Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

Lucky.

Like everyone else, I’ve spent the past few weeks tipping my face to the window and searching for signs of spring. February has always been my least favorite month, and this one has been a particular bear. My client attendance has been way down because of the terrible weather, and between bitter cold temperatures and stubborn mounds of ice on the sidewalk that refused to budge, there have been a series of incidents, ranging from annoying to expensive, that have given me and Vinny reason to pause and ask ourselves if the universe is trying to test our patience.

Over the past few weeks our television has died, the pipes in our apartment sprung a major leak and needed to all be replaced, a rat went scurrying around the living room, the overhead light in our kitchen broke and last Sunday, we had to have our car towed off the highway because the engine started smoking and eventually met its death in the garage of a Goodyear tire center in Commack, Long Island.

As we wait for the floor in our apartment to be replaced following the water damage, we continue to store all the workers’ paint and tools. How they’ve made due without them for the past two weeks, I have no idea, but this place is a mess and it’s driving me a little nuts. The car has since been towed back to its rightful birthplace of Queens, and is lingering in an automotive shop until the new engine arrives from Florida. We’ve been sending our girl notes and flowers as she eagerly waits for her transplant. It was touch-and-go there for a minute, but we think she’s gonna make it.

The energy in our home has been off, and we’ve both been a little cranky. We’ve been waiting for February to end since it began, and last night–finally–it did.

I set the table properly, with pretty plates and real presentation, and cooked up an indulgent dinner of steak with caramelized shallots and loaded baked potatoes. He brought home tulips, one of my favorite signs of spring.

After dinner we nuzzled on our old, lumpy couch, the one whose cushions look like they just went ten rounds in a losing battle. We chatted about our days without the interruption of our TV while my head assumed its rightful position in the crook of his arm.

“I think we’re lucky,” I say, and kiss the bridge of his nose.

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And yes. I still live in a basement.

 

If you’re looking for some uncensored, in-your-face commentary that makes you evaluate your physical appearance, your job, your financial status and/or your general station in life, look no further than an eight-year-old kid. They’re old enough to have extremely keen observational skills, but still young enough to get away with saying things most adults would get punched for.

On my last visit with my brother’s daughter Allison–who, by the way, is one of my favorite and most treasured people on this planet–I got schooled on my choice in real estate.

“Do you still live in a basement?” She scrunched up her cute little nose and pronounced the word “basement” as if I were locked away in a Mexican prison or held captive on that brokedown cruise ship with bags of poop lining the hallways.

Now, in her defense, Allison has never seen where I live. Clearly she heard that I lived in a basement from someone else, and who knows what inflection they gave the word. Also in Allison’s defense, she lives in Texas and in all likelihood has never seen a basement other than the ones in fairy tales where they lock up dragons or TV shows where they hide dead bodies in musty old freezers.

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{ My foyer. We’re working on the lighting.}

Also, in her defense…she’s eight. She’s not exactly in a position to know how tough it is to find decent rent in New York City. But because she is eight, I had to tailor my reply to be more cordial than curt. It can be tricky.

“Yes dear. I still live in a basement. It’s actually not that bad. Kinda cozy. You should come stay with me sometime.” Because she is my blood, I will even go the extra mile and banish the dragon for the weekend. He can stay at the abandoned crack den next door.

Now, if Allison were an adult, my response would have been a little different, in that I would have attempted to school him or her back.

“Ahemmmm, actually, it’s not really a basement– I believe the term you’re looking for is garden apartment. And PS:  We pay pretty reasonable rent, are exempt from any street noise, are really close to the subway, have an open kitchen with more than three inches of counterspace and a backyard with a plentiful fig tree in it.” Slam. Dun-duh-duh.

And if I were feeling particularly sentimental, I’d add this:

This was the first New York City apartment I was able to afford all on my own. I had TWENTY-FOUR roommates through my late teens and 20s. This basement was the first place that was all mine.

This is the apartment that has cosmic significance to me. The day I found this apartment was also the day I received my acceptance letter for grad school. I found a new home and a new career path on the same day, and that day felt really freaking special.

This is the apartment that is too small to hold all my friends. It’s where I’ve hosted bridal and baby showers, big festive celebrations and small, quiet dinners. This is where I show other people how much they mean to me, whether it’s with a plate of warm homemade cookies or an invitation to keep me up past my bedtime. It’s where 17 old friends were crammed tightly this weekend for Friendsgiving Dinner, sharing what they love about one another and laughing till their sides hurt.

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Most of all, this is the first and only home I’ve shared with the love of my life.  It’s the apartment where we learned the arts of teamwork, partnership and compromise. It’s where he cut his teeth fixing toilets and tricky doors, and where I learned to hang pictures with nails instead of thumbtacks. It’s the apartment we’ll think of when we get to the age where we begin most conversations with “Remember when…?”.

Years from now, when we’re still paying down the mortgage on our palatial brownstone in the East 70s, we’ll think back on our time in that garden apartment in Astoria, the one with the open kitchen and the sweet fig tree in the yard. We’ll think of our low overhead, and how easy things were. We’ll think of running to the grocery next door for slice-and-bake cookies and walking hand-in-hand to trendy restaurants down the street. We’ll laugh about the kitchen drawers that always jammed and the bathroom door that swelled up in the summertime. We’ll smile remembering our friends posing through chattered teeth in the backyard during our Christmas party, of cuddling on our tiny loveseat watching movies, of friends’ babies rolling on the bed. We’ll think back to our first anniversary, and quietly swaying to our wedding song on the white tile floor.

I’m old enough to understand  how special these years are.  I’m young enough to still wish we could freeze time forever.

But the kid’s eight. I’m not going to bore her with that sentimental crap.

Instead, I’ll throw my niece a bone and give her something else to make fun of.  Kid, if you really wanna mock something, feel free to take a stab at my couch. A dingy, lumpy, misshapen mess with no hope for the future.

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Looks like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.

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A post about marriage on our first anniversary.

 

“So, does it feel different now that you’re married?”

We were asked this question pretty often right after the wedding, and I always chalked it up to small talk, never giving much thought to my reply.

“Ah, you know…we’ve lived together for years already. Getting married was just a party/a formality/a piece of paper/something we did for our parents.”

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And in some ways, this answer was true. At its core, our relationship has remained basically the same as we progressed from dating to engaged to married over the past 10 years. In fact, this was a topic that a group of friends began discussing this past weekend over a backyard bonfire, with the consensus agreeing that the real change occurred not when we answered, “I will” at engagement, or “I do” at the wedding, but way before, when the initial seed of “I want to spend my life with this person” first entered our thoughts.

Vin and I dated almost nine years before getting engaged. We dated long-distance. We dated short-distance. We lived in different boroughs. We lived in the same borough. We moved in together. We filed for a domestic partnership. We were accepted as members of the others’ family. We saw each other through tough times like unemployment, accidents, surgeries, bad haircuts. We knew we were in it for the long haul a long time ago.

Given all that, it makes sense that people would ask us, “So, is it any different now than you’re married?”

And the real answer for me, when we go beyond the small talk bullshit, is yes. Oh yes. And that’s because one very big thing has changed since we got married, almost exactly one year ago.

Me.

I’ve changed a lot in this past year. I am less anxious and more at ease.  I’m so much happier. I’m the most relaxed I’ve been, probably ever.  And yes, it is in large part because we finally got married. I kind of hate how unprogressive that sounds, but it’s the truth.

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Bear with me here, because this is something that’s still difficult for me to talk about. It still feels very private to me, but it’s also a part of our story. Like many women and some men before me, I was ready to get married a long time before my partner was. It was frustrating, and nerve-fraying,  and at times, completely heart-wrenching. It was difficult to navigate my late 20s and early 30s with a very clear idea of the changes I wanted to make in my life, but being unable to put them into action until someone else was ready to make them too.

There were times I felt completely powerless about the direction of my own future, and that was really hard for me. It was hard for him too. I worried a lot, and I wondered a lot. I am by nature very much a planner, and it was extraordinarily difficult for me to remain patient enough to accept that my partner had the same end goal in sight for our future, but was keeping a much different pace. I also really hated talking about the issue with other people.

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There are a lot of reinforced ideas that swirl around in our culture regarding love and commitment. Dating for a very long period before marriage is definitely not romanticized or applauded. Prince William dragged his heels to get married because he knew doing so would alter his life in every conceivable way–he’d have to endure a media circus wedding and feel immediate pressure to sire his nation’s future ruler. So the beautiful and smart woman he dated since college got slapped with the stupid and insulting nickname “Waity Katie”. To me, they seemed rational and level-headed, which seems like a pretty good basis for a marriage. But no one ever described them that way before their royal engagement. I bet even Prince William was told to “piss or get off the throne” a few times.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this. Some people date for a long time before getting married. Some people date for a short time. Some people have kids before they get married. Some people get married and never have kids. Some people choose to never get married at all. Many others are unfortunately not even given the choice. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it, as long as both partners are spending an equal amount of time gazing in at each other while also looking out in the same general direction.

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Clearly, Vin and I fell into the “slow and steady wins the race” camp. It wasn’t always easy, but it was certainly worth the wait. And at the end of the day, I’m just glad to be sitting here writing a post about my lovely husband and not the one who got away.

Our first anniversary is this Sunday, and when I reflect on our inaugural year of marriage I am filled with a quiet, irrepressible joy. Like I mentioned before, I’m more relaxed. I’m more at ease. And I’m very, very happy. I love being married. I’m happy to report that from what I can tell, so does he.

That’s not to say that we’ve got it all figured out. We have no idea what’s coming next. We’re not exactly sure where to go from here. Sometimes Vin and I still feel like two confused kids thinking about what they want their lives to look like when they’re all grown up.

There’s still so much for us to figure out in this relationship, in this home, in this marriage, in this life. Hell, we still don’t even know what we’re doing this weekend to celebrate.

But one thing is for absolute certain.

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By god, there will be donuts.

 

 

All photos by Jason + Anna Photography

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When your best friend has kids…and you don’t.

 

You may have picked up on this already, but I have no children. When you’re 26 or 29 or 32 maybe it’s not a striking detail, but when you’re 36, I think people start wondering, “So when are you going to have kids?”

As much as I’d love to discuss my fertility with the internet, this is not going to be that type of post. When (or if) I’ll have kids is not something I plan to write about on a public blog. That one’s too precious. That one gets saved for my husband, my mother and my closest girlfriends. And possibly a shrink if necessary.

But what I would like to write about is what happens when you hit the stage when many of your girlfriends have children, and you don’t. Because lately I’ve noticed that more people in my social circle have reproduced than haven’t, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t change things quite a lot.

With local friends, it hasn’t made a startling difference. Clearly, my friends who are parents are inclined to more family-friendly social activities, but luckily, we still spend a good amount of time with the couples we’re close with who have children. The kids have all just become part of our extended family, and it’s a beautiful thing, because they’re all really beautiful kids.

The biggest change has happened with my best friend Missy, who I wrote about on the day she delivered her second daughter. Missy and I met our freshman year in college, and I was drawn to her immediately because of her boundless energy, positive attitude and general enthusiasm for everything. She is an incredibly generous friend and an overall wonderful human being. And though I don’t get to witness it firsthand very often at all, I believe she is a truly amazing mother.

In addition to working as a director of a medical facility, she takes her two daughters to numerous activities throughout the week, and volunteers much of her time to charity. She is incredibly busy, and her calendar sounds astoundingly full. Missy lives in Texas, and I live in New York, so the majority of our friendship is shared over the phone. This is where things get tricky. Because as any adult person with a job and other obligations knows, finding spare time to chat with a friend on the phone is a rare and precious thing, and it becomes even more challenging when one or both of the participants have children.

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<Missy’s baby is so…squirmy.>

Our phone conversations have become fewer and they’ve become shorter. They are squeezed in between long days at work, playdates and errands, usually on commutes home while still juggling other tasks. It doesn’t help that I’ve also just never been much of a phone person. And though I think we’d both hate to admit it, the differences in our lifestyles are becoming more and more evident. I have taxis honking in my background, and she has little girls chatting in hers. If we lived nearby, I’d just head over to their house and play with all three of them. There are so many times I wish that I could. 

I can’t remember a phone call over the past year that didn’t include her asking: “So…any news?”.  I know her well enough to know she’s hoping for news beyond a job promotion or a big vacation being planned. She wants to know how close I am to joining her in the experience of motherhood, and I don’t blame her for wanting to know this. If I were in her position as a friend, I think I’d want to know too. Missy gets to share in the joys and the struggles of parenthood with many of her girlfriends, and as one of her very best friends, I know she really wants to share them with me too.

I caught Missy off guard last week when I called her. She had just picked up her oldest daughter from pre-school, and was playing with her before driving to soccer practice. She was a little distracted, and ended up getting off the line to continue helping her little girl with a craft project.

And that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

Her daughter is a child and needs her attention.

I am an adult, with a recognition that people and relationships evolve and change over time.

She is a mother, and I’m not. She lives in Texas, and I live in New York. It’s getting harder for us to stay close.

But it certainly won’t stop us from trying.

Vincent+Jennifer_Wed-0097(photo by Jason & Anna Ball)

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What it’s really like to be a therapist.

 

“How do you do it? Listen to sad stories all day and not go home depressed? What’s it like being a therapist?”

This is a question you’re often asked when you work in a mental health clinic.

I will tell you what it’s like.

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You wake up every morning humbled by the knowledge that people trust you with stories that are sacred. Stories that deserve your respect and your attention, because you might be the first and only person to have ever heard them.

You learn to let go of little gripes and complaints, because when stacked against some of the stuff you hear, you’re now able to decipher what’s worth the negative energy, and what’s not.

You look at the good in your life– your health, security, relationships–not with guilt or embarrassment, but with a deeper appreciation and more profound gratitude than you ever knew was possible.  You realize you have enough stuff. You want more experiences. Priorities change. Perspectives shift.

You make a point to do things that make you happy–like cook, or paint, or write or throw parties to celebrate the life you’ve been given. Instead of hobbies, you call these activities your “self-care” or “coping mechanisms”.

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You try really hard to practice what you preach. Sometimes you are successful. Other times, you’re not. You try really hard to exercise patience. With some people, this is easy. With some people, it’s not.

You treat your clients with respect, and view them as whole people instead of a set of problems. You acknowledge their pain, absorb their grief, and normalize their fears. The beauty of this role is that you share in their joys and triumphs just the same.

You laugh, genuinely and often, because people are funny and amazing. You smile too, because they are also incredibly strong, resilient and brave.

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And when a new client walks into your office and begins telling you unimaginably awful stories about her childhood, the kind that make you wonder how she’s able to simply stand up every day, you feel your heavy heart sag until you worry it might actually fall out of your chest. You complete your intake forms like a professional, while fighting off the urge to cry until she has left the room. You wonder if  you could tolerate that much pain. You marvel at the strength people are able to find. You remind yourself to call your parents to thank them for treating you like a human being.

You close the door behind her, and cover your face with your palms.  A few deep breaths. A sip of water.

Then you open the door again, and say hello to your 4:15.

That’s what it’s like to be a therapist.

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this one’s for you, pop

A good while ago, I think it was probably during my college years, I went to lunch with my dad in Galveston. The details of that lunch are long gone, but our recessional out of the restaurant has been burned into my brain forever.

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As we walked side by side, chatting about life and love and other topical issues, I became so engrossed in our conversation that I walked face-first into a very large– and extremely hard– street pole.

I couldn’t tell you whether it was a stop sign or a street light because it’s been about 15 years and I’m still seeing stars.

In that moment, my father did what any concerned parent who just saw his daughter smack herself into a metal pole would do.

He laughed his ass off.

And it wasn’t some nervous, embarrassed chuckle, either. My father has this ridiculous, high-pitched, southern-drawl-infused tee-hee-hee  that emerges when he thinks something is really, really funny. And me walking into a pole qualified. My father comes from the Three Stooges school of humor, so to him, people falling down or getting clubbed in the face is the zenith of comedic art. Not only was my father completely indifferent about my potential head injury, but I had just inadvertently made his day.

“Dad!” I yelled at him. “Shouldn’t your first instinct be to ask if I’m okay?”

“Aw, Jenn– you’re always banging your head into things. I know you’re fine. You need to cowboy up, girl.”

“Cowboy up” is the Texan translation for “Stop your bitching”, and a turn of phrase I’ve gotten very accustomed to hearing from my father. My dad is not much for complaining, and that goes for his kids too. I guess the way he figures, if there’s a problem then there is also a solution, and we should probably get to work on that instead of boo-hooing about it. I’m sure if we were bleeding from our brains he would show appropriate concern, but a piddly scratch on the knee or pole in the face? That’s cowboy up time.

Sometimes, when I do something dumb like stub my toe (hey! that really does hurt!) or get frustrated with a temperamental printer and find myself losing my cool, I’ll give myself a little “Cowboy up, Jenn”, and put things back in perspective. I’m sure there are at least a few other people in New York City muttering this to themselves on occasion. You need to be a bit of a cowboy to survive in a big city.

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thanks for making me realize that rising above doesn’t have to be so hard.

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 But mostly, thanks for always making sure I have a soft place to fall during those times when I can’t.

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You Can’t Hurry Love

You Can’t Hurry Love

I am single. Have been for a while. Most of my life, come to think of it.

Being single wouldn’t be so terrible it it weren’t for dating, which is, of course, abysmal. Not only are unsuccessful dates a drain on my time, patience and energy, I’m now convinced they are what have kept me from realizing my full intellectual potential. With every blah date I go on, I’ve filled another inch of valuable gray matter with completely trivial knowledge about someone I didn’t know longer than the span of  a meal. If I could somehow eliminate several useless dates each year and focus my energy on the unique and complex tapestry of just one person, think of all the interesting, viable information I could insert into all that unreserved space. Imagine the possibilities! I’ll no longer need to know how much Derek adores motown and fears bacteria. The full spectrum of Alex’s allergies and Bryan’s junior high insecurities erased; replaced with a blow-by-blow account of the Battle of Saratoga or the chronological order of our country’s presidents. I could finally explain math to a small child, maybe pick up a Slavic language or two. I could Feng Shui entire buildings in a single bound.

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Then there’s the maintenance. Dating takes effort and upkeep, and I’m getting tired of knocking myself out for people I barely know. I don’t want to rush home from work to pluck my eyebrows and paint my nails. I don’t need one more person in the world noticing the gaps in my teeth or the way my jaw clicks when I yawn during boring stories. I don’t want to catch my date noticing a pretty girl. I don’t want my date to catch me looking at my watch. I don’t want to force myself to think of interesting things to say. I don’t want to have the following conversations in front of my door ever again.

 

Me: “Thank you very much for the drinks.”

Man: “Yeah, well, you owe me.”

 

Me: “That restaurant was really great.”

Man: “I’m going to Detroit tomorrow. Can you feed my cats?”

 

Me: “I had a great time at the concert with you. Thanks for taking me.”

Man: “What kind of booze do you have at your place?”

 

Me: “This was one of the best dates I’ve ever had.”

Man: “Wanna get naked?”

The cutest ones lack ambition. The ambitious ones don’t have time for a girlfriend. The sensitive ones want to talk on the phone too long. The ones who are smart enough to realize I’m funny have annoying laughs. They’re all ruled by a single appendage, which in its moment of greatest resourcefulness ends up spray-painting the bathroom wall. It’s enough to make me abandon my quest for a man altogether. I’d  date a woman, but vanity precludes me from becoming a successful lesbian, as any potential for intimacy would likely be eclipsed by a bitter awareness that her breasts were bigger and better than mine. So back to square one I go.

I know I can’t hurry love, but what about lust? Flirtation? Friendly banter bearing the slightest indication of long-term companionship? Could I put a rush order on any of that? I’m tired of always being the third wheel. I want someone to pull out my chair and hang up my coat. I want someone to hold my hand, tell me I’m pretty, call me their girl. I don’t want to waste valuable time. I don’t want to be a cynic. Tonight, I really don’t want to eat dinner alone.

 

*This writing is about 11 years old–breaking out the oldies just for fun, and because I’m too lazy to write something new:)

 

 

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The Day We Got Engaged

Vin and I got engaged three weeks ago so this post is old news, but I thought I’d check in on this old blog of mine and share a few details about the day we got engaged. Also, I figured this might actually be pretty handy to have around in case anyone asks how the poor sucker did it; I can just send them an email link rather than explain the story over again. Not that I mind telling the story. It’s among my favorites.

It was a Saturday, and we had plans to take a long walk through Central Park. I liked this plan, and I felt committed to it. That’s why I was so bummed out when, in the course of getting dressed for the day, he announced that he’d just received a call from his job and would have to work all day. He’s the technical director for a theater and it’s not terribly unusual to have to work a weekend every now and then so I wasn’t suspicious at this point, just kinda sad.
So I hopped on the train and went to Central Park by myself. It was a cloudy, chilly, crummy day and I was feeling crabby and cranky. I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, and if you know me personally you know how upsetting that is for me. I love sleep. Like, really, really love sleep. I love sleep the way Ice loves Coco. I love it the way bloggers love cupcakes and Chelsea Handler loves vodka. Anyway, you get the point. I have a deep love for sleep, and when that love goes unrequited, I get a bit moopy. And by moopy, I really mean bitchy.
I was hoping a nice walk in the fresh air would cheer my cranky ass up, so I just kept walking. 
and walking…
…and walking. For 2 1/2 hours. Vin had suggested I meet him at his job at 7, and we’d go out for dinner, so I just kept trying to kill time until then. I stopped in a coffee shop to read for two hours before walking again. I need to give my aching tootsies a rest.
I was wearing my new boots, the ones that got rave reviews on Zappo’s as “the most comfortable shoes I’d ever own”. The ones 500 women promised would stretch out at the calves and cradle softly through the toes. The boots they told me I’d be able to walk around in for up to eight hours and still feel like dancing. They promised. They lied.
But I would not take the subway. I wanted to walk. I was still trying to perk myself up and walking has always done the trick. So I hoofed it from 86th down to 23rd, where Vin works, and arrived there an hour early. I called, and he asked me to please wait at the coffee shop across the street as his theater was showing a private performance and I would be interrupting. Fine. My feet were crying, I was starving and it had just started to rain. Let me tell you, I was thrilled to wait another hour.
When I was finally called to meet him at the theater, he was energetic and cheery, which I found odd for having worked a full day. Geez, I was crankier than him and I’d had the whole day off. Anyway, he was fumbling around and shutting things off and locking doors and it was all taking forever. When we finally got outside, he kept finding reasons for me to look at the electronic marquee out front. I was all, “Dude. I’m starving, my feet hurt and I’m exhausted. Feed me, or lose me forever.” But then, I saw the efforts of his day’s work.
He’d been tinkering around on his computer all day, and made a movie preview starring Jennifer “The Beautiful” and Vincent “15-Time Winner of the World’s Sexiest Man Contest”. The last clip of the movie (titled “Love and a Swiss Roll”–he’s very into baked goods) was this: 
That’s right. The world’s sexiest man is faceless with long brown hair, and he asked me to marry him on a NYC theater marquee. I turned around, he pulled me down to sit on his knee and I apparently said yes (I have no recollection of this). Then we went back inside the theater where our song “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen was playing on the speaker system. 
I was significantly less cranky after that. But I was still hungry, so we headed out to dinner.
When we returned outside, a few girls who’d witnessed the event from their car rolled down the windows and asked what my answer was.
“I said yes!” I exclaimed.
“Good,” said the front passenger. “Girl, that was cute.”
I know, right?!
I came home that night with a beautiful ring and a corn the size of Rhode Island between my toes. I’m aching to get it removed, but Vin thinks I should keep it around a little longer for sentimental reasons.
After all, every marriage will have a few rough patches. 
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Before I Share More About the Proposal…

Before I get into the retelling of the proposal, I wanted to give a little glimpse into how my man and I got our start. Before this recent grand gesture, there were others–big and small–that really shaped us as a couple and I’d be remiss if I got too caught up in the proposal stuff without first reflecting on how we got here. We’ve been together as a couple for about nine years, but have been best friends for almost 12. Plus, stories just make more sense told chronologically.

I met Vin a year after moving to New York City from Texas. We worked for different magazines at the same publishing house, but didn’t meet until the company Christmas party. I was still trying to establish friendships in the city, so I approached him and a few other guys because they all appeared to be in their early 20s like me. He was the only guy there wearing a suit, so my first impression of him was that he was polite and respectful. He told me later that his first impression of me was that I talked a lot. Turns out we were both right.
When I arrived at work the next morning, he was sitting in my chair with his feet propped on my desk.
This is a significant detail since it was the first and last time he has ever shown up early for anything. 
Me and Vin at the office, circa 2001
And that was it. We were fantastic friends right from the jump, and it felt like we’d known each other for years. We went out to lunch together several times a week and walked around our work neighborhood pointing out hot girls (there were a lot of modeling agencies in the area). It was purely platonic–he had a long-term girlfriend and I had just started dating someone seriously at the same time I met Vin.

By 2002, my boyfriend and I had broken up, and I was itching for a change. I decided to pick up and move to Denver. Before I left, Vin found the email address of my roommate Ashley, who he had never met before. He contacted her and suggested they throw me a surprise going away/birthday party before my departure. I was completely shocked to see all my friends gathered at the same place and remember exclaiming, “This is so weird! How do you guys all know each other?” as if it were a happy accident that they just happened to all show up at the same bar on a Saturday afternoon. As you will see, Vin is very good at pulling off surprises.

Vin and I chatted on the phone regularly while I was living in Denver. He and his long-term girlfriend had broken up, so we talked about that a lot. I also talked a lot about my dating adventures in Colorado. I was hell-bent on finding the most pretentious losers to date in the western U.S. and was doing a bang-up job.

I couldn’t take any of them to meet my family, so I invited Vin to be my date for my brother’s upcoming wedding, in March 2003 in Texas.


Vin and I had a great time hanging out together in my hometown. We bought matching cowboy hats at my favorite western wear store and went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where we had this little gem of a wall hanging made. 
While at the rodeo, I swooned over this wooden western wall art despite its painful grammatical errors, but didn’t buy it because it weighed over 20 pounds and I didn’t know how I’d fly it back to Colorado. Looking back, I’m able to see that my decor choices were pretty terrible in my early 20s.

So of course, the inevitable happened. Sparks flew, we made out, and had our “When Harry Met Sally” moment. The following day we sat on the porch swing in my Dad’s backyard and talked about where to go from here. He wanted to start dating long-distance; I thought it would just be too hard and we should remain friends. We parted ways at the airport, both of us feeling kind of conflicted and confused.

A few days later, back in Colorado, I got a delivery at my apartment in Denver. Vin had sneakily grabbed the business card of the vendor selling the western wooden sign, and had that enormous thing shipped to my house. Later that day, a freak blizzard rolled into town and I was completely snowed in for three days. I sat staring at this big wooden thing propped against my wall and realized I’d be a total idiot if I didn’t give it a shot with the most thoughtful person I’d ever met.


And for the first 14 months of our dating relationship, we schlepped between Denver and New York City. I moved back to New York in 2004, and we’ve been been a duo ever since. So after 12 years, a cross-country move, a few apartments, a motorcycle accident, three surgeries, lots of smiles and lots of tears, many trips and countless family celebrations, we’re finally getting married.

And we’re doing it where our relationship really began, in my Daddy’s backyard in Texas, where we first considered the idea of becoming more than just friends.

I guess we really were destined to be homies for life.
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At My Worst

At the end of Monday’s post, my friend Michelle left an interesting comment.
“I don’t know anyone as photogenic as you. Can you please look bad in a picture, just once? XOXO”.
I found it pretty funny, because I take plenty of bad photos all the time. In fact, I would venture to say I take just as many awful pictures as I do good ones; I am simply very selective about what I choose to present to the world. I am ruthless about deleting unflattering photos and will take a picture a second or third time if that’s what it takes to get a good one.
I am equal parts vain and self-conscious, and like most women, I can be my own worst critic. I know when I’m looking good, and I also know when I’m looking not-so-good, like in this photo. I think it’s human nature to want to put our best face forward and hide any evidence of an off day, but we all have them.
You will find no greater evidence of this than on women’s blogs. We have a knack for showing you the prettiest little snippets of our lives—the most beautiful brownie we ever baked, the most perfect outfit we ever wore. Lives look far more glamorous when presented in 200-word posts.
In blog world, linen never wrinkles, cookies never burn and souffles never fall. We have perfect homes and husbands, beautiful babies and boyfriends. Social calendars burst at the seams and dance cards are always filled. The truth is, we obviously spend a lot of time at home on the computer.
In the real world, I am a woman who doesn’t look so hot without makeup. My skin tone is uneven and blotchy and I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was about ten. My hair is dull without highlights and I spend too much time playing with my split ends. I have bunions and bad skin days, and sometimes I forget to brush my teeth.
My moods shift from good to bad, and though I am generally a pretty nice person, I definitely have my moments. Sometimes I can be a cranky, whiny bratty mess, and if you don’t believe me, just ask my boyfriend or my mother, who’ve seen me at my worst but choose to keep loving me anyway.
I never want to give off the impression that I am perfect. I am far from it. And I’m cool with it.
My pictures come out blurry.
My food shots suck.
My recipes bomb. (the grossest thing I ever made- polenta with balsamic figs and a beach ball of goat cheese)
And I most certainly am not always photogenic.
Cheers to keeping it real.
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