If you’re still out there, I apologize.
Why I won’t have a pumpkin this Halloween:
Because the weather here in Florida is swamp assingly hot. Because I carved a pumpkin with my sister PK two Saturdays ago only to have it rot and fill with bugs one week later. Because I spent $25 on three pumpkins two Saturdays ago only to have all three rot and fill with bugs one week later. Because I even carved a pumpkin for THE PUG that resembled the pug and looked like Pikachu when it was lit. Because both of these pumpkins were so delicately rendered, so beautifully carved and cleanly gutted that I’d never be able to replicate them. Because replicating their faces so soon after their demise would be disrespectful. The grieving process has just begun.
The day of the epic carving the weather dropped below 50 degrees. It was glorious. Crisp. Chilly. I wore a lightweight scarf and a long-sleeved shirt. When I gutted the squash, my hands were so cold I rubbed them together for warmth and then I saved the seeds, coated them in salt and baked them at 350 degrees. I drank warm tea and soaked my bones in PK’s hot tub. It felt like fall for 24 hours and then one day later, it was over.
For one day I was able to go without deodorant. For one day I was spared the onslaught of weird, random bugs that are STILL nesting under the hood of my car. For one day I was able to open the windows in my house and fall asleep to the sound of cicada bugs. For one day my pumpkin and the pug’s pumpkin sat lit in the front yard, their big round eyes fresh from carving, their pokey smiles oblivious to the impending rot.
The morning I tossed them in the dumpster I called PK for moral support.
“Hey. How rotten is your pumpkin?”
“It’s not bad. I mean, there are bugs in it and it’s a little mushy, but nothing too gross.”
“Have you looked at this morning?”
“Open your door and take a look.”
“It’s a rotten monster!”
Stressed. Hectic. Busy. Chaotic. Overwhelmed. Exhausted.
Crazy how we often use these words to describe our lives. Crazy how we always promise ourselves it’ll get better next week. Or better next month. Or better next year. Crazy how life doesn’t bend that way, no matter how much we think the passage of time will make things easier.
Once the wedding is over. Once I graduate. Once he graduates. Once I finish this story. Once I lose 10 pounds. Once the baby starts to sleep through the night. Once I retire. These are just a few of the things I hear from people I know, including myself.
Once that happens something else happens. Worries and fears grow up with us, as do our coping mechanisms, which is why I think getting older is supposed to make us wiser.
On my kitchen counter is an index card I scribbled a grocery list on six months ago. It’s 3-by-5 inches of pure ordinariness except for one thing: six lines down, in the space between memory card from Radio Shack and butter, my best friend Ro wrote, “a 2nd residence in NY.”
Last April, she and my sister Heelya spent their Easter break at my place in St. Pete. I came across this card while I was cleaning my kitchen, long after they flew back to Buffalo. I was going to toss it in the garbage until I got to line six and read Ro’s note.
A second residence in New York.
Funny little Ro, I thought, sneaking in such a humble request on my grocery list. And then I stuck the card on my refrigerator and laughed and cried dumbly at once. The laundry was humming in the washer, three deadlines were hanging over my head, an engagement ring was on my finger and an empty container of cottage cheese was on the counter. Humdrum hoo-haa. Toilet paper, mustard and bread. Check.
Life is stressful and hectic, overwhelming and exhausting, but little things are what make one day better than the next. Often they go uncelebrated as we habitually explain to family, friends and coworkers that we’re busy, exhausted and overwhelmed, as we apologize for being late to work and apologize for snapping at our mothers and apologize for pissing off our husbands.
This post is in praise of little things, so many little things that I chose to focus on just one.
Well, maybe two.
The second little thing happened last night before I fell asleep. It was short and sweet and fleeting.
As I clapped* off the light in our bedroom, Joe asked: “Did you see me this morning out your office window?”
“In the driveway?”
“Did you see me blow you a kiss?”
“Oh no! Shit! I missed it!”
“That’s OK,” he said. “It’ll be waiting for you tomorrow. In fact, I think I hear it knocking on your window right now.”
“I hear it! It sounds jilted.”
“Yeah. Don’t forget to let it in.”
And I didn’t
*Yes, we have a Clapper. I think applause in the bedroom is good for your ego.
Joe’s dad gave us his camera card last weekend so we could import some of his wedding photos. While we were browsing through pictures we found a VIDEO of Joe’s proposal at our housewarming party a year ago. Baffled, we watched the video and squealed with nervous delight as I stood – at the urging of Joe – in the middle of our living room and obliviously thanked everyone for attending our party. Of course almost everyone in that room knew what was coming except me. How they all managed to keep their mouths shut I’ll never know. How I, a journalist with extraordinarily perceptive spidey senses, managed to not figure out it I’ll never know.
It was without a doubt, the greatest surprise of my life.
Have you ever been so surprised your heart falls out out of your chest and flops like a fish on the floor? Have you ever been so shocked you lose all ability to express yourself? The muscles in your face and the chemicals in your brain fail to communicate, or they simply communicate too much, causing what country folks refer to as a deer-in-headlights reaction? If you’ve ever been there, you know what I mean.
I witnessed this first hand when my mother threw my father a surprise 50th birthday party last December in North Collins. My sisters and I were all there, hiding in the shadows of a banquet hall, waiting for our father to walk unknowingly into his own belated birthday party, a party he thought was for my mother’s 2nd cousin. PK and I of course flew from Florida to be there and I swear when we ran out screaming “SURPRISE,” my father looked like he was going to faint.
Joe and I rarely talked about marriage during our courtship. We started dating in March. Got an apartment together in November and bought a house one year later. We weren’t the kind of couple that fantasized about our wedding. We never tossed around dates or looked at engagement rings. I never told him whether I preferred one cut of diamond over another and he never asked. There were other less serious things to do and talk about, so instead we did and talked about those things.
Until Nov. 22, 2008, when Joe pulled out his great-grandmother’s wedding ring and asked me to marry him in front of everyone we knew. It was better this way. I trust my gut better than I trust any other part my body, so when I said yes I meant it.
His parents were in the living room too that night and apparently someone recorded the whole thing. We had no clue the video existed until three nights ago. I hope you find it as suspenseful as we do!
In other news …
Always a procrastinator, I wrote my wedding vows on the day of my wedding on two sheets of complimentary stationary provided by The Inn at Holiday Valley while my bridesmaids got their hair done at the School House Salon in Ellicottville, N.Y.
Here they are (unedited):
10 promises to Joe by Heidi
1. I promise to always let you keep our house temperature below 76 degrees.
2. I promise to always make you turkey or tuna sammies for lunch, depending on your preference, and in the event that we’re all out of tuna, I promise to buy you your favorite diet tuna.
3. I promise to keep the house adequately stocked with Timmy Ho’s coffee.
4. I promise to always dance Cubbie when you play his favorite song on your guitar.
5. I promise to always dance on your feet to slow Phish songs.
6. I promise to always sing back-up vocals to your made-up songs.
7. I promise to let you watch ESPN Sports Center after you get home from work and even though Keith Olbermann irritates me, I’ll let you watch MSNBC during dinner – and while I’m at it, I promise to never nag you about the chicken and ketchup you always drop on the carpet.
8. I promise to always wait for you at the top of hills when we take the olympic route on bike rides.
9. I promise to always listen to the first drafts of all your stories.
10. I promise to be a good sport – a better sport – when you win our Rummy games.
You are the best thing to ever happen to me. You keep me grounded, you keep me laughing and you keep me guessing. I love your quirks, your spontaneity and your predictability. I love that you tell me I’m beautiful and fresh-faced in the morning, even when I know I’m anything but. I love your open mind, your open heart and your wit. I love that when I complain about my hair growing into a mullet, you trim it for me with the kitchen scissors.
I love our pancake breakfasts and 20-mile bike rides, our evening card games and Wipe-Out/Take-Out nights. You make me a better person. A lighter person.
I give you this ring and promise with all my heart to be yours forever. Whatever adventures lie before us will be a riot no doubt. There’s no one else I want in my corner. I love you so much.
PS. When we were on our honeymoon in Upstate NY, we took at least three dozen photographs using the camera’s self-timer option as we jumped off a giant concrete fire pit in the woods in the middle of Saranac Lake. On Day 7, we paid $25 for a rented canoe, paddled out to our own private island in the Adirondack Mountains, feasted on a picnic lunch of fat deli sammies and cold Labatt Blue and freestyle jumped off boulders all day. Although our aerobic photo shoot lasted for one solid hour of hilariousness, it resulted in moderate calf pain and tender ankles. Joe paid for several poor landings the next day while summiting Whiteface Mountain.
Check out Wendy Mitchell’s blog for more wedding pomp (with a side of pug of course.)
Wendy did a killer job with these photos and though I’m currently road-trippin through the Adirondack Mountains on my honeymoon, having way too much gooey fun to write a single Lance post, I couldn’t possibly pry myself away from the World Wide Web for two weeks.
I was camping in The Thousand Islands, NY when Wendy emailed me a link to her blog with this message:
“Sorry it took almost a week, but I think it was worth the wait!!”
I agree. Thanks Wendy! And thanks for pointing out which hand my ring should go on and how my dress should button on the top and all the little stuff that I so clearly was clueless about. I can’t wait to see the rest of your pics.
Meet Jonathan and Angel.
These two lovebirds are getting married Sept. 12, 2010. I “met” Angel a couple months ago via Lance. She left me a nice comment and mentioned that she too was getting hitched Sept. 12, but exactly one year later. She lives in Seattle and doesn’t remember exactly how she found Lance, only that it was filed in a folder she called, “Miscellaneous Fun Stuff” on her computer desktop. I told her I was beyond flattered and just tickled pink that a random girl on the other side of the country was not only reading Lance, but that the website was filed in a Miscellaneous Fun Stuff folder and like me, she too was getting married Sept. 12.
So, I decided to ask her 12 questions in honor of our mutual wedding anniversary and post them here on the day of my wedding. I think you’ll quite like her. She’s fiery, fun and honest.
1. Why did you pick Sept. 12, 2010?
We picked Sept. 12 because the venue was not available to us in August, which represented the month we really fell in the love. We also knew that getting married on Labor Day weekend is totally obnoxious. As it turns out, Sept. 12 is Jonathan’s grandma’s birthday, so this is a nice tribute to her since she passed away and Jonathan really misses her.
2. How did Jonathan propose?
There wasn’t so much of a proposal as there was a discussion that spanned several months. It came as a pretty big surprise to Jonathan that he even wanted to get married since he had always been a little bit of a ladies man — and totally stubborn on top of that. He basically equated marriage with losing independence and any kind of freedom since his upbringing wasn’t exactly the stereotypical nuclear family. So being all in love and stuff, he brought it up by talking about how if he were “to ever be married” he would be honored to have me for his wife. And I responded, with great mushiness, “I would be proud to have you for a husband.” And it just kind of went from there. A couple of months later, he asked my parents for permission and they totally made him sweat for a few minutes before saying they were cool with it. This was about 18 months ago. We were going to be married this August, but Jonathan got let go from his construction job, which paid ridiculously well, so we bumped it back a year. Jonathan took a ring that was his Uroma’s (great grandma’s) and we made it into a pendant for me because the ring was just a little too “dainty” for my man-sized hands.
3. How far along are you in the wedding-planning process?
I have found my dress, my first pick of shoes, (not as exciting as yours!) the bridesmaid’s dresses, obviously settled on colors, found several flowers that are seasonal and appropriate and settled on a cake vendor, DJ, venue, and most of the outdoor décor. I have some idea of the tablescapes (aww crap, did I just say tablescape?) and my registry is 90% complete. I have a vision for what Jonathan and the boys will be wearing, we have ideas for our rings, and I have the processional music picked out, as well as the song for our first dance and the dance with my dad. I have also scoped out bartenders and a place to rent chair covers since I hate the ones at the venue. A really good friend is doing all our pictures; he took the one I sent you, and one of my best friends is an executive chef so he’s cooking all the food, along with my brother, who is also a chef. My mom used to be a florist so she’s doing the flowers. It’s my one concession to her and the thing that has me the most stressed. I am trading pictures for the services of a new wedding coordinator in the area and she will work for “free” on the day-of to make sure everything goes the way I want it to without being hassled every 5 minutes with questions. The favors are decided on, but will take some time to create. I have the guest list done, the website 90% done, and the timeline sketched out.
So yeah, I have a lot done, I guess. I warned you that I was obsessive when it came to planning. This is my second marriage and Jonathan’s first. While it is important that everything is the way I want it, it is MORE important to me that the day is as awesome as can be for Jonathan because this is going to be his first and ONLY wedding.
4. Tell me about your first Bridezilla moment. We all have ’em.
I’m not sure if I have technically had a Bridezilla moment. In fact, I really hate that word. It basically conjures images of everything I am trying NOT to be. If there’s anything I’ve been a pain about, it was the engagement party. I totally had a meltdown over the menu I was planning. It didn’t seem to flow for me. I seriously almost simultaneously hyperventilated and wet my pants in abject fear, while trying to resolve it in my head at work. My co-worker and good friend talked me through it on the way home and she gave me great advice: build the menu around a protein. Once I picked salmon (I think she suggested it) everything totally fell into place and I quit freaking out. It was fabulous, too, that salmon. Everyone loved it.
5. What one traditional wedding thing are you straight-up refusing to do?
I refuse to wear a veil. Who are we kidding, people?
6. What one traditional wedding thing have you wholeheartedly embraced?
I surprised the hell out of myself by getting a fairly elaborate dress. I initially went in to find something simple and flow-y and Grecian. And then I realized that when you are 5’10” with giant boobs, that style of dress just makes you look pregnant. When the dress shop owner picked out a dress, I figured I’d try it on to humor her. Turns out it wasn’t even in my size, but when we held it up to me, I just knew that it was the one. She ordered it for me just to try on, and it is perfect. I refused to cry in the store but when I got home and was telling Jonathan that is was beautiful I started to tear up.
7. What’s your favorite wedding scene in a movie?
It’s a toss up. Either the wedding at the end of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, or the scene in Bride Wars where they beat the crap out of each other. OK seriously, I think it might be from In Her Shoes. I love Toni Collette and Mark Feuerstein, and I love how sweet and personal that ceremony was to the characters.
8. What’s the best wedding advice you’ve received so far?
It’s your day, have fun. And make sure you eat.
9. Do you have a favorite wedding blog?
I don’t have any favorites, really. I just sort of bounce around “stealing” ideas. When I stumbled on to Lance via another wedding article I was thrilled that there was another girl who couldn’t believe that the wedding virus, which can lie dormant for many years, had caught up with her too. I use The Knot a lot, because there is occasionally useful information and stories that make me laugh — and not always “with” people.
10. Have you and Jonathan had any wedding-related arguments?
Oh baby, you betcha! The big and ongoing argument is about changing my name. I don’t want to. Done it once, and had to change it back. I’m not super stoked about going through the process again. I like my name. I am super proud to be a Ratliff. I floated the idea of him changing his name, mostly to make a point. He merged our last names to Cartliff (Carter-Ratliff), which we love, but he isn’t exactly sold on changing his name, either. His thing is explaining to people “why” I wouldn’t change my name. I could give a monkey doodle about what other people care about. It’s not about them. I will win in the end. I have every confidence in this.
11. We’ve talked about how girlie-ness creeps up on you when there’s an engagement ring on your finger, have you noticed a significant metamorphosis from Angel-the-rational-girlfriend to Angel-the-overly emotional-fiancé? If so, do explain.
The best example of this was when I had a huge fight with my mom over something not even wedding-related. I wasn’t going to bend and I was sure she was never going to talk to me again and that she wouldn’t come to the wedding, blah blah blah. (Insert dramatic scene here.) When I mentioned to Jonathan that we should just go to Vegas and forget about the whole ceremony, he said, “We can do whatever you want,” which is the wrong answer as I am sure you and every woman know.
I started crying because I wouldn’t be able to wear my pretty dress in Vegas because it just ISN’T a Vegas dress, and how I loved my pretty, pretty dress, and how it needs an aisle and a garden to walk through. Now imagine saying all of that through tears, a snotty nose and big, blubbering sobs. Super attractive. It’s a testament to our love that Jonathan didn’t run right then and there. The damn dress hooked me. I would be saving a shit-ton of money if I had never put on that magical creation.
12. What’s the one thing you want people to take away from your wedding?
That we are a great couple and the day absolutely suited us.
Before I was pulled on stage during my bachelorette party at Club Nautico Cabaret, and before my hand was physically grabbed and shoved down this queen’s bedazzled corset, PK and I battled an ant infestation in my car.
We were gussied up and about to go out for my second bachelorette party this year when my sister yelled from the driveway, “HEID. YOU’VE GOT A SERIOUS BUG PROBLEM IN YOUR CAR.”
Of course. Last month we gassed the house for termites and $900 later my car is crawling with ants. And when I say crawling. I mean CRAWLING. The seats, the floor, the side door pocket, CRAWLING with ants. Not only was it crawling with ants, there was a mound of ants on the floor, erupting. ERUPTING.
Rather than waste time screaming over this disgusting and poorly timed infestation – because of course we were already late for my bachelorette party at Leilani’s – PK ran to get me the hose and together we blasted the inside of my car with a pressure so fierce the ants had no choice but to begin fleeing in a mass exodus up the hose, up my legs and eventually my arms.
“THEY’RE ON ME! THEY’RE F*#@#% on me!” I screamed as I started rolling ants off my arms and legs.
“Drop the hose” PK yelled. “DROP THE HOSE.”
It was around this time that my bubbly neighbor Sherry ambled over to tell PK and I how adorable we looked in our clubbing attire, only to see me leaping like a gazelle across the front lawn, killing ants on my legs.
“I’ve got an ant infestation in the car!” I screamed.
“Do you want a bomb?” She asked.
“You have BUG BOMBS just lying around?”
“Yeah, I’ve got a bunch in the shed. Let me grab you one.”
So Sherry grabbed a bug bomb, PK tossed the hose, I ran my legs and arms under bath water, ran outside refreshed and ready to party, detonated the bomb in my car and shut the door, forcing us to take PK’s shiteous car to the club.
Kudos to Leilani, for organizing a perfectly hilarious evening of rom-com watching, quality snacking and drag queen groping. It was a brilliant bachelorette party and I’m forever grateful for what I can only describe as the most epic MOOBS encounter of my life. Let’s not forget how poetically I waxed on the topic of MOOBS seven months ago?
We got back to the house around 2:45 a.m. PK’s flight was at 7, which meant I had three hours to sleep before leaving for the airport.
But then Joe’s bachelor party rolled into the house at 5 a.m…
I took this photo at 5:30 a.m. The two men shall remain anonymous.
Ed. note: I meant to post this Sunday morning from the car wash, where I was sitting waiting for dead bugs to be vacuumed from my car. I meant to finish it, but now I don’t feel like it. I’m tired and lazy right now, so up it goes – as is. It’s 2 a.m. Thursday and Joe and I are at a Quality Inn somewhere near the Virginia border. I used my AAA discount to get us a nice room with a fridge for $65. The pug, who we smuggled in, is snoring next to me. Joe is a bit cranky from driving 900 miles and I’m warm and toasty from a long, hot motel bath. After spending the day writing an A&E cover story from the passenger seat of of a Honda Accord, I needed to soak my brain but good.
Anyway. We’re heading to Buffalo in the morning for Part II of our pre-wedding road trip.
BTW: OUR WEDDING IS IN THREE DAYS, and other than the titillating excitement of that, I’m fiending for tomorrow’s continental breakfast.
Here we are. Me, the pug & Joe at 2:06 a.m. in Mt. Airy, N.C., Andy Griffith’s hometown. Before I go, I leave you with one Joe-ism:
Ten seconds ago, I turned to my soon-to-be-husband and asked: “If I get up in time for the continental breakfast, would you like me to get you anything?”
“Yes,” he replied. “A chocolate muffin.”
“A chocolate muffin?”
“Yes. Not a chocolate chip muffin, but an all-chocolate muffin?”
“What do you think this place is? A french patisserie?
“Hey,” he says. “This place is called The Quality Inn, not the half-assed in.”
PS. I set my new manicure on fire over the weekend. Apparently acrylic nails are highly flammable.
This is my maid of honor, my sister Heelya, whose real name is Holly. I’m a sucker for nicknames and whenever I give them, they tend to stick, so beware. When Holly and I were kids, she reminded me of Amelia Bedelia, the absent-minded, but endearing protagonist in those little paperbacks by Peggy Parish, so I started calling her Heelya Bedelia. I even wrote a song to go with the name, but whenever I sing it, she turns into The Hulk so I’ll keep my mouth shut and just say that Holly is 11 months and 29 days younger than me. She’s a funny girl, mostly because she doesn’t even know she’s funny. Up until three weeks ago, she and my best friend Ro (see below) worked at the same school in Buffalo, and Ro used to say, “Your sister is so stinkin’ funny. I just piss my pants when I’m around her.” Heelya likes to poke her head out of shrubbery and/or flowers, especially when she’s having her picture taken. She has mad art skills and a pug named Owen Oscar. She moved to Conway, S.C. a few weeks ago with her boyfriend Brian, who reads this Lance more often than she does. Together they enjoy 1 a.m.Walmart runs and hiking through enchanted forests. They are quite possibly the most compatible yin-yang couple I know. Ro and I are taking bets on when they’ll get engaged. I can’t wait to see their house in Conway. Joe can’t wait to see their refrigerator. My sister grocery shops like she’s feeding an army.
This is my youngest sister PK. Look familiar? PK’s sense of humor is totally different than Heelya’s. She’s sarcastic and self-deprecating. See here. She’s naive, but not vulnerable. She’s guarded, but not reserved. I don’t really know how to describe PK without writing contradictions. She’s a freakin trip. We spend a lot of time together. Some of you might recall that PK moved to Florida a year or so ago. She got a job working as a preschool teacher in Sarasota and despite the hour drive, would head up to St. Pete on the weekends to lay on the beach with me. PK doesn’t have a pug. Her current landlord won’t let her, so instead she visits the same pet shop every Friday and holds the same French bulldog for an hour and cries to the employees about how she can’t have a dog, but if she could have a dog, she’d take the French bulldog and treat him like a prince. When we were growing up, PK, who’s four years younger than me, used to bite her own arm until it bled and then wail like hell until my parents noticed, and in the most pathetic voice imaginable, blame Heelya and I for biting her. PK is a figure skater. She can do jumps and twirls and spins and all that crazy shit. Growing up, she idolized Michelle Kwan. In fact, my father called her Kwanee for awhile because she was so obsessed. She used to record the Olympics on VHS tapes so she could watch them over and over. She watched the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics so much the tape fell apart. PK started a new job last week at a Greek elementary school in Clearwater. Joe and I are taking her apartment hunting today. I’ll let you know how that goes later.
This is my gal Ro (at left) in one of my favorite photos of all time. She and Cubbie look so darling together my eyes get misty every time I look at this picture. Ro is getting married July 10, 2010. I’m her maid of honor. You should have heard us squeal when we figured out that by the time she gets married, I’ll be her matron of honor. Ro has a memory like an elephant. If you’re trying to figure out what so-and-so did to piss off so-and-so in 8th grade, Ro will not only fill in their names, she’ll tell you what the bitches were wearing when they pulled each other’s hair out. Ro is a girlie girl, but a tomboy too. How do I explain this? Well, for example, she sent me a text message the other day about how she wants an ice sculpture at her wedding and when I responded with the text, “ICE SCULPTURE OF WHAT? You and Tom embracing?” She replied, “Something Bills or Sabres related. You know, elegant but trashy.” Ro is one of my greatest confidants. She still lives in Buffalo and I love that she refuses to leave. We try to talk at least once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on how crazy things are in our lives. Ro’s fiancé, Tom, is so funny and warm. He makes me giggle within seconds of seeing him. The drunkest Joe has been in YEARS happened on Tom’s watch two Christmases ago when he took us out to a grungy metal-head bar in Buffalo. I seriously thought Joe was going to die. That night, on Ro’s trundle bed in her spare room, Joe started trembling so bad I thought he was having a seizure. In the morning, when we returned to my parents house and walked through the front door, my dad, who was sitting at the kitchen table shooting the shit with a friend of his, was all like, “Yelllllo Joe! Sit down. Meet Bruce.” And Joe was all like, “Gotta barf. Sorry Rick.” Also that night, while Tom and Joe pounded their weight in Labatt Blue, Ro and I talked about whether or not we’d be engaged in a year. Ahh life.