The Astromaid Chronicles

Slow Travel, Creative Living, and Speculation

Category: North America (page 1 of 2)

Super Moon, Super Powers

If any of you counted how many days since my last update  (approximately 145 days), you’d think that the daffodils I ingested in my last post actually did kill me.

But lo! They did not! I am alive and well and a new business owner, to boot! Updates are forthcoming…I have a lot of things I want to say about the developments in Ye Olde Personalle Life, which include, among other things, rampant gardening, a food truck, adventures in serving hamburgers to the masses, a vineyard, and…well…today’s topic.

My Super Power.

If any of you have used even an ounce of social media lately, you’ve probably heard about the Super Moon. The most recent Super Moon, that is, which apparently rose on the 14th of November, and won’t be seen again for seventy years. So like, it’s really important because we’ll all be DEAD the next  time it comes around.

I should add that I feel like these super-rare super moons come about quite often, or maybe I’m just thinking of meteoroid showers or something. It also irks me that Facebook now advises us to “take a step outside and see for yourself!” but, that’s for another time. (At least it doesn’t say “BECAUSE THE NEXT TIME IT COMES AROUND YOU’LL BE DEAD”.)

The past five or so days have seen some odd communication patterns. A lot of people I’ve reached out to this past week have expressed shock or even relief–“Wow, how did you know I needed to hear from you?” and “Man, I really needed someone to reach out to me” and “Dude, I was JUST doing [thing I had randomly texted about for the first time in my entire life]”. It’s whatever–it could be the moon, or it could be life, or it could be flukes, or it could be nothing.

When super moons like these rise...get ready for the weird. Photo Credit: mirror.co.uk

When super moons like these rise…get ready for the weird. Photo Credit: mirror.co.uk

But there is a certain part of me that likes to get caught up in the whirly-swirls of the SuPeR mOoN! When people whisper reverently about the connectivity and the energy and the high this and the intense that…well, fuck. Maybe I’m feeling it too. Maybe it could be.

Well today, I found out–it IS the Super Moon. Because I have a super power.

I have proof.

It literally knocked on my door.

LET ME SET THE SCENE. For the past six months or so, I’ve been vaguely discontent with my internet provider. I pay way more per month than what I should, especially for sub-standard internet performance (i.e. One person watching Netflix will make websites slow to load elsewhere).  I’ve called in to complain and receive help a number of times. It never ends well. (In fact, it usually ends with my saying “IN THIS DAY AND AGE, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO WATCH NETFLIX AND GOOGLE SOMETHING, FOR GOD’S SAKE”.)

High-Speed Internet

When my bill went up by $20 a couple months ago, I really began to question my commitment to buying local when it came to internet. Should I really pay SO much money and be SO irritated by this? Especially when I work from HOME and rely on this crap?

So when my bill arrived today, I circled back to the question for the millionth time: do I stay or do I go? I pulled up a quick google search to find other high-speed internet providers in my area (thank God nobody was watching Netflix at the same time!). AT&T danced in the back of my head, as it has for a couple months now. But I just haven’t been able to take the plunge. There’s something about it that just feels…distant. Unfeeling. Too big for my britches.

I went to AT&T’s website, briefly. Then, in a fit of laziness, I said to myself, “Eh. Let’s just pay another month. I’ll decide in the interim.”

So I closed AT&T’s website and went to go pay my internet bill, like a good loyal pushover.

As I began to enter my billing information, someone knocked on my door.

I huffed, as I usually do when I get random knocks on my door during my work day. I hopped up to answer it. An unknown guy my age looked back at me, dressed in khakis and a blue polo. Inwardly, I groaned. This had to be one of the random sales calls I get from time to time…where they show up and ask me if I’m happy with my cable provider and I tell them I don’t watch TV and they stumble away, dumbfounded.

But he had no clipboard. And he looked pretty normal. And then he asked me, “Hey, are you an AT&T customer?”

I blinked at him, the words knocking around in my skull like pinballs. Say what? “Um…no. I’m not.”

“Oh, okay. I was just in the neighborhood because there were some complaints about slow internet, things not loading or streaming well, pixelated images…I wanted to check it out.” He offered a smile. “If that’s not you then sorry to bother.”

I blinked at him again. This had to be a joke. He couldn’t have…known, right? “Uh…well, actually, I HAVE been complaining of those things, except with a different company.”

I told him about my angst, and my needs, and he politely and helpfully told me about some of the packages AT&T could offer, even though he wasn’t the guy who could set me up for it. Wasn’t pushy, wasn’t making me sign anything or offer half of a down payment.

And then I told him: “This is actually super weird. I was just researching new internet providers three minutes before you knocked. AT&T being one of them.”

“That’s crazy,” he said.

“And I was literally just about to pay for another month of internet the actual second you knocked,” I added.

This time, he laughed. “I can’t believe it.”

“You intervened.” I swallowed hard, peering up into the sky. “It’s gotta be the full moon.” I couldn’t see it anywhere, but it was lurking. It had to be. Off yonder horizon, penetrating the world with its super powers. Soaking us to the bone.

Some people might talk about the connectivity, or the energy, or the high this or the intense that.

But me? I can manifest a new internet provider like that when the moon is right.

Three hours (and a lot of super moon angst) after the rep’s unexpected (but totally fated?? cosmic?? pre-designed??) arrival, I’m a new AT&T customer.

We all have our super powers. You just gotta recognize ’em when they show up.

(…Though really, maybe writing is my real super power, because this full moon got me back to my blog.)

Beware The Onion Look-Alikes!

Shannon here, after a very long hiatus, after a very long and productive spring.

I have one message for you all:

BEWARE THE ONION LOOK-ALIKES.

What does this mean? you might be asking. Let me explain.

A few nights ago, Jorge wanted to cook a meat-and-veggie stew. He’s very good at these. It’s definitely something we’ve planned to offer in our eventual Argentinian restaurant. The sauce, the veggies, the meat, the spices–it’s all so very delicious and subtle and mixing.

However, when Jorge set out to make this stew the other night, he told (re: whined to) me, “But Shannon, we’re out of onion!”

“Go to Kroger and get some yourself,” I said. “You have a truck and legs. Go on.”

He didn’t go to Kroger. Instead, he set out to make the stew onion-less. I admit, I was a little disappointed. Onion makes everything better, for some reason. The same reason why I get a little sad when someone tells me they didn’t have garlic for a particular dish. Like, come on, people–these are basics. It’s a sad day when you run out of onion or garlic and can’t replace it.

But I digress. I was working upstairs in my office this evening at my newer part-time job, so I wasn’t around for much of the cooking part. When I came downstairs later to check in on all the tantalizing smells wafting upstairs, an exuberant Jorge greeted me.

“I found onion,” he tells me. “Look!”

Inside the pot, slices of onion simmer alongside potato, carrot and steak bits. I nod appreciatively. “Where did you get it?”

“From outside.” He swirls the spoon inside the pot.

I think about this. Duh. We have green onion outside in the planter, growing, healthy and green, lovely and onion-y! Of course! I take another look at it. But that bulb looks way too big to be the green onion I’d been cultivating. Those onion roots are usually slender and small. This root was bulbous and hefty.

Small, slender roots of the green onion. Mmm...delicious.

Small, slender roots of the green onion. Mmm…delicious. [Photo Credit: www.wisegeek.com]

But I didn’t say anything. I figured, hey, what do I know? I planted those green onions last September. Their underground parts might have gotten very large in the interim. Who am I to judge an onion’s private soil bits?

Dinner was served. We sit down and enjoy a delightful stew. Everything was delicious–until I ate the onion slice. It was a horrible taste–so bitter and strange. I swallowed it down fast. I figured it was just one of those random disgusting tastes that sometimes inexplicably crops up in meals. Like, I dunno–a slip of the cook’s hand, something innocuous but gross, a weird bit of potato, who knows? Everything else tasted fine, so I didn’t think much of it.

Dinner ends, and I hurry back upstairs to continue my work shift. Meanwhile, Jorge cleans up downstairs, turns off all the lights and tucks himself into bed. I am working in my office for awhile, and about an hour or so after we’d eaten, I begin to feel really strange.

I’m dizzy. I’m unable to concentrate. And God help me–I feel like I could puke. I NEVER. EVER. PUKE, either.

“Jorge?” I call out. “I feel sick. I feel like I might puke.”

There’s a few second’s pause on his end. Then, he replies, like in a horror movie, “Me too. I really feel like puking.”

Three minutes later, while I’m sitting at my desk trying to convince myself I’m just hallucinating the nausea, Jorge rushes from our bed to the bathroom and begins puking his guts out.

“I love you,” I tell him feebly from my office, which is right next to the bathroom, while he retches his face off. “I’d come help you if I weren’t afraid of puking my guts out too.”

“It’s okay,” he tells me between heaves. “Stay in there.”

I wait for him to finish, intent on consoling him once he’s done retching. But once I hear the water running as he’s rinsing his mouth out, I feel a familiar sensation. A hot rush of sick barreling from stomach to throat. Dizziness, heat, and discomfort creeping through every cell of my body. I rush to the bathroom, put my face into the same toilet he’s used for the past ten minutes.

And I puke my face off, too.

“IT WAS THE ONIONS,” I wail as I empty the contents of my stomach. “THEY WEREN’T RIGHT.”

Later, once the puking has subsided slightly, he tells me the onions were slimy at the base. I google a little bit and read about others’ horrifying encounters with eating slimy onions. Vomiting, nausea, and the like. I feel distantly consoled. Like the internet is telling me, Hey, this happens to everyone. It’s okay. It was just bad onions.

I remind myself of this as I continue to vomit from midnight until 8 am every hour, on the hour.

Every thought about the stew I had eaten, or any form of any onion ever, makes me distantly nauseous, though.

Finally, I’m able to roll onto my side without puking around 8am, so I snag a few hours’ sleep. Once I’m up and about the next day, my first order of business is to uproot and dispose of all these slimy green onions I’d unknowingly cultivated. What horror in the garden! I storm outside, eager to upend all of these sinner scallions, to let them die a painful, shriveling death in the sun as a penance for our illness the night before.

When I get outside to the planter where my green onions were…I notice nothing missing.

As in, there are no green onions that had been pulled for yesterday’s dinner. Jorge had put something else into his stew. AND I HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS.

When Jorge returned home that day from work, I showed him the green onion planter. “There’s nothing missing. What did you put in our stew, JORGE?”

He insisted it was onion. Onion growing on the side of the house. He gestured toward the back garden, the one up close to the house. The area of the garden where I had definitely, decidedly, never planted onion ever.

As we were walking down the driveway, he gestured toward a plant in the front garden. “It looked just like that,” he said. “Just like that onion there.”

My gaze landed on the plant. It was no onion at all. I never planted any bulb onion in my garden, front or back. I never planted anything but the slim, slender, totally innocuous, non-vomit-worthy green onion.

Jorge had pointed to the daffodils.

We ate a motherfucking daffodil in our stew.

Jorge pulled the daffodil in the middle stage, without the flower. Just when it looks exactly like a green onion.

Jorge pulled the daffodil in the middle stage, without the flower. Just when it looks exactly like a green onion.

Now it all made sense. Why else would we have puked our guts out like some modern rendition of the Exorcist: Food Edition? We had literally poisoned ourselves, as evidenced by any google search on Daffodils:

All parts of the bulb are toxic to people and animals, but the toxicity level is low unless you eat a large quantity. For example, a handful of bulbs is considered toxic, while one bite may lead to an upset stomach. If you accidentally ingest lycorine, you may begin to have stomach problems, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, as well as salivating, trembling, depression, convulsions and tremors. [Why Are Daffodils Dangerous?]

We had nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, salivating, trembling, and a whole lot of depression regarding WHY IS THIS PURPORTED ONION TRYING TO KILL ME?

Yeah, just an accidental dinner-time poisoning. OOPS.

Jorge felt horrible throughout all of this, I should mention. He stayed up with me while I puked the night away, and felt so badly for causing all of this terror from one simple stew. Once we found out it was a daffodil instead of a rotten onion, he felt even worse. Who harvests daffodils instead of onions? It’s a mistake anyone could make, I suppose, if you aren’t well-acquainted with your wife’s sprawling garden.

At any rate, we’re much better now, and definitely on the healthy side of our unintentional daffodil poisoning.

We’ve both learned what slimy onions can do to someone’s gut as well as the accidental daffodil, so I hope all of you will take all of these lessons to heart and avoid both rotten onions and perfectly good daffodils during your next home-cooked meal.

A Hiatus, A Job, and A Pet

It’s been almost a month since I last wrote. A MONTH! I have no good excuse, either. I tend to have a surplus of ideas at all times. And then I don’t post them generally because of the ever-present doubt in the back of my head that lingers (and burns) like a fart that just won’t go away: Who even cares?

And in the shuffleboard of my priorities, the blog usually gets the last slot, so there’s also that.

But really, there’s a conflict inside me. I have so much I want to write about. I’d love to return this blog to a more mundane recapping of my days and weeks. I feel people used to read it more when it was about that stuff. But I strayed away from that because I began to ask myself, who even cares about this?

I mean, technically speaking, nobody does. But also technically speaking, everybody does. It’s the same impetus that draws us to novels, stories, overheard snippets, and more. We’re just inherently interested about other people’s lives. Even if we don’t actually care about it.

But I also thought I’d be more sparing with my content, so that I could produce real, bonafide pieces that I cared about and put effort into.

I mean, I still want to do that. I’m not trying to publish random assortments of spelling errors here.

So I think there’s a middle ground. I’m going to try to post more often, with lower self-censoring and with higher regard for writing about whatever the fuck I want to write about.

So what the hell’s been going on in my life?

I started a new job. It’s a part-time thing, nights only, four days a week, also remote work. I get to talk to people on the west coast, speak in Spanish, and create (AND MAINTAIN!) spreadsheets. Not bad, for a side gig!

I went to Nashville recently with one of my best friends, Leslie. It was a combination foodie and yoga tour. We studied with my mom’s authorized Ashtanga teacher, and were collectively sore for two days afterward because that’s what studying with Shae means. She tweaks you so hard that every aspect of your practice feels it. We also consumed a frightening amount of tofu and talked until our vocal chords shriveled up.

Kentucky I-65 S Detour

Views of Kentucky during an unexpected detour on the drive south.

Nashville Cowboy Boots

Token cowboy boots in Music City!

East Nashville, TN

Hip mailboxes in East Nashville.

Earlier this week, Jorge crept into my office with a mysterious cardboard box and a crazed, gleeful look on his face. “I have a surprise,” he warned, maybe ominously to my ears as I assessed the box and realized it could be only one thing: a pending pet.

AND LO! Inside the box was a quivering bunny. Super small, super cute, and very, very caught in this box. Jorge explained that he’d rescued the bunny from certain death, since one of the farm cats was about to kill it.

“Awesome,” I said, eyeing the little creature, millions of questions springing to mind. Questions like: where are we going to put this little thing so he can exercise and play enough that he doesn’t get angry and depressed? How can we let him know we mean no harm? He has no idea what’s going on and he’ so scared, how do we calm him? What do we feed him? What will we do with him when it’s time for us to leave for South America later this year?

Jorge fashioned a makeshift cage for him, and his attempts to escape the box haunted me the entire night. I felt physically heavy because this tiny creature was in our house, confused and scared, on the fast track to becoming our pet.

The next day, the cage improved, and we played with the bunny more since his fear factor had diminished a little bit. We named him Benny. Jorge was in love. I worried about Stockholm’s Syndrome, because here we are the captors, taking this rabbit hostage until he falls in love with us. But as my friend Alison pointed out, that’s the case for most pets. So there’s the other side of owning pets, I guess: thinly veiled psychological manipulation.

By day 3, I felt better about Benny because we got hay for him and some rabbit pellets and his cage was really awesome by then and he was totally cool with eating in front of us and he just seemed to be really warming up to the human-rabbit-indoor-sweet luxury life. I thought, yeah. This can work, Benny. You can nuzzle against my neck while I read and you’ll playfully chew toilet paper tubes and I’ll sprinkle hay everywhere and you’ll look at me with sparkling eyes that tell me you love your captor with all your heart.

The next morning, as Jorge made his rounds downstairs, he discovered that Benny had died.

We’ve been in mourning all week. I feel bad, because we probably killed him with his diet. Baby bunnies have notoriously sensitive stomachs, and the switch from wild farm life to captive greens diet probably pushed him to his end.

In fact, it was probably the carrots that did it. What terrible, terrible irony.

RIP, BENNY! We loved you, however briefly.

Benny the Bunny! March 2016 - April 2016

Benny the Bunny! March 2016 – April 2016.

Farewell, 2015!

Welp, it’s basically the end of the year. Are you all as curious/chagrined/baffled/excited as I am?

Looking back at my blog, all the way from its incipiency (looking at Phil) in 2012, I see that in December 2012 I wrote nothing about the year behind, or the year upcoming. At the end of 2013 I didn’t either, but at the beginning of 2014 I did write a small list of resolutions (which I can verify were ALL achieved…though I might have made them highly achievable on purpose). At the end of 2014 I wrote nothing, and also in early 2015 remained silent on the matter.

In summary, I’m basically saying “I never write about year end’s or resolutions, except for those couple of times I did”.

So what’s different about this year-end? Well, not much. I don’t feel particularly inclined to wax poetic about the challenges faced, the cherry-picked memories—both good and bad—that dapple my little fruit tree of life. I mean, I definitely could wax poetic. I’ll wax your poets as hard as the next girl, don’t get me wrong.

What’s different is that I want to make a little mention. Not a full blown “grab the wax and the sun screen because I’m gonna be waxing this poet until I get a sunburn”-style, but just, hold a little memorial.

I want to lay 2015 to rest; say a few words over its grave, if you will. Because a year so highly awesome and strange as this one deserves it.

(But, see? I think all my years are awesome and strange. So this has no bearing on previous years, and my lack of mentioning them. What I’m trying to get around saying is that I’m an erratic blogger and sometimes I just write these posts in my journal instead of online. Moving on.)

2015 was a baller year.

I got married to the most incredible, sweet, delightful, and loving man I could have hoped to meet. I moved back to the United States. I went to India. I published a story about my poop, and got paid for it. I rented my first house in my hometown. Jorge and I applied for his residency and hired a lawyer. I lived in Peru, and left it. I climbed Huayna Pichu, which finally laid to rest any residual qualms about my post-surgical recuperationI studied with two Ashtanga teachers, both of which impacted my personal practice in a huge way. I sat in ceremony again, under a different shaman. I paid for my wedding reception in mostly cash, but also slipped further into credit card debt. I came home in a very significant way that involved re-connecting with so many people, re-integrating in a serious, lovely, much-needed way.

Thinking about January 2015 feels like it was just a couple weeks ago. That’s frightening (though not uncommon); before we know it, we’ll be in this spot again, feeling like December 31st, 2015 wasn’t that long ago.

I don’t have a problem with waxing poetic about life; really, we all should do it more often. Though I bristle that it’s typically year-end’s that prompt the introspection (whereas I think it’s helpful to maintain this introspection throughout the year), I also recognize the beauty and ritual of our need to reflect at a designated mile-marker.

Sometimes we get caught up. Or maybe we forget. Any reminder to pause and look back, and then also look ahead, is a welcome one.

I’m excited for 2016, as I have been for every other year. I expect the greatest, the best, the most meaningful, the most loving, the most challenging, the most trying experiences. And I expect I shall find all of them contained within the messy, sparkling, infuriating, perpetual yet fleeting gem that is the upcoming year.

How was 2015 for you guys? What stood out–and what didn’t? What do you hope for the next year? And what are some resolutions or intentions you have for 2016?

Reception Re-Cap (Wedding Woes & Wonders Pt. 6)

So in this Wedding Woes & Wonders series, I skipped right from making the centerpieces to standing triumphantly on the other side of the whole damn thing.

That’s right. It’s over! It happened! It has now become an extremely fond memory instead of a pending, distant, anxiety-producing event!

WHOOOOOOO!!!

And not only did it happen, it was awesome. I had so much fun. My guests had fun. The main objective of gather people in one spot HAPPENED, and with SUCCESS!!

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Our venue, Vermilion on the Lake, prior to the festivities. Please note the cloud lamps, which hover on the fine line between Pintrest Fail and Functional Decoration, and the accompanying planes.

It was so fun that I bust my foot open and bled all over my dress and didn’t even notice until five hours later.

It was so fun that time went by in a frightening vortex whirlwind and suddenly it was over.

It was so fun that by the time I got home, I realized I hadn’t taken a single picture with my father, or my wedding party (oops!).

It was so fun that I didn’t eat a single bite of food–and only ate some of my cake because a friend snagged me a piece.

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Originally three-tiered, we had to move the top tier to the side due an unfortunate leak in the dulce de leche. This meant we had on offer a regular cake, a vegan cake, and a leaking cake.

It was so fun that Jorge didn’t eat any food OR cake at ALL! (How sad! He really missed out.)

I’ll stop there. Do we get the gist yet that it was fun?

That said, nothing went according to schedule. The meticulous “flight plan” I had laid out (according to the travel theme) didn’t go down as I thought it would. Our dinner was almost two hours behind schedule, due to some problems beyond our control. Despite that, we still ate at a decent time–around 7:30PM–and the food was DELICIOUS, and WAY better than the regular catering fare found at most reception events, letmetellya. My best friend’s husband and my buddy, Matt, was in charge of the dinner, and he finagled a wild success despite all the setbacks that might have had any other chef crying limply in the corner.

Being behind schedule, however, meant that my previously-envisioned “down time” during eating never occurred–which meant that I nixed the slide show presentation I’d been saving to regale our guests with during dinner. That was fine, because eating later meant that the band began playing once people had eaten. And live music is always the best answer for anything!

We did manage to fit in our surprise passport game, which was super fun and a great distraction as people waited for dinner. The game didn’t appear on our flight plan, so people checking the timeline probably wondered why almost nothing on the itinerary was happening as written.

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Looking for volunteers for our passport game where they raced to collect the most passport stamps in 60 seconds. The passports were to Pangaea and Hell. Whoever won meant that either Jorge or I would decide how to spend they money we had raced around to collect.

My Takeaways (or, things I would do differently if for some unimaginable reason I had to do this over again):

1.) Don’t print the schedules. They were a cute idea, but being a former-reception-virgin, I didn’t realize just how far the party train can careen off the tracks. Now, it just serves as a reminder of the way things didn’t go. Plus, I have WAY more left over than I thought I would. I could have saved probably $20 not printing as many.

2.) Remember to take pictures with your family and wedding party. I am still kicking myself for this one. I even had TWO photographers and we didn’t get a group shot with the wedding party, or with my father or his side of the family. My mom’s side of the family was there, and we managed to snag a shot with that side because one of my aunts gathered us all together on a whim. To be fair, my main photog Fenna was also being used as a chef in the kitchen, as well as a cake slicer, photo op presenter and overseer, general announcer, and many other roles. She wore ALL THE HATS that night!

2015_12_05 Shannon and Jorge Wedding Celebration (45)

Gotta give mad props to your photographer when she takes pictures AND does all the other stuff, as well! She wore all the hats–including an actual tiny hat with some sort of squirrel on it, which I’m sorry I didn’t steal from her!

3.) Buying extra cups is good. Spoons, not so much. Per the suggestion of my friends, I went back and bought extra dinner plates, cake plates, dinner napkins, cups, forks, and spoons (I decided last minute not to get extra knives because nobody ever uses those, pfff.) I had originally purchased enough for 150 guests, which was overshooting my expected number by maybe 20-30 people. I thought buying 150 of everything would be fine. But then, per wise recommendations, I bought an extra round of almost everything, and THANK GOD I HAVE PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING IN MY LIFE. I have 4 cups, 3 dinner plates and about 5 forks leftover. On the flip side, an entire unopened package of spoons AND knives leftover (even after NOT buying extra knives), as well as a frightening mass of cake plates and cake napkins. The cake definitely disappeared, so I’m not sure how they moved it from stand to mouth without any of those cake plates or napkins.

4.) Expect strange shit to happen. Anxiety runs high on days like these. Big events in general tend to coax whatever sort of Murphy’s Law gods from their caverns in the mountains so they can peer down and provoke mischief. We certainly had a few of these instances. Like the eerie mist that hung around the city for the entire day–very strange, since most mist or fog scenarios clear up by mid-morning. And then there was the lighting in the food room–for whatever reason, the lights kept turning off, which made it hard for people to find the appetizers, mingle, etc. We had to flip the breaker switch four times. We also had a near-electrical fire, a keg incident, and empty gas grills.

I point out the things that veered off course only in the spirit of talking about the woes. Really, these were no woes at all. They were mere bumps in the road–or turbulence in the air–during our journey to a really great December celebration of our August wedding.

What’s more, I didn’t realize how FUN it would be to have a large majority of my loved ones gathered in one place. I never expected my stepdad to regale friends with stories from my childhood; I never expected my family to be so in love with the live music of my hometown buddies; I never thought so many people would come up to personally tell me how cool all my friends are, and how nice the evening had been.

This evening reminded me how much love is in my life. How much love surrounds me, at every turn. How incredibly blessed I am to have so many wonderful friends and family members in my life.

I just hope I can shine love back as brightly to all those who share this life with me. God, I hope I do.

I hope you all can feel it.

I hope you all know that when I say thank you it’s coming from a frighteningly deep place inside my heart.

We’re so thankful for everyone who came to share in this day with us; thankful for our friends and family who helped make this day what it was.

We’re so thankful to know you all, to share our lives with you all.

And at the end of it, this day was exactly what we’d been hoping for: one grand moment to celebrate, revel, shriek, smile, scream, move, and sing with each other. A day to show you all how much Jorge and I love each other, and how much we love you all. A day to get silly and dress up and eat yummy food and snap pictures and feel good that we all know each other, that we have each other as friends or family or passengers on this wild airplane ride called Life.

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Planning The Reception (Wedding Woes & Wonders Pt. 4)

Here’s how the story goes.

One day, as my girlfriends and I were unamusedly browsing the consumer-bereft Sandusky Mall for a wedding-appropriate dress for my upcoming ceremony, one of my best gals, Annessia, suggested a venue. She’d attended a friend’s wedding at a place called Vermilion on the Lake. I had never heard of such a wildly-hyphenated locale, but after her eloquent and vivid description, I fell in love.

“I want this place,”I told her. “I want it now!”

We pulled up pictures on a cell phone and gawked at the gorgeousness. It seemed perfect. Almost too perfect. Like, this is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of and didn’t know it actually existed perfect.

Vermilion-on-the-Lake, OH.

Vermilion-on-the-Lake, OH.

And then I pulled up the calendar of available dates. My original pair of dates, either of the middle weekends of November, were already booked. And with no surprise! Who can call only five months prior to a reception date to reserve a locale that is one of the most desired locations in the region for weddings and gatherings?

Apparently, it turns out I can. By a stroke of luck, the first weekend in December was open, only two weeks after my originally-planned reception date. And the next day by noon, I had that sucker reserved.

“You sure scooted in at the last minute,” the raspy-voiced volunteer told me on the phone that day. “It’s only July, and we’re already accepting reservations for through 2016!”

Damn straight.

Before Jorge and I got married, one thing was certain. We wanted a big ass party on both ends of the world, and both parties would feature live music, awesome food, and red wine.

Those were basically the only stipulations. But then other factors entered in, like money. Our venue alone rings in at the cheaper end of the scale (or so I’m told) at over $1,200. Throwing a big ass party anywhere involves a hefty chunk of change. And if you want to avoid hefty chunks of change, you need to either have immaculate planning capabilities, extremely wealthy investors, and/or best friends/family members involved in all the businesses you plan to hire.

Of course, Jorge and I don’t have immaculate planning capabilities, nor do we have any wealthy investors (BUT IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO APPLY FOR THE POSITION…), or even family members that work in any related industries. The deeper I delved into planning the reception, the more I realized there exists a  sharply inverted relationship between low cost  and level of involvement in planning.

As in, for someone like me who doesn’t really like to get messy in the details of planning an event of this size, saving money means that I’d have to oversee every detail myself. Instead of relying on hired companies to connect the dots for me, I’d have to bring my own pen and coloring book and fill in all the spaces on my own. 

But things have been working out spectacularly well. And it has a lot to do with the amazing friends and family in my life.

Painting Planes and Taking Names

Planes…planes…and more planes.

My best friend Becky and her husband have become my wedding reception planners, helping me with all manner of details from centerpieces to even cooking for the event. Other friends have stepped up with decoration help, especially in the detail-focused areas that pain me most (*cough cough* painting those damn airplanes). My best friend Jamie is arming my bridal party (yes, I needed to outsource that), my mother has offered to take on the role of in-flight captain announcements (more on that later),  and my friends from within the community have cut me quite a deal for their super-talented performance at the party.

Other details swirl in the background; my dad’s recommendation to make the invitation a boarding pass, and the miraculous discovery of such a design online weeks later; another friend’s recommendation to stop by a graphics place in town to have a project dream realized, which may save me $400.

I could go on and on.

It turns out, I have a lot more help and creative input than I originally imagined. I am not doing this on my own. Not by a long shot. And between all of my friends, family, and community at large, we are arming one helluva party that will be, at the very least, a fun and  tasty time.

When asked how things are going and I answer with an honest, “Oh, a little stressful”, a couple people have responded with the following:

I wish I could tell you not to stress about it, but you will anyway! So just know that it’s gonna be fine.

I love that response. It’s true, it’s real, and it’s a direct nod to the feelings that are very inevitable and wrapped up in this whole experience.

It’s been stressful to plan the thing in the first place, and more stressful to oversee so many details that I wish I actually did have the money to just outsource. But at the end of it, I know it’s gonna be great, and worth all the stress.

And then…we’ll have a second one to plan. Except that time, Jorge’s gonna be the one behind the wheel. Just as most of the planning duties fall on my shoulders here since I’m the native gal in this region, he’s the one who will know how to navigate the system down yonder. And that means I can just relax and enjoy the February summer in Argentina…sipping red wine and wearing all my dresses for their second go-around.

A Night, or Two, With Hanson

Listen, I’ve been a Hanson fan since 1997 and I’m not even gonna sugar coat that. It’s true. I’m out. Deal with it.

Since 2009, I’ve seen them roughly every two years, except for when they came around while I was living in Chile. Making the biannual trek to Cleveland (House of Blues, specifically) to see them play has been something of a personal pilgrimage. It’s important to check in with the guys every couple of years, too. Like re-visiting old friends.

I remember the first time in 2009 was a big deal because not only was I going to attend a concert by myself, I was also confronting the ghosts of my adolescence on my own, with adult eyes, and with a whole different perspective than when I’d seen them last (which was somewhere around 2003).

I felt kind of awkward that time, rocking out to Hanson and screaming like a freak by myself. The screaming isn’t really negotiable, it just erupts out of me like hot magma from a volcano. When those boys play any track from Middle of Nowhere…shit. I lose it. And somehow, doing those scream-y, fangirl things with a friend by your side makes you feel like it’s more acceptable…less lame, somehow.

But all alone? Nope, gotta own that lameness.

It was easier the second time around, in 2011. I had more fully accepted the fact that yep, I’m just a 20-something Hanson fan coming to shows all alone. 

But now, in 2015, I had some companions. I was hesitant to bring them, since the solo journey to behold Hanson has become not only a pilgrimage but also a sacred time-out for me. For whatever reason. Or maybe I just like routine.

Whatever the reason, I knew that these companions were more important than sticking to a tradition I made up out of necessity.  Both companions were willing, for the record. There was no coercion. None that I’ll admit to, at least.

Heather and I at the Hanson concert

Companion for Night #1, Best Friend Heather

Zac Hanson greeting fans

Zac Hanson greeting fans toward the end of the show. Why can’t my hand be up there, grazing his ever-so-slightly???

Going to Hanson concerts is a strange departure from almost any other type of show I’ve been to. The type of music I see live most often these days is folk and rock, local music, acoustic stuff…or underground house music.Their concerts back in the day were admittedly much larger. I’ve seen them in arenas, in huge amphitheaters, and then…the House of Blues, where several hundred aged-up fans can gather comfortably without too much elbow-brushing or accidental pushing.

I think that’s just the thing–the crowd is so respectable. Looking around, I see mostly white, middle-class women with pressed blouses and carefully straightened hair and I laugh and then I reflect, I am one of them. And being comprised of all women and a small handful of obligated male significant others, I don’t feel comfortable resorting to brash, relentless pushing to get to the front, or get a better spot, etc. Is this what happens when a teeny-bopper gets older, wiser, more thoughtful?

Back in 1999, I would have knifed a bitch to get closer to Zac Hanson. My friend and I even forged permission slips to hand to a guard to sneak back stage (which didn’t work out.)

Now, I worry that my dread pile might block another paying fan’s view.

First Night with Hanson in Cleveland

First Night with Hanson in Cleveland

Hanson is doing a shorter tour this year, but playing for TWO nights in each spot. I wasn’t even going to go the first night because gas money and adult stuff. But then I figured, fuck it, I bought a ticket to see Hanson for two nights and I damn well better gaze upon their faces for as long as humanly possible.

Night #1 was all covers (with a few original tunes sprinkled in), followed by a beer party to showcase their new beer which is called, I shit you not, MMMHops. Then Taylor Hanson DJ’d, which I DID NOT SEE, BECAUSE IT WAS A WORK NIGHT AND SOME PEOPLE HAVE TO GET TO BED IN SANDUSKY, HANSON. OKAY?!

This is hilarious, and totally real.

This is hilarious, and totally real.

But seriously, I sort of regret not going. How many of these respectable 9-5’ers were popping drugs as Tay dropped the phat EDM? Yeah, I bet none. Work night, after all.

Wednesday, night #2, was a day that Jorge and I had to be in Cleveland for some unrelated matters in the AM, so we had a Cleveland Fun Day (or, as I like to call it, pre-Hanson activities, since when Hanson is in town, all references to time revolve around them).  The Cleveland parking system and their museums siphoned most of my disposable income for the month, which left me feeling slightly more educated and unnecessarily broke.

By the time Hanson Time rolled around, Jorge was briefed on what awaited him. Night #2 was the night of the Original Songs, so this was gonna be the big shebang–the screaming, the crowd swelling, the Mmmbop! We saw a good handful of Obligated Significant Other’s (OSO’s) there–you know, the bored boyfriend, embracing his girlfriend from behind as he chugs back a beer while she writhes desperately to the music in his arms.

I give Jorge a lot of credit, because he at least screamed for Hanson to hurry the eff up while we were waiting for the curtains to lift. Also, I caught a few of his errant bellows into the Hanson ether during the show.  So, it was something like enthusiasm, which counts.

I don’t know if it was the fact that I was already tired from a whole day of standing, museum-gazing and being slowly sucked dry by the Cleveland Art Scene, but it seemed like the crowd was less energetic than what I remembered from previous years. Maybe that was the effect of seeing Hanson two nights in a row–by the second night, it’s not quite as scream-worthy. Don’t get me wrong, there was tons of screaming. But there’s something precious and sacred in that build-up of waiting to see Hanson. Having seen them the night before, it was like we had already blown our loads.

But the second time around was still reallllllly freaking awesome.

Hanson, House of Blues 2015

*sigh* The boys.

Hanson, House of Blues 2015

OH, TAYLOR, YOUR SWEET VOICE AND MILKY SKIN STILL MAKES ME SWOON

The thing about Hanson is they have some of the most loyal fans in the WORLD. They have been a cohesive, touring unit for 20 years. TWENTY FREAKING YEARS. And they still put out new albums, tour regularly, meet with fans, and continue upping their game (with, as we saw this year, DJ sets and a beer brand).

It’s funny how we’re all getting older alongside them. At the concert the first night, I gestured to the audience and told Heather, “We grew up with all these girls.” Because we did, in a way. We didn’t know them, personally, but we all were coming of age and growing up together with Hanson as the center of our universe. And that’s a really powerful uniting force. So powerful that 15 years later, we’re still coming together to see these guys.

After the show wrapped on the second night, a very drunk fan told me she’d met them in Toronto the weekend before (yep, these fans still tag along for the whole tour!) and waited outside by their bus until they came outside. JUST LIKE I’D ALWAYS PLOTTED AS A TEENAGER. I considered the idea for a bit, knowing deep inside my heart that waiting a couple extra hours to meet the boys just wouldn’t make sense for my O.S.O who had a 7am wake-up call the next day.

I still want to meet Hanson. SO badly. Like, gazing upon Zac Hanson is something that stirs things inside my soul that are inexplicable and so deeply ingrained that I cannot even articulately express what is happening. He was so important in my adolescence, yet has no idea of who I am or what impact he had. Yet he knows–because how many girls have this same story?

I’d love to meet them someday, just shake their hands, stare intensely into their eyes, and really thank them for existing. They inspired so much creativity in my life. They are also one of the biggest inspirations behind my writing.

Jorge and I left Cleveland without lingering near tour buses or stalking back doors for signs of nearing voices. In fact, we were home by 10:30PM, because it was a work night, after all.

I didn’t meet Hanson this time…but someday, I swear to God, I will. We’ve been best friends since 1997, it’s high time they finally find out about it.

Hanson and their back-up musicians, signing off.

Hanson and their back-up musicians, signing off.

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