behind their so-fake-sorry exteriors.

Also, I do not own any wedding china. Registering was painful enough without also informing our guests we wanted them to buy us 12 gilt-edged $80 place settings that we would never ever use. (GOD, registering sucked. I would write an entire post on how much I hate the entire IDEA, except all of my friends would throw bricks through my windows with vicious little notes rubberbanded around them, notes that would say: HOW ARE PEOPLE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT TO BUY, YOU MORON and THIS WAY WE DON'T HAVE TO SPEND MONTHS RETURNING GAUDY CRYSTAL VASES and I would have to screech: THEY DON'T HAVE TO BUY YOU AAAANNYYYYTHIIIIIIING! Honestly, people. Miss Manners did not get her moniker for nothing.) (On the other hand, I have to go to a wedding in July and I haven't a clue what to buy and that registry is awful nice to have. So shut up, Maggie.)

ANYWAY. The above kind of messed with my whole theme of: Finally Using All The Silly Stuff We Got From Our Weddings. And while I have a lot, I hardly have enough to fill up an 8-setting table. So I started to think about my "collections" (none) and "knick knacks" (none around which a "theme" could be concocted, unless the theme was "stuff my mother has sent for each and every holiday since I moved away from home.") What I do have is quite a lot of cocktail party accoutrements: swizzle sticks, pretty glasses, coasters, glass charms, shot glasses, bar tools. But this is a church lady tea party, not the church lushes cocktail soiree.

I do, however, have several feather boas. AND I knew of two other people who would lend me their feather boas. And last night? I bought two more feather boas (pink and black) from this store. And who doesn't love wearing feather boas? WHO? (I restrained myself from also buying a 1980's prom dress, but that is totally going to be my theme next year.)

I dug out my giant rectangle of gold spangly fabric (originally for the Oscar party, used henceforth for the coffee table, the entry way table, the buffet bar) and my gold spangly star garland. I hauled my dad's Bavarian china (yes, my DAD'S china) out of storage and was THRILLED to note the pink rosette pattern and the gold edging. Tonight I am going to buy a cheapo tiara for each of my guests and some sort of prize... a pair of long white gloves, perhaps? I have no idea what kind of "theme" this is, but I am seriously considering wearing my aubergine bridesmaid's dress.

Maybe my theme is something like: Pink, Gold, Gaudy and Spangly. ??? It will be uglier than the school cafeteria in which the event will be held, but I'm thinking that enduring a church lady tea party will be a lot more fun if I am also wearing a tiara and pink feathers around my neck.

Spring fever

You guys, there was another adopted baby in church on Sunday. It's like the church people knew that that would make my heart explode and they are just trying to kill me.


I feel so BLEAH today. I don't know what's wrong with me. We're going to break a record for sunshine and heat and I'm meeting a friend for thrift shopping and cocktails in a few hours, but I am in a horrid miserable mood. I'm tired and irritable and all I want to do is go home and watch a 'Foyle's War' in bed, because the last time I watched a 'Foyle's War' I cried all afternoon because it was incredibly, heart-wrenchingly sad and made me shake my fist at the Universe in angry grief. I feel like a bit of fist shaking today.

We painted our entry way orange (ORANGE) last weekend and everyone seems to like it. In fact, not one person has turned up his nose in disgust and likened it to pureed yams or anything like that, so I suppose that's to be celebrated. As is the fact that I used primer and remained self-possessed of excellent mental health during the entire process.

The church ladies were not horrified when I meekly informed them that my "theme" for the table I was coerced into hosting at the church lady tea party would somehow center around feather boas. This is good, because other people are dressing their tables around their pewter collections or their grandmother's china or angels or Spring and Flowers and if I had to have a theme like those I probably wouldn't make it through the party without throwing up three or four times. They do not yet know there will also be tiaras.

We are going on "vacation" over Memorial Day, which is drawing crazily near. (It's the MIDDLE OF MAY ALREADY?) I say "vacation" because we are flying to that hotbed of excitement, Cincinnati, Ohio, but it is the home of two of the three cutest boys in the universe and they are in dire need of story-reading, Wiggles-watching and tummy-raspberry-blowing from their Cool Aunt. (The third boy lives in Colorado and will be visiting ME this summer, be still my beating heart!)

We are also going on VACATION, real honest-to-God vacation vacation, in July. Internet, I have never been on vacation. I have run myself ragged across Europe. I have road tripped along the West Coast. I have gone without showering in China and insisted that 23 hours of our 24-hour layover in New York City include sight-seeing. I have never ever gone anywhere with the purpose of resting, but in July I will be wearing my just-arrived-from-the-J.Crew-warehouse swimsuit on a beach in Hawaii, sipping a mai tai and crossing everything off my 2006 reading list. I will come home with a TAN and a SUNNY DISPOSITION and a BALANCED LIFE PERSPECTIVE, three things of which I am in desperate need. I am so excited I can barely stand it.

(If you haven't caught on, this is my list of Good Things, my preferred way of self-cheering.)

Thinking about vacation makes me want to go to the airport. Okay, I kind of hate the airport and anything involving airplanes, but the actual place is kind of exciting. You're GOING somewhere. You're not doing what you've been doing the last week or weeks or months. It's different.

I think I need some different.