Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How the Dixie Chicks Opened My Eyes

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie or been to a concert that made me want to do something. Right now, I want to run out and buy all of their albums and some concert tickets just to show the assholes who crushed their CDs and boycotted them in 2003 that they still have it. Okay, so in a marketing sense, they’ve reached their other audience. Me, the liberal, indie rock/bluegrass lover.

I admit that in 2003 I barely knew who the Dixie Chicks were until Natalie Maines said that great remark about our President. I cheered. I live in Los Angeles, but at the time, I still felt alone in thinking that we shouldn’t go to war. When she said that remark, a country music star who I was sure was a red-state, flag waving Republican, I was elated. Of course, since I wasn’t a Dixie Chicks fan, I had no idea of how bad the repercussions were for the band at the time. Thankfully, all of the bullshit from that remark opened new musical doors and another fan base for the women.

Bigger than my get up and cheer feeling from this movie, Shut Up and Sing, is my happiness at seeing three women do what they love, be supported by incredible husbands, have children and hey, make money at it! Seeing them singing on stage, buoyed by the pure adrenaline rush the crowd gives them, made me cry. I can barely imagine feeling that way at work or about my career. I have moments of being ebullient when I am talking about different things – politics, fashion, art, creating. But, to be able to do it, make money at it AND be with your best friends? These women won the fucking lottery.

I’m realizing that I don’t really care about maternity fashion. I like childbirth. I like babies. I love clothes. I like the process of pregnancy, but selling maternity fashion? I don’t think that’s my thing. I checked out eBay today, and am putting a diaper bag up for sale to see the response. I think I'm going to cancel my spring orders later this week.

When I started the business, Revolution Maternity sounded great. I was fired up like I am now about the Dixie Chicks. I envisioned t-shirts with logos about being revolutionary and starting change. I pictured swollen, pregnant bellies covered in pro-choice t-shirts. I wanted something funky, something out there. What I got was gorgeous pictures taken by my friend Jen on a pretty site that didn’t work that great. Sometimes it charged tax, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes it said things were out of stock when they weren’t. It was one mess after another. And the final product? A site that doesn’t really inspire me.

I need a fire in my belly kind of career. I need something that inspires me and makes me so passionate that spreading the news about it is something someone is to going to tell me to shut up about. I just have to figure out what that is.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Hunt for a Unicorn (Part 2)

After Will, I took a break. I’d had enough heart-break and frustrations with love to last a lifetime. I wished I liked cats so I could curl up with six of them and call it a life. Then, in a moment of desperation, I signed up with Match.com. Tricia told me three of her friends got engaged over Christmas, and they’d all met their mates on Match. Match? Seriously? For the cost of a dinner out, I signed up for three months.

The first month was an ego blow. None of the guys I emailed responded. I got emails from Christian guys liking my “family-oriented” side. I got emails from guys clearly not in my demographic. I said 30-40, not 53. I said 6’ or taller not 5’6”. I said lives in Los Angeles not Columbia. And a lot of days, I didn’t get any emails at all. It was hard not to run to the SPCA and get a cat.

I decided I had to be proactive. I made a plan. Every week I had to email ten guys. I thought it would be easy. It was hard. At first. Then, I stopped being so hyper-critical. It’s like shopping for dresses. Sometimes the ones that look best on the models don’t look so great on you and the ones that look like crap on the hanger look hot on you. I started reading into more of what they said and less of what they wanted me to see. I looked at their pictures. The ones with headshots or modeling shots were out. The ones who stated over and over how important physical beauty was were out. I sent out ten emails the first week and waited. One emailed me back. One. And he was the one who I thought looked like a peacenik professor who recycled a lot. He also looked hip and cool with had an underlying message of earth lover. I’m a tree-hugger and all, but I don’t want to get yelled at because I don’t compost in my small apartment with no yard.

I emailed him back, and we got a witty banter going. I was ecstatic. I looked at his pictures again. He looked pretty cute. Even hot. Burned in the past, I refused to put all my eggs in one basket so I kept emailing my ten guys a week, be it with a little less enthusiasm. Again, no one emailed me back. Well, one guy did, but he said he was getting off of Match and wished me luck. I thought that was nice.

Finally, we set a date. He asked me to sushi in Santa Monica. I was shocked it wasn’t coffee. This guy was signing up for dinner. Was he clueless or just hungry? It’s hard to get out of dinner fast, but pressed, you can gulp a coffee and make up an excuse to leave. This is commitment. Dinner.

I walked down Fourth Street looking for the restaurant. It had glass walls, and I saw a lone man sitting at the counter skulking. I didn’t want to date a hunched over, under confident man. I didn’t even want to have dinner with him. For a split second I considered walking on and standing him up. I got to the corner and looked towards the door. On the bench out front was the Peacenik Professor laughing and chatting on his cell phone. He looked as good as all of his pictures. And not at all like a peacenik professor.

It took a few months for me to realize I had found my unicorn. The past ruses left me doubtful and untrusting. He called when he said he would. He picked me up for dates on time. He didn’t complain when I never asked him into my apartment, but merely kissed him in his car before hopping out with a “thanks for a great night!’ wave.

He let a little hint out when he showed up at my door unannounced about two months into dating with a dozen red roses for me. For no reason. None. He said he was just thinking about me. And he didn’t care when I stood there stunned in a mismatched sweat suit and a banana clip looking like shit. Like I said, he was unannounced. I finally found a man who didn’t just tell me he loved me; he showed me he loved me.

Over the year, I’ve gotten a little spoiled by his unannounced roses, and like all things in life, come to expect them occasionally. My jaw doesn’t drop anymore when he helps me carry my bags at the farmers' market. I’m used to him opening the car door for me, and still appreciate it. He surprises me with sweet cards and kind words. He likes when I say cheesy things about us. The few bumps along the way, we've talked through easily. I like to say that this relationship is easy. I never knew a relationship could be easy.

Now, I have a ring on my finger and I am looking at our future. I don’t know if we’ll stay in Los Angeles. I don’t know how it will be when we live together. I’m scared there will be lots of disagreements when we move in together because that’s what I know from Bill and Larry. I’m scared things will change and we might end up divorced. Right now, I do know that he is an amazing partner who will be an incredible father. And if there is one thing that he has taught me it’s this: He isn’t like anyone else I’ve ever dated. I found my Unicorn.

The Hunt for a Unicorn (Part 1)

A good man is sort of like a unicorn. You hear about them and their magical powers, but you never really meet them. I spent thirty-four years in search of my unicorn. I even lived with a couple of them.

Invariably, over time, the white would rub off, and as the saying goes, their true colors would show. Bill* used to tell me, “I always said I wanted three things in a woman: beauty, intelligence and athleticism. I guess it’s great that I got two of those with you.” Huh? Thanks for the backhanded compliment. Is that a dirt smudge on you?

Even with his backhanded compliments, and there were many, Bill is a good guy. He’s upbeat, fun, athletic and kind. He also likes to keep people happy so he’ll say what you need to hear to make you happy. And he managed to do that with me for a long time.

“I think North Carolina is great! Your mom is awesome. We could start a business there and have a family. It would be awesome!”

I’d cock my head to the side, and think, “What are you talking about? I don’t want to live in North Carolina.” That is, until Bill said he might want to. His comments would start me thinking. “Maybe he’s right. Real estate is cheaper there. Mom would be there to help with the future kids. People are cool. Wow. Maybe this is a great idea.”

Then, we’d be out with friends a few weeks later, and he say, “I’m never leaving Colorado. It’s the greatest place on earth. Why would I ever leave?” Huh?!?! I’d sit at the table not really hearing the rest of the conversation as the little house in North Carolina I’d conjured up faded.

Bill had this uncanny habit of dropping thoughts into my brain, allowing them to fester and grow into real, honest to god ideas. I’d start picturing life in North Carolina or a trip to France or a new business venture. He’s a dreamer, which is good, but it took my three years to realize he can dream big, but his dreams didn't always involve me.

When I finally decided I needed to leave Colorado, I found a whole other batch of unicorn wanna-bes in California. I thought I’d found “the one” in Orange County, which should have been clue enough, but I ignored my little voice and jumped whole-heartedly into a relationship. In my mind, I was ready to run off to Vegas and seal the deal. Larry was sensitive and realistic where Bill wasn’t. He loved me just the way I was. Smart, beautiful and athletic. What Larry and I didn’t anticipate was 9-11, and how the emotions would tear us apart. I’m from the east coast. I’ve leaned against the glass of the World Trade Center and watched the tiny yellow taxis move below. I’ve walked to lower downtown from my brother’s Brooklyn apartment to shop in the shadow of the Towers. So, when they fell, I wondered if my brother or his wife were there. I worried that my father, who works in Washington, D.C., might have been at the Capitol when they told us the Capitol was struck. 9-11 hit me deep and hard. These were places I knew intimately filled with people I love. The day after 9-11, I came home from work utterly exhausted and still in shock. I knew all of my family members were accounted for, but I still mourned the loss of the United States as I knew it. I broke down sobbing with fear of what was to happen to our country, to our world. I knew that the world would never be the same. I cried for all of the families who lost people. I cried because my beloved Towers, the marker of New York City since I was a little girl, were gone. I couldn’t stop crying. And Larry, he couldn’t understand why. I tried to explain to him, but it didn’t help.

Our relationship slowly unraveled after that. His paper unicorn horn fell off, and I packed up and moved on. I held onto a love for him for years after that, holding many men up to what we had, or what I imagined we had. He set the bar higher for what I expected in a relationship

I dated lots of men after Larry, but no one really shook up my world until I met Will. We worked together. We flirted and fought the sexual chemistry between us for two years before anything ever happened. I longed for him, and didn’t understand why he didn’t reciprocate. I had finally written him off as a friend when he told me he was incredibly attracted to me, and really wanted to date me, but we worked together. Luckily, he was on his way to another job. We immediately began dating, and it was everything I ever dreamed it would be except no one knew. He didn’t want anyone at work to know so I didn’t tell anyone – not even my closest friend at work. On top of no one knowing, he was so busy networking for his new job, he could only see me after 10pm, and never seemed to want to see me on a Saturday night. I found all of it a little strange, but I was so happy to finally be dating him, albeit a secret, that I let it slide. I let a lot slide. I let the fact I felt like shit because no one knew slide. I let the fact he didn’t want to meet my friends slide. I let all of it slide until one day when he told me he didn’t have time for a girlfriend anymore. Then I noticed he wasn’t even of the same genus as a unicorn.

*I get to change names when I want to.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Princesses and Cake

“Auntie Sarah, can we be flower girls in your wedding,” Edda asked.
“That’s what I called for. Will you be my flower princesses?” I thought princesses sounded much cooler than generic flower girls.
“Is that like a flower girl? Do we get to walk with you?”
“Yes, you get to walk with me,” I answered.
“Oh goodie!”
My youngest niece got on the phone.
“What kind of wedding cake are you having?” She wanted to know the important stuff.
“I’m thinking chocolate. Does that work for you?”
“Yeah. I love chocolate!” Amma said. I could hear the delight in her three year-old voice.
“Auntie Sarah, it’s Edda. I don’t like chocolate. I like white cake.”
“Okay, maybe we’ll have a small white cake, too.”
“Oh goodie! I get my own cake!”
“Um, I don’t think it will be your own cake.”
“Bye!” I heard the phone drop. “Mom, I get my own cake!’

Messages from my body

My body gave me a wake-up call yesterday. I got sick. I felt like hell and I had to leave work early. I won’t go into gory details because they aren’t important, but when I got home, I started thinking about what people told me: Enjoy being engaged for awhile.

I like to believe I am Superwoman. I can work my day job, do my side hustle, write a blog, hang out with my fianc√© and friends and plan a wedding. Since I have been warned not to write about a current job while blogging, I don’t plan on saying much about mine. This is what I will tell you:

I commute about 1.5 hours a day round-trip (it’s LA –this is normal).
I generally start work at 9 and leave at 7.
Half the time I work through lunch.
I need to always be available for my boss (that sounds kinky, but it really isn’t).

In short, by the time I roll through my door in the evenings, I’m pooped. Exhausted. Worn out. There are nights I come home, make a bowl of cereal and plop on the couch for two hours watching reality television. Super Nanny? She has some good advice. Wife Swap? Those people learn from the madness (and hell no – I will never do a wife swap).

We got engaged on Christmas in Germany. I didn’t realize what a gift this was until I got home a week later. We arrived back in LA at 8pm January 1st, and I went to work on time January 2nd. As stated before, I am a planner. A giver of information. When I wasn’t working, I was on the phone telling people our good news. I might have even called a few from work, but probably not. So, in my jet-lagged haze of excitement, at 5am on the third day we were back, I managed to upload, edit and send out our pictures, which included the information that we got engaged. Even with this speed, I got calls saying, “I can’t believe you didn’t call me sooner!” Like when? From Germany? While I was sleeping?

In between those calls, I was talking with my mom and the wedding site vendor in North Carolina. When my sweet friends asked me about a bachelorette party and showers, I couldn’t even muster a little excitement. All I thought was, “One more thing to plan.”

We took some time on the weekends to recuperate. We slept the entire first weekend. He watched football while I read wedding magazines another weekend. What we didn’t do was take time to enjoy being engaged. We haven’t really basked in our love and luck in finding each other. I was already wrapped up in what favors to put on the tables and how to wear my hair. The wedding will come together because I am slightly neurotic and a little crazy with planning, but it doesn't have to all be done by the end of the week.

Yesterday, when my fianc√© walked in with a bag of provisions for my sick self, it all sunk in. This is my future. This is my present. And I am so incredibly happy I get to do it all with him. We don’t live together yet, and I can’t wait until we do in April, but until then, I am enjoying my life just the way it is. We won’t ever be engaged again, and if my body continues working so well, we won’t be two for long either.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Is any bride truly sane?

In a past life, I was an event planner. Today, I organize a high-powered Hollywood executive's life. I am a planner. I am detail-oriented. I am good at this. These are my strengths. When I told a friend I was getting married, she, a wise, married woman, told me to forget my life until August because I will eat, sleep and breathe wedding. I scoffed at her citing my planning expertise.

My apartment and my fiance's are littered with wedding magazines (all mine). I am madly ripping pages out that inspire me or have a good idea on them like making my guests dress up in costumes to have their pictures taken for the guest book. How fun! Escort cards clipped to a clothes line? Love it! And thank god Martha told me about escort cards because I had 1) no idea they had a name 2) were so bloody important 3) had to coordinate with the rest of the stationary/theme. Yes, I used to plan events. Did I mention I am a little non-traditional and I mainly did the food and flowers?

Because I am an organizer, I made the requisite "wedding planning binder" complete with tabs. It doesn't have one real contract from a vendor in it yet, but is starting to burst with ripped magazine pages. I'm thinking that if I get all of the ideas in there, shake it up and sprinkle it with fairy dust, my dream wedding will manifest itself. Maybe mice will sew my dress and Jimmy Choo will courier over some glass slippers.

On Sunday, I woke up early with ceremony ideas, flower arrangements, dress patterns and chicken satay floating around my mind. By the time my fiance woke up an hour later, I had moved the wedding from North Carolina to Hawaii's North Shore. There is a house in Haleiwa I know of that we could use for a wedding. I could wear a bunch of leis and my fiance could wear a mali'i leaf one like the old kings did. We could be barefoot. We could have fresh ahi from the fish market and my dad and brother could sashimi it. But wait. If we did it in Hawaii, a lot of people couldn't afford to come. We would have way too much ahi left over so who would cater the food? That's when I realized it didn't matter where we had the wedding. I'd still have to deal with the minutia of planning.

My fiance still had his eyes closed when I said, "I think it might be cool to have a candy bar at the wedding with traditional German (he's German) and American candies." He opened his eyes and stared at me. It was at this point that he told me I needed to put the wedding magazines away. I wouldn't say he banned them, but I can tell he's ready for his sane woman to return. So am I, sweetie, so am I.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

To be a Princess

When Lady Diana Spencer married her Prince in 1981, I was glued to my television set. I made a scrapbook of all the photos and articles. My favorite ones were in LIFE magazine because they weren't posed. She looked happy and relaxed. I dreamed I was one of her flower girls complete with a wreath of flowers on my head. I sketched my future wedding dress, and it looked a lot like hers with puffed sleeves the size of full-grown sheep legs, a small sweetheart waist and a train that reached the church doors.

In honor of my love of Princess Diana, my best friend’s mom made me the most beautiful wedding dress for my Barbie. It had a row of pearls at the neck. It had gathered cuffs so they ruffled out. It had puffed sleeves and was made of white satin. Barbie was gorgeous and happy in all of her wedding ceremonies – and there were many.

Somewhere along the way, the shiny wore off of weddings for me. Princess Diana left Charles because of Camilla and a myriad of other reasons. My mom left my dad after twenty-five years because of Kristine and a plethura of other reasons. My friend got divorced two years after their rose-filled reception. The perfect gown and gorgeous flowers make a wedding, but those things do not make a marriage. It can still fall apart. I won't even go into the fact that the day Princess Diana was killed I was at a wedding.

All of this leads me to where I am now: planning my own wedding, but more importantly, learning to make a marriage that works.