Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Travel, ahoy!

Last week we booked our holiday trip.  We are heading to New Orleans!  I'm really excited because I've never been there, but it sounds fun.  Also I saw pictures on the internet of a small child petting a stingray at the Audubon, so I was sold immediately.

Anyway, we figured that you all were so helpful in assisting us with our honeymoon, with all of your recommendations of great places to eat and good places to stay, that we thought you might be able to help us out with this trip as well.  We are staying at the Prytania Park Hotel in the Garden District, but we are, as the British say, "walkers", and game for just about anything.

As far as traveling, our likes and dislikes are as follows:
-Reasonably priced, well done, comfort food and pub food
-Craft beer
-Really good vegetarian food
-Being outside
-Great views

Dislikes (these are actually all my dislikes, Husband is easygoing enough that he dislikes hardly anything):
-Large crowds
-Overpriced crummy food
-Ghost stories and other creepy stuff
-Loud music

So help a sister out!  What are your fun NOLA suggestions?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Marriage Matters: Dancing Away

Being on my own gets a little awkward when my husband is out of town, sometimes.  It can be awkward because when you hang out with people and you're on your own, but you're married.  Even having a harmless conversation with somebody can sometimes feel like flirting.  If you do it while you are dancing at a wedding, it seems even creepier.  At the wedding I went to last weekend, I'm not sure whether it was appropriate of me to grab a couple of the groomsmen (who had dates with them who were refusing to dance) and drag them out on the dance floor for slow or slow-ish songs, but I felt comfortable enough doing it and their girlfriends/fiances were right there, so I thought it was okay.  I spent several years ballroom dancing to slow songs with people that aren't my husband, so I really don't think it's weird.  When you are married, or in a relationship, and you dance with somebody else, there is an appropriate distance between the two dancers - you should be close enough to have a conversation, but it is never okay to whisper in somebody's ear.  I'm pretty strict about this distance, and I've never liked having somebody get up in my space when I'm dancing with them - but apparently some people do not agree.

In certain types of ballroom, certain types of guys will get extremely close to you.  This has a lot to do with form.  But it also has a way of making a lot of women extremely uncomfortable.  Theoretically, you should be able to hold a dinner plate between your chests without it falling.  Not wanting to dance like this with people that aren't my husband is one of the reasons I don't really enjoy going out ballroom dancing anymore. I enjoy dancing with our friends, who are all married and respect the appropriate distance, but not strangers who think it is okay to pull me in extremely close.  

At the wedding last weekend, there was a gentleman there who clearly had some ballroom experience, or thought he did, and kept trying to "teach" me dance steps.  We had not met during any of the other wedding festivities, but I like a good dance party and I was out on the floor, and he was partying pretty hard all night, so we wound up dancing.  I was fine with this when we were two feet apart, but he kept grabbing me and pulling me to him to try to have me "follow" him.  Having taken several years of ballroom classes, either he was the worst leader in the world or he was just trying to dance extremely close.  This is why you need a wingwoman, by the way, because I sent my friend a desperate eyebrow gesture and she immediately came and saved me.  Later, at the bar, I was ranting about his obnoxious behavior and commented that I don't think he realized I was married.  "I mean, shouldn't you at least do a ring check before trying to dance like that with somebody?" I asked my equally baffled friends, who both nodded.  

I can't help wondering whether this would have been different if my husband was in attendance.  If just clearly marking that I was with somebody would have helped, instead of appearing single.  I've definitely gotten stuck in the creepydance situation before, and my husband is not nearly as useful as my wingwoman, but I feel like the situation is less likely to happen if I have somebody else to slow dance with.  

Does anybody else have issues with personal space and dancing? How close is too close? Do you dance with men that aren't your husband, or women who aren't your wife, ever?  Am I a total prude?  Should I just wear a big crinoline so that nobody can get near me?  

Friday, June 22, 2012


On Tuesday, I went to the gym.  I changed and put all my stuff in my locker.  On Wednesday morning, I went to get my rings out of my bag.  Only my wedding band was there.  My beautiful, sentimental, thoughtfully designed engagement ring was nowhere to be found.
Everyone keeps telling me it'll turn up.  I've checked the gym.  I've checked the grocery store.  I've scoured the car and the apartment.  It has yet to turn up.  I'm holding out hope, but I'm also devastated.  

Yes, it's insured.  But the center stone that my Aunt gave me when I was 16?  There is no insurance on sentiment, and if it's lost, I can't get that back.

I love my engagement ring.  I love how many people notice it and comment how pretty it is; I love that my husband designed it using elements of celtic symbols, I love the annoying way it traps dirt, I love how I thought we couldn't possibly find a band to match it and then the stock size band fit perfectly.  I had even made my peace with how big it was for me, and had just started wearing it again with the arrival of summer because my fingers were finally swollen enough for it to not fall off.
My biggest fear oddly, isn't that somebody stole it and sold it for drugs or something like that.  My biggest fear is that somebody found it and didn't realize it's my engagement ring, and just kept it because they think it's a neat cocktail ring or something and they have no f*cking clue how precious it is to me.  

When it comes to the issue of whether or not to replace it, I just don't know.  It is insured, so that's not the issue.  I feel like an engagement ring is  a symbol of a promise that my husband and I made to each other before we walked down the aisle, and there is no replacing that.  I mean, what the hell is the point of replacing it?  Every time I looked at my replacement ring, I would be reminded of my carelessness and failure, and I would remember that this ring isn't my real ring.  I always expected to pass the stones along to my children, but I also planned to keep my ring.  Because it's mine and I love it and my husband made it for me.  At the same time, the ring is a symbol of how much my husband loves me - he poured his heart into designing this ring for me, and that meaning doesn't go away just because we got married.

I know I'm not the only one who has done this, so reassuring stories about finding your ring when you thought it was lost forever are appreciated, as are your thoughts on replacement.  Is it silly to replace it?  Is it ridiculous not to replace it?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Marriage Matters: Apart, Continued

So as part of my husband being gone for work for the indefinite future, we knew he would miss my very good friend's wedding (at Cylburn Arboretum...if you are in Baltimore planning a wedding, please get married there - it is AMAZING.)  We were both bummed about this, because, firstly, it's good friends, and the wedding was going to be awesome.  I didn't even realize that the other bumming out part of this was that we had ordered the veggie and fish meals and were planning to share, and that did not happen.

Anyway, the great thing about this wedding was that several of my lady friends had been invited without their boyfriends (since the bride and groom had never met said boyfriends, it made sense), so the three of us had a great time.  Another friend's boyfriend left early, which meant that she and I got to boogie down on the dance floor for the rest of the night.  For us, weddings generally mean that I hang out on the dance floor and my husband hangs out at the table with other people that don't dance, but I think at this one, he would have been out at least half the time, since the music was good and the crowd was hoppin'.

I did notice there are a few things that are difficult about not having a date.  My friend who was in the wedding was staying with me, and her boyfriend and I went over early to set up.  It was fine with two of us, but if my husband had been there, he would have been able to do some of the running around as well, and he's much taller and would have done a better job decorating the arch.  I also forgot my camera in the car for the ceremony, which isn't a big deal, but it would have been great to send him back to the car for it while I put on my friend's veil.

The hardest part was definitely cocktail hour.  I didn't realize how much cocktail hour is a team sport, because I haven't been to a wedding alone since I reached drinking age.  It's so nice to have somebody get you a drink while you get food, etc.  I was also really bummed because they ran out of the lemon pound cake and I misjudged the way the cake was being served so I went to the bathroom and they gave it to our table, and then I had to hunt down the caterers and ask for more cake and they only had the red velvet left, which was good, but no lemon pound cake.  If there were two of us, my husband would have known to score me a piece of the lemon pound cake, and would have shared his until I got mine.

I will say, going to this wedding alone made me much more comfortable with the idea of going to a wedding alone - as long as you know people, I think it's still fun, although weddings are deeply romantic and much more fun with a date that you are hopelessly in love with.  Have you been to a wedding alone lately? Any strategies for cake grabbing and cocktail hour?

Friday, June 15, 2012

All the Weddings We Didn't Have (and a request for help!)

Our group of friends this year who are getting married is really varied.  They are mostly my friends - two from law school, one from my college dorm, one from my hockey team, and one cousin - and so unlike the year that we got married, when 6 of our friends did as well - with fairly similar weddings - these are all the weddings that I talked about wanting and thought about having but didn't actually get to throw.

This year, we seem to have been invited to All the Weddings We Didn't Have (and really, couldn't have).  The carnival wedding (complete with pony rides), the small intimate wedding with only 65 people; the beautiful outdoor wedding at Cylburn Arboretum (not that I don't love our own nature center); the really really fun, but still unbelievably classy, wedding; the camping wedding; and also, the potluck wedding.  

What's fun about this is that we get to go to all of these weddings and really enjoy ourselves, and because I loved our own wedding so much, I'm not thinking about what might have been.
My real question though, that I need your help with, is this - what do I bring to a potluck wedding?  I want to bring something classy, but it also has to be completely non-perishable, because we are camping the night before with no refrigeration.  I'm thinking some kind of upgraded chips and salsa - like those delicious flatbread things with a tapenade, except I don't really like tapenade, and I feel like I usually see it in the refrigerated section.  It cannot require any electricity to assemble (otherwise, I would make white-bean-pesto-dip).  Is there any kind of hummus that I don't need to refrigerate?  We do own a small cooler, but every time I try to bring a cooler of stuff, everything ends up wet and soggy.  Any advice?  Usually we just fill our cooler with ice packs, but I'm thinking a big bag of ice from the store would be better? How long can I keep hummus in a cooler for?  Do you think it's like, 12 hours, or closer to 24?

I could also make a few loaves of homemade bread and serve it with butter - I am afraid that the butter might melt, but if we bring a cooler and keep it cold overnight, since you can keep butter at room temperature, I'm less worried about perishability.  If the butter is soft, I could even mix it with herbs at the last minute and serve it that way.  Perhaps a spice mix with olive oil would make a nice alternative dip to the butter? (I believe there will be vegans present.)

Does anybody have any better ideas?  Must be vegetarian!  Are there any canned or jarred foods or salsas that are classy?  I'm not even looking for anything that classy, but the people throwing the wedding aren't big on super-processed food, so no velveeta or helluvagood dip.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Marriage Matters: Apart

Usually, in the springtime, my husband travels a lot.  Two years ago, he spent basically six weeks in Cincinnati, and last year he went on 10 trips in 8 weeks, and this year, he's gone off to California with an estimated return, "sometime at the end of the month".  And that's the life of a roller coaster wife, and I pride myself on not being a baby about my husband being out of town.  I try really hard not to mope and complain and call him all the time.  I keep busy, but being alone also gives me a lot of time for introspection.

Being apart is good sometimes, because it reminds me of all of the reasons I like to be married.  I really really like being part of a team.  I like sharing the good parts and frustrating parts of my day with somebody.  I like taking care of another person, and having another person take care of me.  I like having somebody to pick up the slack - do the dishes, pick up the thing I just dropped, help carry stuff to the car when we're leaving for a full day.  A second set of eyes to look for an open parking space when the entire neighborhood is full of Phillies fans.  Somebody to show me, again, how to change the tire on my bike when I accidentally rupture it putting air in it.

It's also gotten me thinking about economies of scale.  My family law professor talked about the reasons why people might not want to separate, and one of the things she mentioned once was economies of scale - lower rent, sharing the grocery/BGE bill, etc.  But what if there are economies of scale in achievement, in life goals? Like Meg talks about, ambition squared.  Not just career ambition - but just the number of things I want to get done in a day.  I get twice as much done with my husband around, even if he's not directly helping me.  He also gets more done when I'm around than when I'm not around, I suspect.  It's almost like just having somebody in the house, somebody else who wants to do stuff, somebody who is going to hold you to a schedule and ask you, "what's the plan?" somehow makes me more productive.

And don't even get me started on sleeping alone.  I've always loved this quote by Marlene Dietrich, "Children will tell you how lonely it is sleeping alone. If possible, you should always sleep with someone you love. You both recharge your mutual batteries free of charge."   It is simply better to go to sleep with somebody, thinking, "I am not alone. This person who loves me is here with me and will be here with me when I wake up."  

What are your favorite things about being married or living together?  If you are in a commuter marriage, how do you survive?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Today is my 27th birthday.  This has actually been a good year.  The first half of it was really hard - when I turned 26, I had just lost my job, I was just starting out, I had no idea where I wanted my career to go, and my marriage was really, really hard.  I found a job with a solo practitioner who hired me even though I was technically overqualified, taking a risk that I would at least stay longer than six weeks (I stayed 8 months).  I started job hunting and I interviewed for a lot of jobs.  In February, I was interviewing with a private practice firm that didn't suit me at all.  And then I got offered a job by somebody I had interviewed with before, and four months later, I am happier than I think I have ever been, careerwise and lifewise.  It's not like my job is my dream job, or where I will be forever - but I do good work, I work with amazing people, I get to walk to work, and I have reasonable, stable hours.

There are other reasons things are good.  Our marriage, which spent it's first year falling to one side or another as we tried desperately to keep it on course, is now sailing smooth and straight and we know how to work the ropes when things get rough.  We are working to be a part of our community - we have a garden plot and are working to get to know our neighbors and the area.  We are more active together in the summer, so it's nice - we bike, we run, and I finally belong to a pool so I can go swimming. 

I wonder, as I edge closer to 30, whether the way we are living now counts as living "the f*ck out of my twenties".  I highly, highly doubt it is what anyone would define as such, and yet, to me, it feels very much like I have taken advantage of my youth.  I went after the career I wanted with both hands and made what might be viewed as some very sensible and/or very poor choices regarding it.  I spent two years struggling to find a good job for me, getting generally taken advantage of by employers and making too little money, the way some people might make poor choices in relationships and get taken advantage of by a bad boyfriend.  I gained weight, I lost weight, and I discovered yoga.  I lived in a foreign country and another state.  I feel like I've done a lot. 

And yet, I remain obsessed with this idea of living life to it's fullest/knowing how to live, and I feel like I've always come up short.  As if I should take this time to do a whole bunch of stupid stuff and live day to day in a horrible apartment with a leaky everything and a fuse box I have to hit and show up to work hungover.  I kind of skipped that while I was going to law school and getting married.  The closest I came to showing up for class hungover was the day after election day, in which I was running on about two hours of sleep. 

So what are the other hallmarks of living the f*ck out of my twenties that I need to hit before I turn 30?  What can I skip?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Marriage Matters: Home & Community

I've started to think more about owning a house lately.  I'm kind of starting to itch for a space that is "ours", and weighing the relative merits of buying a house in the city versus moving out to the county.  The pros and cons seem pretty obvious: the pros are that city living is awesome, and the cons are that the school system leaves something to be desired once you get past elementary school.

There are other pros and cons of staying in the city.  Pros include being within walking distance of our jobs, only needing to own one car, tons of local dining options, a mall, and easy biking distance to an amazing farmer's market and a couple grocery stores.  Cons include that we could lose a ton of money, houses in Baltimore are sorta weird, we could end up with a mortgage we can't afford, our neighborhood could go downhill, parking is sometimes a pain, property taxes are outrageous, and we would have to move.  It's easier to stay put.  (Yes, we will probably move eventually.)

Essentially, it comes down to a few key questions:

  • Are we ever going to move out to the county?
  • Is that going to be before our children go to middle school?  
If we want to stay in the city for another ten years, then buying a house seems like a no-brainer.  If we want to move out of the city before we have children in two or three years, then continuing to rent is a no-brainer.  But the in-between, where we might stay in the city for another 2-5 years is where it gets sticky.  I do not feel "ready" to leave the city yet, but I don't know whether I will feel ready in a year, or three years, or never.  I know that my walking commute has made my life absolutely fantastic, and I don't want to give that up, but there is a strong possibility that I will outgrow my job in a few years - which means that  it might be good to continue renting and being flexible.  But, since I have a job I like, I could hold out for a job that is at one of my preferred places of employment, all of which are in the city.  Not to mention, my husband works in the city and will for the foreseeable future.  

I think the biggest problem here is that I'm scared of the unknown.  All of the things on my "cons" list are things that could happen.  All of the things on my pros list are things that we know are advantages of living in the city.  I am a big believer that I don't know how I will feel about doing certain things with children until I have children, but I am terrified by then that it will be too late.  I talk to a lot of parents who bought a house in a crappy school district and say, "if only we had known".  The long-term commitment horrifies me.  What if we get stuck, absolutely stuck, with a house that has major issues and our neighborhood starts to go downhill?  

Can anyone see anything I haven't considered about staying versus going? Did you make this decision as well?  How did you make it?  What can you tell me to help me get over my long-term fears?